May it Please the Palate: The fussy curmudgeon

 I went to a hot, new trendy restaurant in Traverse City the other night. You know, Brussels sprouts and the whole bit. It was fine. But let me fuss nonetheless, as is my wont.

(1) It’s spelled hangar steak, not hanger — unless you’re bringing it to me clipped to a clothes hanger, dangling and dripping. By the same token, watch those stray apostrophes where you mean plural. The hipsters to which you cater are generally intelligent and good spellers, unless they are texting, u no?
(2) When you serve fried walleye, my favorite fish, I do not want malt vinaigrette or your modern twist on the world’s worst condiment, tartar sauce. I want lemon wedges and hot sauce. Which they brought at my request, except the hot sauce was some kind of homemade concoction. Note to chef: You cannot improve upon Frank’s. It is not only an ancient Greek recipe, but the finest hot sauce in all the land. I realize the bottle’s appearance on your hip, roughly hewn oak dinner table might not comport with your carefully crafted image, such as the Pork and Offal Paté, or Rabbit Gallantine. If that is your concern, just put an ounce in a condiment cup back in the kitchen and slip it to me that way. I’ll keep your dirty little secret.
(3) It is so extra darn cute that you call your roasted fingerling potatoes “smashed fingers.” But without further explanation, that description may cause vegetarians (and others) some concern. U no?
(4) I do not want deconstructed cheesecake. I want cheesecake. I do not want deconstructed anything. Somewhere in trendy restaurant history, there was a chef who dropped a serving of something on the floor. Instead of being thrown away, the mess was plopped on a plate and called “deconstructed.” You may consider that chef a genius, but I call that chef Satan.
(5) “Yes” is a perfectly fine word for your servers to use. It is not necessary to reply “absolutely” every time your customer asks for something. “May I have another glass of wine?” “Absolutely!” “Can you bring me some lemon wedges?” “Absolutely!” “May I have some real hot sauce instead of this Devil’s spittle?” “Absolutely, sir! We have some homemade hot sauce I’ll bring right out to you! In the meantime, is everything to your satisfaction tonight? If you need anything I will absolutely bring it to you!”
Perhaps I am being a bit harsh. This is why I acknowledge that some may consider me a fussy curmudgeon. Somewhere in the very distant future, I’ll be in an assisted living home and some poor sucker is going to bring me some Jell-O cubes that I am not going to be real happy about. Especially if they’re deconstructed, u no?
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Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a litigation firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor. He can be reached at nroumel@yahoo.com.  His blog is http://mayitpleasethepalate.blogspot.com/.

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