Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Most Expensive Food

Guest-posted by Nice Jewish Guy:

The other day at work, having run through the reading material I had brought along to occupy me during the intermittent lulls, I wandered out to the reception area to peruse the magazine rack. There I found an old October issue of the NY Post's Sunday magazine, PageSix mag.

The last page was a restaurant review, and what eatery did they decide to review, but My Most Favorite Food- the kosher restaurant in Manhattan.

In the review, the article spotlights two of the restaurant's customers, (Rabbi) Dovi and Esti Scheiner. Here are some excerpts:

What did you order?
The menu had more lunch offerings than brunch, but included a few egg-based options like the house omelet with caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms and Gruy√®re cheese. We ordered the buttermilk pancakes with chocolate chips, which were thin and airy and had a delicate flavor. We also tried the cinnamon challah French toast, which arrived with a yogurt sauce and a berry compote poured over it. The yogurt sauce was sweet and delicious, but the compote had a slightly tinny flavor. Dovi ordered off the menu, asking for fettucine, prepared al dente, with a little spicy tomato sauce—and the kitchen staff happily prepared it for him.

Did you have dessert?
Yes, we shared a slice of marble cheesecake, which was rich and chocolaty but would have been perfect if it was a little colder.

How were the drinks?
Dovi had ginger ale—it's all he ever drinks. I ordered iced chocolate milk, which arrived in a wineglass and was very refreshing.

Sounds yummy. But let's see what the check came to:

Chocolate-chip buttermilk pancakes $14.00
Cinnamon challah French toast $13.00
Fettucine $25.00
Ginger ale $1.25
Iced chocolate milk $4.50
Total: $57.75

Zoiks. $60 with tip for brunch?! And if you notice, they left out the marble cheesecake- which at these price points, probably came in at around eight bucks. Fettucine for 25 bucks? With nothing but a little tomato sauce? Robbery. A box of fettucine costs around $0.89 cents, and a jar of premium sauce maybe 7 bucks. And chocolate milk for $4.50?! You could get a half gallon of milk and a bottle of UBet syrup for less. And what kind of rabbi can afford to eat out like this on a regular basis?! And these are brunch prices, too, mind you. Dinner prices undoubtedly run higher.

It would be one thing if such gastronomical experiences were worth every penny of these kind of prices. But just two weeks ago, a couple of friends of mine went to MMFD and had such a negative experience, that they walked out. They were meeting two other friends, who hadn't yet arrived. They informed the maitre d' that they were a party of four, and asked to be seated downstairs because one of the party who hadn't yet arrived was unable to climb stairs for some reason. The place was chaotically busy, and they soon realized they were being ignored, and others were being seated before them. When they indicated this to one of the wait staff, they were met with a dismissive remark. One of my friends asked to see the manager, and was informed that she was in fact already speaking to him. She then told him that the level of service so far was pretty abysmal, and the response was something like, "it's not about the service". Huh? It's exactly about the service. That's rule one; it's a service industry.

Another two friends of mine went to MMFD, around the same time, and were quite dismayed at their experience as well. The food was mediocre, they said, and quite pricey. They also were unhappy with the fact that the wait staff was all foreign, non-American though I'm not sure why. ( I guess they had difficulty communicating?).

I recall walking past MMFD sometime last year with a date, and her telling me that the place had really gone down hill lately. And with this economy, with people tightening down all around on things like eating out, when you do decide to eat out, you're going to want to get the most bang for your buck. Not overpriced pasta and chocolate milk served by a rude and dismissive wait staff.

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