Boston, MA: Alison Arnett's complaints
For 13 years, I've been getting paid to eat in restaurants - regularly and often. A dream come true, you might say. Well, yes, and then again, no. A friend once asked what the worst thing about my job was, and I answered, "Eating out." The best thing: Eating out. It's a paradox. Tasting another bite of overcooked tuna, another spoonful of sludgy pumpkin soup, another leaden bit of deep-fried calamari can feel like attaching a ball and chain to my tongue.
Sometimes I find it disheartening that service doesn't seem to get better in Boston. Styles change; there's not so much "Hi, my name is Bob, and I'll be your server" anymore. But it's still too often that you feel as if you're dining on the waiter's schedule. Order when he arrives or be prepared to suffer a painful wait for his return. Expect to have conversations interrupted, to be asked too early, "Are you still working on that?" - a phrase I hate - and, often, to have to practically strangle someone to refill a water glass or get a check at the end of the meal.
And while I'm at it, new upscale restaurants are starting to look so much alike that I walk into one and think I've already reviewed it. Eastern Standard looks like the Metropolitan Club, which looks a larger version of Union Bar and Grille and a little like the original version of Rialto. Doesn't any restaurant designer have an original thought anymore? One more wall of changing colors - 33 Restaurant & Bar, Lot 401 (in Providence), Mare - and I swear I'll throw a spoonful of your finest white bean spread at it. And though I like the looks of Stella, it's channeling Mistral. Makes one yearn for the old days when hippie chefs put up an Indian bedspread and called it decorated.
—Alison Arnett, "The Secret Life of a Restaurant Critic,"
Boston Globe October 9, 2005
P.S. You can read more from Alison Arnett on her blog >>