Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Litmus tests

I don't know about you, but when I go to new restaurants and bars, I have a couple of standby orders I use to assess whether I'm going to want to come back.

Sandwich - Reuben
For me, a good Reuben is a few slices of corned beef, about the same amount of sauerkraut as beef, a slice of Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on toasted - but not greasy - rye bread. I can live with some of the variations, like marbled rye or pastrami, but those are small strikes against a place. Too much meat and not enough kraut are the most common felonies.

Drink - Martini
Pretty simple. Gin and olives. If you can't figure out how to put chilly gin in a glass with some big, tasty olives, I'm pretty sure you can't be trusted to make a sidecar. I know, I know, vermouth. I'm with Churchill on this one.

Pizza - Italian sausage, bell peppers, onions, thin crust.
I eat other pizzas, but this combo will uncover any fault, whether it's subpar toppings, flimsy crust, incompetent baking or insipid sauce.

The funny thing is that even though that's what I order to find out if a place is good, I'd really rather have a peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich on toasted wheat bread and a glass of bourbon. I'll stick with that pizza, though.

1 comment:

Johnny Yen said...

Man, are you sure we're not related?

Back before I discovered I have celiac and can't eat wheat, my restaurant staple was a Reuben. At home, I eat ridiculously healthily, so an occasional Reuben was a happy indulgence. My friends laughed at me-- wherever we went, I'd look over the whole menu and then order the Reuben (or occasionally, the Greek salad-- make sure there's plenty of pepperocini, feta and anchovies!).

And the pizza; I've never understood my hometown's thing about deep dish pizza. Again, pre-celiac, your basic thin-crust, with sausage, peppers, onions, and in my case, mushroom. And plenty of sauce, with plenty of fennel in it.

Where I work, we, like many places, have succumbed to the "silly martini" craze, but 85% of the martinis my customers order are traditional. I personally am not a martini drinker (I'm not a big gin drinker-- I prefer Manhattans-- up, Jim Beam, easy sweet vermouth, cherry), but find martinis to be wonderfully aesthetic drinks. At work, we bring the little cocktail shaker to the table and pour it out right there. Like opening a bottle of wine, I love the ceremony.

I had spring break last week. The first thing I did was go out and buy low-fat turkey pastrami and gluten-free rye. I already had the 1000 Island dressing (low-fat) and the sauerkraut in the frig. I treated myself to a handful of Johnny Yen-adapted Reubens this week.