Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A teenager's Morton's...

While I'm busy actually trying to make a living, I offer the following-a special guest blog post from my son, the Junior Palate, who recently went to the new Morton's here in Boston. Disclaimer-he went with Grandma Palate, not with me. What follows is his impression of the experience...without further ado, ladies and gentlemen...the Junior Palate.

Hello Critical Palate readers. This is the Junior Palate, Eric’s son. Also, as many of you probably know, I have a taste for fine food, favoring steak. As a fan of fine steak and meats, I have visited many steakhouses and fancy restaurants. I have gone to some of the finest eateries in Boston, including Flemings, Capital Grille, Smith & Wolensky’s, the One-Eleven Chophouse, Metro 9 and more. Among the steakhouses I have been to, Morton’s is by far my favorite.

Morton’s has two locations in Boston; one is located in a basement in a very luxurious office building. This Morton’s, although not in a very exciting location, was excellent. Great food, great service, great d├ęcor and ambiance, but it was nothing compared to the Morton’s I went to last Saturday, April 25, 2009, at their “seaport” location. Morton’s has recently opened up a new location right on the harbor, near the world famous “No Name” restaurant. Here, not only do you get the experience of being at a fine restaurant, you get the view of the harbor, surrounded by some of the nicest buildings, apartments, condos and offices in Boston. Well, I will tell you this, it was nothing shy of perfect. I think I have re-discovered the definition of the word “amazing”.

Tonight, everything was top-notch. The service was by far the best service I have ever had. Not only did our waiter offer the nicest and most efficient service I have ever experienced, he also lives in same town we do. He was a young man who loved his work. He was nice, social and speedy. Not only did we enjoy or waiter, we also liked the manager and the valet. The manager, Mike, came to our table and chatted with us; he was the kind of guy that would make you want to come back, even if the food wasn’t that great (but it was). Our valet, a young man, also enjoyed his work, and socialized with his customers. But overall, it is the food that really wants to make you come back for more.

Unlike most elegant restaurants, the portions at Morton’s were huge. I ordered the Cajun rib eye steak and it was perfect. Medium, a hot pink center with a nice “char” on the outside. But what all added to the experience was the ambiance. You had the option of sitting outside which was perfectly fine and still very fancy, but you had to sit inside to understand the true Morton’s experience. Not only was the interior fancy, but they also had sports decorations hanging up, autographs and pictures of Boston athletes who have been there. Overall, I have to say that this is probably my favorite restaurant ever. If you are ever at the harbor with a huge wad of cash, Morton’s “SeaPort” is the place to go.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back, and badder than ever…

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all you “fans of the Critical Palate” out there asking, practically begging, for an explanation of why I have gone into “radio silence.” I can sum it up with two words-Bar Mitzvah. Junior Palate has crossed the threshold into Jewish adulthood, and to be honest, I am spent, both literally and figuratively.

But, alas, kind readers, I know many of you want to hear me rant about dining experiences, movies or American Idol (Scott McIntyre is no Stevie Wonder…not even Tom Sullivan), so I’m back, badder than ever!

So, as a follow-up to my posts on December 15 and 30th, the manager of Outback in Westborough sent me $90.00 in “Outhouse Bucks” to encourage me to give them another chance. I don’t know what came over us, but we decided to give it a go back on February 28, 2009.

We had a call-ahead for 7:30p-7:45pm. Got there at 7:20pm. Told that it would just be "a few minutes."

Tick, tock...tick tock...tick tock...

At 8:00pm, I asked the host "wtf?" He said that they were just getting a large table their bill (there were 8 of us) and we were next for that table.

Tick tock...tick tock...tick tock...

8:15pm, manager comes over to us and apologizes...tells us that the table has paid, and that they're wrapping it up. We're the only large party still waiting, and we're getting that table. As a show of her regret, she says she'll have the onion thing and some wings on our table waiting for us when we sit. Considering “Men’s Health” magazine considers the Bloomin’ Onion the worst appetizer for your health, the manager isn’t doing this to apologize, she’s doing it to teach us a lesson!

Tick tock...tick tock...tick tock...

8:30pm, those people at my table have not even budged. I see them just getting the bill!!! WTF???!!! Didn't the manager tell me they paid? Liar! I ask to speak with her again.

She comes over, and tells me that she didn't know that they had asked to split the bill, so they had to re-run a bunch of checks for that table...yada yada yada...nothing she can do...yada yada yada...she's going to put us at 2 booths (kids in one, adults in another) that are right across from each. She says those two booths are clearing out now...

Tick tock...tick tock...tick tock...

8:45pm we are still standing there!!! I am having a stroke. I tell her that her entire system has failed and that I don't care whom to blame, but this is total bullshit. “Cartright…Cartright…”

8:50pm, we finally sit down, at a big table in back. She comes over to make sure we're ok, and I say "we're not ok, and you're not going to be ok, and corporate isn't going to be ok when I'm done. Let's go for a walk."

So we walk to the bar area, away from the kids, and I explain to her why we came. I told her that Rich Lanza (who is no longer there anymore) BEGGED us to come back after they nearly killed my wife with food allergens a few months ago. I told her "you should be embarrassed and ashamed of the way you guys operate. You beg us to come back, and your system totally breaks down...give me one, just one reason I should ever come back here. Give me one, just one reason I'm not going to a) call corporate on Monday, and b) post to my blog about why this place should be avoided at all costs". (By the way, I have never before played my "blog" card, but I felt I needed to beat her senseless.) How do you go from a 7:30pm call-ahead to being seated at 8:50pm???!!!

So she starts getting teary-eyed, and tells me that this is her first weekend as manager She had been a lead server and just been promoted from assistant manager to store general manager. She says that she is embarrassed and ashamed of the staff and the system, and that they'll obviously have to work it out. She tells me that she'll take $90 off my bill (the amount Rich had sent me) and that I should keep my certificates for another time and that she hopes I'll come back, though it won't be for a long time. She says "I hope you won't feel the need to contact corporate" and I say "no promises" and walk back to the table. She comes to the table, and says that she will monitor every aspect of our meal, and that everything will come out perfect.

The food ended up being ok, but I was ready to kill someone. Making her cry didn’t help matters, but considering she served us that onion…I’m lucky to be here writing this blog!

Gratuitous shout-out: Congratulations to charter subscriber A.B.S. who got married back in March.

You've been great. Now, enjoy John Sebastian.