Sunday, July 26, 2009


Very recently we ventured into the newest addition to the Woodstock, Ga (culinary black hole of the universe) gastro scene.

At the beginning things seemed ok, the meet, greet and seat went fine. Now we were all understanding that this was a “bar and restaurant” so our expectations were not too high.
The server was fairly new and was pleasant enough.
The appetizers came out and were average at best….so now the fun begins!

When the main courses came out the presenting waitress (PW) was not familiar with who got what, fine, they need to work on that. The PW then went on to get further confused as to what was rare-to medium rare (the only way I can eat meat) and the burnt, butterflied and burnt again style my wife demands (I know…why eat beef). After a few meat cooling minutes I (not the PW) determined who got what (even though my side dish was not on the plate) and was correct. Before leaving the PW quickly assured me that SHE assigned dishes according to the Kitchen Managers assignment..

Shortly after taking care of the tableside confusion we swapped a few tastings around, my friends pork chop was so dry and overcooked he had to spit it out. His wifes “Cajun” pasta was so hot from too much cayenne (I am thinking…cause I wouldn’t try it) that it was almost inedible and the seafood pasta and sauce was a dark pink.

A side note here….Cajun does NOT MEAN KILL YOUR TASTEBUDS HOT! It simply means lots of flavor with nice mouth warmth...a rich blend of numerous seasonings to compliment the dish!

I digress, my dish was fine, cooked fine and eventually receiving my side dish albeit it luke warm (it was only baked beans) my wife’s skewered meat was 1/3 rare, 1/3 medium and 1/3 correct. Upon notifying the waitress she went back to the kitchen, allegedly informed the kitchen manager and promptly returned with a small white plate that my wife was instructed to place her uneaten but cut into pieces on and the kitchen would re-cook the pieces and bring them back to her….YES, this really happened.
I of course refused that debacle and insisted that they REPLACE the pieces with freshly, properly cooked pieces….which of course never happened.

Now the waitress had been informed of our other dish issues and said “OK” and brought us our check. We were charged in full for everything. No manager took any time to stop by our table.

HOW DARE YOU...remind the customer it was the kitchen’s fault the dish assignment got confused. Take ownership and move on….we don’t care who’s fault it was! PLEASE don’t let the customer know this has been happening “fairly frequently tonight”…we don’t care nor do we want to know about anyone else’s concerns.

HOW DARE YOU…bring a little plate back and announce that the kitchen manager will RE-COOK your cold improperly cooked meat! NO YOU WON’T, firstly I do believe it is against the health code, secondly, REPLACE the meat, humbly apologize and move on.

HOW DARE YOU….get presented with all of the above issues and NO MEMBER of management comes to the table. Service 101….Let MANAGEMENT take the heat and solve the issues…servers are not usually trained for such things nor should they be….BE A MANAGER and get out there and SOLVE THE PROBLEM!

HOW DARE YOU….not assign some compensation for the numerous issues above. There were some serious issues that the customer should not have paid full price for!

This is a new restaurant and yes, they had been open only a few weeks but the above concerns were so numerous and egregious that the restaurant needs to know.

It all starts with communication or lack there of! If the kitchen staff is not communicating and doing things properly then the wait staff gets frustrated and angry and then shuts down there communication with management, who then cannot communicate properly with the customer who then communicates quite clearly by NEVER COMING BACK.

I will inform the above establishment of the issues as I hope they can correct and possibly bring a fairly decent restaurant to our troubled city.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Fatman's Culinary Bill of Rights!

My friends, as I sit here listening to the gentle rains falling upon the mountain top retreat of dear friends (nestled high in the beautiful Smokey Mountains). I ponder this Father's day a little differently this year as in years past, as this is the first year I have had a Father's day without my father being here. It is a sadder day to be sure, and a little less "fun" as in past Father's Days, however, I began thinking of the great things my father had taught and passed down to me over the years...and I began to smile just a particular thought that came to mind this day is his constant reminders as to the importance of EXCELLENT communication.
My father had been a famous and outstanding trial lawyer so it would seem appropriate that his communications skills were honed to a higher level...his constant reminders to me to constantly work to improve mine most assuredly led me down my career path of national speech awards, numerous radio hosting postitions and sales trainer.
So on this well deserved day of salutation to Father's everywhere I thought I would share one of his many important thoughts with you, and then, share my salute to him in a culinary kinda way, with my tribute I will simply refer to as, the Culinary Bill of Right's.
My fathers thought, "always communicate your thoughts clearly and with conviction so that there is as little confusion with the other person as possible and that will lead to a more enjoyable and forthcoming exchange and experience"...although paraphrased a bit truly seemed appropriate for this day.
I hope the above thought makes your day a little brighter and now I humbly present the following for your "mental digestion"!

Culinary Bill of Rights

Customers Bill of Rights

1. Be met, greeted and seated in a timely manner.

2. Prompt service and courteousness from staff.

3. Food to be delivered hot or cool, appropriate to item and on appropriate plates.

4. Server should be versed on specials and have a basic knowledge of the products served. Servers should be trained in the basics at the very least before taking their first order.

5. Management should be involved in both front and back of the house at all times.

6. Management should handle problems of every kind so as to not cause customer further annoyance.

7. Fair and proper compensation for problems (brought to a restaurants attention in a timely and appropriate manner) should be followed at all times.

8. Management should respond quickly and courteously to any and all problems.

9. There should be NO minimum tipping scale for any group under 8.

10. If taking reservations…customer should be seated within 15 minutes of time agreed upon. Except under EXTREME conditions. Then under EXTREME conditions should be given and honest and fair time assessment!

11. Customers should expect clean and stocked restrooms.

Restaurateur's Bill of Rights

1. Customer to be reasonably patient and courteous during busy times.

2. Customer should be expected to tip appropriately.

3. Customer should let management or server know immediately upon problem arising.

4. Customer should be courteous and patient in explaining the situation and should not take out non-service related problems on the TIP!

5. Customer should give restaurateur a second chance to improve (depending upon the severity of the problem) upon issues brought up to them.

6. Customer should never make a scene in the dining area as to embarrass or demean restaurant and or server.

7. When asking for "special" orders, customer should be reasonable and make absolutely sure they have been clear in their request and get request repeated back to them so that there can be little confusion. Customer should be PATIENT with "special" orders.

8. Customer should be expected to receive REASONABLE compensation for their problems…..NOT EVERYTHING FREE ALL OF THE TIME!

9. The customer is NOT always right!

10. When a customer asks for something "EXTRA" the customer should EXPECT to pay for it.

Well, I hope you will "communicate" your thoughts back to me on the above "delectable" ditty.
I hope your Father's Day is as special as mine.



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Musings from Mardi Gras no. 4… “K Beast” (post Katrina)….

Well for the Krewe of Chef and the Fatman another magnificent Mardi Gras has come and gone. So many high points and one very low point.
I would like to report that New Orleans is BACK baby and it is WONDERFUL!!!!
As always the Hotel Monteleone was magnificent receiving the prestigious 4 diamond award from AAA again....for 2009 (the only 4 Diamond hotel in the Quarter I might add)!
Andrea Thornton Director of Marketing really gave us the ultimate experience by giving us the Monteleone Suite….wow, unbelievable, now I might add we are used to getting very nice suites or rooms wherever we go but THIS was above and beyond.
Andrea also gave us the tour of the new multi-million dollar renovated Bienville House also owned by the Monteleone family …just when you think they have outdone themselves with the flagship Hotel Monteleone, they bust out another wonderful hotel right on Decatur approximately 100 steps from Jackson Square…..the Bienville House has slightly larger rooms with many overlooking the river or the BEAUTIFUL salt water pool and courtyard alongside the very successful and beautiful IRIS restaurant.
They even throw in a wonderful continental breakfast with Starbuck’s coffee.
Meeting rooms to accomadate almost any size and the appointments they provide are nothing short of what you would expect from the Monteleone family….Mr. Billy ya’ done good! We hope to meet you one day.
Of course we had to dine at some favorites….Mr. B’s (Cindy Brennan’s place, yes of the famous Brennan family)….Executive Chef Michelle McCraney makes the BADDEST BBQ’d Shrimp in New Orleans baby….and everything else is just GREAT. The service, well, I don’t have to say anything about that… is classic Brennan family style.
Now for the very low point….we ALWAYS spend a whole lot of time at Arnaud’s/Café Remoulade/French 75 cigar bar, the Casbarian families absolute CLASSIC giant that should ALWAYS, ALWAYS be a stop whenever in New Orleans.
This time our joy was tempered at learning of the loss of one of the GIANTS of the New Orleans culinary, hotelier and hospitality industry….Archie Casbarian.
One of my true regrets in life was I never got to meet this giant of a man. However, I have had the honour to befriend his living legacies Archie Jr. and Katie Casbarian two children who have taken on the Herculean task of maintaining and growing the fabulous restaurant empire. I know Ms. Casbarian, her husband Archie although he is gone from this earth can rest a bit more comfortably knowing that their two wonderful legacies along with an awesome cast of “family/staff” (for that is what the following members truly are) are carrying on the rich tradition.
I am privileged to introduce just a few of these people to you.
Charles the seasoned consummate professional Maitre’d, he’s continental elegance, dashing, extremely attentive and actually got me to remove my hat, Maitre’d James a younger version of Charles, with a laugh, an infectious smile and an absolute attention to detail and customer satisfaction that I am sure makes Charles proud.
From the bar you must have a GREAT one and Chris is truly a professionals professional in the beautiful French 75 Café and Cigar bar….his passion and mixology abilities are second to none….and of course THE FOOD…..Executive Chef Tommy DiGiovanni, a more hard working dedicated, loyal and provider of TRUE New Orelans classic dishes you will not find….these all and so many more will make life and have made life easier for the Casbarian family. The rich heritage will live on proudly for everyone knows Archie Sr. is watching and smiling over the legacy he has left us….THANK YOU ARCHIE we will miss you my friend!
Finally, to Anne an Paul Tuennerman Mr. and Mrs. Cocktail of New Orelans, what a great radio show you have on WIST in NO….all about the restaurant and mixology business in New Orelans. NO ONE knows more than these two about the best of the best in New Orelans. They ARE Tales of the Cocktail and the true ambassadors of this wonderful city we call our second home.
This year we were honoured to be guests on their show with Head bartender/Mixologist/Liqour Artisan Marvin Alan of the famed Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone this giant of mixology spent an hour with us on our final show from Mardi Gras 2009 and he literally created one drink and put added a wow factor to a classic second drink through his wonderful and true artistic flair that he provides to his craft.
To y’all mentioned and the many we didn’t…..thank you….thank you for a wonderful time…and if you read this before March 30th of this year the Bienville House is running a $79-$119 special all week at their beautiful hotel.
To all of you we look forward to seeing and sharing with you again at French Quarter Festival 2009 in April and Tales of the Cocktail July 8-12th at the city that is back Bigger, Badder and Better than ever….New Orelans….the Soul of America.
Join us we’d love to introduce you to the REAL New Orelans and the people that make her so wonderful!
Laissez Les Bon Temp Roullez….Thanks New Orleans!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why not serve “hot food” HOT?

Lately I have observed a disturbing trend in restaurants. “Hot food” is not being served HOT. Why not?

Few things are more irritating in my eat-a-day world than sitting down on a cold evening to a LUKEWARM bowl of soup. Whatever happened to the days when hot soup and foods were brought steaming to the table? In the past week I have suffered through three meals where food was served less than hot, including two appetizers, one soup and one main course. Truth is, these lamentable situations could have been easily averted.

Let’s start with the basics. May I offer the following suggestions? Hot soup should be served at no less than 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot apps should be maybe 140 plus. Foods NEED to be served at the proper temperature so their very best taste and flavors can be experienced.

I know y’all have eaten lukewarm food – but to have so many bad dining episodes in such a short time, and at three different locations? This, my friends, is a trend. Let’s end it… TODAY. We should all expect and demand that our food be served at proper temps!

Why isn’t this happening?

It’s all about COMMUNICATION! The kitchen has to tell the servers that food is ready NOW! Servers have to be prepared: they have to get food out quickly to the customer – while it’s HOT . And restaurants need to remove their friggin HEAT LAMPS.

God, I hate those lamps! Heat lamps are a major cause of warm restaurant food. They are a “crutch” that perpetuates poor service. Does the following scenario sound familiar? The kitchen gives out a shout after placing food under “the lamp”… and forgets about it. Meanwhile, the servers aren’t too concerned about speed because the food (your food) is “under the lamp” and will at least stay warm…

Please, my friends, expect, nay, demand, that “hot food” be served HOT! If it’s not hot send it back and let the kitchen know why. Maybe, if enough of us do this, our food will again be brought steaming to our tableside!

As a side bar, let’s also consider keeping cold things COLD? Please, PLEASE stop putting cold salad on a freshly cleaned HOT plate. “Cold food” should be served on a cold plate. It’s all about maintaining proper temps.

Steam on, baby!

P.S. Thank you to my Editor/Photographer-in-chief....Ms. from NIU....he makes things look GREAT....thanks Ms.! From a grateful Fatman!