Archive for the 'Wtf?' Category

Lillie’s Q Hates You; Wants You and Your Jerk Friends to Eat Somewhere Else

The following is an imagined conversation between the owner/manager of Lillie’s Q and his mentor, who is well-versed in the protocol and procedure of managing a dining establishment.

Lillie’s Q Owner:

Okay, so what about treatment of the customers? You’re supposed to be nice to them, right?

Mentor:

Nice? Are you joking? No, no.  Your job as  manager, owner, what have you, is to make the customers feel like it’s their privilege to be dining at your establishment. They are the lucky ones, not you. They are blessed to be given the golden, shining opportunity to eat your crappily-prepared and awkwardly-presented barbeque. Treat them like crap and they’ll be eating out of the palm of your hand.

LQO:

Huh. So treat them like crap? Interesting. Never thought of that. (Scribbles furiously on pad.)

So being accommodating, being friendly, making sure the customer is taken care of, all that stuff is out, right? I should probably just be super rude to everyone and ignore them at all costs?

M:

You learn quickly, my boy. Just live by these rules and you’ll make piles of money; so much money you’ll be swimming in it, like Scrooge McDuck. Oh, and another thing! Make sure your restaurant doesn’t take reservations. Reservations are for losers. You  must always cultivate an air of superiority, even it means making tables wait for upwards of two hours. This is key, son. Always make them wait.

LQO:

Wow. I’m so glad we had this conversation. But wait, I have a question. What if I serve all the beverages in Ball jars? Will that help mask my dickish attitude towards customers?

M:

Oh, absolutely. People fucking love drinking out of those jars. “Aww, look,” they’ll say,”how charming and Southern! Instead of regular old glasses, they’ve given us JARS to drink out of! I’m totally doing this at home from now on. I’m going to buy Ball jars off the internet and use them as glasses at home. It’ll be so cute and quaint!”

 LQO:

 Excellent.

Aaaaaaaaand scene.

Well, as I’m sure you’ve already gathered from that little scene study up there, I had a bad experience at Lillie’s Q this weekend. BBQ is really hot right now, and this place has been commended as being the latest in Chicago’s roster of awesome BBQ joints; with phrases like “new Southern” and “barbecue reimagined” being thrown around. I’d heard some buzz about this place and jumped at the chance to try it for myself on Saturday for my friend T.’s birthday.

Things started off on a sour note when we were told that, as a large party (we had maybe 10? 12 people?) we could expect a wait of about two hours, seeing as they don’t accept reservations. No matter, I said to myself, and decided to just start ordering drinks as we stood smashed up against the bar. I noticed that the bartender was blatantly ignoring us as we jockeyed for his attention over other people at the bar, and at one point he refused to even calculate what I owed him for drinks, ignoring me when I said I wanted to pay for my drinks as I had them instead of having them added to a tab.

After about an hour and a half of these shenannigans, we sensed they were starting to assemble our seating area. The bartender (who I later learned was also the owner) handed us our tab and as we settled up, he informed me that the management staff were thisclose to telling us to “go eat somewhere else”, as they “generally don’t seat large parties”. I gave this guy the side-eye as my brain tried to gauge whether or not he was joking with me, nodding and half-laughing as I wondered to myself “what kind of business owner turns down what could essentially be a very large tab, bringing in more money to the establishment and lining the server’s pocket?”

To me, it seemed as though he was suggesting we should be kissing his ass, falling over ourselves in gratitude that he and his blessed staff deigned to allow us to pay them for their services. My friend K. and I both agreed that this was the kind of thing you generally don’t share with your customers, as it could potentially be considered a rude thing to say. This basic rule of social interaction–taking care not to offend–didn’t seem to be on this guy’s radar.

We sat, we ordered, we ate. K. deemed the hush puppies “not as good as Red Lobster’s”, and was put off when her shredded chicken entrée arrived as a glob of chicken on  tray. Literally. That was it. No garnish, no nothing, just a blorp of shredded chicken on a piece of butcher paper, served on a small metal tray. It looked like cat vomit.

My pulled pork sandwich was pretty good, though Twin Anchors’ is better. I ordered it with a side of macaroni, which both K. and I agreed lacked flavor and was mushy and overcooked. I did enjoy the selection of five different barbecue sauces on the table, and glugged the spiciest one over my sandwich after every bite. The fried pickles were good in theory, but the breading flaked off as soon as I took a fork to it, leaving me with a hot, floppy, wet pickle slice.

Now, because it was T.’s birthday celebration dinner, we figured it would be fun to order a birthday dessert for him, perhaps with a candle for him to blow out. We were told that Lillie’s Q “doesn’t do that”, and subsequently sent out not one but two people from our table to scout down a pack of birthday candles to give to our server so he could place it atop the fucking cobbler or crumble or whatever it was. It was maybe an hour-long ordeal, during which our server was very patient, but I could tell that the rest of the staff was making fun of us. I even overheard another server in the kitchen talking about it like she’d never seen such a production before.

I get that we weren’t dining at Chuck E. Cheese, but come on. People celebrate birthdays at restaurants, and yes, even adults appreciate a chance to blow out some birthday candles. Get over yourselves, Lillie’s Q! We weren’t asking you to clap and sing! We simply wanted ONE GODDAMN CANDLE. Gah.

So. By the time the bill came, I was getting super anxious to leave. I also noticed that the later it became, the more the place basically had become a hangout for the owner and his friends, and they all stood at the bar shooting us dirty looks for breathing and being paying customers and having the audacity to exist. We paid and vamoosed. I don’t think I’ll be going back, unless I hear that the place has overgone a major ‘tude overhaul.

This, for me, is a worrying trend that I’m noticing more and more as new restaurants open in Chicago. I’m not sure what happened, but all of a sudden it became de rigueur for dining establishments to treat their customers like total crap, and act like they could give two shits about repeat business or food quality. It’s like everyone who opens a new restaurant is required to fail Hospitality 101 and instead get their masters in Advanced Topics in Being a Dick to Patrons.

It’s not cute or charming, and for a place that prides itself on serving down-home Southern food, the blatant disregard for the enjoyment of customers that I witnessed at Lillie’s Q was completely incongruous and frankly absurd. This place needs a reality check, and soon.

Typical Text

This is the kind of thing my brother texts me. I’ve learned to just play along.

A Word on Plagiarism

It has recently been brought to my attention that there is a blogger out there who is blatantly ripping off content, tone, and style from mine. I refused to believe that such a thing would happen, but upon closer inspection I saw that yes, this person is directly lifting topics and subject matter, even turns of phrase, straight from the pages of Hungrypants.

This makes me upset for a few reasons. Number one being, this blog is original content. I work hard at coming up with topics and tidbits to post here, and I consider it to be a unique and personal place that I can come and share ideas and insights and observations with my friends and followers. Number two, personal blogs are supposed to be just that: personal. You cannot imitate someone’s style and subject matter and then try to pass it off as your own. That is lazy writing and frankly a pathetic and embarrassing attempt at being individualistic that fails miserably when you can’t even come up with your own topics.

I realize I am not the only food blogger out there. Far from it. I am not operating under the delusion that I am a special snowflake in the food blogging world, but I can say that everything I write here comes from my own brain, written from my own experiences, or culled from my own viewpoints and sentiments about certain subjects. I pride myself on having strong opinions, and it brings me great pleasure to share them in this space and have them met with a huge range of reactions and arguments. I appreciate it when people don’t agree with me, and I like having this forum as an outlet for all the weird shit that passes through my head.

That is what makes it uniquely mine. If you have a blog that you’ve created, make it uniquely YOURS. Don’t pick and choose from what I post here and try to make those topics your own, because they are not. Be original. Be creative. It’s not hard.

Fool me twice…

So, I’m a big believer in second chances. I’m willing to believe that things and people and circumstances can change and that everyone deserves another shot and so on and so forth. It is because of this willingness to have faith in change that I found myself once again at Big Star, the scene of this very unpleasant dining experience back in February.

My friend K. and I had spent the beautiful, Indian summer Saturday criss-crossing Milwaukee Avenue, wandering in and out of various thrift shops in search of boots or dresses or a set of kitschy ceramic jars adorned with mushrooms. Hunger was imminent after such an exhausting day, and K. suggested we grab a drink and some tacos at Big Star. I was reluctant at first and understandably so, considering the trauma I had gone through the first time around. But it was a gorgeous, breezy day and I was in a forgiving mood, so we set off for Big Star.

The patio was bustling, but not slammed, but we waited obediently in the line outside the patio to put our names on the list for a table (I was now familiar with this “list” concept, so it didn’t bother me quite as much.) Once our turn came, K. gave the door girl our names and said we would be happy with a table inside or out, it didn’t matter. “What’s your phone number?” the girl asked, her pen poised over her all-important list. “We’re going to call you once, from a blocked number. If you do not answer, we will assume you don’t want the table and we’ll give it away.” K. and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes, but nodded in agreement and went inside to wait by the bar and grab cash from the ATM, because Big Star does not care for your “credit cards”.

I hung around by the bar as K. collected cash from the ATM,  waiting patiently as a middle-aged couple spent 10 minutes gathering their belongings and vacating their seats at the bar. I figured that there would be more than enough time for us to grab a drink at the bar while we waited for a table, seeing as how the wait was so very long and they were so very busy that they had to call us from 30 feet away. K. joined me as the couple left their bar stools, and just happened to look down at the phone in her hand. She gasped. “Missed call: BLOCKED” read the message on her phone. We stared at each other, eyes wide and uncomprehending. But..but..how! How could this happen!

“GO! GO!!” I said to K., and she scurried off towards the patio, arms flailing in a vain attempt to rescue our table. “Oh, I’m sorry,” the door girl said, her voice completely devoid of apology. “You didn’t answer, so we gave the table away. But you can put your name back on the list if you’d like.”

At this point, it was all I could do not to take the goddamn clipboard and the sacred list and just throw the whole mess into oncoming traffic. I took a deep breath and let K. handle the business of “reapplying” to eat at this goddamn restaurant. Luckily, the  phone call ordeal was unnecessary as a table opened up not five minutes later, and we were seated quickly. Our waitress was brisk but not unkind, and my nerves were soothed by a plate of hot, salty tortilla chips and a dish of freshly made guacamole. I ordered a chelada; a Tecate beer served in a glass with a thickly-salted rim, topped with ice and a lime wedge, and one of each taco on the menu.

The food is great, readers, don’t get me wrong. I encourage everyone to go try a taco or a bourbon or a tequila, or even the weird-looking bacon-wrapped hot dog that has recently appeared on the menu. But if you can, please try and explain to me why the staff makes it nearly impossible to actually sit and consume food and then pay for it. Big Star can’t invest in those little buzzer things like they have at Chili’s? They can’t hire someone to be that person who seeks you out when your table is ready? No, heavens no. Big Star knows you’ll work for a table. Big Star knows you’re willing to be treated like you don’t deserve a seat, so they make you practically grovel for a spot on your hands and knees, begging and pleading. Big Star is not a democracy. Big Star only caters to those who are quick enough with the answering of the phone, who cannot be parted from their mobiles for even the merest of seconds lest they miss the call from BLOCKED.

Some folks may not be bothered by the system instituted here. Maybe some of you think I’m overreacting, or that I just don’t “get it”. To that I say: Taco Bell would never pull this shit.

You people are weird.

You people are extra weird. I know this because WordPress has a handy dandy widget that shows me the Google search terms people have used to find my blog. Yeah that’s right, WordPress has a built-in stalker finder. I know who you are! So, please stop being huge giant creeps because I can totally see everything.

For some reason, “bjork” is the number one most common search term people use to find my blog. Which is kind of strange because I think I mentioned her once, like, a long ass time ago. I’m presenting to you, my (hopefully noncreeptastic) readers, a top ten list of my personal favorite words or terms people have Googled that somehow led to my blog. Here we go:

#10: Uncommon types of melon. This makes sense because I did a post on Cindy Crawford and her extremely rare melons.

#9: Infants with heads snuggled into our mot. Um. What?

#8: Trousers fantasy chef. This, I totally get. Sometimes you just really want some fantasy chef trousers.

#7: Girl crapping pants. Sick, sad world indeed.

#6: Giada de Laurentiis man hands. Honestly this was a toss-up, the other most popular Giada-related search being “Giada de Laurentiis booobs.”

#5: My baby pants when hungry. I honestly don’t even know what this means. Why are people finding my blog when Googling things about babies? I don’t know shit about babies.

#4: Guy eating Cool Ranch Doritos. I can only assume this is some sort of weird fetish…carry on.

#3: Cow themed chef pants. Who doesn’t like pants that are cow-themed? Chef pants or otherwise, cow print is just really really stylish.

#2: Bjork robot. This would make so much sense.

And, my personal all-time hands down favorite:

#1: Bryan Campbell’s mother makes pies. HA! Is this some sort of “yo momma” joke? Is this what the kids are saying these days? “Yo son, yo momma makes pies n’ shit. BOOYA!!” Get off my lawn.

RIP Blanche Devereaux

When I was a kid, I would fake sick so I could stay home and watch reruns of  The Golden Girls. Now, that sassy troupe of bluehairs is down to one, and we are left with Ms. McClanahan’s finest legacy: her love of cat parties. May she rest in peace.