Why most restaurants suck

Saturday, December 27, 2014 20:39 Posted by Leo Saumure
In the search for gastronomic excitement and true culinary enjoyment, I think it is a truism that more often than not, you are going to be disappointed in many of the restaurants that are out there. At least that is what our latest foray into some new food has led me to believe.

Now, I'm not some new aged foodie or any type of a food snob, but I do enjoy good, well paired and well prepared foods. More often than not, the best foods that I get to enjoy aren't from a shi-shi-poo-poo, high priced restaurants, but instead are small, independently owned restaurants that are run and managed by one or two people (a partnership of sorts) or by a family. In actuality, I have yet to find a high-priced restaurant that makes me believe that the meal is worth the price. Some of the absolute greatest restaurant foods that I have eaten have either come from a tiny hole-in-the-wall, or even a food truck.

I think the reason behind this is because the small holes-in-the-wall are all owned and operated by people who, for lack of a better phrase, actually give a shit (not usually a word you'd prefer to see in an article about food...but there it is)! These are people that want to make and serve great food, and their passion is not only demonstrated by the food they prepare, but also the people they employ.

This entire three paragraph preamble is simply a build-up to say that we had a really lousy dining experience today. We went to a fairly new restaurant that opened up recently called Five Burroughs. As you might gather by the name, Five Burroughs is a New York style restaurant that "specialises" in types of food you'd expect to find in New York: Burgers, fries, pizza (no pizza was on the menu), etc. Plain and simple fare, that if done well, could really satisfy you. Unfortunately, it wasn't done well...at all.

When we arrived, the restaurant wasn't very busy; there were probably three parties seated when we got in. We were seated (not really greeted) by a very young, very attractive, and extremely aloof hostess who didn't seem to want to be there. She disappeared without a word and brought our menus over a minute or so later, and then disappeared again after asking if we wanted a drink to start. As it was a warm day, and we had just been on a long (2 hr) trek, we ordered a couple of milk-shakes; real New York fare!

The milk-shakes that we received were nothing like what we would expect from a place that had it's roots in New York, although it did match my expectations of a Kiwi milk-shake. In my experience, a good milk-shake, a really good milk-shake is a thick slurry of partially melted ice-cream mixed with a little bit of milk. It should give you brain freeze with every sip. Alas, Kiwis went the other way with it, and decided that it should be mostly milk, and be cool to drink, but not ice cold. Guess which one this one was? Yep, they went the Kiwi route, and while it tasted OK, it wasn't what I had in mind.

Originally, we were going to the restaurant to try their take at poutine; they offered cheesy fries and gravy. Also, because of the long walk, I was feeling pretty hungry and I was thinking of trying a burger, or Reuben or maybe a hot dog of some sort. But after the lack-lustre service, and the lacker-lustre-re milk-shake, we thought best to stick to the original idea of cheesy fries and gravy.

Ok, before I go on with the the fries, I just wanted to make a quick note a about poutine. For those who have never tried true French Canadian poutine, you are missing out on a delicacy; poutine is thick-home-cut fries drowning in gravy, and smothered in cheese curds. Now on paper, it sure doesn't sound great, and to be honest, if someone served true poutine to the uninitiated, it wouldn't look good sitting in front of them either. But true poutine, is something that everyone should experience in their lifetime. Ok, poutine preamble complete.

What we were served was prefrozen, packaged shoestring fries with a bit of Swiss cheese melted cheese on top (see image below), that were sitting in a little puddle of...I can't even call it gravy!

Think of this: When I say the word gravy to you, what comes to mind? For me, it is a thick concoction of meat juices that has been reduced down and thickened with some sort of starch so that it is viscous and sticks to whatever it comes into contact with. The stuff that was served in this dish, could best be described as watered down au jus. To be honest, until we got towards the bottom of the dish, we weren't sure they had included the gravy! The worse part of this whole thing was the little portion of "food" they served us cost twelve bucks!

As you can tell by this review, the food that we were served was absolutely horrible, and we will not ever go back. If this is indicative of the type of food they normally serve, I don't think they will last over six months.

Come on people! Have some pride in what you do. If you go into the restaurant business, do it with the idea that you can offer great food that nobody else can. Don't go into hoping to make a quick buck based on a theme.

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