The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Friday, November 24, 2006

two restaurants--one new and one old

After securing a babysitter--an increasingly difficult proposition--the wife and I managed to have a "date" last weekend. It was just a movie and dinner, but that's pretty good these days. Anyway, as we were seeing a movie on the South Side, we decided to try Ibiza, the "tapas restaurant" next to the popular (and, we feel, just better than mediocre) Mallorca on Carson. Ibiza was, unlike Mallorca, a pleasant surprise. It's not a real "tapas bar" (the selection of tapas is quite limited, and lots of favorites are absent) but the dishes we got were quite good. I'm a particular aficionado of the "tortilla espaƱola" or "tortilla classica," which is essentially a potato-and-egg quiche, and Ibiza's was excellent. The service--the bane of our restaurant experience here in this city--was also quite adequate.

I can't say that for the Union Grill on Craig. We've been there numerous times--who hasn't?--and have never been impressed by it, but we had a whole family crew of hungry people and nobody wanted Indian or Middle Eastern (the other two best choices on Craig--Lulu's Noodles is out because it gave these people food poisoning several years ago, although I've eaten there several times since and always had good food). We went, and it was crowded, but the service was ABYSMAL. Of course we had a 3-year-old and an infant so that made it much more difficult, but it took an hour. Unacceptable. I think our waitron was at fault, not the restaurant, because another waitress, exasperated-looking, brought half of our order, and ten minutes later we had to ask the original waitress for the rest of the plates.

I've complained constantly on this blog about the bad service just about everywhere in this city--there's a half-assed attitude toward work here that's just endemic (and isn't limited to those in the service sector, either). But what makes me sad is that there seems to be no consequences of this. Is it that there's no competition here? Or is it that consumers have just been treated poorly for so long that they've given up?


  • At 9:36 AM, Blogger LisaBe said…

    i try not to generalize to the whole population here, being a transplant as well, so i can't really help you with the philosophy end of it.
    i can tell you that we have noted every time we've eaten there (which is after every time we see a movie at the waterfront) that we've had very friendly, prompt, efficient, accurate, yet never pushy service at a new chain in town: red, hot, and blue barbecue across from the amc theatre. we both used to go to the one in arlington, virginia, before we knew each other, and we've enjoyed a bit of home transplanted here. as a virginia native, i love being able to get hush puppies and fried okra any time i want, and we love that we can each have the kind of sauce we want on our q :)
    the service at eleven on the cusp of the strip district is also excellent.
    those are the ones that leap to mind. i'm sure every server and every kitchen has its off nights, when someone calls in sick, and other restaurants just don't have their management act together or don't train people for service, and some servers are just never going to get it. the worst service i've ever had in a restaurant was in liverpool, england--i'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with being a pittsburgher.

  • At 4:43 PM, Blogger mantooth said…

    You're right, of course--but your comment makes me think: is there something about a broken-down former industrial city (such as Liverpool or the Burgh) that engenders that kind of defeatist attitude toward work?

    I'm intrigued by your barbecue suggestion. My wife and I are former Texans and know a bit about smoked meats, and up to now I've only found one place (Wilson's, at 700 N. Taylor in the Mexican War Streets) that was worth talking about. We'll definitely check out the RHB3Q.


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