Friday, January 09, 2009

The Ban List Grows

Many of you who know my husband are aware that he's notorious for holding grudges against restaurants at which he's had bad experiences. For example, in college (that would be over 15 years ago) we went to eat at Free State Brewery with my mom and brother and a few other people. Chad's burger was still bleeding when it arrived at our table, so he sent it back to the kitchen. It came back a second time and was still underdone, so he sent it back again. By the time it came out the third time, not only was it was charred beyond being edible, but everyone at our table was finished eating. Chad was not happy, to say the least. We didn't step foot in the restaurant for at least 7 years, and the only reason the ban was lifted at that point was because some friends invited us to join them there. To this day, we only eat at Free State if it's the choice of people we're with. To us, the food is always marginal and the service is rarely good.

I could share other stories about other restaurants on the ban list, but that would probably take all day. I'll just give you a quick list to give you an idea:
  • Bucky's: Chad's whole family got food poisoning in 1988. Chad believes his ban ultimately led to Bucky's demise a few years ago.
  • Teller's: super small portions and some inedible dish about 4 years ago.
  • Jefferson's: rancid fish about 3 years ago.
  • La Tropicana: my brother came with us and got food poisoning about 2 years ago.
  • Cici's Pizza: made Chad sick about 2 years ago.
  • Genovese: an Italian restaurant that couldn't give us a side of marinara sauce because they didn't have any about 1 1/2 years ago.
  • Ten: a ridiculously long wait for cold food about a year ago.
There are probably more that I just can't think of right now, but you get the idea. Chad has no tolerance for marginal food or crappy service. I will admit that I'm kind of intolerant as well, but it's not because I'm a picky eater--it's because I'm so cheap! If I'm going to pay money for dinner at a restaurant, then it darn well better be food that I can't make myself at home!

Anyway, the point of this whole back story is that another restaurant was added to our ban list on Christmas Eve day. We were headed out to purchase a new garage door opener (which my amazing husband installed all by himself a few days later) and I was craving vegetables, so we stopped to eat lunch at King Buffet, which is the one Chinese restaurant we visit regularly. I realize that as a rule, buffets should probably be avoided anyway, but this was one buffet I loved. They had loads of vegetarian selections that always seemed so fresh. We probably ate there once every 2-3 months--whenever we got the urge for Chinese.

Our visit on Christmas Eve day started out harmless enough, as I sucked down my hot and sour soup and plowed through a bunch of veggie dishes. All was well until Chad was finishing off his lo mein noodles and noticed not one but THREE short, straight, black hairs on his plate. He resisted the urge to vomit on the spot, and told himself that it could have very easily been a patron of the restaurant and not the kitchen staff, since it is, after all, a buffet.

I was kind of surprised that he even went back to the buffet at all at this point, but he decided to tough it out because he was still hungry and we had eaten there for so many years without any problems. He told the server that their lo mein had hair issues, and she was very apologetic and insisted we wouldn't have to pay for his meal. Chad returned with a lo mein free plate, and carefully inspected the rest of his food before eating.

At this point, we were still on the fence about instituting an all out lifetime ban, primarily because we just loved the place and had always had such good food there. A few minutes later, however, it became very clear that we could never come back again. Chad's back was towards the main portion of the dining room, in which I was watching a scene so disturbing it was hilarious. I waited until he was almost completely finished with his meal, at which point I said, "I think we need to call the health department."

This is the scene from the middle of the dining room:

In case you can't tell, that's a bunch of restaurant workers MAKING CRAB RANGOON in the middle of the dining room. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm going to guess that preparing food in the dining room of a restaurant is a health code violation. I'm also going to take a stab that these things are health code violations as well:

2. Not wearing gloves when you're preparing food.
3. Not wearing hair nets while you're preparing food.
4. Preparing food after you've been busing tables.
5. Putting your cream cheese in a huge tub that's used to bus tables and then leaving it uncovered, unrefrigerated on a dining room table.
6. Throwing the uncooked cream cheese filled shells directly onto the table, which isn't covered with waxed paper or a baking sheet.
7. Having a small child who is a patron of the restaurant, who had previously been sitting next to us coughing in her food, watch as you prepare food.

Anything I'm missing? Check the picture--there could be more.

Needless to say, after laughing at the ridiculousness of it all (clearly a defense mechanism to avoiding throwing up from thinking about how the food we just ate had been prepared), we left King Buffet, never to return. On our way out we enjoyed some Engrish on the white board in the lobby:

I know you're all probably very sorry that you missed the "specil wholday beef ball." As if that wasn't entertaining enough, as we were leaving we checked out the Christmas tree decorated with children's wishes. This one caught our eye:

This completely cracked us up! It's so sweet that Neshia was putting her most important priority (world peace) first and leaving her worldly Wii desires as an afterthought!

At least we were able to get a good laugh out of the eventfulness of our lunch. As Chad put it, "That's the most fun I've had at a restaurant I'm never going back to!" :)


cw said...

Uh... How about Paisano's and Yacht Club? No soup for them!

23rd Street, Henry T's and JB Stouts are all ON NOTICE.

amber said...

Oh goodness, this whole ordeal STILL makes me double over with laughter!

Even though I don't live there anymore, that restaurant is certainly on my list now too!

Amanda said...

Excuse me while I puke... wow... thanks for the heads up on King Buffet... I haven't ever been there and now I most definitely won't darken their door! The only one that remains on David's and my list is Marisco's... when you can't make a quesadilla you have real problems... and when a complaint to the manager elicits a "not my problem" response... foggetaboutit!!

James said...

Great post! Hilarious and disgusting! I'm glad you were able to get a picture of the "cooking" taking place. We've never been to King Buffet, and we certainly never will now.

Kelly said...

Umm, wow. I'm kind of speechless. Loved the hilarious sign and Christmas wish, but feel kind of sick to my stomach about the food prep. And frankly, I'm bummed. I don't think I'll be able to eat at another Chinese buffet.

Erin said...

Not that I would eat Chinese food anyway but after seeing the people making food in the middle of the room I would have left right then and there.

Erin said...

Oh and Amanda, I cannot believe a manager said "not my problem." Wow.

Jen said...

Ugh...The pictures said way too much.

That's too bad about Teller's. I remember going there with you for brunch on Sundays. The berries were really fresh and good.

carabrow253 said...

You forgot the Steak Incident at Paisano's that you mentioned the other night and I was thinking to myself while reading "who orders fish from Jefferson's?", but then I realized last time I ate there I ordered their fish n' chips. I better stick to the corn dog that I usually get there. haha.