Yup, all done. Photo by avlxyz (via Flickr).
It’s a new year, which means it’s time for my annual bitchfest about things I’d like to see disappear (or changed) in our local dining scene. This little snarky tablehopper tradition has been going on since 2007, so before you start wondering how on earth I failed to complain about all the reclaimed wood, check out these previous editions of the bore.
Juice. All these fresh- and cold-pressed juice shops are like our new fro-yo, breeding like rabbits all over the city. How many juice shops do we really need? (Don’t get me started on all the people broadcasting that they’re on a three-day juice cleanse on Facebook and complaining about it every day. #firstworldproblems) Sure, I like to get my green drink on, but usually I’d rather spend the $12 on a cocktail with some fresh-squeezed juice in it instead, thanks.
Overpriced street food. Sometimes I do a major double take at the prices of some of the plates coming off of food trucks. And when the food is mediocre? Or skimpy/precious? What the hell. Nothing like standing in a line so you can eat pricey and undelicious food in the cold wind to make the novelty of food trucks wear thin.
The death of SF’s dive bars is really beginning to bum me out. Yes, those liquor licenses and their real estate are highly coveted and precious things, but cities need grit, damn it. A place where you can hide out or hang out over a $5 drank and meet characters. If you’re going to take over a divey neighborhood bar, gut it, and start doubling the price of drinks, at least try to put some heart and soul into it. Honor what (and who) was there before. Some folks are bar owners, and others just act like business owners—your patrons know the difference.
Spring mix. A writer pal was complaining on Twitter about what a cop-out it is, and I have to agree. Sandwich places are the worst offenders. “Let’s just add this spring mix with a gloppy balsamic dressing on the side.” There are so many other interesting lettuce options out there, ones that won’t rust and wilt so easily. Mix it up, yo.
I am not a fan of places that serve slightly complicated food and expect you to eat off a lounge table. It’s impossible to dine with any semblance of grace—have you ever tried to twirl pasta at a knee-high table? You end up looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame as you hunker over your steak. If you’re going to have low tables, offer food that’s easier to pick up and eat.
Okay, so last year I vented about unisex bathrooms (and even worse, the ones with no toilet seat covers, ugh). There is one thing I failed to include in that rant: the need for a damn coat hook or purse hook. A table does fine, thanks, but if there isn’t a hook or a table in your bathroom, can you please work that out? Like right now? And no, the door handle is not the answer.
As someone who dines out about six nights a week, I encounter all levels of service, and I find there are some overzealous servers who make it impossible to carry on a conversation with your tablemates. Unnecessary interruptions about whether you’d like more water (just pour it—my glass is almost empty and it’s free), if I am enjoying my meal (whoooa Nelly, I’m still chewing my first bite, gimme a second), whether I’m finished or not (my plate is clear, my silverware is in the 4 o’clock position, yeah, I’m pretty done), or inquiring if I need anything else (you’d know if I needed anything else, I’d ask you) are just superfluous questions that distract guests from their time together. Often the best service is seen but not heard.
I’m tired of people visiting a restaurant during their opening week and bitching about what they didn’t like on Yelp, Twitter, and Facebook (and who most likely didn’t tell the manager what wasn’t working, so the restaurant didn’t have the opportunity to fix it). Ease up on the passive-aggressive complaining, folks.
Bad restaurant music. Dear restaurant owner, you fretted over the fabric for the chairs, the linens, the menu font, the flatware, the water glasses, but how could you so completely miss the boat on the music? You can tell when a place has carefully chosen the music (instead of mindlessly allowing Pandora or some other channel to run it for them; or even worse, letting the staff take turns playing their iPods). Don’t know what you’re doing? Hire a music stylist. And playing LCD Soundsystem full blast doesn’t help create a lively vibe in your dining room, only frustration since your diners can’t hear each other. We aren’t working in your kitchen, we’re eating in your restaurant.
Programs. Cocktail programs. Drink programs. Wine programs. Beer programs. Charcuterie programs. Cheese programs. I’m as guilty of using the word “program” as the next food writer or publicist, but it has officially been stricken from the tablehopper record henceforth.
And that’s a wrap!