v

valcfield's Profile

Title Last Reply

Mandatory 20% at Select?

thanks cport- realized i should have included that definition in my original post!

Apr 07, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Mandatory 20% at Select?

Hey just to clarify it was meant to be a general response to comments- not just what you said, just didn't go sub-sub thread since i meant it as more general commentary (yarm, eg, made the comment about owners having discretion to take some of the service charge). Sorry if there was any confusion!

And you're right, i haven't looked at other states laws but i know other restaurants have switched to that model, although, if i recall last time i checked, it's actually still being litigated whether in NY, for example, it's legal to do that.

Apr 07, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Mandatory 20% at Select?

Yep-not saying things don't play out differently, just that, legally, there's no more entitlement to fudge (or scam) how you distribute the money by calling it a 'service charge' as opposed to taking a tip :). Though I certainly would be interested/will look into any data on whether the former tend to do said maniuplating.

Apr 07, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Mandatory 20% at Select?

As far as I can tell comments about discretion to distribute a service charge to back of house or owners are simply not true. Or, well, they may be things that happen, but they are just as illegal as distributing tips to boh/owners.

Here's the law:
https://malegislature.gov/Laws/Sessio...

And relevant excerpts:

"(d) If an employer or person submits a bill, invoice or charge to a patron or other person that imposes a service charge or tip, the total proceeds of that service charge or tip shall be remitted only to the wait staff employees, service employees, or service bartenders in proportion to the service provided by those employees."

And the definition of a Service Charge:

"Service charge", a fee charged by an employer to a patron in lieu of a tip to any wait staff employee, service employee, or service bartender, including any fee designated as a service charge, tip, gratuity, or a fee that a patron or other consumer would reasonably expect to be given to a wait staff employee, service employee, or service bartender in lieu of, or in addition to, a tip."

Seems to pretty conclusively say no back of house or ownership taking.

Apr 07, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Mandatory 20% at Select?

I have no issue with it:

1. Servers have a right to be able to plan their life around a monthly income with a guaranteed floor; so unless you want that floor to be minimum wage, i value their ability to have a stable life over my ability to retaliate for bad service.

2. Frankly, even as someone who loves eating out, I think it's quite difficult to tell when any of service's fault (besides a bad attitude) is the server vs. delays etc. from a kitchen staff. And, even when it's attitude, who am I to say the cause (really bad day? problems at home?) that I am literally going to threaten their income over it.

I'm ok with going *above* the 20% floor to reward great service, but the idea of snubbing, given all the factors you can't possibly know about someone's life or job, is too much an expression of power over someone for me.

Apr 07, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

BOSTON PIZZA

also no one told him the Union Square A4 has such better pizza!

Donuts!

aw thanks and glad you made it over! i haven't had the green tea/black sesame, and was a bit nervous, so much appreciate the advice. too many calories to waste when they have such other good options.

The coffee cream has been their first cream donut I've liked: I still think the filled ones end up feeling tougher (maybe they're made earlier to allow time to fill, or maybe the dough itself is slightly different to accommodate the cream?), but that coffee cream itself is great.. i'd gladly just dip some donut holes etc into that cream

Mar 24, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Blackbird Donuts?

Thanks and sorry i didn't catch this sooner! I'm not sure about either, I'm afraid. I know Union Square will deliver within a range for a minimum of a dozen donuts, so I would be surprised if they would not be up for holding donuts if it's a similar/greater quantity.

Not sure about blackbird and didn't see anything on their site.

As for H Mart- I have not had their faux-cronuts (though i check them out a lot, and some days they look great, others a bit greasy. I should def give them a shot when they look good), but i've enjoyed the mochi donuts... ot, but in some other thread, someone mentioned their raspberry almond croissants, and i'd agree those are worth getting if you haven't (raspberry jam filling, and then a frangipane, iirc, paste that's both inside, soft, and on top, crunchy.

Mar 24, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Boston restaurant for 21st birthday celebration

With this much time to reserve, I'd go to http://shojoboston.com/. Really fun takes on Asian/comfort food at prices well within parameters, nice cocktail list but also plenty of affordable sake and beer.

Mar 07, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Boston restaurant for 21st birthday celebration

On to pof Max's parameters I'd add what do you think your daughter wants- wine, beer, cocktails? I'd assume that's a focal point for a 21st bday (and also affects the $ per head), so knowing that would help a lot.

Luckily, I think there are very few places that you'd plan ahead to bring 11 people for dinner are 21+ only, so there should be plenty of options regardless.

That said-Barcelona (either south end or washington sq) could probably fit the bill (though i'd have to double check prices). It's a small mostly NE chain, lively, and has respectable drinks as well as wine and sangria by the pitcher that could be ideal for a 21st bday celebration. being able to order batched small plates could reduce headache of a large party too.

Mar 06, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

d-bags at alden & harlow

I don't think it justifies the photo (for reasons cited above and in the Devra piece slim links), but (as i said in one of my admittedly loooong post above) I do agree that it's been odd that the conversation has largely focused on the treatment of the women, versus loyalty to staff, and oddly quiet on how much people like that drag the experience down for all the other guests in the restaurant.

canneles in boston

Theirs might be the only ones I lik a bit old- the crust is sometimes sooo tough! That they get better after a bit. But that said the interior is great, I'd rather overly hard than soft shell, and I do get them when I can

Mar 04, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

d-bags at alden & harlow

Hey Carty- def recognize that you werent siding with the people. I agree the photo was a poor choice (though personally if he had say, sent the photo to chef friends and asked if they had seen similar behavior/been on lookout, i'd probably have been fine with that). Also agree I think it would be the right thing to say the photo was a bad idea.

I think my general point was just this- in a situation like this, it's very easy to say "wow that person is crazy" as opposed to saying "wow he didn't play it right, but, given how upset he was, that must have been some crazy situation he was in."

Even now, while i agree with you re: photo, you can see from this thread how different people have dif opinions of what he *should* do, and many of the people on social media are resto employees, so i also do have some understanding of feeling like there's no right answer, and the best course of action may be to just stay quiet now and let other people have the conversation (he did tweet, for example, that, whatever side people are on, he's glad they're talking about the issue). Still not what i'd do, but i guess i see the response as a reasonable/plausibly right one

Mar 04, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

d-bags at alden & harlow

good point, my comment was more aimed at the seeming growing discussion (not necessarily in this thread, but in what i see on social media) that it would be outlandish to review customers, so it was only to say A. that often happens, B. it's primary purpose is not to ban people, and C. i'll tack on, i'm frustrated with people saying that's reviewing 'humans instead of businesses' because 1. no, it's reviewing people as customers, and as a customer i do think you have a mutual set of obligations 2. let's be honest, yelp reviews may be targeted at businesses, but the ones people worry are often written as reviews of people, not businesses.

But this was largely not in response to Carty, and just somewhat orthogonal musing :)

as for walkins, def tougher, though bless his heart having eaten at Danny meyer's Marta he deeefinitely pulled me into system from walk in (presumably off of credit card)

Mar 04, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

d-bags at alden & harlow

Correct, but the use of the hashtag comes from his original tweet/instagram, so it makes sense to reference. But, again, to act like you don't understand what he's trying to say about being 'responsible' with yelp-responsible in writing interviews, and not using it as a threat- and instead saying he's somehow implying to use the hashtag, is allmost going out of your way to misunderstand so as to make a point.

As for the other stuff-

1. I don't read this as a critique of other places not standing up for their staff, there's no comparison/accusations re: other restaurants being made anywhere, so to act as though that as his claim is, again, ungenerous. This is clearly a statement to other guests (or nonguests, as case may be) that an owner/manager's sole responsibility is not to cater to their every whim, but also to represent and be fair to their staff, a plea to those guests to treat staff as humans and recognize how their behavior is harmful to others.

2. As for the uber stuff, I agree that if you're going to go that route, you need to be very specific with what you want, but a couple of things i'd note:

a. any restaurant in the vein of a&h that's half competent already has notes on customers, which, even for the hard-to-deal with, are used as a way to keep track of allergies and preferences and make the experience seamless/enjoyable as possible for all (restaurants, shockingly, are not in the habit of refusing to serve customers if they come back, even if they're terrible).

b. Interestingly, alluded to on social media, reserver/resy already offer certain aspects of this style rating, though their websites are unclear/ don't know whether these ratings are like A (just a way for a resto to manage its own lists) or B actually show cross-restaurant ratings. I'd be interested to know.

One final note:

The fact that a yelp score might not influence A&H is irrelevant here. Again, taking facts as presented, if you are any server, or bartender, and you are threatened with a bad review, and asked to bend rules, that's a horrible situation to be put in, intrinsically, no one should be put through that, but also because, depending on the place, even if a single review doesn't affect an aggregate-anyone can read a single review and be turned off, and also you, as employee, could be held accountable for that single review.

Mar 04, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

d-bags at alden & harlow

One thing I'd point out Carty is that the tweet went up at 9pm on Saturday night- which likely means this was either during the incident or very shortly after, and certainly still in the heat of a saturday crush.

To the extent i agree posting the photo was a mistake, I don't think emotions excuse the behavior, but i think they go a long way towards explaining the choice, the accompanying words, and think it's pretty ungenerous of you to to make such vast negative character proclamations about someone as a result of what they did, once, in the heat of the moment (particularly given what has been, imo, some pretty level-headed follow up on social media by him).

Mar 03, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

d-bags at alden & harlow

I agree with others the behavior seems a bit odd regarding posting the photo and then letting them stay, but the tweet at least went out at 8:57 pm... I think it's possible he actually posted that pic while they were still there, and it was only *after* that he decided/realized the best course of action was to "kill them with kindness," which would explain the discrepancy.

Other than this, to quote Patrick Maguire's blog title "[restaurant employees] are your server not your servant." It's always a good mentality to have in any job that even when a certain response might be justified, it might still not be productive (a happy client, avoiding potential bad publicity, etc.)

That said, your 'job' is not to simply accept any behavior, and the counter would be that to not respond is to enable these people to continue acting like jerks (accepting all facts as alleged). Further, especially if you're the chef/owner, it could be incredibly demoralizing to the team if they feel that you are siding with an entitled customer and throwing them under the bus.

Beyond the importance of defending the family, as Scelfo put it, though, is the fact that guests like these create a hostile environment for other guests that takes away from their experience.

No one wants to be at the bar or a table next to people who are behaving rudely; whether that's attempting to jump a line to get seated, acting miserable with the staff, or even to each other, it's an uncomfortable experience/drags down everyone around, and frankly makes one feel like one did not get there money's worth out of the restaurant. We pay in part for the environment, and I respect/expect a restaurant to enforce whatever environment it is they're attempting.

For me, the only question is whether it's fair to have posted their photo to the internet. On the one hand, you do expect that you have some level of privacy when dining with a restaurant, and that your every move wouldn't be scrutinized.

On the other, when you are someone who posts your online experiences for public consumption regularly, expects them to have an impact, and (allegedly) uses online press as a threat, I think you waive your right to said privacy: in the same way I think it's fine for a restaurant to talk about poor behavior from professional reviewers for context, I expect they should be able to respond to amateur reviewers the same way.

Should they have waited for an actual negative review to be posted to counter with a photo? Probably. But, all in all, what are the potential harms? On the one hand, entitled customers who actively ruin staff's day and the environment for other guests, versus what... the potential that chefs might all start non-anonymously criticizing guest behavior? The former strikes me as already an issue in popular venues, while the latter impossible because, generalized, it would likely lead to a lack of business for said restaurant.

This may have not been the absolute best way to play the situation, but there's a large gap between that claim and saying it was 'wrong' to post the photo.

Best Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich around

Yep that's the one. thanks for reminding me that one has feta as well!

Feb 26, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Best Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich around

Agreed! Bagelsaurus also has a second egg sandwich now with pimenton aioli and a scallion/parsley (iirc) gremolata that i love, the pimenton especially.

On either sandwich, I always add ham (which gets some cooking on the flat top) and their roasted tomatoes to round things out. It has become a bad habit/addiction for last couple weeks...

Feb 25, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Neapolitan style pizza in Boston/Cambridge/Somerville/...

Agree that Posto could use some work, though I've heard their pizza truck is much better than the restaurant, and one of the better/best in the city (could be difference that the truck oven is dedicated to pizza but the restaurant oven is multipurpose and maybe lower temp?)

Pastoral does a pretty good neapolitan style pizza.

A4 Pizza in union square does too: their other location, Kendall, also makes pizza but i've found them to be less consistent- this could be a temp issue again as kendall sq has a much larger oven menu whereas the union square location pretty much only cooks pizza (and garlic knots).

The about-to-open Brewers Fork also has some good looking neapolitan pizzas; hope the taste follows suit! https://www.zagat.com/b/boston/look-i...

Haven't been to gran gusto so alas can't compare!

Alternative to group pig roast

Do you know what the minimum is to do the pasta table (or is it just first reserve first serve?), and if that tasting menu is the same price as their normal one?

Feb 24, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Alternative to group pig roast

Mei Mei has started doing large format dinners with advance, though i've not had any yet. There's a whole beef shank, $195, for 6-8 people, and then a number of different pig options (rib roast, head, shoulder). http://www.meimeiboston.com/menus/

Feb 24, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

canneles in boston

Ames St. Deli in Kendall makes canneles, and kouignn amann now. I like their canneles the most in the city (and possibly more than i like the ones i've had in ny, including previous fav dominique ansel's). the kouignn amann also better, imo, than the ones i've had at flour and the late bread + butter (though admittedly that one is nowhere near ansel's dka).

Feb 23, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Blackbird Donuts?

Haha well you're both wrong!

jk, honestly, i have no idea why those are called old-fashioned (i tried to do some searching on the history, but wiki/other stuff didn't have much of an explanation, and i don't know when the term 'old fashioned' started being applied to that style of doughnut, but at least, nowadays, that term is very strongly connected to the irregular-ring-crispy-outside-doughnut.

Attached is a pic just from google searching "old fashioned doughnut" and you can see while other stuff pops up... that type of doughnut i described overwhelmingly dominates.

Jan 23, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Blackbird Donuts?

@anj- agree with you. the yeast were pretty good but imo union square has a markedly better, fluffier texture. Their glazes are solid but the texture was too chewy for me. Definitely better than a chain/grocery store doughnut, and enough potential that i hope with some time they'll get to a place where i'd try the yeast again.

Re: their cake doughnuts/@OC-yes, the sugar stack and chocolate old fashioned are both cake doughnuts. Both of these i enjoyed (the sugar stack would be perfect to dip in coffee)

Fyi, here's a nice piece on doughnut styles, http://bit.ly/1q0E0Aj, old-fashioned are meant to have a crisp/crunchy, usually with a lot of icing, with a dense cakey interior. The blackbird doughnuts version has the icing down, but there's no crisp exterior and the inside is more like a moist devil food cake. It's not bad at all-i'd definitely order again- just don't think currently it matches up with the style they're trying to achieve. I say this in particular because in the BoMag article they say they were inspired themselves after Doughnut Vault in Chicago, in particular *their* old-fashioned doughnuts, and those very much adhere to the style above (and are probably my all time favorite doughnuts).

So tl;dr, yeast are good but not at usd level, cake i'd already get again but hop old-fashioned becomes more like its namesake style.

Jan 23, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Cosme Dinner Reviews

awesome thanks!

Jan 08, 2015
valcfield in Manhattan

"Tickets" for Restaurants

Yeah Journeyman to me was an interesting choice, although they (at least at launch, haven't checked back in) were still accepting walk ins and phone calls to book, even if that still yielded purchase over the phone.

It could just be that they were suffering from a high amount of cancellations, and did not expect that they would be turning away the kind of people who come by instituting tickets, and so, while maybe not a huge help to them, little downside as well as lock people in and probably net some press? Or perhaps it was just an experiment because they were unhappy with their current system? Not sure...

Jan 08, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Cosme Dinner Reviews

Coming into New York and hoping to pull a walk in here: has anyone tried to get in right at opening on a Friday night? Wondering how much earlier before opening we should get there to grab 3 seats at the bar. Any help is appreciated, and love the detailed reports to help us pick out food if we make it in!

Jan 08, 2015
valcfield in Manhattan

"Tickets" for Restaurants

That's definitely the wrong move that they didn't respond to your email, but on the singleton part i will say that that wasn't a matter of you not being fast enough, they simply don't sell single tickets, and it does at least note that somewhere on the site, and requests if you want to come solo to send them an email... which is why it's doubly unfortunate that they didn't respond to yours).

More generally, in agreement with most here, for very small places with high demand and fixed menus, i think tickets make sense. The restaurant shouldn't turn a loss because someone decides last minute they don't want to come, and this in turn allows restaurants (at least in theory) to offer lower pricing, and discount pricing for week days.

A couple of things i'd note:

It's true restaurants can hold your card and charge a cancellation fee, but my understanding of this is that, if you dispute the charge, it's actually quite easy to get out of these, so they're not a great guarantee for the restaurant.

Further, I'd assume most restaurants, if they're going to wave that threat, would rather you pay up front then harass you after by charging a fee and risking a fight: seems much more like a hospitality nightmare.

Anecdotally, having had tickets to Next (Alinea's sister restaurant), they were quite accomodating when I had issues like flight cancellations with letting me reschedule and putting my tickets back on the market. Other restos with tickets i've seen often make twitter announcements and do their best to resell tickets that come back to get the original 'owner' off the hook.

That said, to repeat the oft used analogy, in my mind, if you had, say, a babysitter cancel on you the night of a concert, you wouldn't blame the venue for selling tickets, and especially given the *much* higher loss to profits for the evening a restaurant can go through over a single cancellation at a small place, i think it's reasonable to adopt a similar mindset for high end dining.

As to the rest-also agree that for Boston, more places would benefit from the upcoming component of this system, where you pay a nonrefundable desposit towards your check. This guarantees the resto some money, as well as makes you more committed to going, while also avoiding the Resy model of just charging you a flat out fee for a reservation that doesn't go towards your check. I think that's a pretty clever compromise, and a system that would be much more relevant to places around here.

Jan 08, 2015
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

evelyn & angels chocolates...

Nice atmosphere, they do a good job with their coffee (pourover from stumptown last i went), but it's a bit harder to talk about the chocolate-

As the website says, they don't make it, but rather the chocolates are "[s]ourced from the finest chocolatiers and confectioners from around the country."

Unfortunately, in store, at least when i went, none of the branding is actually available-the loose ones just have descriptions, and the boxes are all branded with evelyn & angels.

So while i enjoyed the two chocolates i tried, I have no idea what the consistency would be from one chocolate to the next.

Online reviews do seem to like their sipping chocolate, fwiw. I pass by there quite a bit though and will be happy to take the risk and report back when I get a chance!

Dec 13, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area