Cleaning House

February 21, 2008 at 3:03 am 3 comments

Well, the blog has been quiet for a few weeks so I will hit some quick updates and then onto the subject at hand.

First off, the AeroGraden is doing fine. I have been making tons of salsa thanks to the fresh cilantro I have on hand. I have also been harvesting a lot of basil and dill. The pepper plants are blooming and I should be able to ad my own chilies to my salsas soon.

The TV chef stuff seems to be almost happening every week. I am planning an audition reel for a new Bobby Flay show and I just missed out on being the host of a new travel show for HDNet. My media kit is intact and I will be posting a virtual copy on the site soon complete with a 4+ minute audition reel.

The food writing seems to be almost happening as well. I have applied for a number of new positions that pay well and lend credibility. Which brings me to the topic at hand – Food Blogs – specifically restaurant reviews.

Online restaurant reviews are a wonderful tool for finding dining spots when visiting new towns. The problem is that some of the reviewers are tools themselves. Here are some things to look for that tell you to ignore a review and move on:

Any review of a chain restaurant – there is no mystery to a chain restaurant – they are prepackaged Disneyesque versions of real restaurants – they are not the real thing. Some chains still maintain their dedication to the dining experience but their price tags reflect it (Ruth’s Chris’ Steak House, The Palms, Morton’s of Chicago). If you are not dropping at least $50 a person at a chain restaurant then you are eating fast food. Besides, why would someone go on vacation and still eat at Shoney’s? You learn a culture through two things, it’s art and it’s food.

Any review that refers to a menu where all dinner items are under $30 as expensive. Seriously people the price of a house has tripled in the last two decades, the same is true for cars, and gas is 400% more expensive than it was in 1988. Prices at restaurants have only risen roughly 33%. You are just cheap and should stick to drive-thru’s.

Any review that complains about getting all of the special requests wrong. There is fine dining and there is casual dining. Fine dining is where they jump through hoops to please you. When dining casual you should try to order it like it is on the menu and eat it. If the server at a casual restaurant has to visit your table more than four times (five if you order dessert) at your request, you are a problem customer. They should greet you and take your drink order (if you want a starter now is the time to tell them). They should bring your drinks and take your dinner order. When they bring your dinner order they will ask you if you need anything else (this is your chance – if you forget to ask them now – do without or increase your tip another 5%). They will return to offer dessert and present the check. Each special request should increase their tip another 5%.

Ignore any review where they say the service was so bad they left no tip. If the service is that bad then speak with a manger. If you do not then you are a thief. The federal government requires that server to pay taxes on a 10% tip whether they receive one or not. If you do not leave at least 10% you just took money from them which makes you a criminal. However, if you speak with a manager the problem will be addressed with the server and more than likely your meal will be discounted or comp’d, thus saving you more than 10%.

Finally, always ignore any reviewer who complains about the wait to be seated. If a restaurant is on a wait it is because they have more business than they are equipped to handle at the time. If you choose to wait it is your decision and the restaurant owes you nothing even if fifteen minutes goes to three hours. It is your fault for waiting. The establishment has zero control over when a party vacates their table. Every night there are customers called “campers” who stay two or even three hours after they have finished their meals and visit with one another.  How long you wait has nothing to do with the restaurant, period.  Waits are rarely the restaurant’s fault – they want you to get seated it means they make money and they will seat you if at all possible.  I resend what I said about ignoring these reviewers, send them an e-mail or comment enlightening them to their ignorance.

Coming soon, what aspects a proper restaurant review should provide. 


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  • 1. g.peaceburton  |  February 21, 2008 at 3:24 am

    Great to hear from you again, Stuart! I’m glad to see that things are going well for you….you definitely deserve it. Thanks for the info on the resteraunt reviews….I usually don’t read too many reviews, relying more on word of mouth, but I will remember all that you have said when I do come across some. I did cringe when I read the bit about the server only needing to come to the table four times……I guess my love for sweet ice tea has made me a problem customer all these years!

  • 2. LeBlanc  |  February 21, 2008 at 6:27 am

    Hooray for a new blog! Stu & Bobby…my 2 fave chefs together. I am just hungry thinking about it.

  • 3. wannabetvchef  |  February 22, 2008 at 1:31 am

    You bring up a great point. Drink refills don’t count as visits and do give you a chance to ask for things if you have forgotten them. A good server will fill your drinks and ask if you need anything else. That is usually a sign that they have time and would like to spend it giving you extra service. Thanks for reminding me, G.


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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."


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