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Service biases against non-drinkers?

Ideally all restaurants want to make sure each diner has an enjoyable experience, regardless of how much they spend. It's always easier and better to get repeat business and good word of mouth. You have to let management know if you feel your service is substandard. That is the only way to change it. Substandard is never good, regardless of the reason.

There are a lot of biases out there by many servers, and restaurant professionals, especially in fine dining. Whether it's against not drinkers, vegetarians/vegans, solo diners, children, special occasion peeps on a budget, grouponers et al, the people that order the inexpensive wine, etc... A lot of the biases are not meant to be rude though. A lot of restaurants spend a lot of time and money on a great wine program and amazing chef and knowlegable staff, so sometimes it is disappointing if a guest doesn't come for the "full experience". But they understand people have different dietary, religious needs, etc, but it's still disappointing for them that you can't fully experience all they have to offer.

The good servers and restaruants don't let it show, and know every customer is valued. But unfortunately at high end places a lot of employees get spoiled with a majority of great customers that appreciate wine and food, (like many hounds) and spend lots of money and also usually tip 20% at least, and that means great money for many of the servers. So yes sometimes service may fall short if you are spending less then the average diner, especially if the restaurant is busy. Serving is afterall mostly about prioritizing many things at once. And frankly lots of them don't really care if you come back or say bad things about the restaurant, but managers care. And those servers need to be weeded out.

Please keep in mind, many managers aren't going to overhear a snide comment or a rude look when ordering, so it's up to you to say something. Especially if you feel you were ignored and not served properly! No manager wants an employee like that.

But yes, it's all about tips for a server. The more you spend, the more they make...

Dec 23, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

Unexpected guests at a dinner party?

yeah but the voicemail said "we will be there for 5" Wasn't sure if that meant 5pm or 5 people, as she said she already changed the original time from 5 to accomodate their work schedules...

Dec 23, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

Unexpected guests at a dinner party?

Wait a minute. I'm confused. You say they called and said they would be 5. And then later you say there will be 11 adults and a 4 and a 6 yr old. So does this mean they have an older child they are bringing that could be babysitting??? What am I missing? 5 couples = 10 adults...

Dec 23, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

Unexpected guests at a dinner party?

Can you ask for help from any of the other couples? LIke can one of them reach out and offer their sitter? Or maybe you have a more forward friend that could call them and be like "hey freia is going to all this trouble so the adults can have a great time, and you simply cannot bring your children."

I agree with most others. Don't let them set this precedent and stress you out even more on what sounds like such a glorious planned dinner. Seems like you're just going to be on edge with the kids there. I know I would be, and I might even have a hard time being nice to them.. haha

Dec 23, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

Open Table reservations for solo diner!

Having set up open table, many of the default settings for tables is 2-4, in the older systems you had to manually change it to allow a min of 1. So therefore, the system won't think there is a table available for 1, as the software reads it as needing a min. of 2. Some restaurants may not even be aware that they are turning away parties of 1. The setup of open table is often handled by open table not the restaurant, and also many restaurant people are not always the most computer savvy in my experience so little gets changed after initial setup.

I'm sure there may be some restaurants that don't want to take reservations for parties of one, but I would venture to guess the vast majority just don't know that open table is turning down single diners.

I'm not sure but you may be able to book for the party of 2, then after the reservation is made change your reservation to 1. I'm not sure if that will work. The other option is to book for 2, but put in the notes, your system wouldn't allow me to book for 1, but I'll be dining alone. Then if the restaurant has a problem they can call you in advance. The third option is to just call.

Dec 22, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

How to "split" a check equitably?

I concur. However, in my opinion, friends should be viewed as equals, assuming they all are in relatively the same financial situation.. i.e. able to afford eating out. I don't see it as some class system more powerful v less. They are friends.

But I also think good etiquette dicatates the friends who order more insist the op pay less or offer to pick up the tab every now and then. They shouldn't have to ask to pay less. However, if they feel taken advantage of, or feels someone is purposely using the system, then they should speak up or find new friends.

Ultimately to me going out with friends should be about a good time period and if the social norm in the group is to split evenly, just roll with it.

Dec 22, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

How to "split" a check equitably?

Well I'm not sure what type of money we're talking about here, but in my experience the lighter eaters and drinkers (of which I'm one as well) is a difference of maybe $20-50. Which can add up. But to me this falls in the category of 'don't sweat the small stuff'. If you're going out to eat with friends it should be about a fun time and enjoying the company, not how much it costs. Assuming you can afford it, who cares if it's equal? Friendship should be about generousity of spirit and sharing good times and not about money.

Of course on the flip side, your friends should also notice you don't eat and drink as much, and good friends will offer to pick up the tab every few times or insist you contribute less. However, if you are in a financial bind, you should be honest with them and decline the invitations or just let them know times are tough and would they mind if you pitched in a little less since you didn't eat as much.

Personally I don't think there is a way to broach it without someone being uncomfortable. For the record my opinion is only for dining with friend situations. Family and work dinners are seperate issues and have their own rules.

Dec 22, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

1941 bottle of port

I would call Wine Watch in Ft. Lauderdale, www.winewatch.com (nothing is listed for 1941 on their website, but call them) they may not have what you want in stock, but may be able to help locate it for you. Additionally they have access to many collectors that may be sitting on something that's for sale...

For port it's going to be very hard to find, as only one major port house (Quinta de Noval) declared 1941 a vintage year. Vinatage port is only made in years the houses feel are best for the conditions to make ideal port. They can sometimes have huge gaps in years.

But if you want a dessert type option, then sauternes or cognac/armagnac are going to be your best bets for 1941, but pricey ($400-2000) and very rare to find but easier to locate then 1941 port that isn't a colheita (tawny port).

Good luck!

Max's Harvest: Farm-to-Table/Slow Food Coming to Delray's Pineapple Grove

I went last night with another couple and overall enjoyed the restaurant and would definitely go back. Here's my take:

Pros: Nice warm ambiance, good energy, friendly & knowledgable staff. Good menu, lots of items on the menu I wanted to order, good pricing. Great timing on the food (which is sometimes a problem with new restaurants).

Cons: While service was friendly and knowledgable, there was not a lot of attention to detail paid. For example, no silverware for the second course, not asking if we wanted more wine (which lost them money, as we would have ordered more had the server not waited til the end of the meal to ask), pouring all the bottled water into one persons glass when the others at the table were low nor offering another bottle, and not coming to check on us after the entrees were dropped for about 15 mins. Which was a problem (wine) and as one person ordered the burger and they don't serve anything for the fries, and they wanted to dip... Brought us the wrong tables check. As for the food, it was good however, everything except for the grill items came out a tad underseasoned.

What we ate: deviled eggs, daily crostinis, pork belly app, chips and onion dip, meatballs, baby artichokes, hearts of palm salad, aspargus and egg app, burrata salad, bavette steak, pork chop and the burger. We skipped dessert, they only have 4 and they are verbalized, no menu, we were stuffed anyway.

We all agreed the standouts were the daily crostini (there are two types served) our favorite was the duck confit with goat cheese and cherry, roasted baby artichokes and the hearts of palm salad. They were excellent. The other items were definitely good and there is nothing we didn't enjoy. The chips and onion dip are the only thing that could use some work. I notice this item becoming popular at more and more restaurants, but the chips were cold and had no seasoning and the dip was just not very flavorful, very bland for onion dip.

Had the service been more on point we probably would have really enjoyed the experience, but they are new, so we understand and don't hold it against them, but it did distract from the evening and a rave review. Overall the food was interesting and good, and it's right down the street from me, so I will go back and look forward to trying other things on the menu.

Is the restaurant responsible?

Sounds to me like you both made bad assumptions. Perhaps since you frequent the restaurant she assumed you realized it was spicy or assumed you liked spicy and didn't want to offend a regular by warning them of the spice level. Some people are a little wierd about their "pride" (for lack of a better word) on the amount of heat their palates can take.

In this case I think it's not the restaurants fault since you say you go often, I think both sides made improper assumptions. But on a whole, I do think it's the restaurant's responsibility to alert guests to ingredients that may be a bit out of the norm, in this case out of the normal range of general spicy. Whether marked on the menu or confirmation it's understood when order is taken.

Jun 20, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

what wine pairs best with bacon?

This came up the other day and I'm just curious what opinions others have. Personally I like a really light bodied fruit forward pinot noir, a couple russian rivers come to mind, or sometimes even a sweeter med to full bodied white like a chenin blanc if the bacon is particularly salty. And if I'm really in a mood, I may just opt for a glass of sparkling shiraz.

Jun 01, 2011
timxph in Wine

Restaurants that call you and ask that you "Call us back to confirm" a reservation you've already confirmed online. Do you call back?

It's not a matter of the system failing, it's people that fail to show up for reservations. We deal in life with all sorts of policies that are implimented due to the bad apples spoiling the bunch. Same thing with confiming reservations. It's just a way for a restuarant to maximize it's business and plan as best as possible to give great service to everyone.

In my experience, on a typical night a restuarant will have 10-15% no show rate of non confirmed reservations. Confirmed, day of reservations have a no show rate of about .05%. So it really helps to plan the night if the majority of the reservations are confirmed.

Jun 01, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

If your host is burning their food and doesn't turn down the heat...

ahh, well you didn't say it was bacon! One man's burned is another's "crispy". :) I actually went to a diner with someone that ordered their bacon medium well. Do other people order bacon to temp? I still get a chuckle out of it. Aside from being slightly embarassed and surprised that they asked for a temp at a diner, it got us on a big convo about how people are very peculiar with their taste in bacon crispness. Personally I like it a crisp on the edges but still a bit chewy on the inside. Burned, dry and super crisp is not my preference, but maybe the host's.

May 27, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

If your host is burning their food and doesn't turn down the heat...

Call me a rude guest, but if I'm in the kitchen with the host to notice something is burning or close to burning, I would probably just turn down the heat myself and say something along the line of "I know when I host I have a million things on my mind, sorry but I turned down the burner as I was afraid it was burning, do you want me to turn it back up?"

Of course though in my circle, if I'm close enough with the host to be in the kitchen while cooking, I'm close enough to help and not feel rude by potentially embarrassing them. I know if I was the host I'd rather have the help then have to face the embarrassment/stress of burning a dish for a dinner party.

May 27, 2011
timxph in Not About Food

What are the best restaurant promotions?

I work for a fine dining restaurant and summer is our slow season so we are looking to do some summer promotions. We like fun and outside the box. We have ideas we're excited about, but before we start, I was hoping I could tap into the great expertise on the boards to see if there are some great restaurant promos in other areas that you have gotten excited about or really enjoyed.

With all the groupons and living socials, etc. it's a new world out there for restaurants and how we market and gain new diners while keeping the regulars happy and returning. Do you "groupon"? Do you prefer just straightforward discounts or do you like events and other types of promotions? Do you have a story of a restaurant event you thought was really great?

Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

May 27, 2011
timxph in General Topics

Need Delray Recommendation

Brule: moderate pricing (great value for quality imo), no entree is over $30 and they offer petite versions. apps start at $7 go to $14. Type of food is contemporary American bistro food. meats, fish, pastas, salads, etc. The website has the daily menu to see more. Brule does not take reservations. As far as the atmosphere, it's like a nice college place. I don't know if that makes sense, but it just reminds me of a great place you'd find in a liberal college town, like Boulder or Austin. But it's relatively small, maybe 60-75 seats. Some outdoor seating. A bit of an ecclectic mix of furnishings, black boards, nice colors and art. Only beer and wine served.

32 East: A tad pricey, but not crazy. Apps range from 9-17ish and entrees from 25-40's. Again contemporaty american food, nice mix of it all. Their menu changes daily as well, but they don't post it on their website. I'd recommend reservations, even on a Wednesday to be safe this time of year. The food and atmosphere is more sophisticated then brule. The atmosphere is dark and jazzy. Could be a set for a madmen episode. Kinda retro sophisticated vibe. Food is always perfectly prepared, Chef Nick is very talented.

Hope that helps. I think you'll be happy with either choice depending on how much you want to spend. 32 east is going to be more of a 'great dining experience' where as brule is going to be more like a 'nice relaxed dinner'.

Need Delray Recommendation

Well Delray has a TON of restaurants, but not a lot of better restaurants, lots of great restaurants but most are aimed at the upper casual side. That said, here are a few that are on the better or more upscale side...

1. Sundy House. On one acre of botanical gardens so the ambiance itself is special and unique. Just gorgeous. However, the food is not consistently great. It's good, but can be very hit or miss. They do have a really great brunch on Sundays if you chose to make those kind of plans. Bottom line, don't have high expectations of the food and you should really enjoy yourself, and out of towners always love it. www.sundyhouse.com

2. Cut 432, a "hip" steakhouse if you will. The usual steakhouse suspects with modern twists and a fun and modern decor. Quality is there and service on point. Great wine list and always a good experience every time I've been. www.cut432.com

3. Tramonti, I personally don't see what everyone loves about this place, but people love it and it's always busy. It's Italian and the food is good, but not spectacular. The ambiance is very nice though. Especially if you can get a table on the patio and watch all the people on Atlantic. The one thing I do like is the menu is large and laid out like it is in Italy, i.e. antipasto, pesce, pasta etc. However they have reduced that over the years. So you can go and eat like they do in Italy with multiple courses. http://www.tramontidelray.com/

4. Prime. This is brand new so I can't comment at all on it. But a steak/sushi/seafood is what they are calling themselves. It's a great and beautiful location, but so many restaurants have been in and out in this location so, not sure what will happen with this one. www.primedelray.com

5. Brule Bistro. I love this little place. It's charming and the food is very good. The chef owner is very nice and talented. Great value to be had, but it's not fine dining, but the food almost is. I go here when I'm not in the mood for 32 east, but still want a great meal. www.brulebistro.com

I'm sure I'm forgeting someone, and I haven't been to Bamboo Fire, so I can't comment there. I'm sure someone on this board will fill you in there or just search for one of the numerous threads on it.

All that said, I still think if it's amazing food you want, 32 East is by far my favorite and hands down choice. I just love their food and am never disappointed only amazed at the flawless execution and flavor profiles they produce still after all these years. It's not the best ambiance or service, however both good, just not great, but the food is just that good makes up for the imperfection elsewhere.

Where to eat in the West Palm Beach area on Christmas

If you're a foodie family I would recommend Cafe Boulud or Michelle Bernstein's at the Omphoy. Many of the smaller family owned restaruants I would also rec, I believe will be closed on Christmas, but those are both located in hotels so I'm assuming they are open. They may only offer a prix fixe menu though, so you'll have to check the websites or call to see.

One perfect dinner in Ft. Lauderdale

Based on the criteria, I've eaten at both and would pick Market 17. They both have excellent food and service so you're safe with either in those categories. But Cafe Maxx has been around awhile and they are in need of a bit of a decor makeover, it's one of the only knocks against it. While Market 17 is new so the decor is contemporary but comfortable and sophisticated. Both have outdoor dining as well, Cafe Maxx is a sidewalk in a strip mall and Market 17 has a great patio with tropical landscaping and waterfalls. Both are not on the loud side unless you're there when they are really busy, so I'd choose a day other then a weekend night to be safe if time affords it.

Just one family night in Delray

I've heard mixed reviews and it's new so I haven't been yet, but Deck 84 may be a really good option for a family of 5 with picky eaters, seems to have a diverse menu and it's on the intracoastal waterway so good for out of towners. www.deck84.com

Ft. Lauderdale New Year's Eve Recs

Depends what kind of NYE night you want. A nice dinner out before midnight, a good restaurant to be at at midnight, a fun party atmosphere with entertainment, etc.

Everyone raises their prices or has a mandatory prix fixe so it's hard to give opinions not knowing more of what your looking for.

In regards to your options below, I've never been to Candela, so can't comment, knowing it's location and reputation I would say it would be calm on NYE, but I'd check to see if they have a prix fixe offering.

Himmarshee is in one of the most crowded and rowdy areas for NYE, they do a ball drop in the area, as well as many of the bars are near there, so on that night, I would probably avoid it, unless you want to be around a younger rowdier crowd.

Market 17 will probably be a more sophisticated crowd and they are offering both ala carte and prix fixe menu for NYE, free champagne at midnight. It is a tad pricey, but delicious and worth it. And everything is farm fresh and organic so you are paying a bit more for the quality. In regards to petite portions, I feel only the fish are too small, but a normal size portion of fish is only 7-8 oz, so a petite is about 4oz. so it makes sense it has to be smaller. But on meats and game, you get a decent size of 6-7oz for the petite. However they sides that accompany the plates are plentiful. Just depends on your appetite. The petites are for lighter appetites or for those that want to create their own tasting menu.

Yolo will probably be slammed on NYE and have a good crowd, and fun atmosphere, they have two lounges that you could be at after dinner. But it will be CROWDED. I'd book now if this is where you decide. I'd assume they have an ala carte menu on NYE, but I would call to see.

I'd also look around to see what Steak 954 at the W and 3030 Ocean are offering on NYE, they may be a good option.

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3030 Ocean
Harbor Beach Resort Marriott, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

Help with 2 Ft Lauderdale dinners for out-of-towners

I agree the main dining room is a bit uncomfortable and tables that are too close and small. The bar takes up the whole space. However, maybe you've never made the journey to the bathroom. Around the corner, Johnny V also has an additional dining room with many tables and it is a bit more formal with upholstered chairs and tables well spread out and gorgeous white curtains hanging from the 20 foot ceiling. But usually only busy on the weekends.

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Johnny V
625 East Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Help with 2 Ft Lauderdale dinners for out-of-towners

1) For local flare and interesting dining I'd recommend the following:
Market 17, amazing local food (right across the bridge from where you're staying) www.market17.net
Johnny V great food, considered "floribean" cuisine. (on Las Olas, 10 min cab ride) www.johnnyvlasolas.com
3030 Ocean (5 min ride) not sure on web address it's in the marriot harbor beach. may have to google.

2) Yolo, hot spot for groups and a fun atmosphere, Houston's type menu, something for everyone, mostly moderate pricing, they get ya on the drinks. www.yolorestaurant.com
(also on las olas, so 10 min cab ride
)Solita, on Las Olas as well, mostly italian food, fun atmosphere, food kinda hit or miss. But it can get really loud. I'd do YOLO over Solita...www.solitalasolas.com
Himarshee Bar and Grill, Fun place, great food, great prices. Downtown location about 10 min cab ride. www.himmarshee.com