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garmonbozia's Profile

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Café Plume: Since when it is OK to ask a customer to leave before they finish their food?

Well, I give up. I think a lot of people are misconstruing the situation and really playing ad hominem. Like I wrote in the original post, I had no intention to camp there all day with the price of a coffee and croissant. I was planning to have lunch, in fact very soon, but find it really off putting that it is put on a schedule by the proprietor.

When I work at a coffee shop, I try to make a purchase every 90 minutes or so. Even though I prefer the filter at Plume, I try to buy more expensive espresso drinks to have a larger bill. I buy cookies that I don't eat immediately, just to pay my "rent." I observe many people don't do these, many nurse a single cup of coffee; so that is a stereotype I fight. And in fact, I prefer beans from another coffee shop that I solely go for takeout; but I have deliberately chosen to by my bulk beans from Plume just to pay back.

Going to a coffee shop to work costs me more than what I would pay for a coworking space, or home office; but I do this because I want to work around people and interact with (usually) kind staff. I also recommend this particular cafe to everyone and am personally responsible for at least a dozen repeat customers. I have talked about this place on my Facebook so many times, many out of town visitors wanted to see it first time they arrive. If my intention was to find a cheap place to work or exploit a loyalty relationship, I could have done elsewhere.

What I am put off is that telling a customer, directly, that they have to leave the table even though they were working on their food. This is beyond relationship norms of such establishments, and thus severes the loyalty. Thank god, there are other coffee shops within the same mile radius where I don't get to feel like a walking dollar sign.

And if asked in a non-antagonizing way, I could have shared a table with someone, or moved to a stool instead (which I have done many times) or even moved to a different coffee shop (which I have done too); but once the first sentence you hear is "If you are not going to consume you will have to give up your table," nothing makes sense anymore. To give credit, the proprietor offered me to move to a shared table as an alternative when I started to move out, and looked distressed; but I didn't feel like staying. Btw, I have barely interacted with her in the past, I know her, but she probably doesn't know me and might not know that I go there often. So I doubt that she was particularizing the issue into "she comes here too often." For some reason, I end up getting there when the other owner is present, which might have been a blessing, considering.

Thanks for reading. Now I have work to do, and I think I am down with all the personal attacks. Patronizing people that you don't know about their personal morals, their lifestyle, their intentions and their eating pace is not cool and morally questionable itself. I hope those who were straw manning me could also think about that.

I will, however, keep an eye of the pace of the crowd during lunch time; disregarding this dynamics is a fault that I have committed since I was engrossed in writing. Realizing this is the only positive thing about this experience, and I am reluctantly grateful to people who tactlessly pointed this out. That still doesn't warrant such public shaming that people seem to attempt here.

That's all. Good luck with your trolling and whatever.

Apr 02, 2013
garmonbozia in Not About Food

Café Plume: Since when it is OK to ask a customer to leave before they finish their food?

Why so? Both cases have paid the exact amount and spending the exact amount of time at the cafe. Whatever they are doing while consuming the goods is irrelevant.

Apr 01, 2013
garmonbozia in Not About Food

Café Plume: Since when it is OK to ask a customer to leave before they finish their food?

For those who don't like others who work/study at coffee shops and think it was OK that they asked me out because they thought I wasn't consuming enough. Lets assume that you were at a coffee meeting with your friend, and it lasted 75 minutes and you are nibbling on your food still, because you know that is what friends do, chat and nibble. Would it have been OK if the owner interrupted and asked you to finish your conversation and leave?

Apr 01, 2013
garmonbozia in Not About Food

Café Plume: Since when it is OK to ask a customer to leave before they finish their food?

Well then they really need to change the norms and make it explicit. A time limit is a good one; or cutting down the wifi and not having outlets (again, like Myriade). As long as it is explicit and transparent people will be fine. As I said, I have no objection to their no laptop policy during the weekend, I actually embrace it. But if you are going to provide an environment that screams for laptop working, then you have to accept that people will work on their laptops.

I also think people are really misreading my agreement with the place. I had no intention to stay there forever for the price of one croissant an latte (which by the way cost me 7.25). I usually make three purchases during the day, paced in an equitable manner I hope (but I might be wrong). I just was really put off with the fact that they were asking me to buy more while I was obviously working on my food. Even at restaurants where they have two seatings, and naturally time restrictions, when you are expected to leave is very explicit and stated early in the interaction (usually during reservation); not when you are halfway through your food.

Apr 01, 2013
garmonbozia in Not About Food

Café Plume: Since when it is OK to ask a customer to leave before they finish their food?

Well a coffee shop usually has three types of customers:

The laptop campers: They are not the people to make money on, but they are an essential part of the culture and they are loyal
Social customers: The ones that come for chitcat, and stay for about an hour or less
Takeout: This is where most of the money comes in.

It all requires careful orchestration of these three types of customers and all three are subject to different norms. A good manager should understand that. If one wants to just sell coffee with quick turnaround, they can just open a takeout kiosk like the Distributrice or probably remove the laptop outlets (which are about 1 per table in Plume) and cut down the wifi like Myriade does. Or really, establish a transparent rule like 1.5 hrs per customer. Make it explicit and equitable; not idiosyncratic and out of the blue. Do I object to the no laptop rule during the weekend, no? I actually embrace it. And let people finish their food. Otherwise, it is rude.

I would never camp at Myriade or a more traditional "cafe" like Figaro. Plume is not Myriade, they have always been a laptop coffee shop.

Apr 01, 2013
garmonbozia in Not About Food
3

Café Plume: Since when it is OK to ask a customer to leave before they finish their food?

I don't want to be snarky (unlike you), but obviously you've never been to an indie coffee shop if you apply restaurant turnover times to them. They don't sell coffee or croissants, they sell the space and the atmosphere and the time you spend. And over the years, I can safely say that I paid for the time I spend there in an equitable manner.

These places are third places where people work/live and it is the norm that they linger. I actually liked that they had no laptop policy during the weekends, but during the week it has been always a home for freelancers, academics and students who want to work away from home.

Apr 01, 2013
garmonbozia in Not About Food

Café Plume: Since when it is OK to ask a customer to leave before they finish their food?

I have been a loyal customer of Plume. I recommended it to friends, rave about it on Facebook (just did it 2 hours ago actually). I took a few first dates there, because the place feels familiar and comforting. I go there about once a week, sometimes more often and usually end up having breakfast, lunch and maybe an afternoon tea if I feel lush. My ex used to go there every single day before he moved out of the city, he had a “bar tab.” I like to have a workday there, and never ever once got any attitude about this. People are usually super kind and friendly. Besides, there are many people who are doing the same. I also buy their beans; mostly because I want to reciprocate and fulfill my duties on my side of the moral economy between them and me. I liked the space and staff, hell it has been my favorite coffee shop in town; well until today.

So today I go there. I order a croissant and a latte and sit down to work. I finish my coffee and keep on nibbling on my croissant. About an hour later, a staff member comes in and asks if “I want my croissant to go?” I say WTF, sneaky! I pretend I don’t understand, and state that I am working on it. I really am. Fifteen minutes later, she comes in again and tells me that if I don’t consume I have to give up my table. I am not hungry enough to have lunch, yet and yes I am actually still consuming the food I paid for. I will probably have a sandwich later, but not when they want me. I look around to the sea of laptop jockeys and wonder why I am singled out. She insists that this is not personal and she has to turn tables and there are people waiting. I get upset, leave my half eaten croissant behind and leave, telling her that I have been a loyal customer and this really ruined my day. It is weird politics. On one hand, I understand there is a business to manage; on the other hand, extremely poor taste to ask someone to move who obviously still has food on their plate.

So I write it here, because well I need to rant somewhere; but also am really wondering if I do not get the rules of the coffee shop game even after working in them for many years. Heck, I even wrote about them in the professional context (details of which cannot be disclosed due to anonymity). I mean if you are managing a coffee shop with wifi and lots of laptop outlets, isn’t it the norm to let your customers park and give them some credit that they are not leeching too much? Can you at least let a customer finish their food? That’s all. Thanks for reading.

Apr 01, 2013
garmonbozia in Not About Food
1

Openings in 2012

A new Syrian (Syrian food is the new cupcake?) takeout Tazah is open on the corner of Hotel de Ville and Mont Royal. It is the old Cantine location. Next door there seem to be a work on a more formal restaurant (similar plan with the cantine). The menu lists sandwiches, soup, salad. https://www.facebook.com/pages/TAZAH-Sandwiches-et-caf%C3%A9/508634285829278?ref=stream

Across the street, Trip de Bouffe is opening soon: http://tripdebouffe.com/

I like that there is some ethnic fast food comin in to this hood.

Aug 18, 2012
garmonbozia in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Restaurant Closings in 2012

La Cantine is closed, and there is a sign stating that a new Syrian resto is opening soon.

Jun 21, 2012
garmonbozia in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

looking for frozen quebec mackerel fillets

I prefer the Quebec ones, but yes any mackerel would be better than none :)

I've cooked those frozen Portuguese sardines before. Good stuff, but lots of work to defrost and clean them out because I like to grill them completely gutted. But I haven't seen the mackerels. I'll check my Portuguese owned local grocer.

Jun 14, 2012
garmonbozia in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Is SAQ allowed to reserve bottles for some customers? + hats off to Marche Latina

At other SAQs at many instances they tried to locate the bottle at another outlet for me as well; never put it aside, but gave me the addresses of a few outlets that are nearby with some good inventory. This time, however, they could have cared less. I had somewhat similar experiences at the posh SAQ on St Catherine, while trying to buy a bottle of $49 champagne amongst 400-500 dollar bottles; so maybe I was too small of a customer to care for.

Online ordering at SAQ is great, especially when they have discounts, but I am vary of the heat in the Canada Post trucks in the summer. I don't want my wine to cook for 2 days before reaching me.

Jun 12, 2012
garmonbozia in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Is SAQ allowed to reserve bottles for some customers? + hats off to Marche Latina

Good to know that ordinary cork dorks can indeed reserve their wine. I think I'll be a regular reserver at the Atwater store from now on, or the Place des Arts one. Don't think I'll go back to Laurier territory, after a few too unfortunate incidents. I know it doesn't matter for SAQ that I go there, but still a principle. It is sad that they usually have a fantastic inventory.

BTW, the cheese that we bought from Latina were glorious. We had a perfectly ripe Lingot D'or (the store staff took their time to pick the best one from the batch), I almost weeped while eating it. I think it was the best birthday gift. We also had a great Linconshire Poacher, a first for me. I really appreciated the guy behind the counter geeking out for us, just for a small sale. He also helped us pick a rosette. Dude, you rule, whatever your name is!

Now I shall consume my birthday Mamie Clafoutis tart.

Jun 11, 2012
garmonbozia in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

looking for frozen quebec mackerel fillets

I finally found someone to ask at my local Provigo and the person said that this product is no longer available and if I see a pack around it is probably year old product. Dommage!

Jun 11, 2012
garmonbozia in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Is SAQ allowed to reserve bottles for some customers? + hats off to Marche Latina

I went to the Laurier store today to get two wines. I went out of my way to get to this specific outlet, because they had the wines I wanted to get in stock. The first one (of which they had 4 bottles left according to the software) was nowhere to be found. They finally found the manager and he said that the bottles weren't available any more. I heard them talking to each other in French that it was reserved for someone else (I guess they thought I didn't understand it). When I inquired whether if this is allowed (I remember reading in this board a few years back that it wasn't permissible), they got a little defensive and insisted that you have a week to pick your bottles up if you reserve. I then mumbled that maybe they should drop the reserved wines from the "available" list in their inventory online, but they guy wasn't interested in my opinion. I didn't have the chance to ask how one gets to reserve a wine.

The second one was also nowhere to be found. The manager dismissively said that they can't locate it and he can't help me, and left the floor. I wasn't surprised by this attitude because I had horrible experiences with this outlet in the past when I tried to speak English to the staff (when you are young, casually dressed, horrible with French pronunciation, or English speaking they assume that you don't know anything about wine), but oh well I am not getting into the politics of SAQ or the province. Besides, I had excellent service at other outlets (Atwater, Alexis Nihon, Mont Royal) with my broken French, or better but still broken English.

But seriously, can one reserve a bottle in advance (especially for fly-off-the-shelf wines) or NOT? Or is it some special treatment to their special clients? I am genuinely curious because I am interested in small batch (but usually affordable) wines that sell out very quickly and this should save me a lot of time and effort. I can't find this information anywhere, and if anyone knows the secret code for getting a bottle reserved please share (but it won't be so secret anymore)

Just when I was walking home, defeated that some arrogant person ruined my birthday, I decided to stop by Marche Latina to get some cheese. I asked for a cheese with my broken French. The guy corrected my pronunciation with zero condescension plus some good humor (there are ways to do this you know!), and spent the next 15 minutes helping me pick some cheese with his own not that good English. They have a small but well edited selection of cheese. I wish I lived closer. Then I realized how I should still have some hope that we can all live together in this dysfunctional province if people were just a little nicer.

Jun 11, 2012
garmonbozia in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

looking for frozen quebec mackerel fillets

I used to eat these once a week and get them from my local Provigo in the Plateaul. They haven't stocked it for a while, and when I asked staff, they looked at me as if I am crazy. Anyone has seen them in any of the Plateau stores? They are sort of a staple, so the closer I can find the better; but I am filling to venture out just for them too, if needed. They are cheap, local, sustainable and delicious; if only I can find them.

I found a promo web site, but couldn't find a contact info/form to ask for retail locations . Here is how the package looks, in case someone can visually identify: http://www.maquereauduquebec.com/

My tummy will thank you.

Jan 20, 2012
garmonbozia in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Kosher frustration

Rumi is definitely not a Japanese name. The restaurant is named after the Persian Sufi poet Rumi and I doubt the restaurant is kosher.

-----
Rumi
5198 Rue Hutchison, Outremont, QC H2V4A9, CA

Apr 29, 2011
garmonbozia in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

solo diner looking for a long and intellectualized dinner experience with good wine pairing

Wohooo seat available at the Loft. I hope I can find the place as a London rookie! This is already too exciting. I don't mind skipping my book since I will be around people that actually love food. Thanks for the fantastic suggestion again everyone.

Jun 20, 2010
garmonbozia in U.K./Ireland

solo diner looking for a long and intellectualized dinner experience with good wine pairing

I guess I am trying to find somewhere where I can actually experience the food myself without any bruhaha and trendiness or even better be around people that I can talk about food. In that regard, Loft sounds perfect; I made a reservation inquiry already. But foremost, I am looking for exceptional food or wine, and could care about surroundings as long as I can experience the food without being rushed or disturbed. If I am alone, I don't mind reading my book while slowly ingesting yummies. Also, I want this experience to change my perceptions about food or wine (hence the Alinea experience).

My reservation with French is that I live in Montreal and it is the standard MO here. But when it comes to... no problem with eating some more of that.

Jun 18, 2010
garmonbozia in U.K./Ireland

solo diner looking for a long and intellectualized dinner experience with good wine pairing

Booo, I was sooo excited about Viajante; but they are booked for all the four nights I am there. I can probably take a rez at the bar, but not sure if it is the same food. Trying Hibiscus too, will keep the board posted about the experience.

Jun 18, 2010
garmonbozia in U.K./Ireland

solo diner looking for a long and intellectualized dinner experience with good wine pairing

I will be in London for a few days, and have a few things on my list. I am going to the Anchor and Hope with old friends, and perhaps one night will be at Barrafina. Lunches will be Ottolenghi and probably lots of conference catering (eek). But for my night alone, I am looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary. One of my most memorable dinners a year back was at Alinea, with a very very good book and occasional charming conversations with the servers. This is once a year thing for me, so I don't mind splurging (in case Alinea reference wasn't convincing). But I will be dining alone, don't want meatmarkets, places that are bustling, or noisy. I am looking for a 6+ course dinner with a carefully selected wine pairing.

I hate to give my money to Gordon Ramsay for personal reasons (reasons that will probably will result in the deletion of this post) and I would rather not eat French since I come from a Francophone city and feel like I can branch out. So what would be that place for me? Merci!

Jun 17, 2010
garmonbozia in U.K./Ireland

Birthday dinner for 10 in Madison, WI

Thanks for the suggestions. We found wheels and ended up in Sardine, and had a lovely dinner with very reasonably priced wines. The skatewing and the pasta with lamb were fantastic and the service was gracious. We also tried Cooper's Tavern for a second birthday dinner next day, and lucked out for a table at the "snug". 10 of us, it was a little snuggy but oh well. My mac and cheese with pork belly is still stuck to my thighs :) Must run tomorrow. And what a beer list!

Jun 17, 2010
garmonbozia in Great Lakes

Birthday dinner for 10 in Madison, WI

Hello Chowhound,
Frequent lurker, lazy poster, retired badger (now living in Canada) here. I will be celebrating my birthday in Madison, WI with 9 of my friends during a conference. I originally thought of The Old Fashioned, but unfortunately they don't take reservations; being this a Saturday, I don't want my guests to become impatient.

My favorite restaurants in town (after living 7 years) are Lombardinos and Lao Laan Xang. Unfortunately, we don't have transportation to go either; my folks would not be patient enough to walk more than 500 ms. We'll be in the campus area, and will need a festive, fun, not too stuffy place to hang out. Where shall we go?

Merci!

-----
Lao Laan Xang Restaurant
2098 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704

Lombardino's Restaurant
2500 University Ave, Madison, WI 53705

Jun 02, 2010
garmonbozia in Great Lakes

help me find my third restaurant

An old friend and I will be meeting up in Chicago for three nights. We planned two other dinners, one at Alinea and the other at Frontera. After Alinea, we don't want another big ticket dinner, and would also prefer somewhere that is casual so that we can just relax and catch up.

We'd like to find something interesting and somewhat true to Chicago and its cultural makeup. To give an idea, my dinners at Cochon (NOLA), Ippudo Ramen (NYC), Au Pied de Cochon (Montreal) made me feel like I made great decisions. So I'd like to make another good decision, without breaking the bank too much. Budget is flexible and we would be comfortable with paying 50/head. More, we'll see depending on our mood. Less is always good :)

Both of us are non-Americans that lived in the midwest for a while, so we miss traditional American cooking.

I am a budding cork dork, and I have little access to California wines so a wine bar (with contemporary American food) would be good too.

We don't have any dietary restrictions, but we have some other constraints:

It is going to be a Friday night, so we prefer somewhere with reservations or have a short waiting time. Since this is a reunion dinner, ideally we also would not like to be kicked out after 90 minutes, but we can always continue our chat at a bar.

We don't wish to eat French (both of us have access to excellent French food), Greek (ditto), and we are not fans of deep dish pizza.

Bonus points for old school American (diners, taverns, soul food), Japanese (homestyle cooking not designer rolls, sashimi is ok) and upscale versions of the said. We don't get any of these.

We will be staying at Maginificent mile (Marriott), but willing to travel a little.

Thanks in advance.

Jul 28, 2009
garmonbozia in Chicago Area

dutch oven

I own both Le Creuset ovens/pans and similar but less famous (and cheaper) ones. At this point the cheaper ones are performing as well as the famous brand; but time will tell if the enamel will wear similarly.

Winners will sell factory seconds and defectives of Le Creuset for a discount; and sometimes the defects are just on the outside of the pot. Which means it is a cosmetic issue that doesn't affect performance. I am also very happy with a enameled knockoff that I bought from Winners, I think the brand is Outset or Outlet (something like that) and it was a fraction of the price of LC.

Unless there is a big sale at Bay or some other store, Caplan Duval in Cavendish usually has the best prices in North America for Le Creuset stuff. I've never been there, but it was legendary in the North American cookware geekdom for a while. I know a lot of people in the US order from there (despite the customs hassle), because no other US store was able to beat their prices.

Nov 26, 2007
garmonbozia in Quebec (inc. Montreal)