Waiter, I Can’t Hear My Food: Survival Tips for Noisy Restaurants #hackdining

restaurant, food, dining

So, you recently enjoyed a tasty meal at a noisy, hip restaurant only when you were headed home you noticed your ears and head were throbbing leaving you wondering if you had just dined at an industrial construction site? Don’t worry, you haven’t suddenly morphed into your grandparents (unless you’re also dining at 4:30PM), and you probably aren’t imagining things either. You’ve just entered the increasingly common, ear-splitting world of high-volume modern fine dining.

Following of the trend that accompanied the California cuisine wave of the 80’s and 90’s, more and more fine dining places have broken with tradition and are jettisoning stuffy settings and dress codes while focusing their energy on exceptional food. Now you can eat like a VIP but still wear jeans. The casual vibe has moved from décors to DJs.

As chef-proprietors have become the norm, they also bring their sensibility from the kitchen to the front of the house. The thinking is if their Spotify playlist is good enough for the back, it is good enough for the dining room. And the volumes can be ear shattering. While it’s nice to no longer have to wear a tie to dinner, I might like to hear from my date before paying the check.

Part of this trend is economics: an environment of loud music creates a party-like atmosphere and, it turns out, is a proven method to boost alcohol sales. More booze, more profits. A collateral effect is that it also tends to drive customers out faster… tables turn quicker, more profit.

So, what to do about noisy restaurants? Unless you’re regularly packing ear plugs, here are some more practical tips that might help:

1. Do some homework. If you’re unsure about your destination’s atmosphere and you need a place with a quiet vibe, do some research on what kind of acoustic environment to expect; reading through recent reviews on OpenTable is a good place to start. You may not mind a full-on raucous hoopla on a casual night out with some friends. But if you are taking out your future in-laws for the first time, you’d be well advised to head someplace you can savor their every

2. Share your beef. If you find yourself sitting inside a human snare drum, don’t be afraid to ask the management to adjust the volume. Just know that they may well resist. One critically-acclaimed, but infamously cacophonous Italian eatery has been known to inform their customers that neither the music selection nor the decibel level are negotiable and have gone so far to nudge their diners to head elsewhere if it’s not to their liking. Other, less rigid restaurants, however, typically strive to keep their customers happy and may bend to accommodate your polite request.Continue Reading

SXSW Restaurants: Four New Texan Spots to Try When You’re in Town

Festival season in Austin kicks off with South By Southwest, the massive, 10-day convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. Downtown doubles in size with the influx of attendees from across the States and around the world. And while there’s plenty of amazing new acts, ideas, and technologies to discover, we all know the food is one of the major attractions of the Lone Star State’s capital. Since you’ll have plenty of options all the breakfast tacos and barbecue you can eat, we’re highlighting four new Texan SXSW restaurants that are absolutely worth a try — if you can get a break between sessions.

Lonesome Dove
This inventive bistro from Texas Chef Tim Love draws inspiration from Western cuisine with bold flavors. Starting with the spit-roasted fettine (small bites) through the main courses and hand-cut steaks, the menu is a wild game-heavy one that promises to delight carnivores. Though it’s hard to choose the best dishes, standouts include the duck and rabbit-rattlesnake sausage fettine, succulent wild boar ribs, the juicy roasted garlic stuffed beef tenderloin, seared Colorado lamb chop, and the flavor intense burnt carrots. Make a reservation at Lonesome Dove.

SXSW Restaurants

Revival Public House
The restaurant formerly known as Crave has transformed into a spacious pub serving Texas-inspired fare with nods to neighboring Southern food havens. Their extensive small plates offer innovative twists such as Kimchi Frito Pie, house-pickled zucchini, and red fish tacos. The ‘737’ Burger is garnished with creamy pimiento cheese and decadent bacon jam. The pork carnitas steak offers a big-flavored twist on the traditional Mexican dish. And don’t forget to order up a frosty mug of chilly hops and barley: Their extensive beer menu is curated from a wide variety of local craft brewers. Make a reservation at Revival Public House.

SXSW Restaurants

Stella San Jac
Inside the newly opened Westin, Stella San Jac’s focus is comfort food revised with New Texan flavors. The perfectly seared Berkshire pork chop sits on Brussels sprouts kicked-up with candied jalapeños. The Stella burger is crowned with tangy BBQ mayo and frizzled onions. Creamy fried avocado salad is balanced with Cholula ranch and esquite-styled charred corn. Legend has it that the flaky, #16 biscuits are named for the number of times the recipe was revised to perfection. Make a reservation at Stella San Jac.

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All Abuzz: 15 Coffee Cocktails to Add a Spring to Your Step

We love coffee. We love booze. Put the two together and that’s heaven in a glass. These double-amped cocktails showcase the mastery of mixology combined with the talented touch of a blue ribbon barista. That means they work for breakfast, a mid-afternoon break, or at dinnertime drinks (or all three if it’s one of those days). Here are 15 coffee cocktails that will have you buzzing in no time.

Travelle Kitchen + Bar, Chicago, Illinois
The Midnight Train to Portland cocktail should be renamed the One-Way Ticket to Buzzville. Espresso tequila forms the backbone of the ruby red drink, which gets its hue from Pinot Noir. Pear wine and aromatic bitters add sweetness and bite. Make a reservation at Travelle Kitchen + Bar.

Coffee Cocktails

E.P. + L.P., West Hollywood, California
There’s an Asian accent to this aromatic sipper. Thai chilies, star anise, and cinnamon spice up the espresso, which is mixed with juniper-rich genever, cognac, and bitters to create a truly buzzy bevvie. We don’t recommend drinking more than one of them after dinner if you want to go to bed anytime soon. If your plans include not sleeping, order two. Make a reservation at E.P. + L.P.

Coffee Cocktails

Estrellón, Madison, Wisconsin
There’s a double caffeine kick to this cocktail thanks to St. George coffee liqueur and cold brewed coffee. Fortified with Spanish brandy, bar manager Mike Lu mixes in some Angostura bitters to add depth and lemony oleo-saccharum for sweetener. Guaranteed to put pep in your step. Make a reservation at Estrellón.

Coffee Cocktails

Siegel’s 1941, Las Vegas, Nevada
Made with 12-year aged rum, espresso liqueur, vanilla syrup, and Angostura bitters, the Have a Cigar cocktail is a worthy post-gig pick-me-up for rock stars. Or for you when you’re convinced you’re Roger Waters. You can almost hear Pink Floyd in the background as you sip it, “Come in here, dear boy, have a cigar/You’re gonna go far, you’re gonna fly.” Make a reservation at Siegel’s 1941.

Coffee Cocktails

Rockit Bar & Grill, Chicago, Illinois
Who could resist a cocktail called the Drunken Monk? Not us! Made with Evan Williams Bourbon, Frangelico, chocolate syrup, espresso, and steamed milk, it’s topped off with a cap of flame-kissed marshmallow. Make a reservation at Rockit Bar & Grill.

Coffee Cocktails

Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar, Dallas, Texas
Bardstown Coffee is for java junkies who need something stronger than Starbucks. The coffee cocktail gets a considerable boost from a healthy dose of Jim Beam infused with hazelnuts, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a finishing layer of Maker’s Mark-enriched whipped cream on top. Make a reservation at Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar.

Coffee Cocktails

Sushisamba, New York, New York
This is not your crazy aunt’s espresso martini. The Café Millonario features coffee-washed Bacardi Black rum, espresso, Tonka bean-infused maple syrup, dark chocolate syrup, and bitters, plus a shower of chocolate powder and a trio of coffee beans on top. Actually, you should definitely order one of these for your crazy aunt. She deserves better. Make a reservation at Sushisamba.

Coffee Cocktails

Three Dots and a Dash, Chicago, Illinois
This Polynesian potable packs a punch courtesy of some cold brew coffee. Oh, yeah, and also tequila, dark rum, and overproof rum. For a tropical flourish, there’s a mélange of passion fruit, lime, and pineapple juices added. Warning: don’t try to walk out with the glass. The tiki gods frown upon such bad behavior and may lay a curse upon you. Make a reservation at Three Dots and a Dash.

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Perfect Pot Roast: The Roasts with the Most #slowfood

We live in a society that values speed. We push a button on our phones to conjure a ride, then stare at the screen as the car inches closer. We watch an entire season of a buzzy new show in a weekend because waiting a week between episodes would be sheer insanity. In a time when the world is moving at warp speeds, let’s pause to celebrate the things that take a little more time, starting with pot roast. Braised and simmered for hours to tender, flaky perfection, the classic pot roast is the O.G. of slow food and the antithesis of instant gratification in the best possible way. See how chefs around the country put their own signature spin on the beloved American dish that is perfect pot roast.

The Red Cat, New York, New York
Wrap up a stroll around Chelsea’s art galleries with a visit to this charming neighborhood staple. For most artists, the process is as important as the end result, and the same could be said for chef Mike Cooperman’s carefully crafted Brisket Pot Roast. Braised with onion, garlic, red wine, and veal stock, the whole brisket is cut before he adds a horseradish-bread crust to each piece and returns it to the oven for a final slow roast. He makes the accompanying spaetzle by hand-pressing dough through the holes of a colander, boiling, and then pan-crisping the deliciously irregular noodles with broccoli. Finished with a Dijon mustard sauce and broccoli puree, each bite is a work of art. (The dish is being offered as a special in March.) Make a reservation at The Red Cat.

Perfect Pot Roast

Washington Place, Cleveland, Ohio
By all means, order the traditional, perfectly prepared pot roast with mashed potatoes for dinner at this inviting bistro in Cleveland’s Little Italy, but if you’re visiting for brunch don’t miss the Pot Roast Hash. General manager Megan LeFebvre explains, “Brunch is a really big part of what we do at Washington Place. Tying one of our signature comfort food entrees to brunch was a priority to us, and we loved the idea of replacing the traditional corned beef with our fork tender pot roast.” Served with a poached egg, potato hash, white cheddar sauce, and toasted challah, it’s definitive proof that pot roast is a great way to start the day. Make a reservation at Washington Place.

Perfect Pot Roast

Mity Nice, Chicago, Illinois
On Tuesday nights at Mity Nice, two classic comfort dishes become one. The stylish spot on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile serves a Pot Roast-Stuffed Shells special — we’ll pause while your mind is blown — blanketed in fontina and Asiago cheeses and marinara sauce. With each rich, creamy bite, wonder why no one’s thought of this before. Make a reservation at Mity Nice.

Perfect Pot Roast

Beatrix Streeterville, Chicago, Illinois
This popular spot in Chicago’s Near North Side is open all day — from coffee and pastries to dinner and cocktails. In the morning, upgrade your breakfast BEC (bacon, egg, and cheese) with the hearty Braised Pot Roast & Egg Sandwich, featuring aged white cheddar and jalapeno relish for a little kick to get your day going. Circle back for your dinnertime pot roast fix with their Slow Braised Short Rib Farrotto and a slice of the Oh My! Caramel Pie. Finally, congratulate yourself on a banner day of eating. Make a reservation at Beatrix Streeterville.

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