Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Thing About Expectations Is Meeting Them

Hey Masa 14?

'member when I was critical of your meat dishes when I praised your seafood and wondered if it was more hype and less food?

Yeah, I was wrong. You rocked the food right on visit number two. You were creative and tasty.

But...

First I'm going to tell you all the good things about our meal. Because there were very many of them. And four foodies who spend a lot of time figuring out where to spend their larger-than-average food budgets left your joint fat and (mostly) happy. I'm going to put lots of my pictures up in the interwebs so people can see that even the fruit and granola looked good (and it was good, with a tangy yogurt).

Then I'm going to raise an issue because you were just plain not honoring the letter or spirit of your deal.

Your $35 all you can eat brunch was such a good idea I booked a table for four. I drove an hour to get there and put up with New York Avenue coming into town.

Because I am potentially psyonic and psychic and psychotic, I channeled my inner-Doris Day and got the spot right in front of the joint.

(You don't know the Doris Day Rule? Really? Okay. If you're looking for a parking spot pray to Doris. I'm Serious. Have you EVER seen her drive somewhere and not get the spot RIGHT in front of the building to which she's headed, get out of the car, and swoop right in just on time?)

I booked at 12 and thought I was lucky but the joint was quiet at 11:55 when I arrived and really didn't get smokin' busy until closer to 1pm.

Your server was a nice gent. Your runners were groovy.

Your food? It was AWESOME. 

The Baha Mi Pork Sandwich and the Pho Beef Sandwich? Brilliant.

The Grits were cheesy AND chipotle-y and smoove. I have been to the world of southern grits, and I have found the source. And you were not found lacking. AT ALL. Once they'd gone around the table I picked up the service spoon with them and scraped as much out of the 'bowl' as I could.

Really? A square bowl with grits in it so I couldn't physically scrape them all out with the spoon? That was dastardly folks...I love grits. And I had to give the bowl back with at least 10 or 12 grains of cheese and chipotle-covered corn meal still in the vessel.
Your Chilaquiles were a huge hit with my pals. There was a mound of chips in green chilli sauce and soft black beans. (Foreshadowing, HUGE success with the first go around of this dish).

Your Breakfast Pizza was superb and the egg was cooked perfectly. Same with the egg over the outrageous Bacon Fried Rice.

The chorizo was good and the tomato sauce with it was a nice counterpoint (the sausage could have had a bit more heat).

The chicken has was the perfect balance of meat to pepper and onion. And with gooey egg yolk pouring over it to boot? A real winner.

The eggs on the Beef Tenderloin Benedict were overcooked; but the beef was gooooood and it was seasoned so well.

We whooped up on two orders of the wok homefries because they were delicious!!! Really, poblanos? Yeah, good!

But when you have an all you can eat and advertise it don't change the rules in the middle of the game. Don't change the sizes of dishes you send to a table mid-meal. You will anger us...

You created the brunch special. Your menu was clear. Boxed in. $35. All you can eat plus drinks from your menu of mimosas, Masa mimosas, lychee cocktails, and Rye Bacon Bloodies. No limitations on the menu items we could choose. No language on the menu that there were different menus for the all vs. the a la. There is np indication on your menu that the sizes will be different if you order the all-you-can-eat. There is no indication on the menu that the portion size during a meal is subject to change.

You should clearly set our expectations about portion size and you should remain consistent throughout the meal and across tables in the restaurant on the same day.

Full-Sized Chilaquiles the first time. 1/3-sized order for the second.

Small breakfast pizzas at our table all meal but other tables receiving full-sized ones. Different sized flatbread coming to our table (full-size mushroom but smaller breakfast pizza).

If you're trying to control food costs by doing smaller portions at the brunch, tell us that up front and be consistent. I'd probably still come and try a lot of dishes; I'd even probably come and try a lot of dishes at a higher price than you charged me if I knew I was getting smaller "all-you-can-eat-sized-portions" on the menu when I ordered.

But when you downsize the dishes mid-meal, we feel like you're trying to game the system you created.

In case you were wondering and for the purposes of (as full as I can) disclosure, we likely did come out ahead at a four-top by $30 or so ($7.50/person) just based on the menu prices available on the online brunch menu. That's clearly not so much that you lost money on our table. Quick math on what we had and quick math on food costs...the $8 worth of menu priced yucca we had was likely $0.42 of food cost for you and a 3 second blast of labor time to fry and plate them. You won there big time. Ditto on our two orders of wok home fries...a couple spoonfuls of potatoes with some peppers and onions does not come anywhere near the $8 it would have cost us a la carte.

My rant is now over.

I will sleep on this AGAIN before I hit Publish.

I WILL eat at your joint again because the food is excellent. And because the service is good. And because, like Zaytinya, I LOVE watching the glitterati eat and drink.

But please, mean what you say on your menu.

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