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 Post subject: Re: rant: fine dining
PostPosted: March 6 19, 8:55 am 
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Freed Roger wrote:
Almost need to have a strategy for surviving that kind of thing. Small place cursed with a favorable review. I feel like it has happened in St louis a few times, but can't place it off the top of my head. Iron Barley maybe?



Here is the mea culpa of a Thrillist writer who takes credit for closing a beloved Orgeon burger stand after declaring it to have the best burger in America.

Just to tack on to my last post, as we become more and more a service economy it's kind of important that the service industry's biggest employers don't get cannibalized by lazy "journalism" and the need to make everything the best/hottest/newest/most essential. It creates a cycle in which these businesses that already have a short shelf life have an even shorter one. You didn't make the Eater list right out the gate and Chicago Mag didn't put you in their Best New Restaurants list? You're way behind the 15 placed that hit both, in an industry where being a slow-grower is not usually a virtue.

Re food trucks, that would work almost anywhere but Chicago where it's freezing for 1/4 of the year minimum, and the city has wide-ranging laws limiting food trucks--can't be within X number of feet of a brick and mortar restaurant (so forget the entire business district, River North, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Bucktown, or near any major transpo station), only a handful of licenses have been approved for people to cook on trucks in town, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: rant: fine dining
PostPosted: March 6 19, 10:07 am 
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To your other point, TDS sits in a 120 year old building surrounded by new condo construction and the moment their lease is up, they're gonna be out of there.

That's too bad. When I was there the space felt like part of the magic.


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 Post subject: Re: rant: fine dining
PostPosted: March 6 19, 10:31 am 
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33anda3rd wrote:
AWvsCBsteeeerike3 wrote:
...they're having problems with the lo-brow crowd which I would consider myself firmly in.


You're probably not in this crowd. It's a confluence of several things.

1. The de-professionalizing of food media and the reduction of it to lists. Eater, Thrillist, TimeOut have swallowed up real food reviews in which the paid professional reviewer eats at a place anonymously 5-8X then writes an objective review. That traditional media is dead. Eater on a local level doesn't have people who go out to eat and write reviews, they have people who sit in offices and who aggregate press releases they receive into lists of "hot" or "essential." I've opened a few places that have made their "Hottest (Bars/Restaurants) To (Eat/Drink) At Right Now" lists and those lists often include places that have been open for under a couple weeks. They haven't eaten there, it's just new. It's just basically saying "yo, this is open now and high-profie." If Eater archived those lists--they do not, they disappear each month when a new one is posted--we could go look at the list for 16 months ago and probably find half the places closed. The burger list we're discussing was in the Tribune, but written not by Phil Vettel, their reviewer for decades, but but Nick Kindelsperger, the kid the Trib hired to write lists to attract younger readers. This is our food media, 80% of it. 2% of it is professional food reviewers. The other 18% is...

2. Social media/Yelp and the foodies. First let's define foodies. Young, urban, lots of disposable income to go out and eat a lot, probably use their social media for a lot of check-ins, tweets and photos about restaurants. Almost certainly not packing a culinary degree or experience in a pro kitchen. The kind of people who want to talk to chef, then ask chef what temp he sous vides the shortrib and when chef says "145" they look at the ceiling and go "....sorry, just converting, I run my on celsius at home...." That kind of person. This guy fits that bill. The way my buddy described him was: "1015 one top reso. Total INCEL." ie he booked a table for one at 10:15. Someone who either can't get a date or can't get someone to eat at 10:15PM with him but he's just got to get in ASAP to eat that burger which, by his own admission, he's ready to compare to the burger that he already know is the best burger in town. When the burger was out, he gave them 2 stars. If the burger was still avail, he'd probably have given them 2-3 stars, because he already knows where the best burger is. He also took his case to social media. He's a poon. Screw that guy. He's not a low-brow guy who eats all his meals at Roger's Feedlot, he's a snobby urban prick.

3. The need to make matters of taste objective. Jesus this has just gone completely off the rails and I'm frankly not surprised that it comes at a time when real objectivity in the world is dying in favor of "yeah but how do we feel about the issue?" TDS probably does not have the best burger in town, they have the burger in town that Nick Kindelsperger, listmaker for the Chicago Tribune, liked the best when he last had it. The dude who booked at 10:15 resy for himself's favorite burger is his favorite burger, he does not in fact know where the best burger in Chicago is. Au Cheval is not the best burger in America. In N Out is not the best burger in America. Some whiskey that won double gold at the San Francisco Spirits Whatever 2018 is not the best whiskey in the world. They're popular, and a lot of people's favorites, or won the taste of the judges at a particular show, but they are not the best because that's a matter of taste and totally subjective.

#1 and #3, totally go together. All these lists, all this writing in which subjective taste is made objective. Type best burger in America into google and you'll probably get a hundred million results +. From people who need to write that the thing that they like best is best. To get clicks, and ad revenue.

-----

To your other point, TDS sits in a 120 year old building surrounded by new condo construction and the moment their lease is up, they're gonna be out of there. They're already looking for new space and they've got 2.5 years. The owner, Matt, was in his late 20s when he opened it. He runs on VERY thin margins, as most restaurateurs do. On Tuesday's (he's a somm and wine nerd) he brings in some wine, usually special rare stuff, opens it by the glass and pours it at cost. If the bottle cost $100 and he can get 8 half-pours, each half pour is $12.50. He does this as a gesture of hospitality to wine lovers in the neighborhood and his professional peers and it's incredibly generous. On Mondays they sell a smaller burger for $5 along with a $1 beer and a $3 shot of bourbon. He's been doing that for years as a gesture of hospitality to the broke kids in his neighborhood and cooks and other industry people. He does that despite having a Michelin Bib Gourmand rating and a sterling reputation for quality in his restaurant. So for him to go "ok, big influx of business, but we're only going to make 20 burgers tonight and if they don't get here in time, then screw 'em" would be to turn away another 20 guests/night or so that help him make a living. This will drive him and his staff crazy, the complaints about the burger as the foodies who want to swing their dicks around about what burger is "best" descend like locusts on his restaurant, but it's money he can't say no to.

The owner sounds like a great guy, and a great guy to know. The rest of that is depressing as [expletive].

Totally agree about the need to make food objective being terrible. There's more than one way to cook a dish and make it appealing in its own way. And, any attempt to homogenize everything to a point where chefs feel they need to appease a certain taste/trend/whatever would really be detrimental to the entire food industry, I'd think. Not that I know anything.

But, I'm sticking with my low brow comment. My wife and I have started going to these cooking classes maybe 3-4 times a year. The first one we went to, I had to ask what E.V.O.O. stood for. The lady next to me looked at us and goes, oh gosh you do need to be here. And that was after I gave her a glass of the Eagle Rare bourbon I had brought in. Ha.


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 Post subject: Re: rant: fine dining
PostPosted: March 6 19, 10:55 am 
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Also, I've always wondered this. But, how many restaurants per capita are there now compared to 50-75 years ago?

It seems like small, mid-upscale restaurants have really become popular over the past decade.


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 Post subject: Re: rant: fine dining
PostPosted: March 6 19, 11:22 am 
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My kids have become enamored with Napoleon Dynamite, constantly quoting the film of late. All this talk about best burger reminds me of when Uncle Rico shows them his football tape, and Napoleon says "This is pretty much the worst video ever made". Kip responds, "Napoleon, like anyone can even know that."


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 Post subject: Re: rant: fine dining
PostPosted: March 6 19, 11:25 am 
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AWvsCBsteeeerike3 wrote:
Also, I've always wondered this. But, how many restaurants per capita are there now compared to 50-75 years ago?

It seems like small, mid-upscale restaurants have really become popular over the past decade.


I've wondered that too. It seems like there are certain areas in the city where you can't throw a rock and not hit a small local restaurant and that's after the rock passes by four others and none of them are aiming for the cheap end of the scale.


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 Post subject: Re: rant: fine dining
PostPosted: March 6 19, 5:12 pm 
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AWvsCBsteeeerike3 wrote:
Also, I've always wondered this. But, how many restaurants per capita are there now compared to 50-75 years ago?

It seems like small, mid-upscale restaurants have really become popular over the past decade.


So 25 years ago there were two kinds of restos.

1. Nice. Tablecloth. You wear a tie, or at least a jacket. Probably some French words on the menu. You make a reservation and go on a splurge occasion like a birthday or anniversary or Valentine's Day.

2. Everyday. Could be a Greek diner. Or storefront Pakistani. Or vinyl tablecloths and red sauce. A burger joint. A sports bar. Less expensive ingredients. No fancy wine list. Come as you are.

Over the last 25 years--and this could be a 30000-word post on the transitions of the industry the last 2.5 decades--the tier of Upscale Neighborhood resto came along. Michelin Bib Gourmand level. Food of the same quality as the old Nice restaurants yet at a much lower price and in neighborhood settings with Pixies on the soundsystem and a tattooed server with a nosering and beat up Chuck Taylors talking about the wine list that would also hold up to the Nice restaurants of 25 years ago. It's a whole new thing in most big cities and it's a thing that has made the service industry boom.


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 Post subject: Re: rant: fine dining
PostPosted: March 6 19, 5:17 pm 
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AWvsCBsteeeerike3 wrote:
But, I'm sticking with my low brow comment. My wife and I have started going to these cooking classes maybe 3-4 times a year. The first one we went to, I had to ask what E.V.O.O. stood for. The lady next to me looked at us and goes, oh gosh you do need to be here. And that was after I gave her a glass of the Eagle Rare bourbon I had brought in. Ha.


I'm not disputing that you're lowbrow. I'm disputing that it's you lowbrows that are killing the buzz in restaurants. It's the high-brow know-it-all ding-dong fancy city folk.


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 Post subject: Re: rant: fine dining
PostPosted: March 6 19, 5:22 pm 
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haltz wrote:
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To your other point, TDS sits in a 120 year old building surrounded by new condo construction and the moment their lease is up, they're gonna be out of there.

That's too bad. When I was there the space felt like part of the magic.


It is. But Shin sold the building to Anshul, the money guy behind the Furious Spoon ramen places and Shin's partner there. Because Anshul's pharma group makes tens of millions and he needs to put it somewhere. And Anshul will sell the building as soon as Matt's lease is up because that whole block is condos now and the land alone is worth a million easy. But the scraped-together feel, the communal tables made by a neighbor, the reclaimed barn wood that Matt loaded into Shin's old Rav4 on a 22 degree day to build the bar, the patio, the whole thing, it's just a miracle that place exists and that it's still going after six-plus years and it's really a testament to Matt and what he built with industry and with the neighbors there. And it infuriates me that the goddamn mothergrabbing foodies will make at least part of the last couple years of that space difficult over a [expletive] hamburger.


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 Post subject: Re: rant: fine dining
PostPosted: March 23 19, 8:28 pm 
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Me and the family are in St. Louis the next few days. Staying around Central west end and going between there and downtown.

Any recommendations on local, cheap, casual dining? We’re not going to be dressed up. Finally hitting the City Museum, also the zoo, botanical gardens, Arch and Cardinals hall of fame.


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