Adelle – Now that’s a dish . . . “like napalm in the morning”

adeleRelax everyone – I’m not going where you think I’m heading. I am hopefully about to grab your senses and your emotions and tear you down, drag you through the gutter, pick you up, wipe you off and build you back up. Ok, I may not do all of that; but, when you speak of music perfected through incredible vocals and unbelievable intonation and the vocalists ability to tweak their voice that creates an emission of perfect pitch . . . it is like that ability of a fine chef to tweak flavors to the maximum extent, yet not overpowering one specific flavor that makes it stand out . . . unless that flavor was to be specifically emphasised or that note was to have a specific accent. Are you with me here?

grant-achatz-nextNow take Adele. Listen to her ability to bend and shape a specific note, emphasising the accent, bending the intonation and presenting that note with an emotional passion that captures her audience like nobody else. Combine that with her ability to write moving, powerful songs and present them in a captivating manner. Is music different from food? Is Adele different from Grant Achatz? Is Alecia Keys different from Bobby Flay? Is Michelle Cerneant different from John Mayer? I think the answer that the professor is looking for here is, “NO”! Each of these wonderful artists, composers, writers and chefs have different skills that accomplish one similar thing . . . they capture and satisfy their audience.bobby flay

Now take any one of the musical artists named above and listen to them in a car or home through a standard automobile’s factory installed equipment available in a basic model of that particular brand. Crank up the volume on those “full-range” speakers . . . listen to the wonderful voice and emotional outlay of each of Adele’s songs. Now play that same song on a premium audio system installed in a Lexus, Mercedes or Porsche. Listen to the same recording on a professional audio system in a music studio, audiophile’s (look that one up you tweekers) home or a concert venue. Enjoy Adeles’s music at audible levels that challenge your humanly perceivable audible range of 20-20,000 hz, crisply reproducing each frequency with unbelievable clarity; and since the music was produced by the finest engineers in a studio environment, each note is perfectly reproduced with just the right accent, intonation, volume, amplitude and pitch . . . at just the right moment.

Why cannot the emotional enjoyment of food and beverage be the same? When you bite into something, relax a moment . . . relax . . . savor the flavors, the seasoning, the herbs, the salt and pepper that is helping accent whatever it is that you just stuck in your pie hole. a-wine-tastingWhen something is incredibly reproduced with just the right amount salt, just the right amount of pepper detectable  in the back of your throat, the hint of an added spice or freshness of a special herb, the perfection of the broccoli cooked to retain the color, but also the texture and perfect “aldente” bite, that perfect bite of the Prime New York or Fillet. The umami! Everything served perfectly, at just the right moment, in just the perfect ambiance . . . the perfect plate. When you listen to the most wonderful music being reproduced through sophisticated audible surroundings . . . or even a perfect live “unplugged” set, you are momentarily taken into the same world as that perfect bite of food. Your senses feel the same thing . . . they travel a similar rollercoaster of emotions. Now I ain’t no scientist, nor am I much of a linguist . . . or writer for all that matters; but, I am an avid follower of many things . . . food and music being just two. I’m sure there’s some stupid Harvard or Yale study that came up with a connecting nerve in the base of the thalamus gland that now has some name connecting all of this emotional crap; but . . . Now if you really want to spark emotion from me, add in the element of fresh burned JP-5 jet fuel. 061201-N-8158F-147

I wonder what gland gets excited with JP-5? Sailors . . . help me here!

apocalypsekilgore1It’s like Bobby Duvall saying, “Napalm in the morning . . . it’s like victory!”

Powerful Stuff!

I guess what I’m saying with all of this is, music and food definately go hand in hand. People will say that it has to be opera, or classical . . . Whatever! When emotional music strikes the heart hammer of our senses, it can move us in such a way that we remember each word . . . each note . . . each breath sung into the studio’s ribbon microphone, like in Pink’s “Glitter in the Air”, we become emotionally taken to a place that is like no other.

Pink Singing

When we place something in our mouth and allow every sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami component of whatever is that is now to take hold, we also escape for a moment and have really only one thing to say if its perfect, “Wow!” And if the chef happens to be standing by, he or she is watching your face to see your reaction. Did you just roll your eyes into the back of your head . . . slightly sloutch your shoulders, bend your knees? Or did you thrust your hips forward and pump your fist in the air? Maybe a high five to the cook also standing next to you. Because as the chef, you realize you just nailed it. Cause when you nailed it . . . you realize you just made a new hit song that hit your listeners ears for the very first time.FrankSinatra9

I think the sensation of great food and great music will always go together. I feel both can always be made better depending on the method of presentation. Eating the right food while listening to the right music with the right audio system, in the right environment (e.g. ocean view, with waves and breeze); and the food being cooked to perfection, perfect temperature, perfect flavor, perfect wine or spirit, a perfect composition, a perfect song . . . a perfect moment!

Slow down . . . enjoy what someone just created for you.

Artists . . . give ’em some love, and money!



The NEW Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen, Vista, CA . . . a night to celebrate.

For the most recent review (09/08/15) of Flying Pig Pub and Kitchen in Vista, CA click here:

As I had expected, there were absolutely no disappointments this evening being invited for the second day of this soft opening. I had just been astonishingly notified of being published that day and bought 20 copies of the release; when earlier that week, I was emailed an invitation to The Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen’s debut soft opening dinner. Coincidently they both happened on the same day. The food at this event was complimentary as they would break pretty close to even with the drinks as my wife and I each had two. But the remarkable food, ambiance and service made this day even more special for the wife and I as Roddy, the owner, high fives me upon breaking the news to him.  He had recognized me and possibly knew of my arrival, but showed up, now cleaned up a bit after working so hard on this opening, well into the final bites of our entrées. He looked very tired as I am used to seeing him having always been; working and perfecting so diligently at the Oceanside, CA location for the last three years. pig0 I had finally met Roddy’s wife Aaron. I witnessed her polishing wine glasses with staff . . . scratch that . . . team members as she had obviously shown them the right way of doing things at this very eclectic, energetic and engaging dining establishment. For you folks that have visited their Oceanside location, as most of us had been that were here these last two eve’s. The furniture matches, the cloth napkins matched in a couple of themed colors; but the service ware, fixtures and art are very much reminiscent of the Flying Pig brand. Roddy and Aaron had put together a wonderfully open . . . and I mean very open, busy street side upscale dining facility that features the vault door of the previous bank that occupied the building for years before. Even the ceilings have been handled by vaulting and painting. That vault itself had been converted to a duel refrigerator and wine cellar and the door relocated (affixed) to the front entrance of The Flying Pig. pig3There appears to be plenty of parking however I saw this sign at the far end, so be careful until Roddy takes care of that confusion. pig4The exterior of the building is a bit rough yet, but coming along on track for their Grand Opening Monday 10 August 2015. Their hours appear to fixed at the same 4:30 until . . . There are retractable roll-up bay windows surrounding the bar area that has 1/2 seating inside if they were closed, and the other exposed to the elements. With the windows open, you modestly hear the traffic inside the restaurant but can also enjoy the large amount of surrounding patio outside with a service area of the bar that could be used for private events. Being there for the arrival of Roddy, as he moved a patio umbrella to shade the diners inside. Possibly that was an overlooked shade issue coming from that direction in the late evening. Looks like Roddy is on it. The sun/shade issue made a very difficult time taking pictures of the beautifully-plated and abundant food as was presented. pig6My wife began to question the story of Chef Mario. We were told by the well-trained staff about the brief history of Roddy, Aaron and Chef Mario’s coming together. We became interested in just where he learned to cook and where he has worked, because these are masterful pieces of culinary work that has long fascinated my education. What I’m saying is I would witness these creations by only a small handful of students while I attended Culinary school; some of which I could never keep up with culinarily. I would like to have an opportunity to talk with Chef Mario someday and see his new kitchen and those secretive vault doors, aka the walk-ins. What a smart and practical application and use of a dead space otherwise. Chef Mario and team served us very moderately priced Crab Stuffed Squash Blossoms, the evening’s distinct standout plate. pig11The crab was very obvious and noticeable through the politely deep fried shell of batter. The plate was very light partly due to the garnishing of very thin slices of Jalapeno, Watermelon Radish and wedges of tender Mango.  A wonderfully executed plate. The appetizer I chose were the Heirloom Tomatoes. The complexity of flavors of the HUGE, GIANT two slices of Heirloom Tomatoes with fresh hand made-in-the-kitchen Burrata that I ordered for my starter. By the way. they are entrée salads and appetizers. pig2Their menu calls them light fare, but at the lighter prices, I would have thought them to be light on size . . . clearly not! I even told Aaron I felt as if the prices could possibly be elevated just slightly. I had since realized that we had spent $100 (if we would have been charged for the plates) for a dinner that included two-entrée salads and two entrées, with two drinks each. Then Roddy had topped it off with a piece of Pecan Pie that was a nice treat at the end. Including tip at 20 percent, I valued the evening as perfect for two target-market patrons. I would have spent $120 including tip that night. I think that’s well priced now that I think about the demographics. But all of the plates are quite large portions like the very thick cut Pork Chop that was cooked perfectly medium; signature of the Pork Chop from the Oceanside location. This location’s Chop was treated to garlic and mild mystery green olives with an unknown or otherwise unrecognizable origin. Like the Pork Chop at the Oceanside location, this particular plate here had a creamy Polenta that melded the flavors of the plate as if they were one. We really had a hard time finishing all of the food as the last bites if the very tender and moist Pork Chop finally were cleared.pig10 Finally our last plate was a very tender, cooked perfectly to medium-rare, Roasted Tri-Tip atop very creamery mashed potatoe with medium-sized sautéed Portobello Mushrooms. With just the right amount of sauce for the plate from the steak and the sautéing of the mushrooms. A wonderful plate. The wife and I had questioned about a Branzino (European Sea Bass) dish for two offered on the menu that indicated a Chimichurri marinade. And, if you know our background, would fully understand why, we wanted to taste Chef Mario’s Chimichurri. It was almost natural for us to be saving a piece of that Tri-Tip for an opportunity to taste it dipped in Chimi. pig17Anna, our server, was very nice and very friendly explained that she had only eaten at the Oceanside location and had tried many of the meals there, but had not tried the Chimichurri. She had explained that the staff at the Vista location had tried most of the dishes but simply ran out of time before the opening. She then gladly went back to the kitchen to see if she could find some for our sampling pleasure only to return empty-handed as the Chimichurri was only used as a marinade for the fish plate, and so we are to be unlucky tonight.pig13 Upon our departure we wished all of the staff well and especially to Roddy (get some rest dude) and his wife Aaron (probably the real strength) well in the years to come; telling them both we would definitely be back because of the very fair value (price and plate sizes) for that level of culinary treat and warm experience at their new facility. For some reason my wife argued that $20 tip. She thought it should have equated to $50 at least since we didn’t pay for the plates. I argued that by telling her it was $100 worth of food and drink and the tip was correct. I mean Anna our server was great; however, certainly not worth the $50. I guess I’m Richard again. Another controversial issue was the fact there was not yet any noticeable audio system. The wife said it’s better without. I, on the other hand, will win that bet. And finally, one last questionable argument were the plates of clear glass in the women’s restroom on the wall. My wife argued that if she had some lipstick, she would have left a message like “CritDicks”. I, argued, “what do the guys use?” As the men’s room also had those plates of clear glass. SHARPIE!!! This will definitely be one of our all-time favorites, just as the Oceanside location has long been on that list. Good luck and dreams. I’m definitely gonna give this one to Roddy and Aaron! flying pigflying pigflying pigflying pigflying pig A full five Flying Pigs Dicks

The Mongols say . . , Thank You !

Possibly just getting back into this writing thing . . . it hurts.


First thing when I got home today was get on this thing and see what my stats look like. I began to look at my site’s most visited pages and found some very interesting things. Seems there exists a mystery as to the words I use and other persons search terms to get them to my site. Terms like Jack Daniels, Mongols and Mexican liquor bottles.  Our Mexican liquor bottle opening video on YouTube has received nearly 1,700 views. You can see it here: I just watched it . . . stupid humor.

In passing the search terms, I happened upon the CritDicks profile “About Us“. There, at the bottom, I found all of the wonderful comments folks have posted about my site and my writing over the years. It was then I decided to share my thoughts for the night . . . should they last! First I want to say “Thank You”! It was also then I began to think why I haven’t been keeping my loyal fans full of my weekly stories, that have been slowly tapering off since my father’s passing just last month or so. Probably more “or so”. I actually haven’t been cooking or writing since my graduation. I also have almost lost a desire to pursue any thoughts of ever entering the FB&H industry. I have though since purchased a few more “gotta have” kitchen gadgets. Like the very cool induction burner. I’m not too sure I’m used to it though. Kinda tricky with the “on-off” cycles. Well, that’s what I noticed about it.

I’m really not sure why this bazar behavior. Perhaps it’s everything going on . . . Dunno. One thing I do know is . . . I have a fan base I enjoyed sharing my culinary adventure with beyond that which many may believe they have a following. What? Yeah, I said you . . . my viewers and readers are why I’m writing tonight. I don’t necessarily have any inspiration to write tonight, perhaps it’s just writer’s block. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t visited any restaurants lately . . . nonsense, I’m actually sick of going out . . . , . . . I think I’m mostly sick of paying for it. I think I permanently spoiled my family.


public house curbside3

If you have been holding on, you’ve noticed I found use for those preserved lemons. Seeming just about everything can be made interesting using preserved lemons . . . except, maybe hotdogs. Dunno, haven’t tried it. I have been using much time catching up on the endless yard-work around this place. Thank God for weed killer. Also, lately, thank God for strong boys. Yeah I recently have also been off-handedly been diagnosed with a compressed sacrum. Yeah, my tail. Turns out my lower back pain for sometime has been attributed to that little thing . . . I hope that’s little . . .

Anyway, I wanted to get this out tonight quickly. I have my hoodie on and the headphones in. Everyone else was currently out! Yeah, that’s the way I like to write. I think I can also attribute my blank head from the endless activity around this house lately . . . the furniture . . . the boxes of?, has been accumulating steadily since around mid-year last. Oh well, sell everything!

Which also reminds me. I recently got a new very badd ass truck to replace my daily driver. Don’t ask how I got it . . . just hope I enjoy it as much as my old Avalon. I really miss the JBL audio system that was in there. But I’m now working on building a JL Audio system around my stock head unit (full-on navigation, Bluetooth, the works) and subwoofer plastic compartment built specifically for this vehicle. My hope is to somewhat recreate the JBL experience with the JL Audio system, yet maintaining cost minimums and retaining all of my usable space in the 2011 F250 Lariat, 4X4, 6.7L Turbo PowerStroke. There’s another complete story around that one. Nor will I show it. What I will show you is THIS


This is the 2001 Suburban, 2500, 4X4, 8.1L very badd ass, and very proven, truck that used to pull my trailers, boats, bikes; and has still made it through nearly every imaginable obstacle like this: I’m really gonna miss her. I think a lot of people are. I’ve had her for over ten years.

Have fun! I hope to be back here soon . . .


I think I have a smile on my face . . .

Lemons again? The Birthday. Customer experience. Olive Garden Restaurants.

So I used them again. The preserved lemons made their way back into the mealset, Tonight I used them in the teriyaki marinade of these breast strips. I think I may have found my new meat.


As part of my son’s birthday, we give the kids an opportunity to select where they would like to go for dinner. Benihana . . . I think not, tonight! Olive Garden (San Diego, Tri-City, El Camino Real shopping mall) happened to be the selection for us this evening. We are a party of 7 so I expected a small wait. No problem, I’ll see you at the bar.

Once at the bar I noticed a small group forming around me since my son, now 21, and his brother, now 26 dummied up . . . and I mean dummied up to the bar and quickly pointed at me and said, ‘on him”, as I ducked my head anticipating an expensive night.

Once at the bar and gaining control of the bartender that night, I asked what he had in bottle beer. I’m sorry, I don’t remember his name; “The bartender” hesitated just less than a moment and I didn’t want to appear ill prepared, so I trumped his hesitation by claiming I’ll have a (something on tap). The bartender was quickly getting busy yet countered by saying, “I was catching my breath” and began to rattle off the entire bottled bear menu . . . then proceeded to open the fridge directly in front of me so I can make a visual selection.

Just about that time I met Seajay, the Manager that evening as he assisted the bartender by ringing up his bar tabs and identified my beer by leering at it with some serious “stink eye”. I noticed his momentary ponderance of evidence in front of me and claimed, “hey, did you just give my beer stink eye?” Seajay and I began a night of friendship and introductions to other staff members such as Scotty, our server. Seajay assured us, once we were seated that Scotty, would be taking excellent care of us that night . . . and that he did!

Scotty professionally dealt with every table scenario encountered, like a lactose free selection and the serving, and quickly replacing, an incorrect beer order. Not one instance went by that Scotty wasn’t on it, from waters to extra sauces. He even got my special order right . . . albeit, the butter was burnt, by still edible.  Scotty made my visit easy . . . especially when giving him the tip. Wow and an extra $10 on top of the already rounded 20+%. Scotty deserved it, yet Seajay, the manager deserved it as well. The manager precluded my visit by quickly accepting my stupid “Dick” humor and taking one of my business cards while at the bar.

Just as we had entered the car to go out that evening, my son picked up a book I had placed behind the passenger front seat in my truck. The book was titled something like, ” Managing the Customer Experience”. I explained to my son about meeting the expectations and maintaining the customer experience we expect from going to “Olive Garden” that evening. I explained that we have had experienced Olive Garden in the past and we are arriving with an expectation of what we had previously experienced before at other Olive Garden locations. I then explained about the customer experience and meeting or exceeding that expectation to achieve the “experience” we had before during our visits. Well tonight was a perfect example of our experience . . . a perfect example of providing the customer experience we hoped for; yet exceeding that expectation to provide a wonderful evening for my family. Perhaps that equates to Olive Garden’s slogan “when you’re here, your family”.

As for those lemons. Keep using them in new stuff . . . try new combinations. The teriyaki tonight was good, yet could have used more lemon. It really began to cut through the teriyaki and brighten up the dish. BTW, the breast chicken meat was super moist and delicious. I normally always use thigh meat. Not tonight. The green beans, perfect. And the rice was nice and sticky. And this food was a “must cook” tonight combo before everything turned south in the fridge.


Showing up “Spectacular!”

RoTelVelveetaWell if you know the history, you would better understand. I can’t just arrive at an event with just a bag of chips, I have to have them (the chips) arrive in spectacular fashion. They cant just be thrown on a the table with some jarred or canned salsa or cheese. No it’s gotta be a chip throwdown. Now that I’ve got this education, people expect to see something . . . something . . . everything! The word gets out even before I arrive. I’m labeled somekind of “chef”. But I’m not . . . I don’t necesarrily like being called a chef, and I have never worked in the industry. I was never working in the capacity of a chef, therefore I feel as though I am undeserving of the title. Yet, I arrive, and people already know, they are expecting something from me. I can’t just show up and plop a bag of chips on the table. I have to show up and somehow be spectacular.

“Bring some cheese and crackers”, she says . . . knowing it’s me . . . my bestest friend, knows I know. How does she know? Her son too graduated from the same university as I. Her son too graduated with a BS degree in Culinary studies. Actually he chose the hospitality side in which I had considered marrying with my previous aviation degrees. For that I had figured they married well in the airline industry. But no, I went Culinary Management. Her son is off to a rock solid career as a result, already a Sous Chef at a notable retirement resort community here in San Diego.Moscato

Well, I show up with some crackers and cheese. Actually, wine too! I had used a bit of my education to marry a slightly melted Brie cheese, pomegranate seeds, fresh squeezed lime juice with lime zest garnish. It was around the holidays so the colors were white, bright/deep red and green zest. It was a pretty plate. Sorry no picture (I don’t normally take pictures of my presentations at parties). Now what are your expectations of taste? Rich buttery cheese, bitter-sweet pomegranate crunch and tart lime. But see, I needed to break up the elements of those flavors and introduce a sweet element. My son had purchased a very sweet Moscato D’Asti  from Italy. The comments were very positive. It was a wonderful combination . . . but you had to try it with the wine, otherwise it was seeming meaningless. Then, after you tried the first bite, I could care less what you did.

Next time, I’m showing with some raw squid and pickles. Let’s see if that gets a reaction . . .


– The Business Card –

I recently visited Temecula’s newest craft brewery, Karl Strauss. I have, several times in the past, visited Karl Strauss in Carlsbad, CA and San Diego, CA. They have changed their menu over the years. Wifey and I don’t care for anything since around 12 years ago when our first taste was at a catered function at the brewery some 14 or so years ago.

belching4Karl Strauss has been around since around 1989, planting it’s roots in San Diego. Karl has several restaurants in the area, but has recently (Nov ’13) moved their brewing operation (1 single line) to Temecula. Now what’s interesting is the direction Karl is attempting; that of which I have recently wondered (upon collegiate research), why Karl is only the 5th craft brewer in the lower Temecula Valley; since there are (here’s where the memory lapses) approximately 42 craft brewers, 300+ “brew pubs” “ale houses” “brew house’s” . . . who knows what else they were classifying them as, just South of the Riverside/San Diego County line, less than 60 miles from Temecula. The second largest and fastest growing craft brew industry is San Diego, North County to be exact, less than 30 miles from Temecula. San Diego’s craft brew industry is currently growing at about 2 breweries each year. (Memory, 2014) Breweries like Stone, my personal favorite because I have been gaining knowledge about Stone since first opening its doors several years ago when I began contacting the CEO Greg Koch about their sustainability initiatives. Other such breweries that have begun their pursuit in the industry are Belching Beaver and Groundswell GroundswellBelching Beaver did a small favor for me entertained through a mutual friend; and one of Groundswell’s creator’s, Kevin Rhodes, was a professor of mine through schooling recently. Hence the reason I feel Karl is making a huge push by placing their latest addition in Temecula.

The reason I mention the trip to Karl’s in Temecula is because my long time psycho concert buddy has eaten their 4 times since their opening and just raved about it. . . Ok, we’ll go, anticipating the same very mediocre food, service and atmosphere. Yup, just as expected, very mediocre. I say mediocre because there are many, many, many similar target demographic restaurants catering to the same mediocre (expecting) public. Although the service staff all seemed very well versed in their surroundings, the company history, their service techniques and friendliness; unfortunately, our (American) desires lend us to think this (food) is some great shit . . . The flavors, taste and texture were all fine, it was just a pretty standard demographic menu that include the likes of Asada Fries and burgers. Nothing really special.

karl2My Sister-In-Law has a small operation of making cake pops and other crafty treats and novelties. She had delivered baskets full (and boxed) of her ‘baby head and pacifier’ pops to our dinner meeting area outside on the very cold patio, this evening, of the new Strauss Brewery. During the short wait for our initial beers to arrive, a server arrived at our table and recognized the baby head craftware creator and began to strike conversation asking several times for the artists business card. Sister-In-Law just kept jabbering away, seemingly avoiding the necessity of producing the 2″ X 3.5″ billboard. I quickly noticed the dereliction of an immediate sale and began my pursuit of a chance to trump that scene with a CritDicks business card, slapping it down as if I had just won the hand of Spades; saying, “If your not producing, then I’m writing” . . . and thus this story.karl1

I’m guessing why Karl has placed it’s latest “name-brand” beer operation in Temecula, CA. Why is there only, now 5 craft breweries in Temecula when there’s the second fastest growing craft industry just a short drive away? Perhaps, Karl is getting a huge tax break to bring more of that industry, and recognizable industry right up next to California’s second largest and fastest growing viniculture? Perhaps that’s why there’s only 5 so near by, and not 15 . . .

So the moral of this story is . . . don’t be a Dick, I will!




Expansion too fast? – Sublime Ale House / Tavern – San Diego, CA

Is there a right time to complain while seated at a restaurant? Many owners and managers will make the blanket statement, “if you have an issue at a restaurant, then, while you’re at the restaurant, when the incident happens, is the right time to bring it up to management so they can remedy the situation”. What if you bring the incident up to the server and the manager seemed aware, but never approached the table to ensure the customer returns another day?

A similar incident happened just the other night. Finally, another son turned 21, so it’s now up to Mom and Dad to take him and the family out for dinner. Tonight’s choice was Sublime Ale House in San Marcos’s famous Restaurant Row near San Diego, CA. What all seemed to be going smoothly for the first 10 minutes turned horribly wrong once the food was ordered.

Ensuring each of the family members arrived at our house so my wife could play designated driver caused us to get a slower than normal start on our evening. We arrived as a party of 8 without reservations on this Tuesday evening following the MLK weekend. Seating was not a problem with the many picnic style benches and tables. I had disappeared momentarily while our server Dave dropped off the menus. A quick glance at the menu upon my return, I had discovered that most everyone seemed ready to order once Dave had arrived again after about another 5 minutes. Dave took our drink order and placed it in the POS. Soon thereafter, Dave returned to start the dinner order. I ordered a couple of pizzas for the table and there were a variety of sandwiches and salads ordered as well. Dave disappeared and our drinks started to roll in about 15 minutes after the entrées were ordered, just as we began to wonder why the pizza holders were already out but no beverages, except a couple waters and the beer that was ordered before the main party was seated.Sublime1

Moments later the drinks arrived. After we began to taste our beers, a call from the table came, “hey, we should’ve ordered appetizers”. I told my son that the pizzas should be here any moment . . . but we kept waiting, without any follow-up from Dave, and thinking the soup should have also showed up by now, unless it was fired at the same time as the regular entrées. Timing this evening was seeming beginning to falter.

Well, we finally got our three large pizzas. We finally got our drinks about 20 minutes into seating and our pizzas as the appetizer about 30 minutes after seating, just about the time we began to wonder of their whereabouts (20 minutes is good). Then each of us at the table began to wonder where the entrées were hiding since each of us at the table already had two slices of pizza each (about 45 minutes in). Just as we began to wonder, the entrées began to arrive. My son’s Prosciutto and Egg burger was served just above room temperature and seemed as if it was meant for another table under the heat lamp. Considering the wait time for turnaround, my son decided to eat what he was served. Yes his fries were also cold, but crunchy. He even said they were the best french fries he has ever had. Dunno, about that one???

We didn’t immediately complain. Looking back, I feel my complaint about a burger seemed small in comparison to the fact that our table had now consumed every one of their beverages including most of the water on the table. I didn’t notice this happening, but I did notice that my beer was empty and I was finishing my water. I asked if anyone had ordered another drink and the answer was, “No, no one came by”. Just as I was finishing my water, I began to slurp in the general direction of another server who came over to check on our drinks. I saw our particular server around and was surprised there were no other drink orders taken.

I pointed out the table status to Chris and explained that no one has been by to top off water or take another drink order. I also told Chris to order another round of drinks complimentary of Sublime, because that was a clear service failure . . . and to get water out as well. I then saw our server and explained that our table went without drink for some time. He dropped off what was in his hand and immediately came over to start taking another drink order. I told Dave that Chris had already taken our order but had not refilled our water in the meantime. Even the water took a long time . . . WTF? Speaking of that; I didn’t have serviceware and asked my wife if there was any available. She said the table was told, there was no more and he’d (don’t know who) be back with more. Anyway, I ate my pizza with what I got from the bar.

Well, our second round of drinks finally arrived as did the water, now making its way to the table. I told Dave and Chris, and they must have talked with the Manager, to keep our drinks full (meaning mostly water and sodas) for the remainder of our stay. At one point, I believe it may have been the Manager approached the table after eye-balling me and asked very simply, “So, . . . are we going to be ordering any more drinks?” Our collective answer was, “no”, and he left. No other mention about our tab, or our food or our drinks.

Sublime2The check arrives and it was calculated properly without the addition of a second round of beers. I gave the server a $20 tip on a $175 bill. Hopefully he understands his was not good service. I hope Sublime also understands that they have a service problem. Just read any number of posts and Yelps about them. As I read some of those Yelps; and if I remember correctly, Sublime has a significant history of slow service, but this was Tuesday night and the restaurant was only about 60% full. My previous visit also resulted in significant service delays, like . . . really long waits between drink order, food order, drink arrival, food arrival. Perhaps it’s part of their business service plan . . . to draw more drinks out of the customers . . . but then why did our drinks go empty? And, then they had a problem bringing water as an interim. I really just don’t think they have their service structure set up properly. It was very bad service. Then to top it off, if the Manager knew there was a service problem, why didn’t that Manager approach MY table to ensure this customer returns. I hope that manager realizes our $175 cover could have been much closer to a $300 cover should the extra round of drinks been calculated in and possibly another (3rd) round for some of us. I really hope Dave realizes his tip could have been closer to $60 or more for exceptional service and a total bill properly calculated to include the comp’ed drinks.

So my question still remains; Am I wrong not to bring up this evening’s failures to the Manager to allow him/her to rectify the situation, better ensuring I return someday to spend another $300? Nonsense, that Manager (weak! , in my opinion) knew about the situation, because the Manager would have to have approved the full table of comp’ed drinks. Then why didn’t the Manager approach me? I think, if I was the manager, would have ensured I (as the customer) returned, especially knowing that I have another son yet entering the food and now “drinking” world.

Do I think this is another case of a restaurant expanding ahead of themselves? Perhaps. Sublime Ale House now has an off-branch called Sublime Tavern (Summer, 2013) located in Del Mar, CA. I have not yet visited the new joint, and I may not anytime soon. Unfortunately, quality of customer experience is what has dropped. I know that Sublime has a good concept . . . but, if you can’t continuously bring quality to that customer, I can only expect the new place may soon close. We’ll see.