Lunch Steaks: Desi Vega’s, Doris Metropolitan, And You Can’t Do That At The Table

One day for lunch, Av and I made reservations for Desi Vega’s Steakhouse, which is a nice, light and bright space — not heavy and laden with so many dark woods like other steakhouses

And just as a complete aside…a complete, *complete* aside…there was an older gentleman sitting over there by the front window dressed in his lovely suit, holding court. He was so elegant, so fabulous, you could tell just in an instant that everyone was just at rapt attention to what he was saying. At the end of the meal, I looked over to where he was, and he started flossing his teeth there in front of everyone. Cue the side-eyes of his tablemates. I get it: I wear Invisalign so I have a special affinity for a new box of Oral-B unflavored too, but right at the table? You can be a million kinds of wonderful and not be able to get away with flossing in public.


ANYway, we started with the Who Dat Shrimp, which are Gulf shrimp stuffed with crabmeat and wrapped in bacon, served with a sweet Thai sauce

They sent an amuse of a meatball after the app. I like the idea of drinks served / order placed / amuse before apps, but I guess this is their custom here.

Av had the mixed grill, which is described as ‘marinated chicken breast, medallions of filet mignon and sweet Italian sausage’ but doesn’t the chicken look as though it got really charred, the chef cut off the worst of it, and then put it back on the grill for some marks? Also, among ugly plates of food, this is pretty far up there. Even the steak looks unloved and raggedy. What even.

It was what it was: not particularly good. The service was great, but the food itself, not so much. Even the Caesar salad I had for my entree was just ‘whatever’. And you’re tickling me when you’re channeling the 80s and sprinkling things on the border of a dish. It’s so retro it’s just almost made the complete circle of life and swung back around to be charming.

Another Friday, we had lunch at Doris Metropolitan in the Quarter, which was fun in part because Av knows the people who own the restaurant

Their aging room

from what I understand, they offer their butchering services so that patrons may bring home what they like

Here’s one thing I really, really liked. Not only are you given a cloth napkin for your lap, but the silverware is placed on its own napkin so that it never touches the table. Fellow germ-phobes (germaphobes? germophobes? how about just ‘my people’?), I know you see the beauty and wisdom of this.

bread = amazing

Av was not in the mood for a huge T-Bone or NY Strip, so he ordered the minute steak with chimichurri salsa which was just incredibly delicious. This is one of those dishes you could put on the rotation every single week and never get tired of. So delicious.

I wasn’t big on having a steak like Av was, so even though it’s uncommon for me, I was in the mood for a hamburger. This was one of the great hamburgers ever — the menu describes it:
Wagyu Fat, Gorgonzola, smoked Gouda, mushrooms, caramelized onion, black garlic and garlic aioli, served with truffle fries yes yes yes yes yes. Even (I have to say it) better than the hamburgers at Chez FonFon.

BTW (thinking of fab hamburgers), the 60 Minutes profile of Danny Meyer last monthwas excellent. He talked about what goes into the success of Shake Shack — much of it still a mystery to him — and how every single minute detail is thought out…how much goes into the consideration of the experience at each of his restaurants from Gramercy Tavern across the board, and he talks about his no-tipping policy which makes sense when he explains it:

Meyer says he’s found that the front of the house staff sometimes makes 300 percent more than the kitchen staff. So he has increased the base pay of servers and kitchen staff to balance things out and increased menu prices by nearly 25 percent to compensate.  He eschews the “no-tipping” phrase.  He calls it “hospitality included.” “It’s basically saying, ‘You see that price that it costs to get the chicken? That includes everything. That includes not only the guy that bought the chicken and the guy that cooked the chicken, but it also includes the person who served it to you and how they made you feel.'” 

Menu prices are higher, but in the end, checks are roughly the same as if the diner had added a tip, Meyer tells Cooper. “By the time you get your bill, whatever shock you did or didn’t feel when you saw the menu prices,  should completely dissipate, because you should say, ‘That’s exactly what it would have been if they hadn’t had this new system.'”‘

Yes to fairness and love to the kitchen.

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