Monday, June 15, 2015

Social Food Snark

Last weekend, we went out to dinner prior to the U2 concert in downtown Denver.

Here's the deal: we like to eat. We like good food. We like innovative and creative recipes. And, despite ALL my food weirdness with not eating badly raised/fed/cared for/processed animals and a general eschewing of eating chemicals and other things that can kill you, we don't consider ourselves overly stuffy when it comes to food. I read the menus and I make decisions. I don't ask the server where the food was sourced from, whether sustainable practices were used, or, as Eric would say, if the animal was hugged on a regular basis. I like reading these things on a menu and appreciate them when they are listed, but I find it kind of rude and pretentious to ask if its not there.

We think that eating a restaurant should be a fun experience, filled with good company and good food. We don't overthink it, and we don't put more importance on it than its worth.

However, we were in the minority at Tag, a trendy place in a area of town with a cool vibe, enhanced by the street chalk-drawing competition going on outside.

Here's the other deal: when people take themselves more seriously than they REALLY should, we tend to get a little snarky. At least to each other, and then we get the giggles. The alternative title to this blog should be "This is why we can't go to nice places."

When the server came up to us and first said "we do a lot of social food here," this should have been our first clue that we don't belong in a place like this. The second clue was that she had put on an obviously manufactured Lauren Bacall voice to talk at us. She encouraged us to discuss the offerings with each other. She left us with our menus. We looked at each other and both said "what the crap is social food?" Like, isn't that the point of going to a restaurant WITH someone else? Aren't we by default participating in "social food?"

She came back to get our drink order and admonished us to remember that the chef was "inspired by the ring of fire," and something else that she part-mumbled or I am not sophisticated enough to have understood. However, I have actually visited a couple of Ring of Fire countries and have eaten the food, my first reaction was to ask where the chef had studied... and then thought better of it because 1) the server's face was so serious I didn't want to enter into an endless discussion and/or have it revealed that she didn't actually know more than the line she just gave us and 2) given the trendiness, it was not totally out of the realm of possibility that the ring of fire she referred to was not so much about location but about little talked-about aspects of the birthing process as reinterpreted in the creative realm having something to do with creation etc.

We ordered a "social beginning" (I am so not kidding you that this is what they called appetizers) and watched the table next to us as their "social beginning" was presented to them - a single duck leg over what appeared to be polenta. It smelled wonderful, but you obviously have to be really social to share a single duck leg, because that is not traditionally a shareable appetizer.

Speaking of the table next door, we had quite a bit of time to observe and overhead them because 1) the table was reallyclose and 2) service was r e a l l y s l o w. Dude. Talk about pretentious, and not just because he was wearing a purposely too tight t-shirt and dress jeans. I honestly thought that what was happening next to us was a business meeting between an executive and his assistant, because he prattled on incessantly about work and plans, until I heard him say "wow, this is so like an office meeting right now, but I really feel, like the flow, and I think we should socialize this." Wait, so you aren't having a meeting? Cause that's what it sounds like, albeit an one-sided one because you're doing all the talking and she's not saying anything.  When Eric went to the restroom, this guy actually used the words "nascent" and "embryonic" in the same sentence to describe the same idea, which caused me to text Eric in the men's room and tell him and hashtaged my text #iknowbigwordstoo and #redundant. Hey, hashtags are trendy, right? When we were almost done with our meal, I heard the guy refer to the woman as "babe." Seriously? You two are on a date? Keep up that kind of banter guy, and you just might get lucky.... lucky to go home unscathed, that is.

Our "social beginning" finally came (served by someone other than our server, just as our drinks had, because she was too busy being Ms. Bacall social and conversing about the menu for her other tables, I guess. This server took about 4 minutes to describe our food before setting down the plate). The steamed and crisped seafood pot stickers were SO good. Like I wanted three orders good. However, we had just about run out of "social" things to talk about and were starting to get a little concerned about getting to the concert on time when our sushi finally arrived. Eric had ordered a "surf and turf" roll that featured "poached shrimp" and "hangar steak tataki." I had ordered the "spider roll" with tempura soft shell crap, tomato and bibb lettuce. Repeat on the over-enunciated, excessively long description upon delivery. Both plates had a sizeable portion of wasabi on them, but came with no soy? Anyway, we dug in... and were disappointed. For all the blow-hardness of the place and the great appetizer, excuse me, social experience, these were 'meh.' Mine was dry and lacked flavor, and Eric's underwhelmed. When the substitute server came by to ask if we wanted more "small plates," I just couldn't help myself... there was so much snootiness! I responded:

"Umm, no thanks. After the disappointing sushi, we're not really in the mood to have another."

The look on her face said I shot her kitten, which I would never do, although feeding it rice and beans would not be out of the question, which may have been equally as devastating for this wait staff.

This is why we can't go to nice places. I think we may have been like this:




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