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Posts Tagged ‘GraTRUEity’

Chips Ahoy!!!

Posted by gratrueities on November 3, 2009

Where – Oba! Portland, Oregon

What  – Happy Hour

Who – Couple at table for two by window

Food – Delicious!

Value – Excellent

Service – Hmmm…mixed…some great and some lacking.  The first portion of the order was timed and served perfectly! Sadly, the repeated request for chips – coupled with ongoing non-delivery – eventually overshadowed the rest of the service.  (It should be mentioned that this was not a busy night.) However, when the chips finally arrived, they were hot and crispy – and *sold* as such!

One other comment from our party – with all the great margarita specials, has Oba! considered buying a blender?

Missed GraTRUEities – somewhat like a “missed connection” on Craigslist:

– “Without a blender, you’re just a pretender!”

– “A sense of timing is a mark of genius.”

– “Chips ahoy!!!”

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Posted in Dining experience, GraTRUEities In Use, Pet Peeves, Pop Culture, Portland, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Fifty Cent Differential

Posted by gratrueities on January 19, 2009

As I mentioned, there were four women on my recent trip to Las Vegas – and these are not women who have problems making decisions. We all have our own (strong?) opinions, which led to one small tipping dispute.

One morning we went for a walk and stopped for lunch at Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris Hotel. We were seated outside and had a pleasant lunch, though our server seemed to be somewhat scattered. We overlooked this; our water, drinks, bread and meals eventually found their way to our table  and everything was delicious.

However, when we ordered coffees at the end of the meal, things became a little problematic. The two of us who ordered plain coffee found ours to be lukewarm at best…still not a big issue in and of itself. It was our server’s reaction to our (very polite, I promise!) mention of this fact that was notable…first she poured more cold coffee, then became visibly impatient when we mentioned it a second time and the third. By this time, and at $3.50 a cup, we were committed to heat! Third time was a charm and we did receive a fresh, hot cup of coffee – exactly one since no refills were offered.

When we received the check, two of us were inclined to leave  20% and call it good…no rounding up! The other two, who had received steaming cappuccinos at the end of the meal, were feeling more generous.  According to our calculations, this amounted to a whole $.50 differential in the tip!  Obviously, the $.50 debate was more of a matter of principle than money.

Defiantly (but in good humor!)  the two scrooges – of which I was one – decided to stick to our guns and send our $.50 hint. (Psssst …we really wanted hot coffee, without feeling like we were being unreasonable for asking!) The other two in the group were not so amused with our plotting. However, we did all manage to agree that this would have been the perfect situation for a GraTRUEity.

Posted in Coffeehouse, GraTRUEities In Use, Paying the bill, Pet Peeves, Tipping, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Viva Las Vegas!

Posted by gratrueities on January 19, 2009

I just returned from a Las Vegas get-away with friends… four women, three days of fun! Said fun included excellent and plentiful food and drink, a luxury hotel, shows, shopping and (a little) gambling.

The aforementioned offered many tipping “opportunities” – along with the chance to contradict the notion that women are “bad tippers.”  From cab rides, to the airport curbside check-in at departure, we dispelled that assumption…even with a few glitches along the way.

Our Venetian/Palazzo Hotel package included a credit for Woo Restaurant, touted as one of the few local restaurants to secure a high profile location in a major hotel.  We, of course, wanted to take advantage of the credit, while knowing it would make only a small dent in our bill. We enjoyed a delicious meal and presented the “coupon” after calculating the tip on the total bill – before the credit.  Perhaps – or obviously – that was not the norm.  When our server returned for payment, he had added an 18% gratuity – certainly less than we were prepared to leave! We assumed this is policy to protect the servers, but really could end up being a disservice in the end!  What happened to the new 15%?? (20%, in case you haven’t heard!)

So…the next evening, we decided to try the other hotel promoted (read, we had another credit) restaurant, LAVO.  We dined early as we were had 7:00 show tickets for  Jersey Boys (excellent, by the way!). Again, we had outstanding meal accompanied by along several tasty cocktails!. All went well, but at an extremely relaxed pace…a bit too relaxed! Our server was delightful, but so reassuring that we had plenty of time …I quote, “these shows always start about 15 minutes late.” We were lulled into a false sense of security. Finally, we realized we were cutting it a bit too close, slogged down our desserts (part of the prix fixe dinner), paid (with a hefty tip) and jogged across the casino to the theater.  Even so, the show literally went on without us – we were locked our of the theater for the opening number!  Lesson learned here?  Not quite sure!

Our final dinner experience was at Mesa Grill, the Bobby Flay outpost in Caesar’s Palace.  Three of us had eaten there before, so it is a testimony to our experiences that we returned. The meal was as excellent as before (the prawn tamale appetizer is especially memorable!) and the service flawless. Our waiter fully understood that we were on a timeline and did not want to miss the first moments of Bette Middler. He anticipated and timed every course perfectly – and recommended just the right margaritas!  We were happy and let him know! We were also compelled to leave a “test” GraTRUEity – “Timing is a mark of genius,” which he had surely proved.

Lastly, one amusing, confusing accidental tipping incident did occur. We left $6 – the paltry remaining profits from a joint gambling venture – sitting on top of the television cabinet in one of our rooms. When we returned, the room was made up and the money gone. It seems housekeeping believed we had left that as a tip. We were unsure as to whether that was really considered very generous!  Also, we wondered what would have happened if we had left $100 sitting there – would that have been interpreted as a tip as well. Is it protocol to take any money left out?  Honestly, we didn’t know the answer to that…and still don’t!

Posted in GraTRUEities In Use, Paying the bill, Tipping, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Going Local…in Humboldt County

Posted by gratrueities on January 4, 2009

As we were leaving to go out for dinner tonight, I realized that I have neglected to comment on my hometown dining experiences, and specifically the restaurant we generally frequent once a week – Rita’s Cafe – aka Rita’s Margaritas and Mexican Grill.  Rita’s is one of the many local Mexican restaurants but it is our favorite. We like Rita’s for the food, of course, but also because we always feel like we are dining with friends.

The wait staff knows us by name, promptly brings the sour cream we like to accompany our salsa and chips, knows that I will drink either a Pacifico or sparkling water with lemon and that my husband will order a margarita or a diet Pepsi! Service is friendly, personal and efficient – and obviously a big draw!  Efron is usually our server and has helped my husband with his Spanish, talked soccer with my daughter and always “works with me” when I can’t decide what to order. However, the entire wait staff is excellent and the meals consistent – both of which keep us going back week after week.

I believe a GraTRUEity is long overdue!

Now – in case you are wondering about options other than Rita’s, our local dining scene is fairly diverse and ever-evolving. In years past, Eureka and greater Humboldt County were known for fishing and timber – and the restaurants reflected these industries.  The most famous restaurants 30-40 years ago were Lazio’s Seafood and Samoa Cookhouse (family style dining at a local lumber mill), the latter of which is still in operation.

Over the years, Humboldt County has become known for a different type of industry – as depicted in the movie Humboldt County released this past summer.  In all seriousness, though, we have many local farmers growing wonderful produce, ranches producing organic dairy products and grass fed beef and an ever-increasing number of wineries. It naturally follows that many local restaurants feature these products on their menus.  In addition, some of these products have received national attention – such as Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog cheese.

In case you’re ever planning to visit this area, here are some other recommendations:

Restaurant 301, Avalon, Abbruzzi, Folie Douce, Larrupin Cafe, Hurricane Kate’s, Brio, Los Bagels (best bagels anywhere!)

Posted in Dining experience, Economy, GraTRUEities In Use, Humboldt County, Pop Culture, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Orson: Gold-Worthy

Posted by gratrueities on December 31, 2008

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Yesterday evening friends and I dined at a relatively new San Franciscan restaurant called Orson. Orson is one of chef’s Elizabeth Falkners restaurants, the other more famous one being Citizen Cake, also in San Francisco.  Although Chef Falkner is most famous for her desserts , we had read the reviews of Orson and were excited to give it a try.

As we were dining on Dec 30, the night before the BIG NIGHT, the restaurant was quiet. In fact, there were only a few other diners during the whole three and a half hours of our stay. Orson’s is built in an old steel warehouse so it could have been drafty and lonely, but no, even with very few diners, it was warm and cozy thanks to lots of candles, great music and a cool digital video wall to keep the atmosphere buzzing.

Well, really this post isn’t about the food (although it was all delicious) it is about the amazing waiter that absolutely doted on us throughout the evening and made our experience a total dream. His name is Gabriel, and Gabriel, if you are out there please respond so we can give you more kudos.

From the minute Gabriel first approached our table we were delighted. Firstly, my friend Shannon brough a bottle of wine for us to share during dinner. No problem. Gabrial immediately decorked it (which wasn’t that easy because the cork was soft) and then went the extra step to decant the wine in a beautful glass decanter. He also complimented Shannon’s wine selection (made us feel good) and demonstrated his considerable knowledge of wine.

As we got to know Gabriel, we found out that he had previously worked for chef Nancy Oakes at Boulevard. He is clearly a pro. We ordered a trio of appetizers (called “shorts” at Orson) and a wood-fired pizza to share. After our appetizers were finished we began to wonder where the pizza was. A few minutes later, as if sensing our growing curiousity, Gabriel showed up with little tastes of the evening soups–a delightful cream of fennel and a more fiery roasted red pepper soup.  The soups are not on the menu, but made by the chef  “just in case” a diner is in the mood for soup.

Lastly, Gabriel put the icing on the (cup) cake. We all knew that Chef Falknew was famous for her baking but none of us had ever tried the cupcakes at Citizen Cake.  And, earlier in our evening Gabriel had explained that since the Orson kitchen is so large, a lot of the baking is done at that location. So, we began teasing that we would love to taste a cupcake. Low and behold, as a pre-cursor to our fabulous dessert course, he shows up with, not one,  but three cupcakes that were to die for.

Suffice it to say that at that point, we knew which GraTRUEity was the perfect fit for Gabriel: “You’re  Worth Your Weight in Gold”. We had struck gold at Orson.

P.S. Do you get the connection between the two names, Orson and Citizen Cake? Yes, Chef Falkner is a great admirer of Orson Wells and his landmark movie, Citizen Kane. We were lucky enough to meet the chef on our way out of the restaurant but we forgot to ask why she likes Mr. Wells and his work so much…

Posted in Chefs and Cooking, Dining experience, GraTRUEities In Use, Pop Culture, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Cheesecake Factory Redux

Posted by gratrueities on December 9, 2008

Revisting the recent  Cheesecake Factory post…my husband made his second visit in two week on our trek back from Southern California…leading me to believe he may be the real fan, rather than my father-in-law! This time he dined just north of San Francisco, while I did a bit of Christmas shopping at The Village at Corte Madera. My husband’s only comment on the meal was that the service was even slower this time than last – hard to imagine! As usual, his tip was as generous as the portions – but not reflective of the experience…and if there is a next time he’ll have that GraTRUEity handy!

Posted in Dining experience, GraTRUEities In Use, Paying the bill, Travel, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »