Tuesday, September 14, 2010
TBG Eats: The NEW Smoky
Cheddar Steakhouse XT from Burger King
Current Weight: 172.0 lbs.
I've known several men and women who worked within the food service industry. Theirs is a close-knit, insulated world of servers, hosts/hostesses and busboys with NO room for an entitled outsider like me who assistant managed an ice cream shoppe on the beach during my college years.
My server friends always seemed to have the best job-associated anecdotes. For instance, m'man Vig was fired from his gig at Black Angus for telling the guests at an especially obnoxious table to kiss his white ass.
Then, there was the former co-worker of mine who took a job waiting tables at a trendy Hollywood spot. We crossed paths a few weeks later, at which time he informed me of his budding relationship with not-yet-outed actor Chad Allen – whom he met while working the overnight shift.
But, the most frequently-told story I've heard – always in a hushed, apologetic tone – is that African-Americans are the worst tippers on earth.
At one time, this sentiment irritated me to no end. And, then I saw a close relative leave a two-dollar tip on a $40 check. Later, I briefly dated a girl who – with a straight face – told me she always left just two dollars for the tip because "it's their job to serve me".
Two black women certainly aren't irrefutable evidence of an entire ethnicity's stinginess. Although, the fact that two dollars was the tipping standard in both instances has long had me wondering if it was just a coincidence or did black women establish this tipping ceiling while their men were otherwise occupied back in October 1995? Disappointingly, that question was NOT answered here.
I like to think that I'm a very good tipper. I'll leave 20% for a reasonably-priced meal and solid service – maybe a little bit more if it's just a bar tab and maybe a little bit less for a pricey, pretentious everything-a-la-carte "experience". I only have five requirements to guarantee maximum gratuity.
(1) If my reservation is at 7:00 PM, I want a table at 7:00 PM. -- Obviously, this is out of the servers' control, but I don't think it's an unreasonable request. Besides, every half-glass of wine that Mrs. Bootleg consumes in the bar while waiting for our table shaves 15-30 minutes off of her ability to carry a lucid dinner conversation.
(2) Full disclosure! -- I'm totally fine when the server comes clean up front. Might the service be a little slow tonight because another server called in sick? Is the kitchen running behind because of the wedding rehearsal dinner over in the banquet room? Just say so.
(3) Write it down! -- Someone should commission a study to assess the accuracy rate for servers who don't write down your order. In my experience, it's around 50%. Can you humor me, here, servers?
(4) At least 10-12 minutes between appetizer and entrée. -- I want to enjoy my Southwestern Pizza Fingers or Million Dollar Birthday Fries before my hobo chicken chili is brought out. (New readers: It's a Simpsons reference. You…might wanna get used to it.)
(5) Don't sell me something I didn't order. -- If I order a steak cooked "medium", I'm not going to send it back if it comes out closer to "medium-well" or "medium-rare". If I order steak and you bring out braised rabbit, please don't give me the "I can put your steak order in…or you can just take the rabbit. Personally, I like it better than the steak!" bit.
Wow…took longer than usual to get here, huh?
Anyways, after Jalen completed Little League practice last week, we swung by Burger King for some high-fat father-son bonding. My son promptly walked up to the counter, noticed the seemingly personable brown-skinned man at the register and asked, "Do you speak English?"
Well played, J. It was good to know that anything we ordered would almost certainly receive the Road Trip Treatment.
I asked for the Smoky Cheddar XT burger – an extra-thick (XT!) hamburger patty topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bacon and a smoky cheddar cheese sauce. Even though, my son and I were the only ones in the restaurant, several minutes passed before our orders were…wait, is that the "Do you speak English" guy?
"We're all out of the cheddar sauce. I can give you barbecue sauce or mayonnaise, if you want."
They're just now realizing the surplus drum of liquid smoke n' melted Velveeta has run dry? Rule #2, Burger King…full disclosure! I grudgingly choose barbecue sauce.
Turns out the substitute burger was surprisingly tasty. Although, the "extra-thick" burger looks nothing like the meat-brick featured in BK's advertisements (even by the exaggerated marketing standards within the fast food industry) it's obviously denser than the standard Whopper.
The barbecue sauce, bacon and cheddar cheese slices carried the flavor load with a sharp blend of spices and swine. The onions and tomatoes pleasantly mixed up the textures and freshened up the otherwise uninteresting meat. Despite a clear violation of my restaurant criteria, Burger King snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.
Although, Jalen's kid's meal toy might've nudged the final grade upward a little.
Grade: 4 (out of 5) 770 calories, 46g fat