Geek Cuisine — Oh How I Hate “Fancy” Restaurants

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Geek Cuisine — Oh How I Hate “Fancy” Restaurants

I lied. I’m not the omni-geek. I realized that when it comes to food, I’m far from a geek. I like my food plain and boring. I’ve only been eating plain rice for not even a year and I’ve only started on mac-and-cheese in the past month and I’m 47.

I’ve been a picky eater since I was a child. My mother tried desperately as a child to get me to eat mashed potatoes. I didn’t start eating those until after she passed away several years ago. So needless to say, when I travel, eating can be a challenge.

For those that know me, know I’m rather roundish. I eat and I eat well. I love the foods that I do eat. Being picky is more of a fear to try new things. Its a fear of being embarrassed when you don’t like something and there is a frugal side that you don’t want to pay for something you may not like.

But I realized that part of my issue is growing up a Kentucky Farm Boy I never learned “Fancy”. I don’t know what a “reduction” is. What the hell is “poblano mashed potatoes” or a “tomatillo sauce”? I’m food-ignorant. Being “geek” in something means your passionate about it. Your good at trivia in the subject. You care enough to learn about it. But when it comes to fancy food, I’m stumped.

I joke that “If I can’t pronounce it, I won’t eat it”. But its really not a joke, I’m pretty sure that I won’t eat it.

So I sit in Tacoma, Washington and I’m here for 9 days. I’m staying downtown which means there is not an abundance of fast food in walking distance and what is usually isn’t open for dinner. There are also no “chain” locations like a nice Outback Steak House where I know I can find safety food.

Last night, I ventured out for what should be safe, “bar food”. I headed to the Harmon Brewery, a micro brewery and restaurant. This should be safe right? Not really. While I could pronounce most everything on the menu, most everything was loaded with food I know I don’t like (or am afraid to try. Why is there blue-cheese on everything?). It didn’t help that the beer was bitter and the “Sprite” was flat.

Well I went with safe and got a bacon cheddar burger (I only like cheddar and provolone cheese on things other than motz on pizza.). The claim this place has great hamburgers. It was just kinda blah as far as bacon cheddar burgers go.

So tonight, work went long, so I really didn’t want to drive around a lot, so I went to the restaurant in the same building as the hotel, called the Pacific Grill. This restaurant provides the room service for the hotel I’m staying at. I saw a lovely “Fish and Chips” safety food on the room service menu. So I decided to go down to the hotel restaurant and give it a try. I left without my coat since I expected to access it from the hotel. Nope. Its a completely separate business about a half a block down the street.

When I got there and saw the tables, I knew I was in trouble. Through the window, I saw the white cloth tablecloths. I saw the servers with white dress shirts and black ties. But I had my fish and chips…

I got in and even though I didn’t have reservations they found a table for me near the bar. The wait staff was excellent. But before I even saw the menu, I knew this was going to be pricy and “fancy” and they didn’t disappoint. Issue 1. There was no Fish & Chips on the menu, so I now had to find something else and just about everything was “designer” food.

Since the company is paying for this, I’m on a bit of a budget so I’m not going to abuse them by ordering a $40 Filet Mignon. So how about a nice chicken breast? “sauteed and stuffed with goat cheese, roasted poblano mashed potatoes, tomatillo sauce, and grilled acorn squash”. Perhaps you’re going “Yum” but I’m going “ick”. Goat cheese? Why cant they use a nice cheddar?

I ended up with the safest sounding thing on the menu — pork tenderloin. But it was to be served with braised red cabbage with pear, bacon and blue cheese and sweet potato fires (I’ve tried sweet potatoes. I know I don’t like them. Its a texture thing.). Blue cheese? That stuff is everywhere. So I got my tenderloin with just mashed potatoes. I knew that was even going to be an issue since they would probably be those “roasted poblano” things. What’s wrong with plain potatoes mashed with butter? Thats what I learned to eat 5 years ago.

While waiting for the meal, the waiter brought some bread to the table. It was a cold roll about the size of a computer mouse or a little smaller. I looked at the table and he had put a small plate with butter on it. The butter pad was the same size as the roll. I knew this was going to be a meal that was too much for what I got.

In a fairly timely manner, the meal showed up (I said the staff was good). There was the mashed potatoes, some cooked asparagus sticks and the tenderloins soaking in some cream colored sauce. The amount of food was decent, but it was clearly gourmet and that means me turning my nose up at it.

The potatoes where green and brown from whatever was mixed in them…. It must have been that roasted poblano. I tasted them and if I had to eat them I probably could, but it really wasn’t wetting my palette. You probably would have loved them. I didn’t even try the asparagus. I don’t eat it anyway and I really hate cooked vegetables anyway — slimy. Its a texture thing. So on to the pork.

This was not the expected “de-boned Pork Chop” but rather a port roast sliced into medallions that are around a half-dollar in size and about a half-centimeter thick and there were about 10 of them. I took the first one, an end piece, and scrapped as much of the sauce off of it as I could. It wasn’t bad actually. It was rather sweet but I was concerned about what the black, green and red “floaties” were in the sauce. I took the steak knife they provided, a very fancy looking knife and tried to cut the medallions into smaller bites. This steak knife tore the pork rather than cutting it. It was as sharp as the butter knife on the table. Fancy… who needs it.

By the end of the meal, I had finished the pork and I had stopped scraping the sauce off. It wasn’t bad. I ate about 5 bites of the potatoes and I got my check and headed out.

The meal wasn’t worth the $20 to me. I’m sure other patrons feel that its a good deal. I think I’ll order pizza tomorrow night.

2 Responses to “Geek Cuisine — Oh How I Hate “Fancy” Restaurants”

  1. Tom

    I’m one of those people that can eat the fancy gourmet stuff every once in a while and enjoy it. But I definitely prefer comfort foods (mac n’ cheese, rice, pasta, burgers, etc.) on a daily basis.

  2. Jeannie

    I spend most of my time eating in diners. Yes I know that there ‘diners’ in almost every state but they are a real New Jersey institution. Most of the country goes to Denny’s or the equivalent-we go to a 24 hour diner where we can get breakfast at any hour of the day. Now I am not trying to brag but we can get basic comfort plain food almost any time we want-the diners that are successful do a good mix of more ‘trendy’ meals-but you can still get a good meat loaf in a mushroom gravy with plain mashed potatoes and applesauce if you want. Chicken soup of some kind is on the menu every day-for the most part if you want basic plain comfort food you can get it.
    Tonight I went to dinner with my friend at one of these diners and I had a fancier pasta dish dinner-and she had grilled cheese with bacon and tomato. Both of us were happy-my meal included my soup, salad, beverage and dessert-and the entire meal was $20 including 7% sales tax. I think it is fully possible to have restaurants that serve both types of food and serve them well and they should be everywhere.

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