Ever go to a restaurant, or a friend’s house and served a meal that was a let down? Maybe not all of a let down, but perhaps less than expected. Maybe it was far greater than anticipated. Maybe it was the best meal you’ve ever had. Maybe it just purely sucked.
Full Metal Jacket, a 1987 film about U. S. Marines in the Vietnam era. This film, very popular amongst almost every Marine, features Gunnery Sergent Hartmen (R. Lee Ermy) as a drill instructor for Marines during their basic training (boot camp). Hartman employs draconian tactics to turn the recruits into hardened Marines prepared for combat. (Wikipedia, 2012). A classic…especially if you’re a Marine. I think Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, R. Lee Ermy, frequents several Marine Corps installations to give back to the troops.
It’s not an easy task…doing what I do…or don’t do. Then again…, just what do I do? I’m not quite sure anymore. But when Lee says to sound off like I “got a pair”, I have to think for a moment before I speak. And speaking about what I think is what I do here. Sometimes my thoughts turn to words….sometime they’re repressed. Try for a moment to fit in my shoes. I might know a little of what I speak. Maybe…, I even know better from worse.
People are, or become, aware that I write. Heck, I make it as obvious as possible to help grow my website and hopefully gain a future sponsor. Even if they are not yet aware that I write about this stuff, almost everyone serving food will ask “what did you think of…?” or “how was everything?”. Maybe even a family member BBQing something up in the back yard may ask you, “hey, what did you think of the (chicken, steak, ribs etc.) food”. Some people and restaurants do a fantastic job at food, yet others are downright unserviceable. I have eaten a some 4-star restaurants that served wonderful meals, yet missed on one item that should have never left the kitchen. Where’s the quality control? Did the expediter go to the bathroom as my meal left the kitchen? Who’s training the service staff to identify substandard items coming out of the kitchen? Did anyone let the server know, that at a four-star restaurant, this is unacceptable; yet the server will almost always ask how the meal was. Sometimes I tell them honestly, other times I may just say everything was fine. Was it? “Sound off like you got a pair”!
When I cook I catch myself identifying things that I could’ve been better. Any chef should identify with me right now. If you’re serving something to a guest and you know you could’ve done better, or you wish you had better timing, or that steak could’ve been cooked just a little more rare; I normally think that I wash I could have made a better impression. When I’m asked, “how was everything”, I almost impulsively say, “fine”. But sometimes I open up the butterflies all the way and let ’em have “everything she’s got”. Trying to be polite and not too offensive is hard, especially when you’re me.
When something is really delicious, or maybe a service is exceptional, I will almost always identify a standout. Recent trips to restaurants have unveiled just regular food quality, yet great service and maybe even a great location, a great facility, but mediocre food. Then I’m turned to by the host and asked “. . ., what did you think?” Recently visiting Wood Ranch in Irvine, CA http://woodranch.com/about/, I was impressed with the styling and quality of the decor, service staff, and facility. Heck the men’s bathroom even had pictures of cowgirls on the walls. I later asked if the women’s bathroom had cowboys on the walls. My suspicion was confirmed. A nice place with an atmosphere, business model and decor level that resembled the “Yard House”. People might say, “what’s wrong with the Yard House?” I say it’s “fine”. Yet, I don’t go out of my way to eat there. There is a Yard House 20 minutes drive from my house, yet I don’t run there for a great meal. I may meet someone there for a beer (what… like a hundred?) The Wood Ranch was kind of like that . . ., just without the beer. I think they only had a few decent beers on tap. And in today’s age of craft beers being offered, and the competition for beer drinker’s business, I find it difficult that Wood Ranch only served one IPA on tap. In a BBQ place? Really? In a BBQ place that appears to be targeting a demographic that would like to pair great beers with great BBQ. Perhaps I’m wrong here…because the food was not that good either. It was “fine”.
Wood Ranch served a couple of things to note. The french fries we were served were probably the most perfectly cooked fry I have ever had. But is a flawless french fry your claim to fame. I think we just got really lucky. Another two things stood out. First, as an appetizer, we tasted the Cuban sandwich. What? What the heck is a cuban sandwich doing on the menu of a BBQ joint? Maybe the guy is Cuban. It was a pretty tasty Cuban. Very tasty! Finally the coleslaw was delicious. A blend of cabbage and other stuff including green onions, in a light vinaigrette. Again, very good. All of the meats were a let down. We were even told that we have to try the Tri-Tip. Ok, bring that to me . . . it was just ok.
Wood Ranch is just another ok place to eat. Nothing worthy of running out of the house so fast, that you realize you’re wearing two different colored shoes.
Today…I’m going to give Wood Ranch two-and-a-half gallons of milk. Get it? It’s what cows drink.