Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tipping in American Restaurants 2009

I read in The New York Times today, that some NYC restaurants are now big on the automatic gratuity added to your check, just like in Europe. I did a little googling and was amazed at the attention which is dedicated to this subject matter!  I thought I would share my tip grading system with the readership of this blog. As a former bartender as well as a former delivery boy in NYC, who lived for tips (and I did well), my standards are high and may even seem draconian or Midas-like.
Rule #1: Mom used to say "if you can't afford to tip, then you shouldn't go out to eat".

Rule #2: Never tip unless the server and/or the establishment deserve it. The word 'Tips' stands for "To improve personal service" Not "To increase Personal Spending"!
Claude's Tip Guide:
I generally start out at 20% as a standard, but have been known to give as much as 25% to 50% for outstanding service. 
Tip Deductions:
5% if the server doesn't pay attention to my table and I have to keep waving my arms, make eye contact or send telepathic smoke signals.
5% for interrupting a conversation rudely. Why can't they ever wait 15 seconds before telling me about  tonight's special?
10% for a dirty bathroom (my personal pet pieve and I usually leave if I didn't order yet).

Health Rule 101: If the Bathroom is dirty, then the kitchen is probably worse! 
5% to 10% for dirty silverware and water/wine glasses.
5% to 10% for cold or lousy food. 
Note: Yes, I know that these items are not always under the waiter's control, but how else do I communicate my displeasure in such a direct fashion?
5% when the server takes the payment folder off of the table and asks "change from this"! This relatively new expression is annoying and rude. When did a tip become an entitlement? BTW, I still don't get why there is a tip jar at The Starbucks counter or any self-serve establishment. How dumb are people to leave tips for BASIC SERVICE?

Side-story: I recently had a bartender ask if I wanted change from a $20.00 bill. The tab was $10.50 and he thought he was entitled to an almost 100% tip!  Normally, I would leave $1 to $3,  but this time I left Nada! Not cheap, just smart!
5% to 15% if I have to send my cold and/or undercooked food back to the kitchen.
15% if the server has dirty hands, an unkempt appearance, more that 5 visible piercings in his left nostril or a tattoo that says 'OJ is Innocent'.
20% If the waiter tells me that the chef will not cook my steak well done.
20% if there is foreign matter, glass or bugs in my food (really happened)!

Tip Additions: 
Add 5 to 10% for good manners. What ever happened to holding chairs for someone about to sit down at a table?  How about saying 'hello'?  When did restaurants stop serving Ladies, Seniors and Children first or for that matter not taking the lady's order first?
Add 5% for Speed.  I love it when my drink and the bread arrive quickly.
Add 5% to 10% for personality/pleasantry. How hard is it to inject some personality?
Add 10% for special orders, without the attitude. Would you mind asking the chef if...............
Add $20.00 to $100.00 for holding/returning or calling me about the jacket, cell phone or my intact wallet that I left on the table.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fontenots in Winter Park

One of my favorite restaurants in Winter Park, Colorado. I believe that this is their 3rd location right up the street from the "The Pub" (a favorite football drinking establishment). Why ? because they needed more room which is always a good sign. This eatery always seems to be busy.

This is the only place short of New Orleans to get a decent Gumbo and cornbread. Make sure you add the Talapia fish and Andouille Sausage BTW. Appetizer favorites are the fried green tomatoes and shrimp dim sum. The traditional shrimp cocktail needs a little work in it's presentaion and sauce.

After a 10 mile run I usually stop in for lunch and get one of the hugh PoBoys. This is essentially a monster sandwich with shrimp, scallops, talapia etc. I have never been able to Finish this hugh portion that comes with fries in one sitting.

Prices seem to be very reasonable for the quality of the food and portions.

Bathroom Check: Clean even on a busy night :-)
Note: Restaurant bathrooms are a personal pieve. My Dad who was a great new York deli caterer always use to say that "if the bathroom is dirty then the kitchen is worse"

My only complaint is that this use to be a locals favorite and fortunately for the owner the tourists have discovered it too.

I give Fontenots a Ski poles UP rating

Rating system

1 Ski Pole down-Avoid
2 Ski Poles horizontal- OK
3. Ski Pole Up -Good Food and Value

Friday, March 7, 2008

I love Ruths Chris Steakhouse BUT.........

I Love the Ruth's Chris steakhouse chain but why do they have to overcharge me on the wine ?

I am a regular and love the service, the white tablecloths, the Awesome steaks. Having said that why does 2 inches of California Pinot Noir in a ultra tall glass cost $17.00 .

This is also true for the bottled wines listed which in some cases are price much as 3 to 4 times as much as I can buy in the supermarket. Sure make a profit but why gouge a loyal customers especially Californians who love wine and know their true value?

Monday, February 11, 2008

DeAntonio's Pizza - Best Winter Park Local Eatery on the Cheap

I don't know about you but when I was a starving High school student who evolved into a starving College student and then a starving working stiff I always tried to find cheap and tasty eats.They may not have ambiance but they get the job done cheap.

Here are a few of my favorites and most of the locals in Winter Park.

Great Pizza, cheap, no Ambiance (who cares anyway)

I don't know about you but I have always had a pizza monkey on my back. I love the stuff. I literally lived on it when I was a kid in NYC. Problem is what do you eat after you leave the big Apple and go to places like Winter Park, Fraser , Grand County. Heck even Denver is Pizza Challenged.
Note: If you know a great place in Denver or San Diego and I don't mean Pap johns email me)

My prayers were finally answered one day.

Name:DeAntonio's in Fraser across the street from the Safeway on rt 40.Its tucked away in the coner of a shopping strip next to my favorite coffee shop The Roastery (more on this another time)
It's run by my fellow transplanted New Yawker "Frankie"
This place is the only true NYC style pizza. It even looks like a NYC dive pizzaria with the TV blasting, old photo's and stuff. The place is so small you think you just stepped into a broom closet.

A Large plain pie is $12.00 and more than enough for 2 or 3 people to chow down on. You can also buy it by the the slice . You can get any topping suasage-pepperoni-mushrooms etc. Drinks are the usual soda fountain fair.

I don't know how Frankie and family do it but they have an authentic NYC Crispy cruncy thin pizza crust that snaps when you fold it in half as all traditionalists do. I would never vote for a person who eats pizza with a knife and fork !

But wait it gets better. The cheese is real and hot and messy and generous. The test is if you have that long string of gooey stuff hanging from you mouth looking like a tightrope for the flying wallendas as you eat. Its messy but who cares.You are a ski bum anyway. The ultimate measurement is if the grease starts to roll off the wax paper and onto your ski bibs.

They 3 or 4 tables and there is usually a line but its worth it.

Tip: Call in advance and just pick it up and eat it in your own home with a good bottle of Carlo Rossi Burgundy. Its al fresco but better than a large bill and a snotty waiter who thinks he is entitled to a tip for lousy service (another article another day.