seriously. writer's block. it's been bad. this is the fifth time i've tried to write this post. blech!
here is the fake beginning to the post:
restaurants are like roller coaster rides - there are always going to be ups and downs, but from the start, you can't always see where those twists are going to be.
like my analogy? awesome. it's better than the one i originally came up with, which compared restaurants to sledding. not only was it seasonably inaccurate, it was kind of depressing and totally made the wrong point.
i love these days where writing and forming sentences is kind of like trying to speak with cotton mouth. or, as i've just learned, xerostomia. wikipedia says, "xerostomia is the medical term for the subjective complaint of dry mouth due to a lack of saliva. xerostomia is sometimes colloquially called pasties, cottonmouth, drooth, doughmouth, or des (like a desert). xerostomia is also common in smokers."
oh wow, it's going to be a long day. and a long post.
here is the real beginning to this post:
when we've chatted about restaurants in past posts, we've focused on what encourages us as customers to return to an establishment time and time again. (see posts restuarant roulette and establishment appraisal: clementine.) to sum up those posts, being a regular at a bar or restaurant, or wanting to be one, speaks volumes about a place — more so than a simple "give it a try."
with restaurant-regularism as our key criteria when exploring restaurants, i would love to become a regular at every joint i review. sadly, my wallet and my ical disagree. since i can't be a regular everywhere, the next best solution is to check out spots where people i know are or want to be regulars. sure, it means someone else gets to do the dirty work of finding and okay-ing a place, but at least most places have napkins.
oh dear, my scrawling xerostomia is flaring up again. clearly we need to skip the introduction and boring bits and just get to the interesting parts of this post.
here are the details:
- our restaurant recommender (clearly an official title from now on) was ct.
- the restaurants reviewed were golden west, rocket to venus, and frazier's. all were located in hampden. none of which i had been to before.
- spoiler: yes, we did have way too much fun. but sadly, i will not be going into all hilarious details. let's pretend to be professional.
golden west has an interesting vibe to it. it's a crossroad of family-friendliness, hampden-regular, and hipster-nonsense. the bar sports a general mix of kitsch and clutter — including horse skulls, satan-friendly signage, and bottles of windex. in other words, it def. had an interesting vibe to it. ct mentioned he'd had mixed experiences with the service in the past. the bar staff that night seemed pretty friendly (though when i went back with ap for brunch a week later, our server was a bit pushy and gave us the check before we'd even finished eating). the food i tried (both times i went) was really good, and i can understand why ct comes back repeatedly even when there isn't always a friendly face standing guard behind the bar.
that night ct and i tried tater tots (yes, tater tots; flash back to elementary school, anyone?) and brussel sprouts. i only had a couple of the tater tots to get an idea of them since i've been trying to be good and not eat potatoes. (that night actually marked the beginning of my foray into a potato-free summer.) the tater tots were exactly what they claimed to be — crispy and greasy goodness. ct and i were torn on the brussel sprouts; he wasn't as a big a fan of them as i was. they were cooked very lightly and still had a lot of that cabbage-y bite to them — which i loved and he did not. the sauce on them was mildly uninspiring. it was basically just soy sauce with maybe a couple spices added to it. i like simple things like that, though, and i like soy sauce, so i was fine with the sprouts and ate way too many of them.
i think i like the idea of golden west, but i don't think it's a spot i'd want to become a regular at. the prices for regular food (not the appetizers we got) were a bit higher than i'd be comfortable spending on a regular basis. and while the decor was interesting, it wasn't cozy. i think that, coupled with the questionable service (will it be good next time i go in? not so good?) makes me doubt the place a bit too much. consistency is important. when i go out, i like to know what i'm getting myself into. however, just because golden west isn't going to be added to my list of regular hang outs, it had enough going for it that it's not a place i'd turn down if someone wanted to meet up for (or better yet, buy me) a drink there.
rocket to venus:
before i'd even heard about golden west, ct had been telling me about this crazy little bar called rocket to venus and suggesting we go there. you don't even have to step in the door to know that this joint has not only a had ticket for the crazy train, it's been riding that train around in circles for awhile now; just read through their website. (okay, it may not be that crazy, but that was some awesome crazy imagery. don't deny it.)
where golden west was kitsched out, rocket to venus is sparse. dark walls. very little decoration. small, round windows. this all makes sense, as rocket to venus is actually trying to be a rocket bar. (that doesn't move or take off. so really, it's trying to be a bar that's a rocket. oh, the crazy train.) the effect, though, makes the bar feel like a dark club. having used to work down in power plant live, i kept expecting horrible remixes to suddenly blare out of the speakers.
i think i would have enjoyed the environment a bit more if the crowd wasn't quite so homogenous. twenty-ish and thirty-ish white hipsters dominated the crowd and it kind of weirded me out a bit. why do we go so far out of our way to discourage senior citizens from rocking the rocket bar? i'm pretty sure we'll have seniors in space when space travel becomes more popular. i haven't heard of any super secret bills being passed in congress promising to kick people out of airlocks as soon as they turn fifty-five.
oh damn, the xerostomia is back.
back to the restaurant.
so, at rocket to venus we tried fried pickle chips and brussel sprouts (again!). the fried pickle chips were really good — they were cut length-wise into spears rather than in rounds, which i really liked. the batter was also nice and it didn't fall off the pickles (like it often does at another restaurant that shall remain nameless for the time being). i really liked that it had a smooth batter; other fried pickle chips i've tried have had bread crumbs or cornmeal or something in the batter. this was a nice change. it did bug me that there were only three spears. when it comes to appetizers, i believe in even numbers. it's far more likely that there will be an even number in a party of people. having an odd number of appetizers on a plate is just dumb. unless, of course, you have an exactly the same odd number of people in your group as there are appetizers portions. only then do i approve.
as for the brussel sprouts, ct liked these ones more than i did. they were cooked softer than golden west's, which was nice, but i didn't love the flavor of the sauce. there was something in it — kind of mustardy-but-not — and i couldn't figure it out. so i spent more time trying to guess sauce ingredients than actually enjoying the brussel sprouts.
despite the pickle chips, i would have to say i liked golden west better than rocket to venus. so on the scale of returnability, i would say it would be even less likely for me to vote for r.t.v. as a destination drink spot. i think the main reason for that is the type of customers r.t.v. attracts; they didn't seem real. plus, people watching at golden west was much more entertaining. and, for me, to want to hang out a place, interesting people watching is a must.
so, i have a deep love for dive bars. and frazier's was definitely rocking the dive vibe. (thank god this post is almost done. i don't know how much more nonsense i can bear to type.) ct and i finished off our small hampden bar crawl with a couple beers at frazier's. to be perfectly honest, i would say out of all three bars, i'm probably the most neutral/apathetic about this last one. we didn't eat, so there isn't anything to say about food. it was pretty dark since it was late, so it was difficult to get a good feel for the place. the bartender was friendly and funny. it was good times. ct took some cool photos with my camera. in terms of going back, i'd be curious to see what frazier's is like during the day — what it looks like, what the food's like, whatever.
and now, having going through all of those, i will bow out semi-ungracefully now. i apologize for the lazy, bizarre writing style. thanks for hanging in there with me.
maybe i shouldn't right restaurant reviews anymore. blech.