Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

(Please note: Because we live in a litigious society, names have been changed so I don't get sued.)

As the saying goes, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world"; meaning, the person raising a child has the most influence on them. It works like that with carriage drivers, sort of. Of course, not with children; in our case it has to do with Restaurants.

When I work downtown, I come into contact with literally hundreds of people per shift. Some ask directions, some ask about horses, or events/tourist attractions in the Salt Lake Valley, and a large number ask for a recommendation for a restaurant downtown. The same goes for Ro, who answers the phones for the carriage company and makes ride reservations. She, like us, will be asked by a customer where they should go and eat before a ride.

And here is the thing about the employees at Carriage For Hire: we love food. This is obvious just by looking at us. From the time we hit South Gate to the time we un-tack the horses for the evening, we talk about food, reminisce about particular favorites, and in fact discuss recipes and entire meals we've had. Being that we work in a service based industry, we pay particular attention not only to the price point and quality of the food we order, but the level and speed of service we receive at the various places we frequent. And just ask Jenn from Dee's, we tip extraordinarily well.

So, when a new restaurant opens, we look forward to trying it out, hoping that we've found a new favorite. Not only for our own personal use, but for another place to recommend to folks looking for a decent meal. When I worked in the executive dining room for a local oil company, the Executive Chef confided to me that if he ever opened a restaurant downtown, he would "take care of" the carriage drivers. Being from Chicago, I assumed at first he meant we would all be sleeping with the fishes, but he explained that since he is aware we send business to restaurants he'd make sure we were either fed for free or tipped out accordingly. That eased my mind a bit…

For example, I will not send people to any of the following places:

Bxxxxxxxa (dry, overcooked food tepanyaki style with a listless staff who are more concerned with turning over the tables than they are about you having a pleasant and enjoyable dining experience.)

The Downtown Oxxxe Gxxxxn (just the opposite; a lackadaisical staff and management who are more concerned with entertaining out of town conventioneers than locals. And don't ever go in there if you have to be someplace, like say, The Capitol Theater to see "Spamalot", and only have an hour and a halfbetween the time you sit down and order and curtain time, You. Won't. Make. It.)

Having worked in the food service industry myself, I will never again set foot in Sxxxxn, because if the front of the house is filthy, what does the kitchen look like?
I pass this info along to the people I work with; we have about 25 driver on staff. And in turn they tell me about their culinary nightmares; Bxxxxxa ruined a filet mignon; Gxxxxx's lunch was nasty but it could be a fun place to go for cocktails; and Txe Rxxf is overpriced for unimaginative fare, and the cheesecake was clearly on its last day, dry with a yucky film between the layers. And as Ro said, it's hard to ruin Cheesecake; you order it in from your supplier, and store it in your fridge. At $35.00 a person for their buffet, one expects a certain level of quality, which lately we have found not to be there.

So, food. ~A~, Ro and I had lunch at a new place that just opened on Main street. We've been looking forward to it with great anticipation because on the weekend they are scheduled to be open 24 hours. In downtown SLC the only place open 24 hours is Denny's. Sad and pathetic, I know.

We went to Txe Bxy Lxxf and ordered three menu items, all different, and planned on eating family style. We ask for extra plates, and scoop portions so everyone gets a chance to try each item. The best thing ordered was the lemonade ~A~ had. The meatloaf was crusty, the fried chicken was moist but bland, and the Bulgogi (yeah, I know, their menu is eclectic, but we like eclectic, when it's done right, which The Tin Angel is a prime example of) was dry, and charred, thus ruining the sweet Korean marinade I normally associate with it. And the ear of roasted corn? In the Slave Driver household, if I had shucked the puny, mealy ear that was served, it would have gone straight into the trash, and our family motto is "Nothing but the most mediocre for us." So, yeah.

All in all it was an "Eww" meal. And too bad, because we send people to places we like all the time. J. Wongs Biestro, (they have a fabulous desert made of deep friend cream cheese wrapped in wonton skins. It sounds weird but it's really freakin' good) Lambs Café, Tuchana in The Gateway Mall, and The Red Iguana are all restaurants we recommend. (The Red Iguana, on North Temple, not The Bxxe Ixxxxa, next to Bxxxxxxxa) And for a small example of the culinary power we wield, here is a little story about a place we found in the 'burbs:

I met Ro at a mall last week frequented by crack heads and gang bangers. I refused to eat in the food court, and as we left for another venue on our Sunday shopping extravaganza, we stopped at Smash Burger. We loved it. It is now our newest favorite place (while we anxiously await the opening of the "In-and-Out Burger" they're building by my house). Ro told her man, and I told mine. The next day Mr. Slave Driver dragged his fellow workers there, and they too enjoyed it. And these guys not only go out to eat every day, but often take clients to lunch. (Mr. Slave Driver works in the construction trade, so informal dining is just fine with them.) Ro's significant other ate there, too, and while he did not like it as much as we did, he said it was good. Then, Ro told MBA of our newfound love, and she said her son told her he'd tried it and found it to be kind of bleh. But because Ro and I liked it, and knowing 1) how much Ro and I like food, and 2) how incredibly picky we are, she's going to give it a try based on our review..

How's that for influence?

So, if you're ever in Salt Lake, looking for a good place to eat, ask your local carriage driver. Because when it comes to food, clearly, we know what we're talking about. After all, we don't look the way we look because we eat sensibly. Or, you know, a lot of salads.


Sagebrusheq said...

The name escapes me but have you tried the German lunch counter on 4th south(?), just west of Main ?

Lisa Deon said...

Sagebrush! Good to see you again!

If you are talking about the one on 200 south, it's called Sigfrieds Deli,and while I have not dined there I hear it is well received.

4th south west of Main is the Courthouse, where I have not been served anything, thankfully! ;)

And everything west of that building has been torn down, including my Tattoo shop and Port-O-Call.

Sagebrusheq said...

I've been following you right along (your blog that is). I just don't have much to say about romance, lit'ry or literally.

You must try it (Siegfried's). Sehr gut.


Lyn said...

Hmm. Adding my influence here: definitely avoid the Bxxxxxr Kxxg at the corner of 1709 and That Long Street Whose Name I Always Mess Up. Even the tea was bad. On the other hand, the parking lot was empty, so I got a free show: oversized skateboarders trying to break their heads against the hood and fenders of a car. So, I watched the show a while and then went home and had a tuna sandwich.

Lisa Deon said...

Dear Lyn,

I usually avoid Bxxxxr Kxxg during daylight hours, but like a shimmering vampire, for some reason (maybe it's because it's the only place open on my drive home from the barn at 2 am) I occasionally stop there after dark and get two things:
Deep fried Tacos from the dollar menu, and a frozen coke. Years ago I worked in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, where there was a Jack in the Box. AT JITB they sell Tacos, deep fried, and I fell in love with them. Of course, while you're eating them you can hear your major arteries sqweeking closed, but still...

So, being that the nearest JITB is in Pocetello, Idaho, and I'm not that into them, in moments of weakness I stop and get my fix.

Which jiust goes to show ya, in a battle between Hungry and Picky, Hungry wins every time.

Belle's personal assistant said...

Port o' call is gone????!!!?!?!?!
First Chevron, then POC. Its a very sad time, indeed

Lisa Deon said...

Port-O-Call, Bikini Cuts, Big Deluxe Tattoo, the Chevron and the parking lot- all gone. And the IOOF (Odd Fellows) Hall has been raised, rotated, and moved across the street so now it's next to Market Street/The New Yorker. Now, that entire block bewteen Market Street, 400 s., Main and W. Temple has been demolished to make way for the addition to the Matheson Court house, which was not demolished but will be enlarged.

Wait until you get a load of the 32 sroey condo tower on the corner of W. Temple and S. Temple where Inn @ Temple Square used to be. It's hella tall, and the small penthouses, (1500 sq, ft) are starting at 1.2 Million.

Yes, you're reading that correctly. onepointtwomillion. For a view of The Temple.

And, mmwahhhaaa, us.

Which, in my opinion, is priceless....