I have worked in food service for many years. I know a lot of you have too. Maybe you were a dishwasher, or maybe you wait tables, or you slice bread for yuppies, or you make them coffee. We all know that there are secrets in every kitchen; things reused that you wouldn't tell the health inspector about, and people sneaking off to get high in the cardboard dumpster. Restaurants make daily specials out of food thats just about to go bad, and servers are told to push overstocked items. This is just how things work, everyone knows this, and you just make the choice to care or not.
All my training, all my experience, has taught me to fear and distrust the buffet. It is a repository for glop that couldnt get sold and is on the point of expiration. It is thrown together and left to fester in chafing dishes 'til consumed by a clueless public ready to show how much they can eat, unaware that they cannot eat enough to get their "money's worth."
Herm was struck by a curry craving last week, so I rode up to the Palace for take-away. They have a pretty good price, and I like that I can douse my food in raita for no extra charge. Also, they have these great big paper bags to put the food in, and though its certainly no picnic to balance on a 'ped on a windy day with 5 lbs of masala hanging on one wrist, at least I have a reasonable assurance of getting myself and my lunch back in one piece. Though I do have reccurant visions of myself splayed about the road, soaked in curry and blood.
I got back to the store, and Herm and I did the happy food dance for a bit and then dug in. One more strike against Palace is their total lack of take-out silver. I used to get flatware from World Of Forks (aka Euclid) but now they don't open until 6, and the place across the street isn't that kind of nice. In any event, my long awaited point is that the damn korma was bad. I don't mean poorly seasoned, I mean turned. It was rotting. Few things are more dissapointing than a lunch that has gone off when you're hungry.
The worst part of this (besides the fact that instead of throwing the damn thing out straight away, I tried to eat around it,) is that I really liked the Palace, and this has thrown all my trust into question. I typically have a laid-back additude about what goes on in the kitchen, but this seems like blatant disregard not only for the health of the patrons, but also for simple good taste. Didn't anyone try the damn thing before they put it out? Its rather like they don't care if it tastes good! I'm unsure how long I will carry this skepticism, but I am currently soured (ha!) on the place.
We do a buffet of sorts at the Chez. Soup, salad and tapa for $7.95. Its usually pretty obvious what is about to reach that 7 day limit. Last Monday the soup was "Creamy Corn Chowder" or corn salsa reheated with cream. The "tapa" was Stuffed Poblano Peppers on Seasoned Potatos with Flank Steak and Mojo Pork. Seriously. Is it wierd that I was happy when no one ate it so I got to bring some home?