Last week my friend Joan had a birthday, so 8 of our friends met for dinner to celebrate at Marin Joe’s. They have great steaks (if you enjoy eating things that once had a face), tasty pastas and assorted fresh seafood. Can’t lose, right?
Normally I’d answer in the affirmative had I not recently made the mistake of reading a survey Food Network conducted about chef secrets. Admittedly, my timing was poor. Did I really want to know their sordid tales right before dinner? Uh…yes I did.
Now don’t get me wrong; my new-found knowledge didn’t stop me from enjoying my meal. It’s no secret I love to eat. (Hey, thighs don’t lie.) I’m not saying Joe’s is guilty of any of the following but here’s what I learned:
THE 5 SECOND RULE
Twenty-five percent of chefs surveyed admitted they’ve plated food that dropped on the floor.
Here’s my question: How dirty is your floor? Personally, I’ve never had a chance to test the 5 second rule at my house. The instant something hits the floor, one of my 3 dogs inhales it, edible or not. Besides, I’ve no doubt I’ve ingested animal hair on frequent occasions, so what’s a little floor dirt?
WHEN AND WHAT TO ORDER
Fresh fish isn’t delivered on Sunday so order the prawns on Monday. Chefs also say pasta is over-priced and the least interesting option, so skip it.
Well, that didn’t stop me from getting the eggplant parmesan with a side of meatless spaghetti, thank you very much. And by the way, it was delicious and dare I say interesting?WOULD YOU LIKE BREAD WITH THAT?
Chefs admitted that uneaten bread removed from a table often ends up at another table.
Seventy-five percent of chefs surveyed said they see cockroaches in their kitchen.
Okay, I may need to change my 5 second rule response. Dirt and hair I can swallow but that’s where I draw the line.
YOU WANT WHAT?
Sixty percent find substitutions irritating and 13% say they’ve seen something “bad” happen by annoyed chefs to food sent back by customers.
Most chefs admitted coming to work when sick.
I’LL HAVE THE SPECIAL
Specials are not leftovers, although that does happen on occasion. Chefs say specials use seasonal ingredients and they’re often experimental dishes.
Fifteen percent of veggie meals don’t meet meat-free standards.
TELL ME SOMETHING I DIDN’T KNOW
Wine is marked up 2 1/2 times what it costs in the store.
Duh.Here’s an interesting little tidbit. Chefs say when they eat fast food, it’s at Wendy’s. They also say to tip 20% (I do), be nice to your server (I am) and if you get lousy service, tip low (I do).
So here’s the thing: I enjoy eating out with friends. For me, it’s not really about the food. I’d much rather dine with my pals at a mediocre restaurant than eat alone at a 5 star establishment.
So give me a plate of eggplant parmesan with a side of 8 good friends and I’ll hardly notice the overpriced wine and cockroaches crawling through our basket of previously served bread.