I am so blowing the whistle on cupcakes. Yes, it’s great to have a few shops in each city, but we don’t need more than a few. And really, what is up with the LINES of people (mostly ladies) waiting at some of these places? Ri-donkedonk. Now, I would queue up for a true Parisian croissant… but unless those sprinkles on said cupcakes start coming from happy pills, the frosting on my cupcake is of an unhappy face.
Since we’re on dessert, what is up with all the salt ending up in my sweets? Salted caramels, lovely. Salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite, bring it. But when I start crunching on large flakes of salt in my chocolate dessert and suddenly need to order more water, I gotta draw the line. Please keep the monster flakes o’ Maldon away from my Madagascar chocolate.
You didn’t think I was going to skip fro-yo, did you? Hells no. See, it’s the exact same cycle that happened back in the 80s: too many yogurt shops open at once, the city gets flooded with fro-yo, and then suddenly every place closes shop and we end up with none. It’s a runaway train of fruit-named knockoffs breeding like rabbits. And hilariously, the City doesn’t even have a Pinkberry, the mother ship of them all.
Ahem on mixology mayhem. Now, I love my cocktails as much as the next boozehound. And we’re blessed to have so many pros in San Francisco who can make a spectacular cocktail—I dig the “kitchen notes” in a lot of drinks that make them pair well with food, or help my cocktail do double duty as an appetizer, heh. But more and more I find myself glazing over when my drink starts to sound like something I should be eating in a haute French restaurant, with a detailed description of each and every ingredient and the techniques used to make the darned thing. Can we dial this back to five, or six? (The hype, and the minutes it takes to make it.) Let’s get back to having the folks behind the stick be bartenders first, mixologists second. Which is why I am finding myself back on Manhattans. They’re quick, because yo, I’m thirsty. And it better not cost $14.
I know I’m gonna get some heat on this one, but the cocktail consulting thing at local restos also needs some reining in. A good cocktail list does not a good restaurant make. Yeah, the cocktail program reads great on the restaurant’s press release, and it’s all dandy during the opening when the startenders are there, but what is going on with those drinks a month or two later? That quality control thing is tricky. I’d prefer simpler drinks (see above), less fanfare.
This one is a cautionary tale: bacon. I totally dug the pigwich at Orson, and the bacon with apple and maple donut from Dynamo was an item whose time had come. But folks experimenting with bacon better stop acting all OCG (Original Culinary Gangster) because look around, everyone is doing it. Bacon is totally jumping the shark.
Ditto on poached eggs. Breakfast, it’s what’s for dinner! Not. I eat far too many eggs every week; they’re definitely going with me to the desert island. But man, can we take it (over) easy? Eggs are making appearances on dinner menus everywhere. Unless the chef is doing something really unique, like Seis Kamimura at Postrio, who is soft-cooking an egg inside a Wolfe Ranch quail, wrapping that puppy in San Daniele prosciutto, then deep frying it, and glazing the quail with a maple Banyuls vinegar gastrique—otherwise, can we just leave the poached eggs to the brunch places, truffle season, pizzas, and bistros serving salade Lyonnaise?
Large plates, but small tables, and even smaller portions. ‘Nuff said.
Communal tables, especially the big ones that are so wide you can’t hear your friend sitting across from you, especially with all the other people around talkin’ loudly. So much for communal. Yes, they are a clever way to seat single diners or a random group of folks who don’t have reservations, but find me anyone out there who brightens up when the reservationist says, “No, we don’t have any tables available that night, but we do have first-come, first-served spots at our communal table!”
Did I just hear that woman at the table next to me ask if the salad was local? Yeah lady, the menu says it’s from County Line Harvest, relax. The intense local / sustainable / organic policing that is happening at restaurant tables is making my head hurt. It’s like the Inquisition! These are fine questions to ask of your salmon, your beef, and your tomatoes during that pesky scare, but what’s coming under the microscope next, the garnish in your drink, and the chocolate shavings on your dessert? Why even eat out?