Posts Tagged ‘restaurants’

Recently I was reminded that although we try to ignore race, culture, backgrounds, etc., there are some times when we truly are very different as a people.
Let me start by saying that I am sure I’m not the most politically correct person at all times nor am I always astute when it comes to the customs and habits of people from all parts of the world. There’s still a lot to learn and I am trying. However, I am fortunate that my workplaces and life experiences have led me to various parts of the United States and to several countries, all of which have proven to be good life lessons and exposure to those who not only look different than me, but have different belief systems, values, and sometimes, drastically different options and ways of life. I love that about my workplaces and travels! I feel this life road map helps open eyes to not only what’s physically different between us humans; it opens my eyes and ears to what makes people tick.
Recently though, I’ve been experiencing and witnessing some seemingly basic situations that turn awkward very quickly because some of the players involved in the real life skit don’t realize that they’re offending others, and in some cases, they may realize it but demand that others do and think what they do instead of considering why they’re not the same.
Even those who are somewhat well-traveled sometimes fail to understand some of the seemingly basic (IMO basic…) ways to interact with people of different cultures and races. Of course I don’t expect us to all be experts on every cultural aspect for every race, religion, way of life, and background. However, I do have some standards that as a human, to which I’d like to adhere and hope others would as well.
Observations
 
Let me reiterate, before sharing my observations, that I am not an expert on culture, religion, etc. However, I try to read body language, pay attention to verbal cues, and try like hell to not be insensitive to other people especially when they’re exhibiting awkward behavior, stilted responses or downright nasty glares when we talk or interact. I’ll use actual examples so as not to bore with the rhetoric or just share abstract and vague offenses.
I witnessed someone being verbally pummeled  by questions about pending nuptials repeatedly because it seemed so “foreign”, “cool but crazy” but [I wish you] “good luck with that!” (direct quotes) to enter into an arranged marriage. Mind you, the person asking has been married two times already and is planning on a third venture into the joining of two people within the next year. This led me to believe that based on just this scenario and comments that no arrangement or plan is perfect. It just depends on the people, their intent, goals, and who knows…maybe even love. However, it seemed to make the person who was about to get into the arranged marriage a bit sad and confused. Admittedly it made me sad but angry that someone would be that rude.
Another observation involved a work event at lunch time. Included in the list of attendees were vegans, vegetarians and your good ole meatatarians (self included!). Mind you, folks were vegan and vegetarian for years so this wasn’t something that crept up after the event was planned. The host decided that veggie hot dogs and burgers would be fine along with the sides, salads, fruit and an assortment of desserts ranging from cookies to cakes and pies. However he noticed that the vegans ate only the salad and raw fruit but no dessert, and the vegetarians ate only the sides of macaroni, potato, beet and green leafy salads and fruit. The only people who ate the veggie burgers and hot dogs were the meat eaters (when we ran out of meat). The host was upset. He had spent “soooo much time and effort” (he emphasized the word “so”) to find these quality “non-cardboard-like” items and was offended when they weren’t eaten by the target attendees.
Later, when I asked a friend why he didn’t eat the veggie “meat”, he said it looked too much like a real hot dog or burger and he couldn’t bring himself to try it but more importantly, he can’t eat gluten (and some other product that I forget the name of now) that is commonly found in one of the fake burger types due to a food allergy. But here’s the thing – he was very happy with the other food choices and thought the event was a success and was happy that the host went through such trouble to make the meal enjoyable. Meanwhile the host was busy being offended and had voiced to several people in a loud and grumpy manner that it was the last time he’d host a lunch event with “those Indians and damn hippie vegans”. If only the host asked before making the following assumptions: *sigh*
That:
A: Only the people from India were vegetarians (they weren’t)
B: All vegans are hippies and therefore dismissible as somehow flighty or flaky and are following some fad (they’re not)
C: That his choice of food would fit all palettes (he didn’t ask the invited attendees if fake meat was something they’d like even though he knew them for awhile).
 
Line of Questioning Observations
 
Some Americans, mostly non-minority from my observations (but I’m wondering if it’s just an american thing in general…) will ask colleagues and even strangers that they’ve just met, some very personal questions about their lives. What I’ve felt, is that the questions may not be meant to be invasive or accusatory, but the reactions of colleagues and even strangers, is that it’s uncomfortable to be thrown such personal rapid fire questions and some react as if it were indeed, invasive. Honestly, there are lots of times I feel the same and I cringe internally when I witness it. Why? Well I don’t think it’s my boss’ business, or my colleagues beeswax what my significant other does for a living, earns, drives, etc. Nor do I think it’s any of my beeswax to know theirs. The only valid time I can see is if it’s an employee personnel issue such as, who to call in case of an emergency. Even then, that information should be treated as private and sensitive information that is not to be shared.
I figure if someone wants to share their personal lives and personal information with others, they will. No reason to go prying or worse yet, share news about someone’s personal life with another member of the office or as a random side story to incite shock and awe or the like. Want shock and awe?
Go do something that’s shocking or awe-inspiring!Are our lives so boring and uneventful that we need details on other people’s lives to fill the void?

Where does it come from?
 
I believe some of the bad behavior (IMO) comes from things said and done by our parents, society’s rules and suggestions, our environment and from our life experiences. However, I think some people are just less observant about other people’s behavior or preferences and just march right on into that direct line of rapid fire questions without regard for how someone may feel.
Here’s one example of how generalizations and stereotypes are propagated. Just a day or two ago I perused the NCLEX book (Preparation for nurses about to take the state board test to become an RN or other certificated professional) which contained some high level (some good and some a little laughable) details about various races and cultures. This included notes about “Asians revering silence” and to paraphrase, wouldn’t raise their voices or may say yes when they mean no, with “Blacks deeming direct prolonged eye contact as aggressive” and are more likely to be late and be loud talkers while “Whites deem eye contact as sincere (or maybe it was trustworthy?)” and will be more likely to be on time.
While a handful of Asian, Black and White people may very well have these traits and think this way, I find it interesting and a little sad that a textbook contains these “nuggets of information” for those who may become your caretaker. There wasn’t, as far as I recall seeing, a statement that says something like, “Take the following with a grain of salt” or anything to allude that they were generalizations based on stereotypes. Nope, they were listed as fact. Stone cold hard facts about people who look a certain way and have certain physical features.
Well I’m assuming that based on these “rules”, I, and many others who stem from multiple cultural and racial backgrounds would have some serious problems figuring out which “rules” to follow and how to deal with the contradictory behaviors that are supposedly innate to our genetic makeup. I bet my Asian (according to the book’s definition of what and who makes up the Asian population), silence loving, eye-contact avoiding self may detest the African descendant’s loud-talking blabbermouth habits while the white ancestors are screaming, “For God’s sake, you’re 30 minutes late and have the nerve to show up all loud and then glare when asked why you’re late! All I had to eat were these damn cardboard-tasting veggie bean dogs and some vegan dessert that doesn’t even taste like cake!”
Sigh. Can’t we all just get along?
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Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Baltimore

The Good:

Excellent steak! (pics included below) We had the porterhouse for two and my, what a beaut she was when she showed up all sizzling on the 500 degree plate. The porterhouse was perfectly cooked at a medium temperature with a warm pink center and the soft, succulent pieces of USDA prime cut with both the tenderness of a filet and all of the flavor of a NY strip danced over my tongue with every bite.

The a la carte side choice was asparagus in a hollandaise sauce. Honestly, I didn’t care whether there was a party dress on my asparagus because I am such a fan if it’s lightly steamed and crunchy, which this was, but I hear the sauce was good so I’ll rate it as such. J

To accompany this feast, we chose a red wine that some may consider lighter than desired for a NY strip, but I highly recommend it because of the smoothness and taste. The lucky wine of the night was an Australian Shiraz from Rosemount Estate (pic included below) and surprisingly, one of the less pricey wines on the list. Don’t let the price fool you though. While I would typically pair a Shiraz like this with a peppered steak or a burger, the dark, smoky taste left delicious layers of ripe plums in a hint of oak on my tastebuds that complemented the orgasmic bites of steak.

The dessert was awesometasticer than the steak! We had bread pudding in a whiskey cream sauce (pic included below) which was liberally laced with a semi-sweet whiskey (maybe Jack Daniels?). The bread pudding is dense but soft and moist enough to be broken up easily with a fork. The serving was generous and unless you’re having nothing but dessert, you will be taking leftovers of this delicacy home with you. I paired mine with a Macallan 12 year and my dining companion went with a cocktail. Either way, we were happy with our choices and hey, after finishing a bottle of wine, who could blame us? 😉

Everyone, from the hostess to the wait staff and busboys were wonderful hosts, very friendly and courteous. I felt like a valued patron and despite the fine dining atmosphere, the environment felt “warm” and welcome. I would rate this restaurant’s service higher than any other restaurant I’ve dined in recently, with the one exception to the excellent service being the head bartender, which is a good segway into the bad…

The Bad:

The head bartender at the bar which is on the first floor. He made several “off-color” quips and jokes which made me uncomfortable and for a few minutes, ruined the experience. However, I think with our refusal to be baited into an awkward conversation, he realized his mistake when he did not receive laughs for any of his so-called jokes and tried to make up for it by being more of a bartender and just sticking to conversations about booze. After all, that’s all I want – a knowledgeable bartender and someone without a chip on their shoulder.
The Ugly:

Nothing ugly to report here, so yay!

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Oregon Grille
1201 Shawan Rd
Cockeysville, MD 21030

The Good
The free food that I’ve had at this bar, which accompanies the happy hour drinks are exceptional! As much as I love good, well prepared meals, I have to say that while lunch and dinner at this restaurant have been very tasty, you can’t beat the happy hour specials in the bar.

Bar: I’ve had delicious oysters as well as some wonderfully prepared salmon and tuna sashimi. All of the seafood has been fresh, well prepared, and the tables at the bar with the food have been kept very clean, even when there are hordes of patrons surrounding it.

Full Dining: I’ve had several dishes during restaurant week, including pastas with red sauce, gazpacho and tasty salads, all of which I would recommend during restaurant week.  Outside of restaurant week, I’ve had several fish entrees, all of which were tasty and well-seasoned, but not overly done, with fresh veggies which were just the right amount of crunchiness and crispiness.

The Bad

In addition to the fine dining side, I’ve been at the bar for two full happy hours. I don’t like to judge a place only on one visit unless they’re absolutely horrible, but will say that the food is the only thing that will keep me going back. I had a good experience with the bartenders the first time around, and one in particular is always friendly, knowledgeable and fun. The other, not as much.

While this other bartender was good at making a drink that you ask him to prepare as you give all of the details needed, don’t ask for a whiskey, scotch or any similar recommendation. I asked for a whiskey or bourbon recommendation based on the types I expressed as my favorites and when he suggested one, I asked if I could taste it since I’d never tried it. His response was, “I can only let you taste a small drop or two of it”. Wow, what an immediate turn off. A bartender recommending a supposedly high end drink, after I’d already had a glass of wine as did my friends, all of whom have been to this restaurant several times, who did not want to share a taste or considered my request unimportant. I don’t know if he thought I’d go round tasting whiskey all night and not purchase any, but that’s why judgment should always be checked at the saddle bearing wall of the Oregon Grille.

The Ugly

The bartender’s response. Plain and simple. The ratings for this restaurant’s food and seventy percent of the employees are good. However, I will remove a star or two as this bartender’s response ruined my mood for a few minutes and was less than friendly on two occasions in small spurts.

http://www.theoregongrille.com/

http://www.opentable.com/baltimore-restaurants 

Woodberry Kitchen
2010 Clipper Park Road #126  Baltimore, MD 21211

The Good:

The food!! The service was very good and all of the wait staff, bartenders, and hostess were friendly, knowledgeable and did not have any hint of a bad attitude or seem as if they were being hoity-toity – the technical term for snooty or stuck up.

Our waiter was so friendly, provided full explanations of the meals and its preparation, and even successfully encouraged us to try the Beef Tartare, something that my friends and I wouldn’t have typically chosen, but I will say that it’s the item I long to go back to this restaurant for! It had the appearance of a raw meatloaf with seasoning and a raw egg on top of it, but once you bit into a forkful of it, the meat was so soft and well seasoned that the taste exploded in your mouth in a wonderful way.

We also had the Butcher’s Board, which contained not only slices of bacon, but several slices of bacon fat – the white part of the bacon strip. After a few Government mules (specialty drink that has a hint of citrus coolness and ginger beer), we had more appetizers and food. I promise to have pics from my next visit because honestly, I can’t find the ones I took. Don’t fret, though, see the urbanspoon link below that will take you to a pic of the beef tartare and a review.

Our waiter was also not only helpful when selecting our food, he turned me on to a very good scotch that I thoroughly enjoyed and will have there again.

On an unrelated to food note, I swear I was waiting for cute waiters and waitresses who were dressed as if they just stepped out of a Levi’s catalog to break into a line dance at any minute! They were all so fun dressed and who knows, maybe the jeans and shirts helped them feel more relaxed than a white starched so you can’t breathe shirt. Either way, love the quirkiness of the dress and the style of the restaurant.

The Bad:
Parking isn’t the most convenient, neither is the location. The restaurant is located in a section of Baltimore named, “Hampden” and on Clipper Mill road, the street parking fills up quickly while one of the parking lots is packed with gravel for those who care about their car/car tires However, there is valet parking so don’t let this comment deter you.

The Ugly:
Nothing to report on this aspect!

Also see the following sites for more Baltimore restaurants: