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Betty Boop's Profile

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Is it right for restaurants to stop seating people before closing time?

Many of us know what it’s like to work for a living, whatever the business. I work late more days than I go home on time, and I do it for free because I am not an paid hourly. When I was once placed in charge of a project that was offered as a service to the public, the staff was paid (very well) overtime and therefore it was (atypically) by the hour. We became really good at getting everyone through the process and were frequently able to go home early. If a person showed up late for an appointment but before our posted closing, I would greet them and ask if they could just give us a few minutes to set up (again). The staff made faces at me the first time, but I told them that I was not going to turn anyone away within posted hours. The staff forgave me, knowing that they would probably go home early the next time. It’s just professionalism. If I might ramble on for a minute, I think our willingness to accommodate was remembered by the clients and tended to pay off in ways that we didn’t even know.

When I am one of the last to arrive at a restaurant near closing or on a slow night, I am willing to try to find something from the menu that is easier for the kitchen to prepare. I make up my mind right away and can be persuaded to settle the bill early. Dining at more normal times we tend to linger and chat for a while, but we tip appropriately and we remain aware of whether the place is swamped or almost empty. I am not offended if I am told something like “We were about to close a little early tonight, but if you want to order a quick bite we would be happy to accommodate you.”. There’s a local pizza and sandwich shop that will offer to make anything “cold” if you arrive a few minutes after they close, thus endearing themselves to an increasing loyal group of regulars. As for my perspective, tinymango, I am talking about life in a small New England coastal town that changes to winter hours every year as well as in a large, not season -sensitive city. By the way, in general, telling us what time the last party will be seated is much more informative than simply posting a closing time.

I was in a similar situation earlier this weekend. We are familiar with the menu and were able to order immediately. When they brought the check we were ready with the credit card knowing pretty much what the total would be before it arrived. And we tipped 25%. Everyone was happy. “See you next time!” What’s the problem?

Jan 25, 2009
Betty Boop in Not About Food

Your Avatar..does it sum up who you are?


Jan 06, 2009
Betty Boop in Site Talk

should restaurants tell you they're serving "special menu"?

If diners will not have the option of selecting something from the regular menu, it is the restaurant’s responsibility to inform anyone requesting a reservation that they will be offering a “special menu”, whatever the occasion. Most of us expect a special menu on NYE, but it's not something we are born knowing about.

I am not raising a 15-year-old but I’ve known a few. The OP mentioned that “we'd found their regular menu online and my son saw some choices he'd be fine with. “ So her son was willing to meet his parents halfway and deal reasonably with his tendency to be extremely picky. I’m thinking that salmon and duck are not in this teen’s repertoire, and that he might have been expecting to order something closer to a $10 burger or a $15 pizza. I would not expect a 15 year old to eat $48 worth of food that he doesn’t like and call it a good evening out. I would have reminded the restaurant that they kept the special menu a secret and given them the choice of making a little something he can eat or cancelling the reservation. I think the point was for the family to have a meal out together. No, the teen is not driving the bus. In fact, he tried to work with what was offered. But the family was not ready for the surprise menu.

Jan 05, 2009
Betty Boop in Not About Food

Thoughts on service before you even get to your table...

Regarding the drink, all they have to do is ask me. If I've just taken a few sips of my drink and what's in the shaker is still pretty fresh, the bartender can ask me if I'd like it to be topped off.

Regarding the table, if I've arrived 25 minutes early and choose to wait at the bar, it would behoove me to let the hostess know where I am within a few minutes of my reservation time. I want to only have to do this once. However, if I arrive pretty much on time and I'm forced to wait more than five or ten minutes, I can expect the hostess to be aware of where I am and find me. Most likely, I will be at the bar. Then they can let me know the table is ready and ask if we want to be seated now, or do we need a couple of minutes (certainly not much more if they're busy) to finish our drinks and settle up at the bar. If we've not "almost finished" our drinks, we can be shown to our table and meet our drinks there. I would still want a minute to settle the bar tab to make sure the bartender is properly tipped.

Jan 05, 2009
Betty Boop in Not About Food

Happy feet in the booth behind you--what to do?

I'm laughing - yes, out loud. When we were kids and we were out in a department store, my older brother used to say "Let's go!", then move quickly out of the immediate area. I'd ask "Why?" Well, he only had to answer the first couple of times (always smirked). After that, it was "Let's go!" and immediately both of us were on the move (both smirking). We couldn't tell Mom, she would never have approved. I'm sure he still does it but he lives so far away now. Must be entertaining his kids the same way.

Dec 27, 2008
Betty Boop in Not About Food

The perpetual empty handed guest

I didn’t know he had invited you to his home before your OP. He might have thought that one invitation is good for two or more “freeloads”, although I would disagree especially when it’s a freeloader and a guest. At any rate, I still would have given him at least one opportunity to bring something specific “unless you were planning to bring something else”, before sending him to Wendy’s. No criticism intended. It must have been no fun watching them drink up a storm when you were already feeling a little disrespected.

Nov 08, 2008
Betty Boop in Not About Food

The perpetual empty handed guest

Of course I’ll take your word for it. It seems that your relative’s bringing too much stuff is not her only source of irritation.

I had a more loveable relative who insisted on bringing too much (sometimes could have substituted her stuff for my dinner) no matter what I said, like “Why did you bring all this?” or “What am I going to do with all this?” “What, there’s more in the car?” “What time is the tourist bus getting here with all the people?” My immediate reaction was always to get rattled because it was during last minute preparation, and I’m no Martha Stewart. But I would immediately forgive and announce that it was all going “right there” in whatever out-of-the-way place I could find. I just had to learn to expect all that stuff and use only what fit in with the meal. She was actually a very good cook. There was seldom an empty-handed guest to make up for the excess, but she believed in being prepared for an extra busload of people. Well, that’s family. I am getting all teary-eyed now thinking about her carrying all that stuff in, because right now I would give almost anything to have her here with us for just one more dinner party.

But before people start thinking that I’m a regular Little Mary Sunshine, let me tell you a little about someone whom I couldn’t forgive so easily, a social acquaintance who did not exactly arrive empty-handed. No, actually worse than empty-handed in my opinion. We had pooled our resources to rent a lovely vacation home and planned a big party. I arrived pretty early and two of us went out to buy everything we needed from the supermarket, working mostly from an agreed-upon list. I paid for all the food, etc. This person came along much later that day and began hauling in bags from her car. In those bags was all kinds of food and other things from her refrigerator at home. WTF?? It was such a long time ago, but I remember things like a half-used bottle of salad dressing. Anyway, a few days after the party, I presented the itemized receipt from my shopping trip, and everyone was preparing to chip in. This person sat at the table and began preparing a list of items brought in from her fridge, and assigning dollar values to them. WTF?? We all paid up, but it took a very long time for me to forgive that episode. Anyway, maybe she’s at Wendy’s tonight with Cassoulady’s former freeloader. It takes all kinds, doesn’t it?

Oct 29, 2008
Betty Boop in Not About Food

The perpetual empty handed guest

Daisy, reading your post makes me feel for your relative, even though you plead with her not to bring anything. Some social peer groups and families get into the habit of insisting that the guests “just bring themselves” but know deep down that the guests will feel uncomfortable coming empty handed, and a hostess gift or something to add to the meal is still appreciated. If they bring too much, we just forgive them and offer to send some of it home with them (“Here, we’ll put it in your car.” on their way out).

Although I can bring flowers (in season) in from my yard and put them in vases, it always makes me happy when a guest or the delivery person brings me unexpected flowers, and there’s always something around the house to hold them. (I do love improvising and I have a collection of vases, decorative milk bottles and watering cans etc. that can be pressed into service. OK, that‘s just me perhaps.) The rest of the “stuff” can just be placed somewhere and I would just be glad it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. The host or hostess is not obligated to serve anything unsolicited, correct?

Some of the problem for me would be that when I’m running around at the last minute getting everything ready, I sometimes freak out when unanticipated “stuff” arrives with guests because I have to do something with that “stuff” immediately. For some guests, I might briefly suspect a control issue. I have learned how to just place it somewhere out of the way and plan to deal with it later, In the case of flowers, I hand them back to the “bringers” and point them to a vase or other container and put them to work.

I have a little more trouble with the chronically empty-handed dinner guest who does no inviting him/herself. I can overlook one or two visits without offering to bring something. But when it is chronic and they are bringing extra people I would begin to feel used and unappreciated. Sure, a dinner guest is under no obligation to bring something, but a host/hostess is also not obligated to keep inviting the person. So, cassoulady, given the whole situation, I would ask him once if he and his partner can bring something specific unless there’s something else they prefer to bring. No, it’s not the price of admission but an opportunity to behave like others in this group of guests. If his empty-handedness continues after that, I would lose his phone number.

Oct 27, 2008
Betty Boop in Not About Food

Weekday breakfast in PVD via RIPTA?

Thanks. I'll bring my sneakers.

Weekday breakfast in PVD via RIPTA?

I have a short appointment in Providence tomorrow morning and expect to have a two hour wait for my ride home. Is there a place worth a RIPTA ride or near Kennedy Plaza that serves a good breakfast? I only know Tim Horton's and * $ for coffee. Thanks!

Rude to Bring my Own Dinner to Party?

Glad to hear that you " had a nice time because the company was good and the wine was flowing". Also, by letting your personality shine through the issues you seem to have acquired some allies among MIL's friends. Way to go!

Sep 29, 2008
Betty Boop in Not About Food

Rude to Bring my Own Dinner to Party?

Bite Me, if it's really about your allergies there's nothing stopping you from calling the restaurant that is preparing the meal and telling them that you are allergic and that you worry. They can tell you whether there's anything in the meal that can harm you. Once you arrive at MIL's house, you can ask her discreetly "We're OK with my allergies, right?" to double check.

If it's more or less about you being a picky eater, you can do what most of us do in a similar situation: eat before you get there, choose small portions, take a few bites, and push the food around your plate while you engage in animated conversation. To bring your own meal once MIL has asked you not to bring any food would be rude and may seem hurtful. It would hurt my feelings if someone did that to me after I had gone to so much trouble to serve a nice dinner. The picky eater problem, by the way, is much more difficult to separate from the whole issue of your relationship with your MIL. I'm curious whether MIL has seen you eat at a restaurant or at anyone else's house without insisting on bringing your own meal.

You say that you personally think it's fine and never mind when someone does it at your house, but I tend to think that most people don't feel that way and it isn't something that is done very often in my experience. You also mentioned that MIL's girlfriends are making some dishes. Those are her friends, and they might have some kind of routine going among them. I hope you are not reacting to the fact that she is serving their dishes but has declined a dish from you. Just bring a really good wine and concentrate on the social experience rather than the food.

Sep 26, 2008
Betty Boop in Not About Food

Dining alone

Sorry, maybe my comment should have been clearer. I don’t know exactly when, but there was a time when many hotel lounges, hotel dining rooms and certain restaurants did not allow unescorted women or did not allow women at all. I think it may go back to the sixties. One example of a place that is in fact still in business is the Locke-Ober Café in Boston, which prohibited women from the main dining room for over a century until some time in the seventies. When I asked why women were not allowed in certain places without an escort, one reason some people gave (not speaking for the dining rooms in question) was that unescorted women were often suspected of being hookers. But if they’re not dressed like hookers? Well, maybe they were just preppy-looking hookers. Of course the comments about preppy dress were made in jest, but the practice of excluding women at the time was certainly no joke.

Locke-Ober‘s current chef /owner is award-winning Lidia Shire, one of the best and most respected female chefs in the business. Yes, we’ve come a long way.

Sep 23, 2008
Betty Boop in Not About Food

Dining alone

No, that doesn’t seem pathetic at all. In making our choices about where and how to dine, we must consider the context. If I lived where you live, my choices would probably be more limited. However, these days there are plenty of affluent and/or family-oriented towns that offer a “neighborhood bistro” where singles and groups can come and go as they please.

We’ve come a long way since the days that a woman out on her own would run the risk of being called some kind of preppy-looking hooker or a man on his own considered some kind of prowler. With all the changes in the population, the social context is bound to improve. As affluent baby-boomers, who are not used to staying home, get older and become statistically more likely to lose their partners, smart restaurant owners will be offering more options such as communal tables or social events to attract the business. To me, life is short, and anyone who hides out at home for lack of dining companions can look in the mirror for someone to blame.

Sep 23, 2008
Betty Boop in Not About Food

Dining alone

I know that I have friends and family and people that love me. Sometimes, however, they take me for granted. So my choosing to dine alone is not a sad and lonely experience but an act of defiance. If they don't want to go somewhere with me and I really want to go, I will go by myself, dependent on no one to decide when or where. I like to sit at the bar, and usually don't bring anything to read, but I would bring an interesting book, magazine or catalogue if the mood strikes. I am a schmoozer, and seem to chat easily with bartenders and nearby patrons. While I might miss the opportunity to share with my companion a dish or an opinion about the food, or a chance to talk about it all on the way home, I can enjoy a good meal and some social conversation with those around me.

This thread reminds me of the day when I, pretty much the social organizer among my friends, wanted to go to one of the popular places in the area for cocktail hour. Well, my friends couldn't make up their minds, so I just got in my car and went. The minute I walked in to that place, my life changed forever. I ran into old friends and made new friends that day, and those encounters led to many parties, dinner dates, sailing invitations and, most important, some new lasting friendships. Since that day, I have seldom or never hesitated to go out by myself.

Sep 21, 2008
Betty Boop in Not About Food

HELPNOW Rhode Islanders Last try for picks Blackstone Valley & nearby

OK, so of the many recommendations you were given for all of RI and much of nearby CT, you followed through on exactly how many? You went to one fairly nice restaurant (Chesters?) that was mediocre. Was it a recommendation from Chowhound? We haven't heard much about it on this board, so please tell us more about what made it mediocre. Remember, these discussion boards are intended to be places for exchange of information, so whatever you can share with us about specific places would be appreciated.

Newport and vicinity recommendations for NYC foodies

If I were in the area for just a few days, I would be sure to include a visit to Castle Hill. In my opinion, Black Pearl and the Mooring are pretty much comparable, depending on who's in the kitchen. I've been frequenting both for many years. My concern with Spiced Pear is not the prices, but that you can do just as well for a little less at several places in the Newport area.

I agree with Jane's recommendation for Goat Island at twilight for a view of the Pell Bridge as it lights up. You can also take a ride across the bridge for breakfast or coffee in Jamestown. If you like Abbott's, you probably won't be disappointed with Flo's. I consider both to be pretty good but not what they used to be.

Keep in mind that it's Labor Day weekend in coastal RI, and we're hearing that a lot of seasonal employees have just left, some of them without notice. So delays or confusion at some of the places we have been talking about is possible.

What do you do if you get a bad table?

For me it’s very simple. If I’m not going to be comfortable where I’m sitting I will not fully enjoy the meal. I have never declined a table for “no reason”. There are several reasons I might not want a table. It may be that I don’t want to be facing the wall (What am I, in time out?) especially since for me part of the fun of being out is often people-watching or soaking up the atmosphere. Only once in my life have I asked to be moved after being seated, and that happened when the physical discomfort (patio heater wasn’t working, among other things) was not evident until we had been there for a few minutes. But we did ask for the change before we ordered.

I also don’t want to be seated where the staff is constantly walking by me with food that can spill or where people are brushing by me with purses or elbows as they pass my awkwardly-placed table. I usually can easily see if there’s a table that would be more comfortable for me, and I would simply gesture toward a section of the room and ask “Do you have anything over there?”. Whether people who work there consider it the “best” or “worst” table matters not to me.

Whatever the reason one doesn’t want a table, physical limitations, Feng-Shui, prior military (maybe more like combat) experience, or anything else, the diner is, in my opinion, not obligated to give an elaborate or revealing explanation before requesting another table. I have never asked to switch tables more than once. If my request is not accommodated, I will then offer to 1. wait for something else to open up, 2. to sit at the bar if there is one and our party is small enough, or 3. come back another time. And by the way, if I’m sitting a the bar I know that my back may be to most of the room, but I am usually turned to the side in order to talk with my companion(s) and I’m not really up against a wall.

Many of us spend a lot of time, money and energy trying to make our dining room or dining area at home comfortable for our guests. For me that painstaking effort extends to my patio and deck. If restaurants charge us money to sit at their tables for our meals, I want to expect similar efforts.

Aug 07, 2008
Betty Boop in Not About Food

Charlestown Seafood Festival

So, i'm hungry, how expensive is the food? I haven't heard any complaints about the prices, but I don't know how much they charge compared to the local restaurants.

I like Summer Shack and Jasper's menu is heavily influenced by his RI experience, but it's indoors (OK, it's not hot and dusty.). Yes, there are plenty of good, casual seafood places in Boston but I don't know if you can get clam cakes or stuffies that far outside of RI. And then there's Del's lemonade.

It's a long drive and gas isn't cheap, but for out-of-towners it's an opportunity to sample the local specialties. Of course it's all relative and it all depends on what kind of experience you have in mind or whether you feel like a road trip.

According to the festival's web site, parking is free. Does the $7 include the music, or are the bands off in a separate area?

Charlestown Seafood Festival

There was a brief discussion a couple of days ago. I've never heard that it was a zoo or too pricey.

Charlestown RI

Allie’s is in North Kingstown, and it’s a popular place to stop if you’re taking Route 4 or Route 2 in or out of South County. In the Westerly area, The Cooked Goose on Watch Hill Road is pretty near Misquamicut and a good place for breakfast or lunch, baked goods and some gourmet items. Also, St. Clare's Annex in Watch Hill is known for lobster rolls, ice cream and fresh lemonade. Watch Hill is always good for a stroll and a little browsing.

I noticed that Roomful of Blues is playing in Charlestown on Sunday. I was thinking that I wouldn’t go at 6:00 PM expecting much fresh seafood, but if you are planning to see the earlier band, you will be there at a better time.

Charlestown RI

Sorry, I’m not going to give you a straight answer, but rather than let your post go unanswered any longer, I’ll tell you what (not much) I know about the seafood festival. I haven’t been in several years but I hear from those that have been going “The seafood was great. You must come with us next year” as well as “We could have done better just spending the money at Captain Jack's”. This seafood festival has more credibility than many of the more commercial “festivals” that you might find around New England in the summer, primarily since it is run by the local chamber of commerce and many of the booths are run by locals. It seems to be a good place to have a reasonably priced lobster outdoors. The raw bar can’t be bad, especially if they feature local shellfish. I’m assuming that they shuck the clams/oysters while you wait. See if the Charlestown Mini-Super is serving shrimp cocktails.

If the (small) crowds, entertainment or festival atmosphere don’t appeal to you, there are plenty of places in the area that serve good seafood, depending on how far you want to travel. Starboard Galley is in Charlestown and people like it for clam cakes, fried clams, etc. Captain Jack's (Matunuck area) is not far away and pretty reliable for lobster and other seafood dishes. Champlin’s (Point Judith, Narragansett) is also good for fresh lobsters, clamcakes. Both Captain Jack's and Champlin’s had fallen from grace at some point but we tend to think they each have improved within the last couple of years. All in all, it’s a great time of year to be in RI, but watch out for the beach traffic. It’s better to be down here early and get coffee and muffins ( or Allie’s donuts) on the way than to deal with that traffic on weekends.

Need Wickford Recs please...

Thinking about it, both Turtle Soup and the Coast Guard House usually have clams, mussels, and scallops on their menus, but neither can be couted on to have whole lobsters, so you would need to call ahead to see what they are serving. If I wanted to be sure to have clams and lobsters in Narragansett, I would go to Champlins or Aunt Carrie's, which are actually a little further from Wickford. Wherever you go, especially on a summer weekend, start early so you don't have to wait forever for a table.

Saving $ Favorite Marked Down/Reduced Food Finds

Ditto on Christmas Tree Shops, Ocean State Job Lot and T.J. Maxx for gourmet items. I also have good luck at Marshall's and Home Goods. Although I usually prefer to grind coffee just prior to brewing, I tend to like the (ground) flavored coffe selection at Marshall's/Home Goods, as well as T.J. Maxx. I frequently find Nonni's Biscotti at Ocean State at a good price. For all these items I always check expiration dates but they're usually not a problem.

Need Wickford Recs please...

Take a short ride to Jamestown or Narragansett, where you can find plenty of seafood and water views. In Narragansett, Turtle Soup and the Coast Guard House have great views and seafood on the menu. The food at turtle Soup is usually pretty good. I'm not sure about the Coast Guard House. It's had it's ups and downs.

What's the deal with Bali Hai?

OK, this thread has somehow killed my appetite, but provided more than a couple of laughs. I lived about a five minute drive from Aku Aku for years and passed it hundreds of times, often while hungry, but couldn't be talked into going in. I was fussy about my dives. I guess I could bookmark this thread for future use as an appetite suppressant.

Cranston, RI one night only recs?

Twin Oaks seems to have been updated every few years since they rebuilt after the fire in the 80's. I don't know which years these things were added, but there is a new room on the left side past the large bar, a fairly new back porch bar/lounge area, and new outdoor seating. I haven't seen the outdoor section, but a sign was up when the weather was better. I didn't go to Twin Oaks for a while because I didn't want to wait the expected two hours, but I think the wait averages under 20 or 30 minutes these days.

I am not over 65, and I have posted a couple of good reviews. I do, however, find your comments ageist and especially offensive since you complain about perceived sexism. The reality is that ownership and management are 50% female, so those waiters are in fact working for a woman.

I don't care if they commit my order to memory. A couple of times they brought me the wrong side order, but replaced it, no problem. And I don't mind iceberg in my side salad.

Twin Oaks

snl, don't be so quick to feel sad. Not everyone shares Monono's opinion.

Monono, I was doing an internet search to check my facts before responding to your post, and I happened to find the same review, word-for-word, posted 12-18-07 on yahoo under the username “jennieloo”. So you and jennieloo had exactly the same experience there, just several weeks apart? What are the odds?

OK, let me respond to your report:

“I heard that they lost a lot of business due to the Casinos.”

There is some truth to this statement, but that would have been more than 15 years ago. They reportedly lost a small percentage of business, not a lot, when Foxwoods opened. They were indeed very visible in opposition to Harrah’s more recently.

“an empty shell of what it once was”

Twin Oaks may not be all that it was years ago. Nothing is forever. But your description “empty shell’ is harsh. In my opinion, it is still very good and very reliable.

“About 6 weeks ago we took my mother for her birthday”

The Dec 18 07 review states that your (or her) visit was six weeks ago also. So, I’m curious, was it 6 weeks ago, or 3 months ago? Shall we expect to read this review every six weeks?

“they only had two options, one was twice baked and the other was mashed.” “Since when did they stop serving baked potatoes?”

Well, as far as I know, they still offer baked potato as a side, but maybe only at dinner. Nevertheless, they offer fries, sweet potato fries and mashed at every meal every day, or you can choose pasta to sub for the potato and veggie. Are you sure you were at the Cranston Twin Oaks?

“waited an unusually long time after being seated just to order. (Can you say bad service?)”

No, actually I find the service consistently good with a rare glitch. Nothing’s perfect. But I’m curious. Exactly how long did you wait?

“The red sauce for the pasta was plain.”

I’ve enjoyed the red sauce there more times than I can count. It seems to have plenty of flavor. Or do you mean that it did not contain meat? So it’s a marinara sauce.

The special loaf of Italian bread we ordered (at an additional cost because it had been marinated in butter) was served without plates.”

When you are seated, you get a bread and butter plate immediately, whatever your choice of bread, Italian with butter/cheese or the “default” free rolls. Are you sure you were at the Cranston Twin Oaks?

“I ..left my ..sippy cup and …. came by the next day they were open and it was gone.

Maybe when they said they would hold it until later, they thought you would be back the same day, but “Thank god I did not leave any jewelry or my purse.” is extremely harsh and unfair. I don’t think you would have waited a day or two if you were retrieving a purse or jewels.

“Don't go.”

You post a message in response to three positive reports, one of them mine. Whom are you telling not to go?

Looking for good selection of rolling kitchen islands in CT

Don't forget to check out their ad for the 20 % off coupon. You can find it on the website.

Lobster specials in South County(RI)?

Out of town visitors this week. If we can find a place that is serving lobsters at a good price, I won't have to cook. Usually after Labor Day we get twin lobsters for under $25, but we need to call a few places before we go out.