Monday, 5 January 2009

Fads come and fads go, it's only the waiter that remains...

Ah January, another year begins and a young waiter's mind turns to thoughts of pastures new. And fair play to them. Not me though, I'm not a young waiter and my mind has trouble enough focusing on what's happening right now let alone pastures new. I normally take stock about this time of year and see where I'm at, work wise. And having spent about oh maybe a minute maybe two I decided I am happy where I am.

Given the current climate this is not the time to be jumping ship. I've seen the grass on the other side and it looks decidedly unpleasant, what with it being covered in dog shit. You really don't want to be the last one in and all that. No, just as I said around this time last year I'm in a lovely rut and I intend to stay there, rutting and widening my ass grove on the lovely warm couch that is my current restaurant. And if I am being honest I've grown quite attached to the place. Not in a I love it sort of a way but more like how you become accustomed to something growing on your face that you cant be bothered to have removed.

So what new and exciting developments will there in the world of waiting and serving in 2009? What new and fantastically shit concoctions will I be forced to serve to the dreaded followers of style and food culture? Will this be the year of the poached Guinea Pig? Will we all be comparing the Goldfish fritters from the place down the road with our own?

"Oh look Jeffery, these are more golden than we had last week. How super!"

"Mmmmm yes Margaret. And aren't they just so fishy and divine?"

Maybe this is the year that pets finally make it out of our hearts and onto our plates. Will Mongolian wine finally get the shelf space it deserves? I doubt it but anythings possible. Especially during an economic downturn. I can confidently predict though that this year will see chefs and restaurateurs having to work harder than ever before to keep the doors open, get bums on seats and turn a profit. Watch out for lots of inventive creations/abominations made with mutton and pigs balls and cows innards. In other words 2009 will mark the return of the cheap cuts.

And whilst the punters swoon and gush at the thought of it all it's my waiter chums (as if I have chums who aren't waiters, ha!) and I who will have to serve it. I cant be doing with fads and trends. I've seen them come and I've seen them go. From coloured plates to towers of food. From the almost complete adoration of Chardonnay to it's magnificent and undeserved downfall. Yes restaurant trends bore me. I used to get excited and fall for the spiel of salesmen and managers who were all a wonder at the new miraculous thingy-ma-jig that was going to revolutionize the way we eat or drink or shit or whatever it was. I mean we all remember days when you were considered an oaf if you weren't eating Ostrich or Crocodile or Kangaroo? That was fun wasn't it? Emperors new clothes syndrome.

The manager and the head chef have been seen lurking in far off store rooms and behind doors plotting and scheming. Somethings afoot, I know it, I can feel it in my water. Who knows what depths they are planning on sending us too but I guarantee whatever it is wont last longer than a year. But no matter the machinations of scheming chefs and managers because fads come and fads go, thats why they are called fads.

food shouldn't look like Jenga.....

Here's the top or is it bottom Fads and Trends of all time in a handy cut out and keep section I call,

The Well Done Fillet Guide to The Top or is it Bottom Restaurant Fads and Trends of all Time.
Succinct as always.

  1. Cooking Stones/Plates. Hideous to eat from and even harder to serve slabs of rock or sheets of metal heated to oh about two millions degrees by maniac chefs who then whack a fucking great big steak on top and roar at you to get it to the table in less than thirty seconds whilst you try to keep the fingerprints on your fingers. Lasted a couple of years but eventually people realised that there were these things called plates that did the job just as well without the threat of getting scaled to death.
  2. Towers of Food. Oh sweet mother of Gordon Ramsay was that a massive pain in the wrists. Chefs took it upon themselves not just to put the food on the plate but to turn all engineer/Jenga master and "create" shaky and impossible to eat from towers of stupidity. And if whilst on your way to the table the tower should wobble and fall then the punter got all hot and bothered. "Isn't the cod meant to be on top of the crushed potatoes which is supposed to be on top of the beans which is supposed to be on a bed of spinach. It's ruined take it back." Which reminds me about something else.....
  3. Putting stuff on a bed of other stuff. You mean it's sitting on it? Well why not just fucking say that then. Bleurgh.
  4. Chardonnay. Before Chardonnay there was German wine and it was sweet and nasty but we drank it. I didn't I was only a child and only drank cider. But you all drank it and loved it. But then the Aussies arrived with big oaky Chardonnay and you forsook the sweet German gear in favour of the oaky Chardonnay. And you drank it 'til you fell over. Back then you couldn't shift anything else but Australian Chardonnay, the French and German with their many hundreds of years of wine making were cast aside like Ostrich burgers in favour of the new wonder from down under. Didn't last
  5. Complaining about Chardonnay. "Oooooh anything but Chardonnay" they say now and do that very very annoying, "A.B.C" thing. Five years ago they couldn't get enough of it down their gullets quick enough. Now it's all Sauvignon Blanc. Complaining about Chardonnay is a new national sport, one we seem to excel in. Watch out Sauvignon your days are numbered.
  6. Open Plan Kitchens. What a ridiculous idea. Have you ever seen a chef close up? Believe me they ain't all Like Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay. No, your average chef looks like a serial masturbator who needs a quick shuffle. So why would you want to watch them cook your dinner? Why? Why? Why? Thank jebus that's all been knocked on the head and the kitchen are bricked up again.
  7. Big plates. Actually big plates doesn't do it justice. Huge giant bin lid plates is much more accurate. And as time goes on the plates get bigger and the food gets smaller. Give it a few years and you will get three peas on a satellite dish. It was worse through the nouvelle cuisine years. Fun times for waitering back then. "What ya mean that's it?" There fuck all there mate!" And indeed there was fuck all there mate and we charged you more for it too. Happy days.
There's probably more but I'm shattered. All that standing about pulling the hair out of my ears, it was that quiet, over the weekend has me done in. What say you? What was the worst restaurant fad you've noticed over the years? Gourmet nights in Pizza restaurants? Fantastically bad fusion? Do share with the group....

47 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Medbh said...

When I started to work in mainstream restaurants in the late 80s (as opposed to dodgy vegetarian eateries where folks drew you a diagram of what their meal should look like) the Cajun fad was raging. Everything was "blackened," which meant they burned the fucking chicken, fish, or steak on a throbbing-hot iron pan before serving. Gross.
I also hated the whole fad of having anything prepared at the table.

B said...

I was in a restaurant for the first time ever a few weeks ago and wound up ordering chips cos everything looked so awful.

Although ordering the smiley face ice cream as a desert completed the image of me as an overgrown child there in retrospect.

Mr. DNA said...

I'm ready for these fads to die;

Calling appetizers "tapas".

and

Low carb food.
I thought this one was dead, but I've noticed a resurgence of late.

MJ said...

Get that g.d. giant pepper mill out of my face.

Why can't you just leave a pepper mill on the table and stop hovering over me?

Not you, Manuel. That other waiter.

The Mutant said...

Thankfully when I was a waiter my establishment only did basic Italian food the way it was meant to be done, no massive plates, no ridiculous serving gimicks, just pizza, pasta and parmigana. Even the greatest clods in the world could pronounce the menu items. I say bring those days back!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

I think from a bar aspect and not a food aspect that these flavored martinis will soon be a thing of the past. I hope so. It has gone too far. Bring back the manhattans and bone dry straight up gin martinis and let the real people drink again I say!

Evil Twin said...

Surely you're forgetting the unacceptability of Merlot since THAT film! Now that I think about it, I do believe you may have mentioned it a couple of times!

Manuel said...

Medbh: yes, yes, and thrice yes!

B: You are so strange I'm not sure if you are being serious or not...

Mr DNA: hate tapas, plates of el crapo if you ask me....as for low carb it will be about for a few weeks at most.....

mj: It hover over you.....seriously....

The Mutant: welcome! Hell yes.....simplicity please....

steve: ah but no one does anymore, drink hard drink that is.......it;s all flavoured and pished in and wrong.....good point steve....

evil twin: shitways? one good line in that film and that's it. I do hope you are pronouncing it merlow and not merlooooow as they did in that film.......cunts

Jill said...

Does parsley count as a fad?

Manuel said...

Jill: ha! yes, yes it does.......

psychoknitter said...

Calling mayonnaise "aioli" seems to be the thing.

And that new fangled molecular gastronomy or whatever the hell they call it - "foam" this and nitrogen frozen chunks of that. Not very appealing.

And beef isn't beef and chicken isn't chicken but it's "angus" and "free range" and "grass fed". They keep adding adjectives to our food.

Manuel said...

psychoknitter: yes, yes and yes.....and not forgetting organic......

sheepworrier said...

This tipping fad will definitely wind down in 2009...

Manuel said...

sheepo: was gonna wish you a happy new year....but have lost my will to live now.....

Datsuncog said...

'Served on a sizzling platter'... five words which guaranteed you and your dining partner to be confronted by a slab of cast iron, spewing forth unexpected quantities of steam and splattering your nice going-out shirt with grease droplets, while the whole restaurant turned and stared at the pillock who ordered such a loud and polluting dish.

Not missed at all.

Manuel said...

Datsuncog: welcome! and what an absolute perfect description of the horror that are sizzling platters....tremendous....

David said...

Three years of waitering - until I was at the point where the waiter smile faded from my face the second I turned from the table, but crucially not before - and I don't think I've heard 'the ABC thing'... . What have I missed...?

Manuel said...

David: welcome. That's the best bit, the fake laughing and what have you.......abc? Anything but Chardonnay........it's so dull it makes me cry.....I cry a lot.....

English Mum said...

We went to the pub last Saturday and I ordered a chicken fajita. Nothing spectacular about that - basic pub stuff... but it came on one of those ridiculous cast-iron sort of sizzling skillet things set on a wood tray, with the wraps tied up in a separate white napkin. And then it bloody sizzled all over my white shirt and I got the right maggot. Use a plate already.

English Mum said...

Oh. I see someone already mentioned the sizzling platter thingy. I'll get my coat...

Manuel said...

English mum: oh no it bears repeating.....

Missing California said...

Aah! English Mum, the thing about the fajitas is, that's how they are. Not a fad exactly, but go to any Mexican divey place, or nice Mexican place, across the American southwest and the fajitas sizzle & smoke, the tortillas come in the special tortilla container, the garnishes on another plate and the salsa that is not the same as the cheap salsa you ate with chips while waiting comes in yet another dish. With all this taking up too much space on the table, the customer has to messily assemble their own fajitas on a plate too small to do so. Should you find yourself in such a place, order the burrito platter. Same ingredients, already put together.

(fajitas I've had on the east side of the Atlantic as 'basic pub stuff' aren't worth your ordering anyway. Get a pie, or something braised, they do that well here.)

Stephan said...

"Three peas on a satellite dish..."

You are hilarious and just made my Monday! Thanks, and don't ever stop writing, and Happy New Year!!!

belfast plate carrier said...

This reminds me of my broken waiting resolution. Be Nice To The Punters. No more referring to 'woman with mustache' on table plans. No more mentioning the war. And definately no more perving on customer's daughters (Bad Belfast Plate Carrier!). That all went out the window the first day back after New Years.

"This is Chardonnay you gave me! I asked for Sauvignon Blanc!" cries the hag/customer.

It's plainly not. I poured the glass two minutes ago. I opened a bottle of Sauv Blanc specially. My new year's resolution rules out the usual 'whatever's closest to hand' approach to wine selection.

I hate when customers call me a liar. BPC considers the options. Goes with 'pour the hag/customer a glass of chardonnay and deliver with a smile.'

"That's much better"

says she, despite the fact she's sucking on some of australia's oakey finest.


And I die a little inside.

Red said...

It wasn't a restaurant it was in my own mothers Kitchen.....she made garlic turnip....it has gone down in the family "vomit in mouth" cookbook as well as my sister's chocolate souflé which was more chocolate scrambled eggs than anything.....
By the way Manuel fair play for still staying off the fags...I'd join you but those 2 christmas parties I had really left they're mark on me and fags are my crutch

Anonymous said...

Has to be COULIS with everything savoury, sweet, solids, liquids.....

Daily Spud said...

It's really the self-important terminology that gets me - jewelled salads, items enrobed in chocolate, medallions of whatever-meat-it-is - and what's with pan-fried (are there occasions where they don't fry whatever-it-is in a pan?)

Sometimes I think the writers of some restaurant menus are in league with the writers of property supplements...

jen said...

Daily Spud has hit on one of my pet peeves - all the flowery language, which always makes me suspicious that the restaurant is trying to hide something...

Do deep-fried Mars bars count as a fad? They were all the rage a couple of years ago down the chipper, along with the deep-fried Bounty Bars, Cadbury Creme Eggs, Munchies... Just goes to show that I've been on some classy dates.

fatmammycat said...

Fucking Parsley. The way it is put on everything. That's a fad I hate.
Also pretentious names of things that I neither know or care to know, what on earth is a 'magniliquence of petit shallots in a bisquette of oxtaileaux??'

Old Knudsen said...

Like the use of Parsley I get pissed off when you order a 3 plate fried egg breakfast and get some lettuce and a slice of lemmon and then there are the cunts that ask you if everything is ok when you have yer mouth full, fuck off I'm trying to eat, where were you when I did need something? Then when you get used to buying McRibs they take them away. Is smaller portions a fad or just a con?

Old Knudsen said...

TRANS FATS!!!!!! don't choose for me I want my fat and the taste.

B said...

Deadly serious actually... didn't even think it warranted a "what an odd ba$tard, you're lying!" reply

Manuel said...

Missing California: welcome. no not a fad per se but they are when restaurants who shouldn't be doing mexican food start doing them.....

Stephan: cheers....Happy new year too...

BPC: seriously I thought it was just me who did that, with wine that is. Do you also wave a hand over coffee to magically turn it from regular to decaf?

Red. cheers, hardest thing I've ever done....

Anon: I hear ya....

Spuddie: yeah, no need eh.....enrobed in chocolate, awesome....

Jen: deep dried munchies? they sound like popcorn chicken......ha!

FMC: yeah it's not good when even intelligent people cant even figure out what they are supposed to be ordering.....

Old k: con masquerading as a fad....it's a right cunty trick....

B: sir I meant no offence.....and I wasn't suggesting you were lying.....sake....

Native Minnow said...

I recently heard that a lot of the top restaurants in the Vegas casinos are no longer open during the week, just weekends. This "economic downturn" sure is scaring the crap out of me. It's probably not the time to be graduating and looking for work, yet that'll be me within the next few months. Good times.

B said...

didn't think my last reply showed anger either... hmm...

Manuel said...

b: awh sweet jebus you're harder to read than my ex-wife

belfast plate carrier said...

Manuel - the full strength coffee comes out when someone's been getting on my pecs all night and then asks for decaff. Sweet dreams motherfucker, bwahahaha!

B said...

you have an ex-wife? thought you were only in your 30s?

Manuel said...

b: i am! married and divorced before I was 30.....actually before I was 29.....

Robert Synnott said...

Ah, but what of the _square_ plates? Just like normal plates, but more awkward and presumably more inclined to break and not fit in the dishwasher.

And, yes, foam. FOAM. *shudders*

One trend that I do miss was lunch specials with a cup of coffee and a glass of wine; for a while most Italian places in Dublin did this. I think it was killed off by rising wine taxation.

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
How to Get Your Food Spit In said...

The tower of food thing couldn't be more spot on. Jenga is the perfect analogy!

How to Get Your Food Spit In said...

The tower of food thing couldn't be more spot on. Jenga is the perfect analogy!

How to Get Your Food Spit In said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tuesday Kid said...

The tower is the worst. It must have sucked having all those snobs in trying to be all cultured harping on about the significance of the structure.

JT said...

Ah, towers of food. I was on my way out of the serving side of the industry when that complete and utter shit fit happened...it only made my exit that much more hasty.

Chef: "Let's see...we'll start with a big glob of mashed potatoes, then add a spoonful of beans, then some, oh fuck it all, I don't know...mushrooms? Asparagus? Then top it off with sirloin tips, and chow mein noodles? Ah, and for flair, perhaps a bottle rocket or roman candle!"

Coked-out-of-his-mind owner: "FUCKING BRILLIANT!"

Don't get me started on the plates that are larger than some Baltic nations.

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