Saturday, January 31, 2009

One…singular sensation…

Just a brief note complimenting a chain restaurant. It is soooooo rare that I would have anything good to say about chains, that I feel it’s only fair to them to say something good.

Tonight we took the kids to Uno’s, with two other families. When you think of unhealthy, pre-fab places, you’re there. But nonetheless, I grabbed my bottle of Lipitor, and we headed out. It was packed!!! I tell you, if the economy is suffering at all, it isn’t there, at least at 7:15pm on a Saturday night.

We had a very attentive waitress (Jackie) and everything came out correctly, except for my burger. It was cooked exactly the way I like it, and it was served hot, but I had asked for it without their house burger sauce, and of course, it was covered in it. Oh well…I sent it back, and she was very apologetic, and that was fine. I would wait and didn’t have any problem with that. It seemed like just some basic mistake and I didn’t mention another word other than saying “Jackie, I asked for this without sauce.”

Well, no sooner had Jackie gone into the kitchen than the manager ran right up to us. He was extraordinarily solicitous and apologetic, and I never uttered a word. He said “we’ve taken your burger off the bill. Can I get you a complimentary salad or soup while you wait?” I declined, and a few minutes later, the burger came out, and the manager stopped by again to apologize, and while he was taking away some dirty plates, told me he would send some fresh, hot fries over (Mom, don’t worry…I was eating roasted vegetables with the burger.) Mom, stop reading…okay, we ate some of the fries.

At the end of the meal, they brought over a giant chocolate chip cookie, served in a pizza pan, warm, with vanilla ice cream and a candle for Mrs. Palate’s birthday. After the requisite embarrassing Uno’s birthday song, once again, the manager apologized for my burger mistake, and comped us on the dessert too.

I share this story with all of you because I think that Uno’s really tries hard, and when something is wrong with your meal, you’re more likely to let it slide if the staff is attentive and apologetic. This manager was bending over backwards to make up for a relatively small mistake, and I appreciate his efforts. I also think that when the economy is in the tank, Uno’s, or any place for that matter, will not want to risk your business when there are so many other choices around. I give them credit for realizing that there are a lot of choices for the dining-out dollar, and I’ll remember this, which is exactly the result they want.

Thanks for reading…now enjoy Three Dog Night.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Yo Adrian...

I have watched movies my entire life. I am a huge fan of the silver screen. Even to this day, I can recall where and under what circumstances I’ve seen certain movies. Some movies stay with you forever, and never get old, no matter how many times you see them.

For you addicts of the Critical Palate, for all of you going back and reading my early posts, you know how I feel about the current state of Hollywood. Most of the stuff coming out is crap, no matter what the critics tell us…I look at the list of Academy Award nominees and I wonder how some of this stuff is getting made, and how Meryl Streep keeps getting nominated…ugh! Also, call me a heretic, but GMFB about Heath Ledger already…as I’ve said several time-paint my face and ask me to act like a drooling freak, and I’ll give you a performance. Playing a messed-up psycho isn’t hard when there’s nothing to compare it to, other than that scene-chewer Jack Nicholson…

With that in mind, I had the pleasure of watching “Rocky” today. That story is as timeless as a fine, three-button Brooks Brothers suit. “Rocky” speaks to our core-a down and out nobody, overcoming all odds, just looking for a chance to be a winner, and if not a winner, at least a contender with some self-respect. I have watched this movie a million times, and no matter how many times, as soon as Bill Conti’s music starts building to its crescendo in the final rounds, I can’t help but get goose bumps. This is “the” underdog movie that defined the genre. There isn’t an underdog tale that Hollywood has produced since 1977 that hasn’t been compared to “Rocky”. From “The Karate Kid” to “Rudy” to “Hoosiers”…even their ad campaigns referred to “Rocky”.

In 1976, as a relative unknown, Stallone drove “Rocky” to 3 Academy Awards (Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture) and received nominations in every other major category (Best Actor, 2 Best Supporting Actors [Burgess Meredith and the always under-respected Burt Young], Best Actress, Best Original Song and Best Writing-Original Work). Seeing “Rambo--VA Hospital” last year, I can’t help but shake my head at what a shell of his former self Sly Stallone has become. Between the Botox and HGH injections, if he smiles his cheeks might fall in. It’s sad to see what has happened to him physically, but going back to his seminal role as Rocky Balboa, a young Sly Stallone had an understated brilliance about him as he inhabited the role that defined a genre.

Sure after Rocky II, it might have been time to hang up the cup, but I’ll give him Rocky III as a fun way to go out. Once we get to Siberia in IV, I’m ready to hit the vodka, by V, I want Tommy Morrison to beat him silly, but in “Rocky Balboa”, it was a nice, quiet way for Rocky to fade away. Frankly, the most recent “Indiana Jones” was a stink-burger too, but we have to give actors like Stallone and Ford a pass when it comes to letting go of their defining roles…sometimes you just want to visit with old friends to say goodbye.

You’re been great…now The Hardest Working Man in Show Business…James Brown!