Posts Tagged ‘brunch’

Parents Vs. Childless In Anonymous Internet Smackdown

June 28, 2011 3 comments

A few months ago Eater posted a short blurb to the effect that Dale Levitski, AKA goofy Dale from Top Chef Season 3, will start serving brunch at his Chicago restaurant “Sprout,” with the real news being that no kids are allowed, in an otherwise kid-friendly neighborhood.  “Anyway”, observes Eater “we’re sure the stroller class is going to get up-in-arms about this.”  So, you can see where this is going. 

Flash forward to June when J. Frankfurter is aimlessly clicking around Eater and comes across this seemingly innocuous write-up.  Having two children himself, who he frequently brings to restaurants, J. Frankfurter stops to read the article.  It becomes quite clear that Eater has only bothered to report on this piece of non-news for the purpose of provoking some controversy – and indeed, the comments section has quickly devolved into a full-on flame war.

Some readers are fully supportive of this policy, and seem to have some preconceived notions about parents:

There are more brunch options in chicago than buildings in some suburbs i.e. don’t go to sprout if you have kids. That’s it! Just, don’t, go; the rest of us will have a splendid time while you’re conversing about what new-agey parenting books you just read and if you foresee patronizing a charter school, or tossing your offspring into the CPS.

Other readers seem to feel that having kids around will cramp their style

Do you know how hard it is to have a nice, quiet, brunch without your messy brats SCREECHING in my ear? It’s Sunday. I want quiet. I am hungover. I am going to talk about how hungover I am, graphically. And maybe what drugs my friends did, and who hooked up with whom. No kids, yay!

This draws a swift and decisive reaction:

I think YOU should stay home. You’re the one with the problem, not me. If I want to take my SCREECHING kids out to brunch, not only will I do that, I’ll personally seek your hungover ass out just to piss you off.

Finally, a voice  of reason chimes in:

Nice. Just, nice. What we all need is more confrontation about silly-ass things. All of you, grow up.

But it is ignored:

Why should I be allowed to have one nice, quiet, place where I can enjoy a meal with friends and not have to worry about it being ruined by obnoxious children? You chose to have kids, I chose not to. Don’t force your lifestyle choices on me. And at BRUNCH no less, in front of the EGGS.

And then things just get ugly:

By the way, those of us who /choose/ to continue the human race actually do expect a little thanks from selfish little non-breeding jerks, just like you.

And stupid:

Really? Seriously? I’ll spare you the points here about overpopulation, et. al. So you get no thanks from me for the great service you’re doing to me with your offspring.

And from there things just go downhill:

What a pompous ass. Maybe there should be restaurants where men can’t go? Women? Black people? Chinese?

Then everyone gets all insulted and offended that someone would equate this to racism and sexism, etc.  Then finally someone named “Lynette Spring Baker” chimes in with this:

To all the parents with well-behaved, respectful children who feel slighted, let’s face it: some less-than-stellar parents ruined it for you. Please place your angst where it belongs.

So, time for my rant now that we have gotten through that unpleasantness. 

First of all, I’ll just state the obvious – these people are all idiots. Second of all, I am a parent of two energetic children, ages 4 years and 21 months.  I like to go out and eat in restaurants, and I do so often, with my children.  Here’s where I stand on this issue: more power to Dale Levitski if he wants to keep children out of his restaurant. Frankly, I could care less, and the fact is, most other places are kid-friendly. 

In regard to bringing my own children to restaurants, I follow my own set of guidelines that are intended to prevent them from ruining other people’s meals.  Call it self-policing.  The way I see it, in exchange for me following these guidelines, the other patrons of a restaurant can, in return, STFU and mind their own business. 

Here are my guidelines:

1) I will not take the kids to restaurants that are clearly not kid-friendly, or that are excessively quiet/romantic.

2) I will bring along toys, games and/or art supplies to keep them busy and quiet.

3) I will keep them from running around the restaurant.

4) I will tip very generously if my kids make a big mess, or create lots of extra work for the waitstaff

5) I will remove the kids from the premises if they start screaming or causing a loud disruption

So that’s my end of the deal, and I’ll keep it.  But if you’re hung over and don’t feel comfortable sitting near two little kids, too fucking bad for you. I’ve been up since before 7am and probably had a bad nights sleep, and I could care less if I’m cramping your style.


Queens Represent!: All’s Well At M. Wells

September 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Would you travel to a desolate street in Hunter’s Point, Long Island City, to eat at a diner?  I am here to suggest that you should strongly consider doing it.  There, on the corner of 49th Avenue and 21st Street, nestled between the train tracks and the toll plaza for the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, is possibly the best brunch spot in Queens.

Described as a “Quebeco-American Diner,” M. Wells was opened by Hugue Dufour, formerly of Au Pied Du Cochon in Montreal, a restaurant that has been an innovator of contemporary Quebecois cuisine and a veritable temple to foie gras.  Of course, despite its impressive credentials, M. Wells is still just a diner.  That means it looks like a traditional diner (long and thin, with pies and pastries behind glass, virtually the entire kitchen behind the counter) – but more importantly, it is priced like a diner – in fact, I would venture to say that it is less expensive than many diners in Queens (and certainly many diners in Manhattan), with dishes running from $5 up to  a few “high end” entree items at around $15 (there is currently an $18 lobster roll, still a good deal).   M. Wells currently serves brunch Sunday through Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – however, they will soon be adding dinner, and the menu will doubtless expand accordingly.  The dishes described below are all from their current brunch menu.

Here is where M. Wells is different from the typical diner: the food is excellent, made from top quality ingredients, cooked properly and satisfying.   Not to say that “typical diners” cannot turn out tasty and satisfying food, but M. Wells is clearly on another level regarding the care and skill that has gone into selecting and preparing its ingredients.  In addition, it has a small but eclectic menu that will appeal to those seeking a satisfying traditional brunch as well as those who are interested in exploring more of the Quebecois style of cooking.  One the former end of the spectrum are a massive egg and sausage breakfast sandwich served on a “fat” english muffin, a variety of spanish tortillas, as well as a cuban sandwich and, of course, a hamburger.  On the latter end of the spectrum, M. Wells offers dishes such as pickled pig’s tongue and escargot with bone marrow.

I ended up sampling some dishes from both ends of the spectrum.  A tomato salad was simple but tasty, lightly dressed with basil, parmesan and containing several varieties of in-season tomatoes.  Buckwheat crepes had an excellent flavor, but as my wife commented, they could have benefited from some fresh fruit or jam.  My favorite dishes, however, were the more  atypical offerings.  The pickled pig’s tongue (pictured below) was absolutely delicious, very lightly pickled but not briny, perfectly grilled, tender and served with mustard and homemade soda crackers.  The escargot and bone marrow (pictured above) was presented as a large split bone, filled with its marrow, escargot, a red wine sauce and, of course, butter.  Slathered on small toasts, the mixture was decadent and delicious.

Finally, for dessert I sampled a piece of maple pie.  I was a bit hesitant about this choice but I ultimately figured that Canadian cooks know their maple, and everything previously had been so well done I figured I couldn’t go wrong.  It turns out I was right – the pie was delicious – full of maple flavor but not cloyingly sweet as I had feared, and covered in a sort of clotted cream that complemented it well (below, Allegations of Deliciousness’ toughest staff critic samples the maple pie and pronounces it good).

M. Wells is literally steps away from the Hunter’s Point stop on the 7 Train, which is the second stop in Queens and about a 5 minute train ride from Midtown.  I went at 2:30 on a weekday afternoon and it was not crowded, although I imagine weekend brunch at peak times must get quite busy. It is unexpensive and thoroughly unpretentious, and well worth the (very) short trip into Queens.

Road Trip New Orleans: Mother’s Day Brunch at Calcasieu

May 15, 2010 Leave a comment

One of the restaurants I really wanted to try while I was in New Orleans was Donald Link’s Cochon.  Being the good little eater that I am, I made a reservation well in advance.  Unfortunately, I got a call about a week before the trip letting me know that the restaurant was going to be closed during our reserved time for kitchen equipment repairs.  The restaurant tried to move us to a different time, but there were too many conflicts with other reservations and graduation events.  We were able to finally work something out and celebrate Mother’s Day by having brunch at Calcasieu, the private dining room right above Cochon.

Although somewhat skeptical that a Mother’s Day prix fixe menu would be any good, I am happy to report that the food was indeed  delicious (even though I still plan on going back to try Cochon in the future).  I think having housemade piggy products helps.

My father and I started off with the crab salad with fried green tomatoes.  The sweet yet slightly salty crab paired well with crispy fried green tomatoes and tangy vinaigrette.  My brother and mother both enjoyed the cream of mushroom soup with lamb sausage.

For my main, I got the shrimp and grits with bacon and mushrooms.  The shrimp was perfectly grilled and cut well into the rich and creamy grits.  The housemade bacon with mushrooms added extra smokiness and heartiness.

My dad got the veal with potato pancakes and crawfish sauce.  While we enjoyed our dishes,  my brother and mother admittedly made the best choice with the glazed ham (again, housemade — not too salty and very tender — a good contrast to traditional Southern hams) with cornbread, poached eggs and hollandaise.

Everyone at the table finished off with the blueberry brown butter tart.  How can you go wrong with blueberries in dessert form?  Everyone enjoyed the meal, and more importantly, we got to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom.  Thanks to the chefs and staff at Calcasieu for a great meal.  I look forward to trying the original that started it all the next time I’m in town.