Saturday, December 6, 2008

Standards of judging

It's only fair that if I'm going to critique Knoxville as a whole that some standards by which I judge others be set (mostly) in stone ahead of time.

  • I like good service. Not overbearing service, but appropriate service that keeps its distance when it should, can be found when it should, and knows the menu. That's it. If you meet those standards, or even close, you get tipped really well. Period.
  • Know your specials. Better yet, the higher end your menu, the better your servers should know your specials--to the point of having tasted each one if possible. As a server know what rare interesting ingredients are included, including possible allergens (see later note on this). This should be a matter of pride and separates good servers from lousy ones.
  • I like beer. A lot. Craft Beer, Belgian Beer, Hoppy Beer, Dark Beer, Light Beer, Ale and Lager. I homebrew. I'm probably a beer snob, to be fair. If your restaurant is proud of its beer (micro-brewed or otherwise) and your staff knows nothing about beer that will certainly be a mark against you. For example, if I'm at a bar and I ask about a certain beer's style, and my server knows nothing and doesn't even bother to ask someone, like say... the bartender, they aren't doing justice to a fine thing. If you say you like "Dark Beer" and recommend Amstel Light you fail (true story).
  • The same goes for wine as well. If you boast about your wine list, at least minimally educate your serving staff so that I can pick and choose my wines to meet my food. I am ignorant in many ways about wine and need, and actually want, that service fairly often, and in fact I enjoy being steered by a knowledgeable sommelier into an exciting experience. Do me the favor of having your folks know what they're doing with booze.
  • My wife has many many allergies, some of them life threatening, all of them frustrating to her and sometimes others. Be honest about your food content. We'd much rather know up-front that a kitchen is not careful with allergens (for example) than finding out afterward via anaphylaxis and epipens. Servers should know what is in every dish or be willing to ask up front rather than thinking that someone asking about allergies is simply picky about their food. I know that Mr. Ruhlman has a different opinion, but dying in your restaurant will certainly color one's view of the food.

With the rules set in stone, clear, and completely malleable at a whim, it's time to start talking Knoxville in all its glory.

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