Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rules for Wedding Season

As May has almost passed us by, and June is knocking on our door, it seems timely that we discuss wedding dining etiquette, or making it through. Remember, if all else fails, just take advantage of the open bar (with a few rolls packed in the belly of course).

1. Do not order the steak - Whether the reason is to make the most "bang for your buck" (or bath towels/blender, if you will) or you just prefer red meat, don't make this mistake. Steak will ultimately be mass-prepared and dry (usually served with some kind of sauce and/or gravy for re-hydration). Unless the event you are attending is at a restaurant and for 10 or less, you are much better off with the fish or vegetarian entree, if available. Pasta usually accompanies such and can be prepared quickly and still remain edible. Plus, with a less popular dish, you get the added benefit of more attention to detail.
2. Eat before the event - Ultimately, these things always take longer than expected. There's the ceremony, photos, the commute to the reception, and then introductions. After that, surely you will be sat at the table that lustfully watches everyone else's salads pass you by on the way to their recipients. Instead of listening to the chorus of your belly accompany the wedding march, grab a snack pre-event. 3 hours later, when you finally start dinner, you will be happy you did.
3. Sauce on the side - Hotel kitchens are well aware that the food they serve at conferences, banquets, meetings, and lest we forget, weddings, is crap. Thus, everything, even the salad and the veggies, is covered in a oil-rich bernaise or salad dressing, or something equally fattening. Though the waiter may snear when you ask for sauce on the side, you will save yourself a lack of bulge in whatever satin number you have shimmied into. If not enough calories saved, keep passing the bread without partaking. Whatever you do, however....
4. Ultimately, the cake is the best part - Forget your diet. Caloric provisions noted in paragraph 3 can also help balance things. Ultimately, the salad and the entrees suck. It's part of the routine. One should, never, however, say no to the cake. Even if the frosting is waxy (usually for decorative purposes), it can be put aside, and the cake itself will be generally scrumptious (I'm not claiming there aren't exceptions). Prepared by a bakery, not a caterer or hotel kitchen, a little TLC has gone into the confectionary course and it shows.
5. Be reasonable - Just last week, we headed to the Wendy's drive-thru post-reception, groom in tow, to grab a frosty and chicken sandwiches, respectively. Reason being, everyone kept their expectations low and was then pleasantly surprised by a nice meal. After sitting around past our bedtimes, we were all hungry again for what C calls "fourth meal".

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Surfside, Washed Up

I had put this aside for a while, not wanting to judge based on one visit, but the continued praise of Surfside forces me to intercede. We found the tacos unauthentic (honestly, Rubio's grilled fish version might be better) and not at all flavorful, the portions on the teensy size, and a complete lack of "vibe" (we were seated under a staircase and I bumped my head more than once, no small feat for someone my size). Even the guacomole was lackluster. If someone wants to clue me in on what I'm missing, I'm all ears.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Potenza, in brief

Potenza has garnered lots of attention in the last few weeks. It's warranted, given how strikingly different this restaurant seems from its correlaries in the surrounding area. With competitive prices in this economy, it should intrigue tourists, families, and those looking for a reasonably priced yet decent meal. The prices do not mean that the establishment is completely devoid of ambiance, with an open kitchen, decor including traditional Tuscan pottery, and waiters dressed in kitschy soccer jerseys. Our meals were hit and miss. The papardelle was not Batali-worthy, but passable. C adored his spaghetti and meatballs. The mussels were acceptable, but not as good as others in the area. The "bombolini" donuts were excellent, but they are donuts, so hard to criticize fried sweet dough. I'm also a fan of the house-filtered water, offered at a modest $2 fee. All in all, good, but by no means, great.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Say It Ain't So: Ray's Hellburger

As I peruse my Google Reader list this morning, I've been reminded over and over again (not going to bother posting all of the links) that our president and veep visited Ray's Hell Burger yesterday afternoon for lunch. I saw the News 4 "report from the scene" last night. Quite amusing, but I can't say that I wouldn't be acting as much an idiot as the folks in and around Ray's at that moment. I appreciate Obama giving business to a local "mom and pop" lacking even a website (as if it needs one), but I'm scared to think of what this presidential visit may bring. Rumor has it that one could not get near Ben's for weeks after Obama stopped for a half smoke. I am working from home today, and was thinking of a Hell Burger for lunch. That plan is out, but for how long do I have to avoid the greasy spot down the street?

On a related note, had the opportunity to visit the new Ray's the Steaks this past weekend, and I'm happy to report that everything remains the same. There was, of course, the exception of the girl with the sequined top and sunglasses arriving for her 9 PM reservation (no, she did not take her shades off). Steaks are still FAB-U-LOUS. Sides and apps are tasty, though I think they may have lightened the creamed spinach recipe, which is probably for the best. And, the Key Lime Pie is thankfully still bliss. Frankly, I think the understated decor actually qualifies as decor in the new location - with 5 times the seating capacity and a packed house, the ambiance is just fine.