Tuesday, July 15, at 11 AM

Where can you get a three-star experience at one-star prices? Which hot new restaurant merits the scorching hype? The answer to all these questions and more can be found Tuesdays at 11 AM on Kliman Online.

Where can you get a three-star experience at one-star prices? Which hot new restaurant merits the scorching hype? The answer to all these questions and more can be found Tuesdays at 11 AM on Kliman Online.

From scoping out scruffy holes in the wall to weighing the merits of four-star wanna-bes, from scouring the ‘burbs and exurbs to hitting the city’s streets, Todd Kliman covers a lot of territory.

Winner of a James Beard Foundation Award in 2005 for the country’s best newspaper column about food, Kliman is food and wine editor and restaurant critic for The Washingtonian. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’sThe Oxford American, Lucky Peach, The Daily Beast and Men’s Health, among others, and he has been selected four times for inclusion in the Best Food Writing anthologies. He was a finalist for the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, and recently took home first-place honors for feature writing from the Association of Food Journalists.

Kliman is the author of The Wild Vine, a literary exploration of two entwined mysteries: an obscure grape that rose to prominence, only to disappear, and its present-day evangelist, a foul-mouthed transgendered multi-millionaire vintner on an obsessive quest to restore the legend of an antebellum southern doctor.

He previously taught writing and literature at American University and Howard University. At Howard, he was also the editorial advisor to The Illtop Journal, Chris Rock’s humor magazine modeled after the Harvard Lampoon.

Can’t wait a week to talk to Todd? Follow him on Twitter for dining reports, tips, and breaking news from the culinary world. Or write to him: tkliman@washingtonian.com

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Wild Country Seafood, Annapolis

I hesitate to include this, if only because I know Eastporters are going to be furious with me for outing their secret. The place is run by Pat Mahoney Sr. and his son, Pat Mahoney Jr. They’re watermen, among the last of a dying breed. Every morning they troll the waters around Eastport and Annapolis, bringing their haul back to sell to the public. You order at the counter inside, then take a seat at one of four tiki umbrella-topped tables along the gravel-topped parking lot; they’ll bring you the food. And what food. The thing to get is the softshells, provided they still have them when you show up. The day I was in, they did, and I feasted on two massive, meaty, delicately sweet softshells — the best preparation of the dish I’ve had this season. The softshells had been quartered, dredged in a mixture of what appeared to be flour and corn meal, and lightly fried. With cole slaw and fries, the tab came to — yes, I’m not joking — $15. I haven’t tried the hard shells; they’ve been sold out. But I can’t imagine they’d be anything less than great; I’m eager to come back and bring home a bushel. If you’re not a fan of softshells, there’s also good fried shrimp, bay scallops, rockfish, and clams.

The Rogue Gentlemen, Richmond

Yes, I know Richmond is two-plus hours away. I’m adding it this week because a) it’s summer and people are lighting out on long trips and b.) I had one of the best meals I’ve eaten all year there, and would gladly get back in my car and drive two-plus hours to return. I love the space, which is not much bigger than some living rooms — it has the air of a place hiding from those too conventional to understand. I love the cocktails, fashioned from obscure, high-quality spirits and mixed with laborious care. And I love the cooking, which is far more composed, beautiful and exacting than you would expect of a place like this. A plate of roasted beets with salmon roe, parsley and turnip creme fraiche — unimprovable, one of the best preparations of beets I’ve had in years — would not have been out of place at Jean-Georges. A roasted foie gras with crushed pistachios and pickled sour cherries was just as glorious, a sensuous essay in textures; it was easy to imagine it on the menu at CityZen, though not for $15. Prices are eye-poppingly cheap. The most stunning value on the menu is the rib eye. Basted with butter and thyme and drenched with a sauce of Overholt Rye and black peppercorn, it’s a thoughtfully reimagined twist on steak au poivre. It comes with two cuts of meat (including the prized culotte, or cap), a shank of roasted bone marrow and delicately carved baby carrots (the marrow and the carrots are a perfect combination themselves). All this for $21. Bravo to the wonderfully fruitful (and apparently seamless) partnership between owner John Maher and chef Aaron Hopkins.

Nainai’s Noodle and Dumpling Bar, Silver Spring

It’s a pain to park — options are limited along this stretch of East-West Highway between Georgia and Colesville, and you may be forced to dock your car in the garage around the corner for $5. I did, both times, and both times I walked in in something less than the spirit of having a good time. And both times the cooking picked me up. The dumplings are good, not great (get the Year of the Pig, stuffed with juicy ground pork), but even a good not great dumpling is a pretty wonderful thing. The steamed, stuffed buns vary in quality, and the meats inside are a touch dry. Focus on the noodle bowls, which feature hand-pulled noodles (notice the ends, which are uniformly not uniform — some are fat, some thin). I like the Pai Gow, topped with ground pork, chili oil, bean sprouts, mustard greens, toasted garlic and ground peanuts, and the Mahjong Noodles, tossed with sesame paste, peanut butter, cucumbers, carrots, bean sprouts and chili oil. To drink: a bottle of DC Brau or Port City Porter.

Cafe Rue, Beltsville

I’ve got a lot of affection for this one-man band. Cole Whaley, a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine, is not just the owner and chef — he’’s also waiter, runner, and busser of this likable little hole in the wall in a fading Beltsville strip mall. There’s no other menu in the area quite like this, a delightful hodgepodge of soul food, yuppie bistro small plates, and Frenchified sweets. His crispy Brussels sprout dish may be the best I’ve had in a year full of crispy Brussels sprouts dishes — the outer leaves separate slightly, and he gets a chip-like crunch on them. And I love the enhancements — a touch of coconut oil for richness, a drizzle of clover honey for sweetness. The miniature crab cakes are hard to resist, and disappear quickly. Chicken and waffles are the heart of the menu, and the Cotton Club-derived combo comes in four varieties, including one with red velvet waffles and one with Sriracha-glazed chicken that calls to mind the sweet-spicy crunch of General Tso’s. I like the “classic” — the boneless, white meat chicken has surprising juice, and the waffles are thick and fluffy. Come dessert, the Francophile chef indulges his love of patisserie with five kinds of macarons (the cream centers are a touch dry, but he nails the difficult outside) and a surprisingly successful attempt at that recent darling of the NY foodie world, the cronut. More to like: the dining room is dressed up with art from the owner’s own collection, and bossa nova on continuous loop makes any day feel like a lazy Sunday. (Note: odd hours. Closes at 8 during the week and on Friday, and at 3 on Saturday and Sunday.)

Sushi Capitol, DC

I kind of hate putting this on here. The place is already not large — you could stand in front of the iconic Hawk ’n’ Dove, its next-door neighbor, and miss it — and the crowds that are sure to come now will only mean that I won’t be able to get in when I want later. And I’m going to want. This is a diminished sushi scene: Makoto is no longer special, Kushi is in decline, and Sushi-Ko I is gone. That leaves Sushi Taro and Sushi Capitol, and at the moment I’m not all that certain I’d take the former over the latter. Capitol is not as polished an experience as Taro, but neither is it the Zen-like spa of hushed voices and restrained manners — an Important Restaurant to save up for when you are looking to mark an occasion. This is a simple, unassuming spot, a workaday spot, with good, well-sourced fish and a chef who knows how to enhance the raw product without sacrificing the elegance essential to the form. Minoru Ogawa was previously in charge of sushi operations at every Mandarin Oriental property along the Eastern seaboard. He’s a purist at the bar, abjuring gimmicks, fads and clutter. The pieces are small, with tiny pads of rice, and the fish is sliced thin and delicately and draped just so over the pads. This doesn’t just make for an elegant presentation; it ensures that each bite is in balance, with the right proportion of fish to rice. I was in most recently for the omakase, which, at $50 for somewhere between 16-20 pieces, amounts to a sweetheart of a deal in the sushi world — particularly when the yellowtail is so sweet and still tastes of the sea, and the various white fishes are not simply there for padding, and the hand-rolls (passed across the bar as soon as they’re finished, their wrappers warm and crunchy) come with fresh-chopped toro. If you order a la carte, don’t ignore the rolls. The Florida roll, draped with whitened bands of blowtorched salmon belly and sliced avocado, is a stunner in every sense.

Thai Taste by Kob, Wheaton

On a three-block stretch of Wheaton, near the intersection of University Blvd. and Georgia Ave., can be found two of the area’s best Thai restaurants — Ruan Thai and Nava Thai. Time to add a third. Phak Duangchandr — Kob, to friends — has set up shop in the tiny space that originally contained Nava, in the back of Hung Phat market. Thai food fans may remember her, or at least her cooking; for 19 years she operated the Thai Food Carryout at Thai Market, near the old Safeway in Wheaton. The new setting, electrified with a paint job of orange and day-glo green, gives her a chance to expand her repertoire of dishes, while staying true to the from-scratch traditions that earned her a devoted following. The emphasis is on street food and homecooking, with a good many dishes you simply won’t find anywhere else, like bamee moo daeng, a meal-in-a-bowl of tender egg noodles, red-edged roast pork, baby bok choy, and fish balls; or kai yad sai, an omelette stuffed with ground chicken punched up with fish sauce and soy sauce; or a salad of shrimp paste-flavored rice, onions, cucumber and sweet, sticky pork). But even familiar tastes, taste different here — funkier, more pungent, and definitely hotter (a shrimp fried rice, alive with fistfuls of Thai basil and a generous pinch of chilis, set my heart to racing). Some customers have already been asking for more rice to accompany their orders. Partner and manager Max Praserptmate says he is willing to accommodate any requests, but adds that his aunt’s cooking is not the aberration; it’s the great majority of Thai restaurants that are the aberration. “The taste,” he says, “is what you’re supposed to get from your Thai food.” Duangchandr imports many of her spices from Thailand, and toasts and grinds them herself. All the condiments on the spice tray, including a terrific chili vinegar, are made on the premises. Meats are given a long soak before hitting the grill — 72 hours, in the case of the pork that is pounded and threaded onto a skewer to create a must-order starter called moo yang. The other must-order starter sure doesn’t sound like it — when was the last time you had fried shrimp wontons that were any good? These are fabulous. Kiew tod comes to the table looking more like a plate of tortilla chips, the mix of shrimp and white pepper bundled within a sneakily rolled edge. The crunch is junk food-loud; it’s hard not to believe they weren’t engineered in a lab. No beer or wine yet; Praserptmate says soon on both. I would take the money you’d ordinarily spend on a drink and spring for an extra dish or two (most are under $10, and many items will survive into the next day).

Rose’s Luxury, DC

I love the crackle in the room when you walk in. I’m not talking about mere noise; lots of restaurants have noise. I’m not even talking about buzz, that sense that a new place is hot. This one has an energy that is unmistakable, a sense that you have entered a kind of rare and cherished zone where the enthusiasm of the kitchen and the staff is returned in kind by the diners, who all seem to walk out the door with smiles on their faces. It’s not hard to understand why. Rose’s Luxury has an old-school vibe, and a sort of making-it-up-as-we-go-along feel, from the homey, unassuming way the menu bids you to settle in and order to the dinner party-run-amok vibe to the yahrzeit-look-alike votives to the beer glasses that are sawed-off wine bottles. The chef, Aaron Silverman, logged stints in such high-profile kitchens as Momofuku in New York and Husk and McCrady’s in Charleston, and you don’t have to look hard to see elements of each of these places in the room and on the plate. Like his mentors David Chang and Sean Brock, he aims to bring off a marriage of extreme playfulness and extreme precision. The bulk of the menu consists of a dozen small plates in which Silverman sets out to cross the wires, compositionally speaking, and see what happens. A pate is a braiding of French, Italian (garlic bread are the toasts), Vietnamese (the rich, crushed-peanut topped spread brims with star anise), and I want to say Jewish (the brine for the jalapenos, onions and cukes that add crunch and tang tastes deli to me). It’s seamlessly done, and highly addictive. He crosses high and low in a soup that tastes at once like liquefied popcorn and a delicate lobster veloute (the sweetness calls out for some sort of counterbalancing ingredient, or more lobster). It’s not all derring-do. His gnocchi are more properly a kind of ravioli, stuffed with fennel and mint, sauced with not-too-much butter and topped with a generous scattering of crunchy toasted breadcrumbs. You’d be hard put to find five better pasta dishes in town right now. The final course is a page not out of Momofuku or Husk or McCrady’s, but out of Komi — share plates for two. In one, you lay luscious slices of perfectly smoked brisket on griddled Texas toast, add on tangy strands of pickled cabbage and smear the whole thing with a fluffy horseradish cream. The other is built around a beautifully brined pork chop — sweet and aromatic and rich as the best pork can be — with potlikker beans and a textbook red-eye gravy. The final act needs re-staging. The lack of a pastry chef doesn’t help, nor does the tendency to over-think and over-embellish. Quenelles of chocolate cream sprinkled with dried rose petals and intended for spreading on slices of charred bread feels twee, not interesting, and hardly satisfies. More of the sink-in simplicity of the share courses would go a long way. Still, this is one of the most exciting debuts of the year. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of the most exciting debuts of the past three years.

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ANY NEWS RE: THE GROUP BEHIND THE FORMER RED PEARL, IN COLUMBIA? …:

Hi Todd, it’s been almost two years since Red Pearl in Columbia closed, and I’m still not over it. Have the chef/owners turned up anywhere else?

Despite trying numerous places in our region and all the recommended favorites in Rockville, I just don’t enjoy any of them as much as I did Red Pearl.

I still dream of their dan dan noodles and cumin lamb.

Todd Kliman

You and me both.

And the shrimp dumplings.

And the roast pork buns.

And the whole fried lobster seasoned with diced chills and garlic.

Unfortunately, I have no news to report from chef David Wong and his family. Their other restaurant, Jade Billows, in Potomac, has also closed.

If you didn’t get out there, you missed out on some of the best Chinese cooking in the area.

The space, by the way, now belongs to Petit Louis Bistro, from Baltimore-based restaurateurs Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman. I reviewed it recently. https://www.washingtonian.com/restaurantreviews/petit-louis-bistro-the-old-fashioned-way.php

They also own a Petit Louis Bistro in Baltimore’s Roland Park.

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A ROAD MAP FOR MY FOODVENTURES …:

Venturing out…

I’ve made several journeys outside of the DMV solely based on your recommendations. I find it’s a fun food venture.

I’ve been twice to Wild Country Seafood and both times missed out on the softshells (first time I was there 40 min after opening and they were sold out, second time I was there right at opening and they didn’t catch any that day). I can’t say I was overly impressed with the other menu items (tho I did fancy the hushpuppies) but I loved the area and on the second visit took some time to try my luck at fishing for crabs “hand line/chicken leg” style off the nearby docks.

On another occasion, I enjoyed a great day trip to Annapolis capped off by a wonderful dinner at Vin 909 and twice I’ve traveled to Sichuan Jin River – I can’t get enough of the pickled cucumbers/garlic salad. I would love if recipe sleuth could get the scoop on that.

The list above is just a few of the restaurants I’ve visited outside of the DMV based on your recommendations – I can’t count how many places I’ve been to close to home because of your reviews.

Thank you for providing a road map for my foodventures!

Todd Kliman

You just made my day.

I love hearing that you’ve gone chasing after the same spots I have — that you’ve made a game of it, of sorts, and built these adventures into your life.

That’s what I hope this chat exists for, at least in part.

As for Wild Country Seafood, I feel bad that you’ve missed out both times. It’s not a short drive for most of us. But I’d encourage you to keep trying — those softshells are the best I’ve had this season.

So glad you got out to Vin 909 and had a good meal. Curious to hear what you ate there. Again, not a short drive, but the cooking is worth it.

And yo, Anna Spiegs: let’s get Recipe Sleuth up and running again!

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BOWIE EATS? …:

I have a number of evening business meetings in Bowie over the next few months. Choices for dinner seem to be mostly chains.

Do you have any recommendations for the area?

Todd Kliman

It’s not all chains.

You’ve got Jerry’s Seafood, which is an area institution — home of the Crab Bomb, which was the uh, inspiration, for the Crab Royale at Michael Landrum’s Ray’s the Steaks. (What was it T.S. Eliot said about great poets? They don’t borrow; they steal.)

Picture it: a massive mound of jumbo lump, mixed with mayo and seasonings (and probably a few dashes of hot sauce), and lightly broiled.

When it’s good, in other words, when the crab is good and the kitchen is on, it’s more satisfying than a crab cake. I haven’t had one in a while — it’s been a couple of years since I was there — but this is the place I’d spend my money on dinner in Bowie.

Not cheap, but again, when it’s on, it’s well worth it.

Another option is Ichiban. The last time I was in, it had slipped noticeably. But it was still better than a lot of the available options nearby.

It used to be pretty terrific, with, among other things, an excellent plate of Szechuan dumplings — the bundles were tight and filled with juicy shrimp, and you could taste the smoke and heat and numbing peppercorn in the sauce. It was, on my last visit, merely good.

Sushi is the focus, here. It had, in the past, been a slight cut above what I call workaday sushi, the kind you’re happy to eat on a midweek night with the kids, and sometimes a definite cut. There were times it was two slight cuts above. Last time, I would say it was like a lot of workaday sushi.

Good luck, and gift us with a report when you’ve eaten your way through the city.

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ANYTHING GOOD NEAR CAPE CHARLES, VA.? …:

I love the resort beaches of Maryland and Delaware (Ocean City, Rehoboth etc) but this year I’m trying out Cape Charles, VA down near the Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Anything I shouldn’t miss down there?

Todd Kliman

I wish I could be of help — sorry. I’ve got nothing.

Anybody?

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VEGAN FOR A WHILE: WHERE CAN I DINE IN THE DMV? …:

Although I have been a vegetarian for 15 years, I have recently become a pseudo-vegan since my 3 month old son was reacting negatively to my milk after I ate any dairy. It looks like I will be a vegan (eggs are still ok) for a little while, but I am finding it frustrating to find good places to go out to eat.

Do you have any suggestions to find good vegan food in Montgomery County or NW DC? My husband and I are planning a rare night out to celebrate our anniversary.

Todd Kliman

Here’s what I would do.

I would ring up a restaurant that tends to cook without a lot of butter and also showcases a lot of vegetables in its dishes. Zaytinya, say.

Get the kitchen on the phone and make your request. I’d be willing to place big money this isn’t the first time the restaurant has heard from a vegan diner wanting to eat there. But calling ahead gives the kitchen time to prepare, if it needs to. The kitchen will be more inclined to accommodate you, because you have taken the time to think about its needs.

A couple of other options, though they’re not in Montgomery County or Upper NW …

I really like Ovo, in College Park — I know, terrible name for a vegan restaurant, but the mushroom protein with green curry and lotus and baby corn is terrific; a dish that even an omnivore should love.

The texture of the mushroom protein is akin to that of tender pork. It mates beautifully with the curry.

And think, also, about Loving Hut, in Falls Church. It’s an international chain, with an emphasis on vegan Vietnamese preparations. There’s bun, there’s lemongrass tofu, there’s pho … and even a vegan hot dog.

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WHEN EMPLOYEES FIGHT IN FRONT OF THE CUSTOMER …:

Hello!

I’ve been to two takeout restaurants recently in which the cashier and a fellow employee were getting into heated exchanges with one another in front of the customers. The employees did not even try to mask their annoyance with one another (picture a heated family exchange in public), used questionable language in front of kids in one of the instances, and I felt awkward to be witnessing this disrespect.

I know in one instance it was between a mother and a son because we received an apology explaining as much.

Do you find this happens often in your experience? Why do these employees fail to recognize how unprofessional it is to argue with someone blatantly in front of a customer?

Todd Kliman

I haven’t seen much of this, no.

But remember, I only ever get take-out when I’m off the clock, which is almost never.

What you describe is terrible. It’s a sure sign of bad blood among staff, which is of course bad for morale. And it makes you, the diner, not want to return.

If I were you, I’d say something to the owner next time you get a chance. He or she may be unaware of what’s going on. It’s bad for business. Any owner should be able to recognize that.

The cursing is the worst part about this, to me, but I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s amazing to me to hear the way people talk now, as opposed to twenty-five, thirty years ago. It’s much coarser. Which goes along with a general coarsening of the culture. The examples are abundant. And flagrant. On the web. On the Beltway. In movies. On TV. On the streets. In restaurants.

As for restaurants: it doesn’t matter whether they are scruffy joints or trendy bistros where everyone is coiffed and dressed. The conversations are filled with casual coarseness.

And vapidity — but that’s another matter.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HOST …:

Hi Todd!

I was wondering how important the host stand/front desk was to your dining experience?

It seems like such a little detail, but much like busboys clearing dishes too soon or not soon enough, it’s one of those little things that can make or break a meal for me!

I often find extremely rude and dismissive reception or they’re on their iphones the whole time.

On the flip side, warm welcomes and treating everyone like a regular (Rose’s Luxury, Le Diplomate and Bourbon Steak come to mind) make me want to return over and over to a place.

Thoughts? Or am I the only one that considers the first impression as important as the waiter/food?

Todd Kliman

Are you kidding?

It’s HUGE.

I learn so much about a place from that opening greeting. Or lack thereof.

I was in a restaurant recently, and the host seemed absolutely bored to be working there.

Now, what does that tell me?

It’s possible that that host was simply having a bad day. It happens. We all have them.

But it’s also possible that she is bored and low-affect. In which case she’s the wrong person for the job. Who would put someone so low-affect and bored-looking into the vitally important position of making a first impression for the business? A clueless manager, that’s who.

Which leads me to wonder about other decisions management has made. Or not made.

Another possibility: she is picking up on the bad vibes of the place and reflecting it back to the diner.

So, summing up: that’s three possibilities, and two of them are not good.

The two that are not good — they are not just indictments of the host as an employee; they are indictments of the operation.

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THE MENU REVAMP AT CASHION’S EAT PLACE, DC …:

Hi Todd-

I wonder if you have any thoughts or insight about Cashion’s changing their menu to something that is decidedly more affordable than the previous iteration. Was attendance flagging? Did they just think it time for a change?

Whatever the reason, it seems encouraging, especially as more and more restaurants in this town try to up the costs of things.

Todd Kliman

I like what John Manalatos, the chef and owner, has done.

At least in theory, I like it. I haven’t been in yet to see whether I like it in practice, which, of course, is all that counts.

I haven’t spoken to him, but this revamp makes sense for a lot of reasons. One of which is that the restaurant is no longer Ann Cashion’s.

Manalatos stuck by her approach and her format after he bought it several years ago and took over. Hard to blame him for that. Cashion’s was a successful restaurant, a known commodity in a rapidly changing scene.

What this menu re-think suggests, to me, is that Manalatos is fully ready to make the place his own. I think that’s a great thing.

Small plates are ubiquitous. It’s a great way to eat, and can make for a festive meal. But that’s not to say that all chefs are fit for the approach. It’ll be interesting to see whether Manalatos is.

I would love to see Cashion’s be relevant again, and not just a place people go because they have affection for the vibe, or the bar, or the memories of good times past.

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BBQ IN CHARLES COUNTY …:

Hi Todd –

Thinking about taking the kids fossil hunting along the Calvert Cliffs and was recalling you mention some BBQ spots that you and your dad frequented in southern Maryland.

Maybe somewhere in the vicinity of LaPlata or Waldorf? Didn’t know if they are still around or if you’d recommend any, but I’m up for a lazy drive meandering through Calvert or Charles counties and checking out some spots that would be new to me.

Thanks,
Mike

Todd Kliman

The scene down there, I’m sad to say, isn’t what it was.

I was at Johnny Boy’s a couple of months ago, scouting spots for a BBQ roundup we did in the magazine, and man, has that place fallen off a cliff.

I used to love the pulled pork sandwich. Long, ropy threads flecked with char. It came piled high on a bun. You’d douse it with Mama Sophie’s Red Sauce and then dump on the accompanying cup of coleslaw. Pretty glorious.

Now? The pork has no flavor. And no bits of char that I could detect.

Your best bet, now, is probably Randy’s Ribs & BBQ, in Hughesville. It’s uneven, like many ‘cue spots in this area. My sense, here, is that having a good meal is dependent on the time you go. Show up on the early side, if you can. And no seating, nota bene — as with Johnny Boy’s, you snag a picnic table and eat outside.

By the way, since we’re talking about barbecue — I wish there were a way to strike from the record all the praise I had previously heaped on RG’s BBQ Cafe. I had good meals, early on. My last meal, however — again, as part of my scouting for the BBQ roundup — was awful.

I mean it: AWFUL.

Actually, I fear that that doesn’t convey the full extent of just how bad and dispiriting this meal was.

So, correction: AWFUL.

Meats and sides, both. Nothing was prepared with any care. Not only was there not a single item was worth coming back for, but there was not a single item that was worth eating, beyond that first taste.

All I could think, as I sat there at my table, was: What the hell happened?

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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HOST, CONT. …:

No you are not the only one – first impressions in a service industry DO matter.

I have walked out of restaurants and stores when I am ignored. Just even a “Hello- I will be with you in a moment.” or “Hello- welcome to _______. Is there something I can help you with today?”

It is called manners!

Todd Kliman

It’s also called — good business.

I hear you, when you talk about a lack of manners.

But I’m not comfortable with the idea that the ire, here, is focused almost entirely (or so it seems to me) on the individual — what he or she did or didn’t do.

Management hired this person. Hired this person and appointed this person to an important position at the front, where first impressions are made and, in some cases, cemented.

So if that person is ill-mannered, then that means that the operation is ill-mannered.

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COARSENING OF THE CULTURE, CONT. …:

You hit the nail on the head, Todd.

“Idiocracy” was on TV this past weekend, and I was disheartened to see how prescient it is- and way ahead of the 500 year timeline, too.

I also agree about hosts/hostesses.

My wife and I had a special occasion dinner a couple of weeks ago at a Big Deal Restaurant, and the greeting was just off- the pretty young thing was indeed looking at her iPhone more than handling the entrance, and when we were finally seated, we were placed in a less-than-desirable table.

I was kicking myself, because I should’ve just spoken up and asked for a different table, but we were waiting for a long time and I just rolled over (see, still mad).

However, the rest of the meal was good; it really set a tone, though.

Todd Kliman

Wouldn’t you have loved to have gone up to her and snatched that phone from her hand and chucked it out the door?

Ah, l’esprit d’escalier. ; )

I suppose there are some who would argue that such an action would constitute one more example of the coarsening we’ve just been talking about.

But to my way of thinking, this as a corrective action, and I’m sure — ok, I would hope — there are many of you out there who would agree with me. Even if you would never dare undertake to snatch and chuck the thing yourself.

But in your mind!

In our minds, aren’t we all, in that circumstance, brash vigilantes out to right a wrong?

Better wrap this up, now, before I type too much more. 🙂

Be well, everyone, eat well, and let’s do it again next Tuesday at 11 …

[missing you, TEK … ]

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