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pollymerase's Profile

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Ever tip the bagger who helps you out to your car?

I grew up in the midwest where it was the default that someone would either push your cart to your car or you would be given a number and then drive through the pick up area. Tips were strictly not allowed and employees would get in a lot of trouble if the manager found out they were accepting them (happened to a friend in high school).

Ever tip the bagger who helps you out to your car?

It also doesn't seem standard in the Philly area. Once in awhile (Sundays, before holidays) they have extra people around to help bag and speed things up, but typically the customer does it themselves. One of the first things my grandma asked me when I moved to the east coast from the midwest was, 'Do they bag your groceries there? I heard they don't bag groceries in some places. I wouldn't like that very much'.

Aug 19, 2015
pollymerase in Not About Food

Chowhound Beta Site Open to Everyone (Continued Again)

Just wanted to drop in with a few comments...

My initial reaction when I first checked out the new Beta was that I liked it (shockingly!). I thought it looked beautiful, appealing, and new. It's clear that a tremendous amount of work, effort, and thought went into the redesign. So first, kudos to you for making what to me is a great looking product.

However, the more I tried using the site the more and more things seemed very inefficient and non-functional. The giant fonts (like this text box!), the tags, the locations, a cluttered preview of each thread taking up a vertical third in the center third of my screen. I tried locating the site feedback board on the Beta to express my thoughts and experiences, but spent way too many minutes searching for something that should be simple to find. I putzed around a little bit here and there for the next day or so but I got more and more annoyed and frustrated with the new site. Then a strange thing happened... I wanted to check in on Chowhound but I found myself actively thinking, 'I don't want to deal with the new format, it's frustrating and not worth my time.' That feeling persisted for 4 days before I could bring myself to navigate back to this page and post my comments.

I get the business side of things and that CH needs to make money, but this isn't friendly or easy to use (I have a PhD in a biomedical science, so I'm used to tackling confusing blocks of data).

I know I'm not a major contributor to this site, but I have checked in at least 5+ times/day for the last 7 or 8 years. In fact, my boyfriend says I'm addicted. However, I think this latest set of redesigns and the lack of listening to the most common 'patterns' that your core group of contributors have made might just break that addiction for me.

Serious Eats re-design

I'm not particularly enthused by it. I feel like it really minimizes a lot of the content they have put out in the past because they have categorized. I'm nostalgic--I miss Slice, A Hamburger Today, and all the other tabs.

I was also surprised when I was scrolling through at how few authors are currently putting out content. I stopped be a 'regular' at SE a couple of years ago, so maybe the drastic loss of authors/content has been a thing for awhile, but the whole thing makes me feel sad. And old. I used to check SE obsessively and use it for research to scout out places where I was traveling.

Aug 04, 2015
pollymerase in Food Media & News

Old Fashioned Hot Dogs with a Snap!

That's my Giant, too!

Jul 21, 2015
pollymerase in Philadelphia

Old Fashioned Hot Dogs with a Snap!

Have you tried Wimmer's natural casing dogs? I'm not sure if they have them throughout Iowa, but they definitely have them in western Iowa. I'm guessing most Fareway's or Hy-vee's have them. I grew up with Wimmer's dogs and was just lamenting this weekend how I can't find a naturally cased hot dog in Philly area grocery stores.

The closest I've found is a naturally cased knockwurst from Dietz and Watson. They are more chubby and curled though, so probably doesn't scratch the itch that Amishchow is looking for.

Jul 20, 2015
pollymerase in Philadelphia

Asked to leave the building after ordering take out

This reminds me of my favorite BBQ restaurant. It has two counters, one where you wait in line, place your order, and then get it to go or sit down in the dining area. The second counter is for picking up take out orders that you have placed over the phone. If you call in your order, you can't eat in the dining room -- you have to take it to go. I've seen people who, not wanting to wait in the 60min+ line, will call in their order, pick-it up, and then try to sit at a table. They will be asked to leave as they ordered take out. Why? Because they have worked out the speed at which they need to serve food so that there will be seats available for people when they reach the front of the line and are ready to sit and eat.

It always amazes me how the whole time you are waiting in line you are worried about finding a seat, however there always seems to be something available when the time comes. Everything works smoothly until people try to eat their take out in the restaurant or people try to have one person in their party save a table while the rest of their group is waiting for 45 min.

Not sure if this is the situation the OP encountered, but I can imagine situations where unexpectedly taking a table might throw things off in ways that might not be easily noticeable by the customer. That doesn't excuse the staff from being rude, of course, but there might be a lot of spokes and wheels in motion that the customer doesn't see.

Asked to leave the building after ordering take out

XOCO is order at the counter. I was there a couple of weeks ago.

ETA: And now I'm craving churros...

How to word invitation to restaurant party where I can't pay for super-expensive meals?

I'm guessing it's something like a 32oz bone-in aged kobe porterhouse with lobster and all the other sauces, add-ons, etc.

Jun 16, 2015
pollymerase in Not About Food

Serious Eats & Roadfood Sold to Fexy Media

I used to adore serious eats. I would refresh it dozens of times a day to see new articles. I loved the columns, the different sections, the different cities, sandwich a day, slice, food lab, all of it. It was always a wonderful resource for recipes and restaurants (big and small!) to check out when I traveled. Then the main contributors starting to leave and they kept doing redesigns and overhauls and while Ed kept saying that it would give us more in an easier to find format, I felt like there was so much less and that it was much more difficult to find. Now, I rarely drop in and when I do I only stay for a few minutes because it seems like there is so little content. Reading Ed's post about the sale to Fexy Media (could there be a more terrible name??) and how it will be more articles! more info! more content! just rings hollow to me.


I was there a couple of weeks ago. It was my first experience dining there, so I don't have anything to use as reference. I found the food to be just okay, nothing memorable. I thought the portion size was on the small side, but not unreasonable. However, I did not have any of the meat entrees--several apps or pasta. Our service was terrible, rushed to place our entire order immediately upon hearing the specials and we pushed through each course. Plates attempted to be cleared while still eating, second course brought while we still had previous courses, etc.

Jun 01, 2015
pollymerase in Philadelphia

trader joe's boxed soups-twist off top changed

I noticed that as well. Concerned that the first box was bad, I opened a second box to find the same thing. Glad to hear it's not just me that noticed this and found it odd!

May 15, 2015
pollymerase in Chains

"Can I transfer these drinks to my table"?

"BUT, and its a big but, not a mention of the customer experience. Now obviously experience varies by price point but isn't giving the customer a seamless, hospitable experience one of the core concepts at the heart of the industry?"

I think most owners feel the core concept of the hospitality industry is to make money. While it would seem that trying to make the most hospitable experience would make customers happy and thus make the most money, in practice it isn't always (or even often?) that way. It is about finding a balance of what the costumer sees is the value of a product/service with the cost providing that service and instituting appropriate policies to maintain that balance (i.e. cashing out, keeping bank, etc as it cuts down on money floating off the bottom line from irresponsible staff). If seems like the restauranteur Bagleman is referring to has found that balance if he has 11 successful establishments.

May 09, 2015
pollymerase in Not About Food

How to invite friends for dinner, where everyone pays for their own food?

That's really unfortunate, as it would have been very simple to state on a flyer that the cost per head would be approximately $75 and would be owed to the restaurant or the person arranging the event.

Kroger's response to my letter re: plumping meat:

Sadly, I'm a poor post-doc at a medical school hoping to one day get a real job.

Apr 16, 2015
pollymerase in Chains

Kroger's response to my letter re: plumping meat:

There is actually quite a bit of science that goes into determining the exact formula and volume of salt solution. When I was doing my graduate work at a state agricultural university, the meat and food science departments were constantly recruiting for tasting panels to taste test hams, pork, and chicken with different salinities (as well as all sorts of other things -- spice mixes, sweetness, etc). There were other studies you could volunteer for where you would be given meat or other products to cook at home and then report back your experiences.

So while I agree with you that to me the non-saline pumped meats taste better, I think the average (non-food obsessed) consumer may not notice/care.

FYI: It was a pretty lucrative program, a lot of the people who got PhDs in those programs took well paying jobs either consulting for the food industry, or working in house at food manufacturers.

Apr 16, 2015
pollymerase in Chains

Price Chopper Grocery from Missouri

I grew up in NW Iowa and then moved to KC for 6 years. I really enjoyed the price choppers where I lived in the KC suburbs. Really, really good variety of produce. I liked the breads and store nearest me had a tortilleria, which made amazing fresh corn and flour tortillas. Sadly, not all the stores were the same, so I don't want to get your hopes too high for fresh tortillas.

I usually went to HyVee for meat (deli and butcher), but I always thought that the prices across the board were cheaper at Price Chopper. I don't think I've ever been to a Dahls, so not sure how it would compare.

I live on the east coast now and the PriceChoppers in the KC area don't appear to have any relation to the PriceChoppers in the NE.

Mar 23, 2015
pollymerase in Chains

Party Early Birds

It seems to me that they abide by a different set of social norms and/or have confused being early with being prompt. My SO does this and we have had many discussions that arriving early to someone's home isn't necessarily polite. He thinks that if you arrive early and they are still getting ready it's not a big deal to sit inside and wait or help. My dad is similar and tends to show up at people's houses early in case they need an extra hand moving things or preparing food. His brothers and sisters are all the same. None of them mean any ill will or have any passive aggressive desires to control the party, they just like to converse and pitch in.

With that being said, it is a challenge when guests show up early, so if you otherwise enjoy their company be up front when you invite them and tell them that the party is from time X to Y. Tell them that you have a busy schedule prior to that and you will look forward to seeing them after X. If they show up early, politely let them know that you won't be ready for guests until X. If they say they don't mind or offer to help, insist that you are fine and will see them at X. Offer a near by alternative (i.e. the festival or shop) if they continue to insist.

Wasted food due to guest taking too much -- any solutions?

I think the key to patticakes's suggestion is that she is being upfront about it and offering to support her friend's health/weight loss in a way that may not further draw the attention of other guests. On the other hand, I think the friend may feel offended or slighted if she simply handed her a smaller plate while she gave everyone else larger plates. I'm sure the friend would wonder why she was singled out for a smaller plate, just like she would wonder why she was singled out for having her food portioned out for her.

Another option could be to set out plates of multiples sizes so that the friend may choose a smaller plate on her own. Using smaller plates is a common method of trying to eat smaller portions. The friend may be aware of this and automatically choose the smaller size. We frequently have catered events at work, and it is common for people to take the side dish sized plates so not to take too large of portions.

Aug 08, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Shucks, another tipping thread

I don't think it would hurt to simply ask how the tips work. If it is a local restaurant that you frequent often, maybe try to snag a seat at the bar close to the shucking station and say something to the bartender about how you find it quite impressive how the shucker is able to keep up with the volume of oysters being ordered. Then follow up with a comment about how you would like to show your appreciation and ask what is the best way to make sure he gets the extra cash you want to send his way. It might be best to find out if you can tip them directly.

Bad service (not horrible). Check adjusted. What to tip?

I'd probably tip 15-18% on the original amount. To me, the service described sounds adequate as opposed to bad. I don't necessarily consider these things missteps, but more a possibility that the server had not being properly trained for the level of service expected at the restaurant. Things I consider bad service include forgetting to deliver drinks, forgetting courses, being absent for long periods of time, being rude, not being familiar with the menu, etc.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a restaurant with a similar price point and we started with a round of drinks. The server had no idea what any of the cocktails or beers were that we ordered and we had to literally point to them on the menu so she could write them down. Our starters and 2 of 4 of our entrees arrived at the table at the same time, prior to our drinks. We had to ask 2 servers and eventually the manager about our drinks. It still took 5 mins after we asked the manager for them to arrive.

Aug 06, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Dinner music - the host or the guest decides?

What type of dance party was it? Lewd? Square? Flamenco?

Jun 26, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Burger Brawl Recap

Would you mind commenting on the event in general? Was it crowded? Long lines for food/drink? Well organized? Etc? I thought about attending this year, however I often find events like these (particularly beer fests with lots of breweries serving hard to find things) to be a giant cluster and ultimately not worth the time and money. Thanks!

Jun 09, 2014
pollymerase in Philadelphia

After slaughter, what happens to the unused cow parts?

Not necessarily, pregnant cows can be sent to the slaughterhouse. The fetal calves are also 'used', as their serum is collected and ultimately used to culture cells for scientific research.

I've been on the floors of a couple of different slaughterhouses to collect tissue for research. There are definitely cows/heifers and steers, but usually not too many bulls.

May 30, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

No call back on that reservation?

If a restaurant didn't call me back and confirm my reservation, I would assume that I do not have a reservation. I also wouldn't expect them to call me back and tell me I don't have a reservation. Most restaurants don't have a large staff, especially during hours they are closed. The people that are there are probably the owner or GM or their spouse and they are likely signing for deliveries, placing orders, preparing for service, etc and it's quite possible that my call is going to go missed or they simply don't have the time to call back everyone who calls them.

If no one answered when I called, I would probably call back later or leave a message asking them to call me to schedule a reservation, party, etc. I wouldn't assume that I could call a popular restaurant on a Saturday afternoon and say I wanted a table that night at 8 and think their lack of getting back to me meant I had a table. It likely means they haven't had a chance to check their messages.

Unisex bathrooms in restaurants

It doesn't bother me in the least. The only time I have found it slightly irritating is if the seat has been left up, and that is something I have very rarely encountered. As for urine spots, I've seen plenty of them on the seats of restrooms used only by women. If anything, I am slightly happy to see a unisex bathroom because it means my wait will be less as men tend to be much quicker in restrooms then women.

Han Dynasty or another idea for 40th bday

The Univ City Han Dynasty location has a semi-private room (maybe the doors can be closed to make it completely private) attached to the main dining room. There are two large round tables with a lazy susan in the middle so dishes can easily be passed around the table. We've had a couple of celebratory work lunches there and it works really well. I think it would work well if you ordered the tasting menu. That location also has a really good drink/beer selection.

Mar 13, 2014
pollymerase in Philadelphia

Is this a legit gripe - asking for seating

My thoughts exactly regarding the comment that 'everyone wins'. Yes, the tippee wins because they just bought themselves a table, the staff wins, because they get extra money for giving someone preferential treatment, but pretty much everyone else loses.

Mar 07, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Catering to relatives who don't want "exotic" food

This comment really resonated with me: 'On my own birthday with just my wife, guess what, I don't necessarily go where I want - there are places I love which I know she would not enjoy - sure she'd "find something" and be gracious but I want her to enjoy the meal as much as me.'

Yes, this isn't the case in the OP, as the grandparents are not particularly gracious about the selection, but this is what it really comes down to for me.

Mar 03, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Catering to relatives who don't want "exotic" food

I echo the sentiment of the many others who have suggested having a non-'exotic' meal with the grandparents and another meal at the Thai restaurant.

My father is a wonderful cook and I love going home and being spoiled with the great meals he makes me, but he also doesn't like things that are 'too strange (i.e. exotic) or fancy'. It wouldn't occur to me to pick a restaurant that I know he wouldn't enjoy, on my birthday or any other day. I can go to my favorite restaurant with my friends or my mom or sister the next week.

Mar 02, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food