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.
* It’s tough to get a reservation at The French Laundry, but it’s even tougher to work there. [Financial Times]
* …although the commute is probably tougher if you work at the world’s most remote restaurant. [Gizmodo]
* Mario Batali is known for his orange Crocs, but his restaurants, including Del Posto, Lupa, Osteria Mozza, and Otto, are sporting a more Earth-friendly hue. [The Huffington Post]
* 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…
*New York restaurants, including I Trulli, SD26, and SHO Shaun Hergatt, are serving bunny. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. [NY Post]
* 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]
* Atlanta diners are giving quiche a chance at Au Pied de Cochon and Bistro Niko. [AJC]
Mother’s Day isn’t too far away, and OpenTable wants to know your thoughts on Mom’s special day. What’s your favorite cocktail — a Bloody Mary or a Bellini? Will you dine with your mother AND your mother-in-law? Answer these and other pressing questions in our short survey today. It’s free, it’s fast — and fun!
Click here to share your opinion.
Restaurant critics create the news, and sometimes they make the news….
* The New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton’s identity has been compromised by the sneaky peeps at Eater, while eating KFC of all things. [Gawker]
* New York Magazine reviewer Adam Platt clarifies a few things for those wanting to compromise his identity. [GrubStreet New York]
* Michael Bauer will willingly reveal his identity to you — if you win first prize in the “SFGate Top 100 Foodspotter Awards” and get to share a meal with the San Francisco Chronicle scribe. [SFGate]
* Mark Hayter, a new reviewer, reluctantly joins the mix in the Lone Star State and shares some of his self doubt about being critical. [The Courier]
* Canadian foodies debate the merits of professional food critics versus those of online amateurs. [Macleans]
* Howard Kurtz ponders the merits of critics in general. [Washington Post]
From the “Not-Exactly-Breaking-News” files, food photography is rampant at restaurants, thanks to, first, Flickr, then Twitpic, and now Foodspotting. The act of creating food porn, as a lot of people call it, while eating out has become more acceptable, even though it annoys some diners. I admit I’ve done this a few times — but very surreptitiously and only to let a friend see what she’s missing. Cruel, I know.
The New York Times details the rise of food photography’s popularity and also provides a practical guide from blogger Andrew Scrivani to taking the best food photos on the fly. If you don’t want to offend your fellow diners, at Bon Appetit, BA Foodist Andrew Knowlton list three simple rules for taking food pics on the sly. Whatever you do regarding foodie photography, don’t do it at Alinea, lest you incur the wrath of the great Grant Achatz.
Recently reviewed restaurants on the OpenTable network…
* Chef Bruno Loubet is back in a big way in the UK with his Bistrot Bruno Loubet. [Financial Times]
* Authentic Argentinian cuisine is alive and well at Carlitos Gardel in Los Angeles. [Los Angeles Times]
* Newly opened in the City of Angels, S. Irene Virbila says don’t miss District. [Los Angeles Times]
* Chicago’s Epic lives up to its name, according to Phil Vettel. [Chicago Tribune]
* Bare Magazine recommends you gather up some friends and head over to Gather in Berkeley. [Bare Magazine]
* Giles Coren pays a satisfying visit to London’s first Michelin-starred gastropub Harwood Arms in London. [Times Online]
* Kith and Kin is a win. [Chicago Tribune]
* The Mark by Jean-Georges hits it, according to Gael Greene. [Insatiable Critic]
* You’ll find big flavor in the small plates at Piccolo in Minneapolis, according to critic Rick Nelson. [Star-Tribune]
* Prasino gets praise for its potential from Phil Vettel. [Chicago Tribune]
* Baltimore’s Prime Steakhouse is just about perfect. [Baltimore Sun]
* There’s nothing square about the stylish Square 1682 in Philadelphia. [Philly.com]