Friday, July 1, 2016

Good Service Is Part Of A Good Meal

I enjoy eating out.  Yes, I just heard the collective "WELL DUH" from my regular readers; anyone who's read this blog knows that I love having a good meal served to me in a comfortable setting.
Subject: Waitress | Date: 03/27/2008 | Photographer: Json |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

However, lately I've been irked by, what seems to be, a new trend in service.  I'm referring to wait staff bringing the entrée 2 minutes after the appetizer, forcing me to abandon my appetizer or let my entrée get cold.  I hate that.

Keep in mind, if it only happened occasionally this blog entry wouldn't exist.  Waiting tables is a hard job, and flukes happen.  I get that.  Yet, it's happened every time I've eaten out this summer.

This is an industry wide problem, so I'm not interested in bashing individual restaurants.  Without naming names, the worst example took place last week.

I received my Cheddar Bay biscuits and steamed muscles appetizer, and had eaten three of the twelve muscles when my salad arrived.  I shrugged and figured I'd finish the muscles and eat the biscuits with the salad.  Two minutes later my lobster bake arrived.  I gulped down the muscles and skipped the salad to keep my main dish from getting cold.

A diner should never feel the need to gulp.  A diner should be able to enjoy the meal they've purchased,in a leisurely relaxed fashion.

The training website teaches, "Before you deliver the entrée(s), you must make sure that the table is ready for the entrée(s). Make sure you remove any appetizer plates or other dishes to make room for the main course. Nothing is more uncomfortable than a pile of dishes at the table that the customer must navigate around to enjoy their meal."

The one remedy diners have is the adjustment of the tip.  Unfortunately, restaurateurs, such as Portlander Scott Dolich of Park Kitchen and The Bent Brick, are leading the movement to ban tips.  The idea is to raise prices 15% across the board to ensure a level of payment to the server despite the diner's assessment of service.

While I agree servers should receive a living wage, the ability to incentivize servers to deliver quality service isn't something I'm willing to sacrifice.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pizza Hut's Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Crust - A Review

First, Pizza Hut stuffed their crust with a ring of Mozzarella.  Then, Little Caesar's wrapped their pizza in bacon.  Now, Pizza Hut is returning the volley by stuffing their crust with Mozzarella AND bacon.

Subject: Bacon Stuffed Crust Pizza with Extra Cheese, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, and Asiago Crust Topping | Date: 06/01/2016 |Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell | This picture was taken by the author of this blog. |

Being a fan of both cheese and bacon, I ordered Pizza Hut's Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Crust Pizza with extra cheese, pepperoni, Italian sausage, and Asiago crust topping.  I usually get anchovies, but thought salty fish might deliver salt overkill when coupled with the bacon.

I won't waist time critiquing the pizza itself; it was a standard fast food pizza with extra cheese, pepperoni, and Italian sausage.  You probably like different toppings, so I'll just comment on the crust.

This version of "stuffed crust" features a series puffs stuffed with Mozzarella and bacon bits, rather than a continuous ring of cheese filling the crust.  The crust puff appeared mostly hallow when I bit into it, but I did taste a good portion of cheese.  While the bits didn't have the crisp crunch of bacon, they imparted a welcome smoke flavor to the cheese.

Overall, I give Pizza Hut's Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Crust 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pampered Chef's Dijon Mustard Rub

Before I begin, I have to reveal that, Pampered Chef purveyor, Lee Anne Krause is a friend who's kindly allowed me to promote my blog on her Facebook page for the last few years.

Pampered Chef is a global multi-level marketing company that offers a line of kitchen tools, food products, and cookbooks for preparing food in the home. They depend on local purveyors selling to friends or party guests, kind of like a culinary Avon.
Dijon Mustard Rub
Subject: Pampered Chef's Dijon Mustard Rub | Source: Courtesy of Pampered Chef with Lee Anne Krause  |

Since I bought a 1.9 ounce jar of Pampered Chef's Dijon Mustard Rub, for $5.25, from a friend, I told myself I'd break one of my rules, and only blog about it if it was good.  Well, I'm blogging about it.

Made from (Dijon Mustard Powder [Dijon Mustard ((Distilled Vinegar, Mustard, Salt, White Wine, Citric Acid, Tartaric Acid, Spices)), Maltodextrin, Modified Food Starch, Natural Flavor], Brown Mustard, Sugar, Black Pepper, Dehydrated Onion, Mustard Seed, Dehydrated Garlic, Vinegar Powder ((Maltodextrin, White Distilled Vinegar, Modified Food Starch)), Thyme, Rosemary, Less than 2% of Parsley, Sage, Bay, Oleoresin Turmeric, Oregano, Natural Flavor, and Silicon Dioxide to prevent caking) I'm not sure the label "rub" completely describes this product.

Conceivably this would be good rubbed into a pork loin or chicken before roasting.  However, the two times I've used it, so far, I've used it as a seasoning.

First, I sprinkled it into a mayonnaise based pasta salad (pasta shells, bell peppers, green onions, mayo, and salt).  Then today, I mixed two tablespoons of the seasoning/rub with a quarter cup of sour cream and a quarter cup of mayonnaise to make a dip for a soft pretzel.

I recommend using, at least, two table spoons of the seasoning to get the flavor to really come through.   Yet once I used enough, Pampered Chef's Dijon Mustard Rub provided a nice mustard flavor without delivering a harsh mustard bite.

All things considered, I give Pampered Chef's Dijon Mustard Rub 7 out of 10 stars.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Salvador Molly’s – A Hot Review

Like many cable viewers, Salvador Molly’s (1523 SW Sunset Blvd, Portland, OR 97239) has been on my radar ever since Adam Richman took Molly's fire ball challenge.  The challenge is centered around their Great Balls of Fire (habanero cheese fritters served with habanero salsa) priced at 5 balls for $7.95, 3 balls $4.95, or 1 ball $2.95.  On the Scoville scale a habanero has 395,000 units of heat, where a jalapeno weighs in at a mere 8,000 unit.  Diners who eat five balls, with ALL the sauce, get their picture on Molly's HALL of FLAME!

When two friends took me to Molly's last weekend, we decided to split, what looked like, a charred black ball.  Dani had an eighth, I had a forth, and Mike had the rest.  Mike barely noticed the heat.  Dani and I had quite a different reaction; our noses ran, our eyes watered, and we each had to down a glass of milk to stop the pain.

Subject: Salvador Molly's Food | Date: 04/30/2016 |
Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell  | This picture was taken by the author of this blog. |

Once we could feel our faces again, we decided to stay for lunch beginning with complimentary peanuts and a cocktail.  I had Molly's Angry Pineapple (Svedka Vodka infused in house with Thai chilies and kaffir lime leaf, shaken with pineapple juice and garnished with a slice of  jalapeño) for $6.00.  The drink was sweet with a pleasantly spicy finish on the back of the throat.

Next we shared the Memphis Blues Smothered Potatoes (Crisp garlic potato wedges, or curly fries, topped with slow cooked Tamarindo BBQ pork, cheese & sour cream) for $4.95 as an appetizer.  We chose the curly fries.  These were, hands down, the best part of meal.  The fries were well seasoned and crispy, the pork was; tender, sweet, and tangy; and the sour cream and cheese provided a nice balance.  In fact, as I ate them I began to sing a little diddy (see below).

For my entrée, I had the Drum Pan Jerk Chicken & Mango Sandwich (Juicy jerk chicken breast on our own freshly baked roll with garlic-lime aioli, grilled mango relish, garlic spinach & pickled onions. Served with roasted sweet potatoes) for $10.50.  The mango relish and pickled onions delivered a tasty acidic sweetness, which was the dominant flavor of the sandwich.  The chicken had a nice grilled flavor, but it was tough and I didn't taste the jerk spice.  Additionally, the mashed sweet potatoes were mashed sweet potatoes; they were good, but not unique.

Even considering the deficits of the sandwich, when I factor in the delicious cocktail and appetizer, and friendly service, I give Salvador Molly's 8 out of 10 stars.

Baby Got Pork:
I like pulled pork and I can not lie,
You other eaters can't deny,
That when a waitress walks in with a plate o' saucy meat,
Says, it's time to eat,
Ya get hungry, for pig that ain't tough,
'Cause you wanna down that pig 'til you're stuffed,
Baby got pork.