There are times when real life intrudes the blogosphere and if you're reading this, it means that I've been too busy to write-up a 'normal' post. That means I'm probably in a crappy mood so it's only appropriate that my 'stand-by' post (do other bloggers have these?) is one where I turn into Mr Grumpy and have a good old-fashioned moan.
There's a group of bright young things out on the town looking for somewhere to eat. One of them wants Thai, one Chinese, whilst the cool kids are torn between Malaysian and Vietnamese. That's where the Pan-Asian eatery comes in, not all of them are shit but plenty are. You know the ones; they'll have banana leaf, mango, or lemongrass in their name. Otherwise, they'll be called something in an indeterminate Asian language that when translated means 'ha-ha, thanks for your hard-earnt'.
The menu will claim to represent the cuisine of a third of the world's population but there will be dishes that bear no resemblance to any Asian cuisine. Much of the food will be pre-prepared, inauthentic ingredients will be used, spicy dishes will be watered down and everything will be too bloody sweet.
Punters that regularly frequent these places should be disappointed but they won't be. That's because most of them don't really care (or realise) what they're eating is a piss poor rendition of some of the world's greatest cuisines.
Service Charge Inflation
I always try and tip at least 10% and don't mind putting more in for exceptional service. So when a restaurant has a 10% service charge, I don't mind too much as long as the service has been OK. I'm not sure when 12.5% service charge became de rigueur but if you're somewhere nice and the service is good then it's no big deal.
But a 15% service charge is just taking the piss. I mean that's nearly as much as the VAT. For that I expect complimentary shoeshine and suit pressing. American readers might think I'm a tight-arse but we don't have that tip equals double-the-tax bollocks in Britain. And whilst we're at it, what is it with Americans calling the main course, an entrée? Do the French call it that? No and it's their bloody language.
What really pisses me off about the 15% service charge is that the places that charge it tend to be posh and expensive anyway. They also know most diners won't kick up a fuss and in fairness, I've never been anywhere with 15% service charge where I've had cause to ask for it to be removed. That said I prefer the decision to leave a generous tip to be mine and not theirs.
I can't believe I've had a good rant and not mentioned how utterly shit some restaurant critics are when they're out of their 'white man food' comfort zone. Well I have now and yes I do mean you, Matthew Norman.
What gets on your nerves in the world of food? Leave a comment and we can all have a therapeutic bitch about it.