Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Home Cookin'

by Joyce

I like my own cooking.

This revelation came to me one Friday afternoon when hubby asked me, "Do you want to go out to eat tonight?"

I thought about it for three or four seconds and said, "Nah. I'll make something." It had nothing to do with the fact that it would require me to shower, fix my hair, put makeup on, and wear something besides nylon workout pants and a t-shirt.

Two of my favorite restaurants are Max & Erma's and the Hofbrauhaus. I've never been disappointed at either place. It's been a different story at some other restaurants.  

I'm not going to officially name any of the bad places, even though I should--as a warning to unsuspecting consumers. It all started a couple of months ago when we went to one chain that serves burgers, sandwiches, and might just have a bird in their name. It was the absolute worst meal I've ever had. I should have known we were in for a bad experience as soon as we walked into the place. The entrance area was packed. Misbehaving little monsters were running rampant while their oblivious parents chatted. The hostess said there'd be a ten minute wait. We were finally seated a good half hour later.

It got worse. We were seated about six inches away from a family with four children under the age of ten. This wouldn't ordinarily be a problem, but the little girl in a high chair seated closest to us was a true demon child. I almost suggested we go somewhere else, but we'd already waited so long, I figured we should stick it out. Bad decision.

After another long wait, our waitress finally showed up and we ordered a couple of beers. Just when I was wondering if she was brewing the beer herself, she came back. Hubby and I ordered fish sandwiches. While we waited, said demon child kept throwing things onto our table. Every once in awhile her mother would say she was sorry, but didn't do anything to correct demon child. Okay, maybe she said, "Honey, don't do that." She should have picked up her precious one and given her a good swat on the backside. Maybe she was afraid the kid's head would start spinning or something. It wouldn't have surprised me.

Believe it or not, there's more. When our food finally arrived I bit into my fish sandwich. IT WAS STILL FROZEN. As in ice particles underneath that crispy fried batter. I took my fork and poked at it. Yep. FROZEN. While hubby ate his unfrozen sandwich, I waited for our server to come back. Ate a few french fries. Waited some more. No server. I finally flagged down a passing waiter after he served another table and told him. He took the sandwich and brought me a basket of fries. When he finally brought a new sandwich, I couldn't eat it. Just the thought of frozen fish turned my stomach. All this time, our waitress was nowhere to be found.

I'll cut to the chase. When it was time to pay, we handed our waitress (who had finally come back) our credit card. Another wait. The credit card machine was broken. She asked if we could pay cash. Um. No. She came back with a manager who stated she'd try to run it the old-fashioned way. Another wait. Finally, the manager said the meal was on the house because she couldn't figure out how to run the card. So, we got a free meal, not because it sucked, but because their credit card machine didn't work. Needless to say, I'll never go there again.

And that's not the only bad meal I've had lately. We went to another chain and I had a hard time picking something because there were too many weird ingredients in things. No, I don't want cranberries, pecans, and who knows what else in my salad. No, I don't want the chicken dipped in Caesar dressing, breaded, fried, and topped with cheese. I want an ordinary grilled chicken salad. Hold the fries. It's not that hard. Sheesh.

I got the message. I'm cookin' at home.

Next time we go out I might have to stick with beer and dessert.

They're my two favorite food groups anyway.


Gina said...

I like my own cooking, too, Joyce. It's amazing how annoying going out to eat can be.

Karen in Ohio said...

Joyce, I hear you. But don't give up. Just stop going to the stupid chains.

My husband and I are having an early Valentine's/anniversary dinner together, at a fish market. This particular one has a demo kitchen, and they have couples' cooking lessons, as well as serving lunches. Periodically they have a wine pairing tastings dinner, like this one: six courses with two choices each, paired with a different wine. Good thing we live less than two miles away!

The chef worked at our local five-star restaurant before the economy forced it to close a few years ago, so I expect a lovely meal.

Ever since I went to Europe for the first time 10 years ago I found that I much prefer individually prepared food to mass-produced food. Just like at home!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Joyce, it sounds like your night at Red Robin (Okay, I'm not afraid to call them by name) was a tough night for all. Except the demon child. But Joyce, fish at a burger joint?? :)

It's funny, we rarely go to that chain because it's not convenient to our location, but when I have, I've never been disappointed. My BAD place is O'Charleys. I had a similar experience once at an O'Charleys and I won't go back.

Joyce Tremel said...

And when you make your own food, Gina, you know exactly what's in it. No surprises.

Karen, that sounds like fun. I haven't heard of any places like that around here. I'm going to look for one!

Will, I went to this same RR (yes, you guessed right) once before with my sisters. That meal was edible, but didn't impress me at all. Maybe other RRs are better. I don't know. After the experience hubby and I had there, I filled out the complaint form on their website and never heard a word. You'd think they'd at least apologize.

My favorite chain is Max & Erma's. I've been there dozens of times and never had a bad meal. I love their Santa Fe salad.

Karen in Ohio said...

Joyce, even if you can't find a place like our fish market, surely there are local restaurants that offer home-style cooking?

And then you have the added comfort of knowing you've supported a locally owned business.