A Little Perspective.

After reading a lot of overheated puffery about your new cook, you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?
-Anton Ego from
 
I'm not much of a foodie. I don't take pictures of creative arrangements of asparagus before I dig in and then post it on the interwebs. As a rule, asparagus is foisted off on the wife. I don't try every fad that's touted by celebrity chefs. I have no real desire to eat glands, even if everyone says they're awesome. Hell, I quote lines from animated films about a chef that happens to be a rat.
 
I just likes me some food.
 
My family eats out far more than we should. We eat at local restaurants. We eat at chain restaurants. We eat a high-brow places. We eat at dives. We have a whole list of favorites that we return to regularly for different occasions and moods. We have an even bigger list of places that have been tried, found wanting, and will never be visited again.
 
For the chains, it's all about consistency. You know going in that you're going to get a certain level of food at a certain price-point. You're not expecting to be astounded, because the recipes have been developed for the mass market and filtered through supply chain and staffing limitations. You don't have to be a culinary arts school graduate to bang out a reasonably close facsimile of what people are expecting. Rip open a ziplock bag, dump it in the fryer or microwave, arrange it on the plate like in the picture, and feed the ignorant masses.

 
Don't get me wrong, there can be a certain amount of artistry among the meth addicts that drift through the chain restaurant world. I've had some incredible experiences in Waffle Houses in the southeast. It's like finding a diamond in a bag of glass shards, but every once in a while you get lucky. Mostly though, you hope to get fed and not get food poisoning. You keep your expectations low. There's times when that's all I'm looking for.

 
When it comes to local joints, I tend to have a higher standard. They have to impress me. I want them to provide something unique. I want them to give a shit about what they're doing and not just repackage a tried-and-true format. I really could care less about food that I can get at the Friday's franchise down the street. I want their own take on food. I want their perspective. My limited, uneducated, sodium-saturated palate may not agree with their vision, but I can certainly respect the fact the have one.
 
Some restaurants find their groove and desperately cling to it, not changing their menus for fear of upsetting the fragile balance they've created. Given the current restaurant failure statistics, I can understand that position. However, banging out the same old stuff for decades shows the whole organization is on autopilot. Once that happens, standards slip. A lot of the restaurants on various "Must Visit" lists in Alaska fall into that category. They stopped trying years ago and are banking on history. Again, I can understand that, but it doesn't mean I'll patronize their restaurants. There are other places that are making an actual effort.
 
They don't have to be fancy. They can be at just about any price-point across a wide spectrum of cuisines. They just have to give a crap about what they're doing.
 
That, and not giving me the runs would be a good place to start.
 
Then again, that may be a solid way to cut weight before road season...

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