Advertisements

Archive for the ‘servers’ Tag

Cheers to Servers   Leave a comment

parkwayinterior

Everyone should have at least one special server; the one who remembers, if not your name, at least your preferences; who knows about your kids/parents/pets; who is aware of your aversion to goat cheese.

For my mom, that’s Tim at Parkway Grill in Pasadena. She asks about his shorter commute; he asks how she’s been and remembers what she ordered on her last visit a while back. It’s not flirtatious on either side, but a friendly exchange and genuine interest. This along with the well-prepared food makes the Parkway stand out from the crowd of upscale restaurants.

parkwaybread

We started with drinks, including a lime basil-infused martini that caught my eye. It was strong and refreshing.

The salads are large enough to share, and the Caesar was a nice way to start the meal. I don’t need to see the anchovies, although I like their flavor.

parkwaygrill

parkwayrib

Short ribs are a favorite and something I consider one of my specialties. I’m always curious about different preparations. The braised meat was fork-tender and the taste was good, but it didn’t pose a threat to my recipe. The addition of toasted pine nuts with a dark basil pesto was a nice touch. The mashed potatoes were rich and creamy.

parkwaydessert

Dessert offered several choices, but we settled on a Crème Brulee Napoleon. This spin sandwiched the vanilla custard element of a brulee between flakey pastry.

Goat cheese was never part of the conversation, but it’s nice to know it would have been if necessary.

Parkway Grill
Four-and-a-half Plates
510 S. Arroyo Parkway
Pasadena, Calif.

Advertisements

No Great After Taste   Leave a comment

26192646

Sweetbitter is a combination love story and homage to restaurant life, particularly servers. It’s far from reverent and certainly doesn’t offer a warm-hearted view of the front and back of house scenes. It demonstrates that working in a restaurant is often a lifestyle and not just a job.

Told from 22-year-old Tess’s point of view, Stephanie Danler’s novel is unflinching when it comes to sex, drugs and ego trips. Tess arrives in New York City from the Midwest. With only limited diner experience, she lands a job as a back waiter in an upscale Manhattan restaurant. She’s unsure of herself, has no true motivation, but still simply seems ready to get on with her life, whatever it may be.

The novel’s four sections are broken down by seasons beginning with a sweltering summer. As each progresses I was increasingly disappointed. Summer and fall had my full attention as I expected Tess to develop interests and become more confident. By the winter and spring segments, I was disappointed. Yes, Tess makes some self-discoveries, but they’re minor in the scheme of things.

Part of the problem is that Danler never makes Tess’s obsessive fixation on Jake, the bartender, tangible or credible enough. His relationship with Simone, an older server who, inexplicably, fascinates Tess, is a mystery waiting to be solved; but it lacks tension. Instead, predictability takes control, which is far more bitter than anything sweet Danler has to offer.

Sweetbitter
(Barely) Three bookmarks
Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
352 pages