Restaurants that have recently earned rave reviews…
Made famous first as a vacation spot for folks living in Pennsylvania and western New Jersey, the Jersey Shore has stepped into the spotlight lately, courtesy of the eponymous MTV “reality” show and the antics (G-T-L!) of cast members Snookie, DJ Pauly D, JWoww, and, of course, The Situation (only one of whom is actually from New Jersey). In actual reality, the Jersey Shore is a picturesque stretch of beachfront communities with fine dining restaurants aplenty. To kick off the coming season of fun in the sun, restaurants along the shore are celebrating Jersey Shore Restaurant Week. Participating restaurants include Avenue in Long Branch, David Burke’s Fromagerie in Rumson (home to Bruce Springsteen), Scarborough Fair in Manasquan, and more.
Book your reservation today, but don’t expect to spot Sammi ‘Sweetheart’ and Ronnie. While they will return to the Jersey Shore eventually, the cast is currently filming the show’s second season in Miami.
The Daily Mail reports that a thirsty London diner asked for a free glass of tap water in a restaurant — and was refused. After spending more than $300 on dinner and ordering a bottled water and a round of drinks, the patron, Sonya Adams, politely requested a some tap water, only to be told it was against restaurant policy to serve diners free tap water. However, this policy is in violation of a new law introduced in the U.K. designed to help thwart alcohol-related crimes; alcohol retailers cannot turn down a patron’s request for a complimentary glass of water from the tap.
The restaurant’s management could face a hefty fine, prison time, and/or a revocation of its liquor license. Adams, who paid her bill but opted not to leave a tip, won’t be returning to the restaurant.
Charging for water has been an issue here in the States in the past year. What would you do if a restaurant refused to serve you a glass of tap water on the house? Walk out? Leave a small or no tip? Offer to pay for the water? Weigh in here or tell us your thoughts on Facebook.
Here’s one from the feel-good files: The New York Times “Freakonomics” folks called readers’ attention to a restaurant in Phoenix that is allowing diners to pay what they think is fair for lunch. Geordie’s Restaurant and Lounge in The Wrigley Mansion isn’t pricing its lunch entrees, instead letting patrons decide what they’re worth.
Being a bit of a cynic, I wondered how this pricing experiment was going, so I phoned Celeste Nichols, the general manager. She says, “It’s been very well received. We’re getting lots of local diners as well as people from out of town.” In terms of the value diners are placing on their entrees, Nichols reveals, “We’re pretty much getting $13 or better. People are loving it! They think it’s a great idea.” Nichols, who championed the concept, said she’d seen a restaurant in another state do it and thought it might be something that would be fun to try at The Wrigley Mansion. She admitted she was a bit skeptical at first (after all, someone could just wish to pay a quarter), but, Nichols says, “It’s turned out that people pay fairly, if not better than we anticipated.”
Available at lunch, Tuesday through Saturdays, the “Pay What You Think Is Fair” promotion at Geordie’s in The Wrigley Mansion has been going on for more than six months with no end in sight.
From the “State Your Complaint” files…
* New York Post critic Steve Cuozzo has had enough of pizza mania, small plates, and even smaller snacks at Manhattan restaurants. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the menu this morning. [NY Post]
* A diner accuses wait professionals of sexism, but critic Michael Bauer says her seat — and not her sex — may be the reason she’s not getting the check. [SFGate]
* Phil Vettel’s reader’s react to his list of restaurant flaws. [Chicago Tribune]
* Phil Vettel reacts to bad brunch services. (Can brunch ever be really bad? You’re allowed, heck, even encouraged, to have a cocktail IN THE MORNING!) [Chicago Tribune]
* Eater had previously weighed in on restaurant design trends that need to go the way of microwave cooking. [Eater]
* Diners are feeling squeezed. Literally. [Star Tribune]
You know how sometimes it seems that there’s just one chef that everyone is talking about? Well, at the moment that chef is Joey Campanaro. Famous for his work at The Little Owl and his meatball sliders, along with Market Table, Campanaro has opened Kenmare along with restaurateur Paul Sevigny, brother to Chloe and the man behind the infamous Beatrice Inn. Serious Eats talks to Campanaro about what he likes to serve, The Daily Beast got him to reveal where he most likes to eat when he’s not behind the line (Soto), and Lost City reveals the origin’s of his latest venture’s name, which is tucked on a street of the same name in Manhattan’s SoHo.
Have you tried Campanaro’s famous meatball sliders? Which one of his restaurants is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments!
In honor of Tax Day tomorrow (Have you filed your return — or your extension yet?), we’re talking about tipping again. Servers in Portland have seen their tips decrease. Some are blaming smaller checks, while several customers had little sympathy for the servers’ plight. Could it be that as consumers we’re now being hit up for tips everywhere we go? To wit, I was recently at a dry cleaner that had a tip jar. Really?! Hey, here’s an extra buck for losing my sweater for a week. Or for putting a crease in my pants even though I beg you not to EVERY SINGLE TIME. Thanks, and keep up the not-so-great work!
Meanwhile, last month, Cheryl Glenn, a lawmaker in Maryland introduced a bill that would ban automatic tipping in restaurants for parties of under 10 diners. Restaurant associations aren’t happy about it, but every diner has her/his own strategy for tipping that doesn’t always jibe with a gratuity automatically being added to their bill.
Are tip jars tapping you out? Causing you to tip less at restaurants? Are mandatory tips driving you mad? Weigh in here, or join the conversation on Facebook.
* …although the commute is probably tougher if you work at the world’s most remote restaurant. [Gizmodo]
* There’s speculation about the name of the new Jose Garces restaurant in Philadelphia’s Centre City. [Philadelphia City Paper]
Ingredient-driven news from the world of food…
* Could country ham be the new bacon? [Salon]
* Salted butter is back on tables at fine restaurants, taking some of the fun out of salting your bread and butter. [The Epi-Log]
* Finding sustainable fish is about to get easier, thanks to an eco-minded entrepreneur. [The New York Times]
* Milk is supposed to have flavor, and once again, some of it does. [Washington Post]
* Seasonal sweets are showing up in San Francisco restaurants. [San Francisco Chronicle]