Category Archives: Restaurants

What they want

While I worked at Hallmark, we designed a line of greeting cards targeted specifically at the male consumer.

When it came time to name the card line, we brandied about many monikers. At one point, I suggested headlining the display “FREE BEER.”

Give them what they want, right?

I just passed this signboard at a new restaurant in my neighborhood:

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Great minds…

Crying in my chicken

After being dumped, Tan Shen from Chengdu, China spent a week in her local Kentucky Fried Chicken.

KFC

She initially wanted some chicken wings and a quiet place to think. But then she ended up staying day after day in the 24-hour-a-day restaurant, which attracted media attention.

She eventually lost her taste for chicken, quit her job and went to visit her parents.  I’m sure she realized her mistake….

Taco Bell would have been so much better.

Bread dread

candy corn bagelTis’ the season for all things Halloween…

But a candy corn bagel?

Yes, that is the super-shiny, garishly colored baked product on the left.

It’s sold, of course, at a bakery in my beloved adopted hometown of New York City.

Now, I love a theme, but this bagel just looks wrong to me.  But before I pass judgment, I wanted to get your thoughts.

 

We’re not gonna pay rent

I love my Upper West Side neighborhood.

But today, I have a major beef.

ditch plains uws

Ditch Plains, a wonderful restaurant across the street from my apartment, has closed. And the rents in my neighborhood are to blame.

Owner Marc Murphy did everything right when they opened three years ago. Their ‘soft open’ lasted a month, offering the entire menu at half-price and free appetizers and desserts. By the time they officially opened their doors, the entire neighborhood was hooked. On the menu. The atmosphere. The friendly vibe.

During the past three years, I have been a loyal customer, and from my unique vantage point, I have seen them maintain a healthy business — far more popular with people of all ages than the two previous restaurants that occupied that same space for brief spans of time. But like their predecessors, Ditch Plains’ success still couldn’t scale the exorbitant rents in my neighborhood.

And they are no more.

If you visit my neighborhood, you will see several empty storefronts. They no doubt are victims, too.

This is just the first to hit so close to home.

Somewhere, a monkey is smiling

A good friend of mine — a Chicagoland native — recently moved to the South, and relayed an experience on Facebook that made me smile.

He was looking for a banana and asked a woman at a fast food counter if they had any. Her reply?

banana pudding doughnut “We have a banana pudding flavored doughnut.”

Now, it took my friend’s non-Southern brain a while to process this bit of information, but the banana pudding lover in me was PSYCHED.

Banana pudding is one of the greatest desserts on the planet.  (They attempt to make it where I live now, but you have to go to the deep South to get the real thing.)

While I’m not the biggest fan of doughnuts as a rule, COME ON —

Ya gotta appreciate their ingenuity!!

A matter of taste

ChaCha.com recently put together a list of some of the most unique fast foods available around the globe.

spam and egg sandwichThis was of particular interest to me because a couple of their choices were from Japan:  McDonald’s Ebi-Fillet — that’s shrimp — and Burger King’s Spam and Egg Sandwich (pictured on the left).

I’m proud to say I didn’t frequent any fast food restaurants during my stay, so I didn’t notice these options.

What did strike me as slightly odd was the traditional breakfast in Japan:

ricesaladgreen tea

White rice. A green salad. A thin, bland yogurt. And green tea.

Now, I might eat this for lunch if my main meal was delivered to the wrong table, but it’s not the flavor profile that I crave for breakfast. But my hotel offered it, and I ate it.  When in Rome…

(I did break down and add sweetener to the tea.  And to their credit, the natives didn’t wince too hard when I did.)

Location, location

I’m watching Food Network Star right now, which has been in Las Vegas for the past couple of weeks.

But it certainly doesn’t look like Vegas.

food network star vegasEvery time Bobby, Alton or Giada — the show’s three hallowed hosts — stand before this season’s contestants to set up a challenge, it looks like they are shooting the episode in an empty room. Or vacant parking lot.

Food Network goes to such great lengths to clear out the ‘normal folk’ during production, Vegas looks nothing like the manic city I have experienced every time I’ve had the chance to visit.

Why go to the expense of using Vegas as your backdrop if you’re going to make it sterile and still?  You might as well fake the whole thing at the Food Network studios here in New York City.

The show’s producers must have heard me.  They just announced this week’s survivors are coming to Manhattan for the remainder of the season.

That will probably look like Cleveland.

 

 

When the dust settles

A chance viewing on the great Google machine inspired the question:

With all the bizarre holidays out there, why don’t we celebrate Funny Chalkboard Sign Day?

There are so many really funny chalkboard signs outside bars and restaurants…and I think they deserve some recognition.

I posted some of the my favorites below.

chalkboard_childrenchalkboard_buy2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chalkboard_stealchalkboard_bacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chalkboard_soupchalkboard_grapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you seen others that deserve a shout out? Post them in the comments. And look for the national holiday coming soon.

A chalkboard sign would be a really good place to promote it…

The name game

Is your name Chris? Or Audrey? Or Dominic? There’s a Diet Coke out there with your name on it.

Literally.

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I found this bottle with Chris’ name on it at a hoagie shop near the Amtrak station in Paoli, Pennsylvania.  When I asked the employee at the counter about it, he had no clue what Coke was doing.

Which was helpful.

So I searched the bottle’s #ShareaCoke hashtag on Twitter and found a large community of people who had tweeted pics holding a bottle of Diet Coke bearing their own name!  How lucky for them.

I tweeted my Chris pic.  Hopefully he (or she) will appreciate it.  And if someone out there finds the elusive Carla bottle, comment/tweet/email/Facebook me.

This is suddenly very important.

Asleep in my takeout

I am fascinated by the critics’ take on the movie Chef, which is currently 88 percent fresh on RottenTomatoes.com.

I found it stale and oh-so-overcooked.

chef movie

I watch a lot of Food Network, so I had high hopes for the film’s ‘recipe’: a chef gets fired after he starts a Twitter war with a restaurant critic,  and opens a food truck.

Seems new, seems current.

Turns out all the conflict that drives the film is in the first 15 minutes.  After the chef (Jon Favreau) loses his job, everyone and everything starts working in his favor.

  • Need a food truck?  His ex-wife gets her other ex-husband to provide one.  Takes him to Miami to get it. Appears to bankroll the enterprise, too. (Sure, that happens.)
  • Need help setting it up?  His former junior cook travels across the country — without pay — to help him get started. That sainted ex-wife even takes orders at one point.
  • Need to reconnect with your kid? The ex-wife — again, the most non-confrontational divorced couple in the history of movies and life, for that matter — lets an 11-year old kid work as a line cook on a food truck for the entire summer. Without checking in. Right.

I don’t want to give away the ending in case you plan to see it.  But let’s just say that, once the food truck is parked —

Nothing really happens then, either. Or if it does, they don’t show it.

Because conflict might wake you up out of your food coma.