Right now, with an agent interested in selling my cookbook, Cooking in Leaves, I have food on the brain. I don't always want to cook; I love eating out. There are certain things that turn me off about some restaurants, though. And there are things that make a restaurant one to return to. Here's my list. I'd love to hear yours.
My Restaurant Nits
**No reservations allowed
**Food I can make better
**Overcooked seared tuna
**Places closed between lunch hour and dinner
**Servers who kneel at the table
**Servers who push courses too fast
**Long, awkward waits for service or courses
**Expensive dishes that try but fail to be stacked art
**Tough or tasteless steak
**Sweet sauces on my meat
**Fusion of dissimilar cuisines for the sake of unique
**Ice tea from a soda dispenser
**Trendy food, like throwing a fried egg on everything
**Too dark to read the menu
**Fancy names for simple foods
**Desserts and appetizers that cost more than the main dish
**Barbeque sauce cooked onto my meat (I'd like to offer a shout-out here. I’m from K.C. Missouri, and Rib House is the only place I’ve found in the Denver metro area that does it right…offering choices of BBQ sauce to later put—or not put--over pit-cooked ribs)
What I Love in a Restaurant:
**Ethnic restaurants as authentic as street food.
**Hole-in-the-walls with dependable food and owners that get to know you.
**If casual seafood, paper towels on the tables and wood floors with shell discards.
**Free samples of wine.
**Ethnic faces in ethnic restaurants.
**Clean and elegant bathrooms.
**Exotic, unctuous offerings like innards (a wimpy companion will have to stomach it).
**Small portion offerings with reasonable prices so I can try several things.
**Food I’ve never had--unless it’s dog, rat, cat, or human.
**My tacky indulgence—all-you-can-eat steamed crab (straight up, no butter).
**If casual, electrical outlets with internet enabled outside of peak hours. It may be a chain but they welcome surfers and writers like me.
**Abundant lemon wedges for my tea.
**Would love but never get—passion fruit.
**Both olive oil and butter on the table for bread.
**Every kind of sweetener on the table from raw sugar and stevia to saccharine and Splenda, honey... offerings for all tastes.
What bugs you?
What do you think makes for a great restaurant?
-- your food obsessed Inkpot