Monday, 12 November 2007

Why have ten Commandments when you can have 30!?

Alan Richman
better than Trevor White

Alan Richman is "the recipient of twelve James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards for food writing, including the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award twice, and is also the first food writer to have received a National Magazine Award. He has lent his unique voice to GQ since 1986." Which is all very nice I'm sure. And whilst traveling the world on his culinary adventures he has rather "helpfully" compiled a set of RESTAURANT COMMANDMENTS just like Trevor White did. Or was it the other way round. And what is it with these people and their macho COMMANDMENTS? Are they all prophets sent from some one of the imaginary friends to ensure we all know how to dine of which Moses was just the first? Maybe Moses got the translation wrong, "Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God" was probably meant to be "Thou shalt not make wrongful use of thy dessert fork."

Richman has gone a step further than my old buddy Trevor White, well to be exact he has gone 20 steps further than Trev. Here are Alan Richman's 30 Restaurant Commandments (with added notes from me)

1. DON’T THREATEN US 
If I’m coming at eight, I don’t want to hear, “We need the table back at ten.” Actually, I don’t care what you want. I’ll tell you what I want: I want to be seated on time. I want warm rolls, right away. I want my drink order taken at 8:05, on the dot. I want my six-course tasting menu exquisitely timed. You want a mutual exchange of schedules, I’ll go for that. And don’t be sending any weedy 135-pound maître d’s around to throw us out. When I’m at my table, I’m in my house.

2. DON’T BANISH US TO THE BAR
 The all-too-common phrase “Your table isn’t quite ready” invariably means the customer is sent off grumbling to a packed bar. Restaurants that can’t honor reservations on time should offer some sort of consolation to inconvenienced guests, even if it’s nothing more than a complimentary glass of the not-very-good house wine. People don’t become customers the moment they’re seated. They’re customers as soon as they walk in the door.

Eh, now we had this with Trevor's commandments too. And is it just me or does anyone else see a contradiction between the first two commandments? Why wouldn't the table be ready? Oh could it be because the previous guests were late and are still pushing their chocolate torte around their plate?

3. SINCE I’M NOT BUYING YOU DINNER, I DON’T CARE WHAT YOUR FAVORITE DISH IS 
I think waiters are good people (thanks Alan they’). I really do. They’re hardworking, starving actors barely surviving on one meal a day (that just hurts man)—but I never listen when they recommend their so-called favorite dish, the warm fricassee of roasted root vegetables with black-truffle jus. The only jus they've ever tasted is the canned gravy they eat at home. It was a sad day in American dining when waiters decided their job was to give orders, not take them.

Jus cheeky bastard. A good waiter can be a life saver. Why only last night I steered a couple of customers away from a certain main course that wasn't being all it could be. Customers very often ask what I recommend. I believe it is part of my job to do so. My remuneration depends on the customer being happy. Nonsense Alan, nonsense.

4. DON’T ASK “DO YOU KNOW HOW THE MENU WORKS?” 
I’m there to eat, not take a class in Understanding Incomprehensible Cuisine. The only kind of menu that requires interpretation is a bad one. Here’s how a menu should read: Soup. Fish. Meat. Dessert. Here’s how it should work: I pick things out, I tell you what I want, you write that down, and then you bring the food to me. It can get a little trickier, but not so much that I need a microbiology professor as a dining companion.

Yup, couldn't agree more.

5. BRING BACK THE DRESS CODE 
I’m sick of putting on a jacket to go out to dinner and finding myself surrounded by velour tracksuits. At the very least, announce your lack of standards with a sign: we welcome slobs.

Oh God hell yes! I served a table of four last night that looked a million dollars. They had made a real effort. Next table to the left I had another table of four who looked like they were still in their Halloween outfits. I had to breathe through my mouth at the table as one of the chaps smelt like a cat had crawled up his ass to die. I can still smell his rancid dog breath now. Have a wash and put your court/church clothes on.....

6. HOW ABOUT A WINE LIST FOR THE LITTLE LADY? 
Why is it that the list always goes to the oldest, fattest guy at the table? (Normally because he is the one that asks for it) Isn’t everyone entitled to a refreshing grape-based beverage of his or her choice? Not everybody will want a wine list, but every person should be offered one. If you think the cost of having so many lists is prohibitive, then toss out those leather-bound Gutenberg Bibles and start laser-printing them in your basement.

7. DON’T PLACE ME ON HOLD MORE THAN ONCE
 Reservationists have mastered the art. “May I put you on hold?” asks Chad, who punches the button before I can reply. I’ll put up with this once, but when Chad does it again, I hang up and never call back. Restaurants that continually have customers listening to Kenny G’s greatest hits should have a truthful recorded message: “We’re so self-important we don’t give a damn if you come to our restaurant, so we’re putting you on hold again and again, and if you even think of complaining, your name will go on our blacklist and you’ll be deprived forever of our $90 market menu consisting of stuff the chef got cheap.”

I concur...

8. DON’T ASK FOR A CREDIT CARD UNTIL AFTER DESSERT
 Restaurants have started demanding that customers guarantee reservations with credit cards. Don’t let them get away with it. Assure them you’ll show up. Promise you’ll call to reconfirm—thoughtful restaurants even provide special numbers for this service. Frankly, if restaurants want to start acting like hotel chains, they should offer similar perks, like frequent-diner upgrades. (“Ma’am, your pork loin tonight will now be prime rib—at no cost to you.”)

Ahem.....

9. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE OUR INTELLIGENCE OR OUR MATH SKILLS
 I once ordered the $3 cheese plate at a New York restaurant and got an ungarnished chunk of “cave-aged” Gruyère so tiny I shook my head in despair. The waitress huffed, “It’s a full half ounce.” Maybe the cheese was raised in a cave, but I wasn’t. Using my junior-high math skills, I calculated that the restaurant was selling the Gruyère for $96 a pound, the sort of markup that would make a Porsche dealer blush.

The "man's" gotta make a buck...

10. STOP SCAMMING US WITH SPECIALS 
Nothing is more annoying than an off-the-menu côte de boeuf special for two, lovingly described by a captain, that appears on your check at a shocking $79.95. No, the price tag shouldn’t be announced tableside— that makes everybody feel cheap and creepy. The solution is to keep the price of specials in line with other menu items. Nobody should have to take out a loan to have the pasta of the day.

Or you could just the pretentiousness, look a little cheap, and just ask what price the special is. I would happily slip it to you on a little note with a calculator if that makes it easier for you.

11. KNOCK OFF THE “DAY-BOAT” ROUTINE
 Like I really believe there’s an armada of fishing boats sailing off every morning at daybreak and returning at dusk, just so every restaurant in America can put day-boat halibut or day-boat cod on its menu.

12. THE “DIVER-SCALLOP” SCAM IS EVEN WORSE
 Here’s how that fairy tale goes: Up in Maine live thousands of lunatics in loincloths who dive off cliffs and plunge to the bottom of the ocean to gather up tasty dinner entrées. Has anybody ever seen one of these guys?

Why so cynical Alan, why? I bet you've never seen a unicorn either......

13. DON’T ASK “WHO GETS THE SOUP?” WHILE I’M REGALING MY GUESTS
 There isn’t a waiter alive who doesn’t believe the restaurant would close without him. (Mine would) He can’t possibly wait for me to finish my sentence before he interrupts. Most often his question is “Would you like fresh pepper on that?” It takes restraint not to reply, “No, I’ll be having the stale pepper.”

I have no problem standing there with your soup whilst you regale away to your heart's content. I will however listen in and share with everybody else. And when the French Onion soup is found to be little more than tepid don't cry to me, I'll be busy telling everyone what you were talking about.

14. DON’T ASK “IS EVERYTHING ALL RIGHT?” UNLESS YOU WANT AN HONEST ANSWER
 In a world filled with perfunctory gestures, this is the worst. When the restaurant owner comes by the table to ask this question, he wants us to tell him that his joint is unrivaled. Sure it is. The chef is putting canned pâté on the tournedos, and the carpeting hasn’t been replaced since 1973. And we’re supposed to assure him that everything is all right?

Not me Alan. Not Guilty. I ask specific questions, ''Was the Tuna good?" or 'Was your Fillet burnt to your satisfaction madam?" and so on......

Half way through
This is a painting by Paul Bell
It's very good
Carry on


15. BAN THE BANQUETTE 
What is this, the Last Supper? I hate sitting side by side with my friends (and their coats), all of us up against a sticky red Naugahyde cushion. Why is it that everybody hates the middle seat on an airplane but doesn’t mind banquette seating?

I don't know your friends so I can't comment on whether I would like to sit beside them or not. But you had better stay away from my restaurant at Christmas then. Tables that normally seat 6 will be able to seat double that with the wave of a holiday wand! It's magic!

16. HAVE MERCY ON MY ASS
 The part of the human body least valued by restaurants these days is the part that absorbs most of the burden of dining out. The big, soft, comfortable chair, once an expected benefit of a restaurant meal, is being replaced by industrial-level molded plastic. Quit buying furniture from junior-high-school-cafeteria supply houses.

Fair enough but then again it's horses for courses. If your "dining" at Denny's expect the plastic and so on.....

17. ELIMINATE THE OMELET STATION
 You’re on vacation, ready to splurge. That means the hotel’s $39.95 Sunday buffet brunch. There’s smoked salmon, sushi, crab claws, shrimp, and eggs Benedict. You head straight for the omelet station, where a guy who has never been to cooking school is making fluffy omelets with peppers, Bac-Os, and a grated-cheese product. Nice going. You’ve just filled up on a dish that costs $4.99 at Denny’s.

Makes good sense.

18. TAKE CARE OF THE COAT-CHECK GIRL 
Restaurants have started to profit from the decades of goodwill and affection that (male) customers have for coat-check girls. They do this by paying her a (meager) salary and keeping the tips. Shades of Oliver Twist. So I always ask the coat-check girl if she’s permitted to keep her tips. If she tells me she isn’t, I never leave one.

Not sure about that. If the tip is going into a pool and she gets a cut of that then go for it. If the restaurant is scooping it then definitely not.

19. SHOW US THE CHEF 
If dinner for two is costing $200, you have every right to expect the chef to be at work. Restaurants where the famous celebrity chef has taken the night off should post a notice, similar to the ones seen in Broadway theaters: “The role of our highly publicized head chef will be played tonight by sous-chef Willie Norkin, who took one semester of home economics and can’t cook.”

Bwahahahahaha yes, yes and hell yes.

20. GET OVER YOURSELF 
What’s with hot restaurants stationing goons at their front doors? They’re always burly guys in bad suits and earpieces whispering into walkie-talkies, checking reservations. If the president is inside eating, it’s okay. And I’ll only believe that if I spot countersniper teams on surrounding rooftops.

As I live in Belfast I appreciate a well guarded restaurant.

21. BAN HOUSE WINE
 No matter what beverage you request, it has to be better than the house wine. If two of you are having dinner, order the cheapest bottle on the list, even if you know you won’t finish it. And, please, whatever you do, don’t sniff the cork—you’ll learn nothing and only smudge your nose.

Damn hell yes. People who look at the wine list for ten minutes and then order a bottle of the house pish need a smack. It may seem tough but it'd true.

22. DON’T SERVE A DISH CREDITED TO THE CHEF’S MOTHER
 Honestly, do you really think she’s at the stove? Maybe if you’re driving through Italy, you might find a sweet old lady chained to a chair in the kitchen, forced to make a few thousand agnolotti before lunch. This doesn’t happen in America. Any restaurant dish with the word Mama’s in it was cooked up by some ungrateful son who probably hasn’t called home in two and a half years.

Best avoid our cheesecake then. Unless of course our chef's mother is a huge American conglomerate.

23. EVEN WORSE IS A DISH INVENTED BY THE CHEF’S FATHER
 Because dads can’t cook.

Nonsense, my dad's a chef and he'll come round and box your nose for saying that.

24. DON’T OVERFILL MY GLASS 
I tremble with rage after I order a bottle of wine and the waiter fills every glass at my table to within a millimeter of the rim, then asks, “Would you like another bottle?” It’s worse when the wine is white. Then it’s going to sit in the glass too long, getting warm.

I agree, just throw it at him....

25. DON’T KEEP THE BOTTLED WATER COMING
 How many times have you looked at your bill and seen a charge of $27 for three bottles of water when you were certain you’d ordered only one?

What are you implying? If you don't want another just be a big boy and say so....

26. GET A NEW JOKE 
After dessert, the owner walks over, sees you’ve devoured the triple-fudge mocha torte, and quips, “Oh, I guess you didn’t like it.” Yuk yuk. It was funny the first 700 times I heard it, but I started getting tired of that joke around 1987.

Eh actually Alan I'm so very tired of that "joke" I just wanna blow my brains out every time I hear a customer say it. Not us Alan, not us.

27. NO MORE HOT WHITE WINE
 There’s a subversive secret society of sommeliers who want us to drink underchilled white wine. They come to the table with a bottle, almost always expensive Chardonnay, and say, “You don’t want me to put this on ice, do you?” Actually, I do.

Well more fool you then. I'll happily chill that bad boy down for you if that's what you want. But bye bye flavour.......

28. ENOUGH WITH THE FLORENTINE STEAKS
 They’re tough in Florence. They’re worse here.

If you don't want one, just don't order one.

29. DON’T PUSH THE AUSTRIAN ZWEIGELT UNLESS YOU KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT IT
 Wine lists are now packed with obscure bottles from all over the world. Listing a Portuguese Castelão is fine, as long as there’s a sommelier to ID it, but too many restaurants are leaving the job to waiters who have no clue. (By the way, both the Zweigelt and the Castelão are red.)

As I have "no clue" I have no response.

30. DON’T ASK ME “DO YOU WANT CHANGE?” 
Of course I do. Every penny of it. Then I will thoughtfully and judiciously determine the amount of your tip, should I be inclined to leave one. You are not entitled to any of my money unless I say so. That also goes for my briefcase and my overcoat, if you’ve been eyeing them.

Oh thank you ever so kindly sir

I quite like Alan Richman's work and a lot of what he says I agree with. But not all, obviously. You can find more of his articles at/in GQ.

I'm going to have to write my own Commandments now. Oh wait, they are already written,

EAT, PAY, TIP, LEAVE!

23 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

savannah said...

ya'll have a great label for guys like him: pretentious git!

but thank you for reminding me why i don't read gentleman like him anymore, sugar!

Medbh said...

Jeebus, but you schooled him, Manuel!
Alan needs to check his privilege for a moment.
He sounds like an awful, awful patron to have.
Yes, keep talking you ass, while I hold your soup getting cold.
My advice to him is to stay home an cook. Bleurgh.

Anonymous Boxer said...

how long did it take you to type this?

Impressive.

And, is this guy EVER happy?? Last, I ALWAYS want to know what the waiter recommends. Always.

ellie said...

Wy does he bother going out at all?

I've never been so glad to see a cows nostril before!

dave said...

Talking of 'house pish', don't tell me you've become a wine snob already after only a few weeks of your course?
IMO, the 'house pish' is for when you've already had a few and can't tell the difference between that and a £40 bottle of Chateau Lafite. At that point, they all taste the same :-)

Deborah said...

Interesting Manuel. Guy does sound like a right pain in the arse, but he has a few good points! Definitely agree about the celebrity chefs. If he's not there I want to know!

Agree with everything you said except the soup. It drives me crazy when you're at a nice restaurant and waiters have to ask who gets what. You should know you took the freakin order! When my hubby managed this was a huge issue for him. He had them take the order in a certain way so it was impossible not to know, even if someone else brought it.

One other thing I would add is that if a woman orders the wine, she should taste it. I know you would never do this Manuel, but it's amazing how many waiters just bring the bottle to the man. GRRR!

Mudflapgypsy said...

Wee in his soup, I say. Maybe this has already happened?

I agree with Dave, order the Lafite first!

GQ ain't what it used to be.

toast said...

this is ace - i'm gonna have a crack at this manuel if you don't mind - toasts 5 commandments


1) Don't eat at a place that has pictures of the food on the menu


2) When the waiter calls you 'sir', don't ask if hes from Dungiven


3) don't tuck a napkin into your shirt - you look like boss hog - if you are wearing an expensive shirt - eat carefully

4) don't address the waiting staff as 'sweet-tits'

5) If its good, tip - you drank the soup from the bowl, you asked for an ice bucket for your red wine, you asked for ketchup for your steak, the staff think that your an idiot, but tip them and all will be forgotten, or at least they won't treat you like the cretin you clearly are the next time you go in

Manuel said...

Savannah: His priorities appear all wrong.....

Medbh: I think he wants to permanently dine in the 1930's.......

Boxer: I recommend cold winter nights inside with the one you love........oh and I hadn't realised how long it was til I published....

Ellie: I want one so bad......

Dave: I was always a wine snob, now I am a wine snob with an education.....

Deborah: Deb's I completely agree that the waiter should know where the food is going but I really do prefer the conversation to wane a little whilst I'm at the table. I really don't need/want to hear what they are talking about and it is just good manners.....As for the wine, I learnt that the hard way years ago..no tip for me that night.....

Flappers:All very valid points there Flappers.......was GQ ever that good?

Toast:
1. what would become of the chalet d'or?

2. Bwahahahaha

3. Ahahahahahah

4. We prefer sugar tits......

5. Hey if you tip enough we will have your wine frozen for your next visit if that's what you want.....

Tremendous stuff toast...

Conan Drumm said...

Food writers (ie everything's a free meal) are egomaniacs of the highest order and should be compulsorily retired after three years.

ps: you could shorten your own commmandments to EAT, TIP, PAY. No one stays after they pay, surely?

Nick said...

My request would be for some indication of how big the portions are going to be. If I'm somewhere new, I have no idea whether I'm going to get an empty plate with a miniscule lump of nouvelle cuisine in the centre or a mountainous heap that's falling off the sides and I can only eat half of it.

Manuel said...

Nick: It's all about the quality of the service. A good waiter should advise you on any side orders you should need. But quite often I advise customers they need a side order and they just say no...they think I'm trying to scam an extra couple of quid out of them. If the waiter advises that you get something else then go for it. I quite often tell people they have ordered too much. It works both ways. A customer isn't going to be happy ordering food they didn't need......

Mudflapgypsy said...

Manuel: I never said it was any good but I do think it has gone downhill.

Manuel said...

Flappers: Much like me since I turned 35......

Caro said...

He must have asked for his Florentine steak well-done if he thinks they're tough. Philistine.

Manuel said...

Caro: My thoughts exactly

red said...

hello. It's been a long time since I waitressed but this post has taken me back. I was a crap waitress though and probably could have done with some of his commandments at the time.

fatmammycat said...

ahahahaah, I read that as Alan Rickman and I was all 'holy fuck, what the hell happened to him? Maybe he ingested 'mint' sauce. Poor thing, he was terrific as the Sheriff of Nottingham and... oh wait.'

bendersbetterbrother said...

He's a bit mafia looking. Give him what he wants.

Manuel said...

He looks a bit Pesci eh?

Bored@work said...

Hi, Long-time-listener, first-time-caller.

I've gotta say I agree with number 30. You really are taking the piss if you ask if someone wants their change.

Admittedly I've never heard of this happening in Britain but when one of my friends was on his jollies in America he was asked if he wanted change from a $100 bill: the meal was $60. The cheeky fucker wanted a 60% tip!

kelly said...

nothing would make me happier in this moment than punching that guy in the nuts.

fgeegf said...

成人電影,情色,本土自拍, 情色聊天室, 寄情築園小遊戲, AV女優,成人電影,情色,本土自拍, A片下載, 日本A片, 麗的色遊戲, 色色網, ,嘟嘟情人色網, 色情網站, 成人網站, 正妹牆, 正妹百人斬, aio,伊莉, 伊莉討論區, 成人遊戲, 成人影城,
ut聊天室, 免費A片, AV女優, 美女視訊, 情色交友, 免費AV, 色情網站, 辣妹視訊, 美女交友, 色情影片 成人影片, 成人網站, A片,H漫, 18成人, 成人圖片, 成人漫畫, 情色網,
美女交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人貼圖, 成人電影, A片, 豆豆聊天室, 聊天室, UT聊天室, 尋夢園聊天室, 男同志聊天室, UT男同志聊天室, 聊天室尋夢園, 080聊天室, 080苗栗人聊天室, 6K聊天室, 女同志聊天室, 小高聊天室, 情色論壇, 色情網站, 成人網站, 成人論壇, 免費A片, 上班族聊天室, 成人聊天室, 成人小說, 微風成人區, 色美媚部落格, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人論壇,
日本A片, 愛情公寓, 情色, 舊情人, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 情色交友, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 色情遊戲, 情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 色情a片, 一夜情, 辣妹視訊, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊, 視訊美女, 美女視訊, 視訊交友, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, 情人視訊網影音視訊聊天室, 視訊交友90739, 成人影片, 成人交友, 本土自拍, 免費A片下載, 性愛,
成人交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人電影, 成人, 成人貼圖, 成人小說, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人遊戲, 微風成人, 愛情公寓, 情色, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 做愛, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 寄情築園小遊戲, 色情遊戲情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 言情小說, 愛情小說, 色情A片, 情色論壇, 色情影片, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊美女, 視訊交友, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, a片下載, aV, av片, A漫, av dvd, av成人網, 聊天室, 成人論壇, 本土自拍, 自拍, A片,成人電影,情色,本土自拍,