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August 02, 2011

Dining Out: Rules We Live By

Nicole and I love living in a metropolitan area. The Twin Cities is a great place to live. It’s not too big, and there is always something to do. One of the prime reasons we love to live in a city is that we can always find good food. We follow six rules for dining out: (1) The Black List Rule; (2) The Chain Rule; (3) The Branch Out Rule; (4) The Tipping Rule; (5) The Favorites Rule; and (6) The Pasta Rule. I will post about each rule separately.

(1) The Black List Rule

This is a very important concept. The basic idea is this: if we eat at a restaurant and the experience is so outrageously bad, the restaurant is “black listed.” This is a very serious matter. Once a restaurant is black listed, it can never, ever come off the list. Once on the list, we can never eat there again. Never before has a restaurant been removed from the black list. Nicole and I both must agree to place the restaurant on the black list. When a restaurant is under consideration for the black list, it is typically placed on the “provisional black list.” Sometimes those restaurants on the provisional black list are given a second chance based on a particular redeeming factor (read: they give us free food to come back). There are no set criteria for being placed on the black list. It’s like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography: we know it when we see it. A restaurant cannot be black listed for purely deficiency in service, unless the service is so poor that no rational person could put up with it regardless of how good the food is. I cannot recall a restaurant getting black listed solely for poor service. I do remember once going to Mai Village in St. Paul. We had eaten there several times, and loved it very much. It was a weekday and it was not very busy. We were seated and ordered. As we sat there, tables filled in around us, and everyone around us started to get there food, while we waited. When our food finally came, my food was ice cold. It just so happened that at that moment, a manager stopped by our table and asked us how our food was. I told him mine was cold and that I wanted a new dish. He then proceeded to touch my plate, which was hot, and he said “But your plate is hot.” In which I replied, “But I’m not eating the plate. The food is cold.” So he took the food, and 2 minutes later came back with a piping hot microwaved plate of noodles and vegetables. Gross. It was terrible. Nicole’s food was also bad. Thus, in that situation, Mai Village was black listed because of how the manager handled the situation, in addition to the fact that the food was terrible. There is only one restaurant I can recall where the food was literally inedible. We once ordered delivery from this Chinese place in West St. Paul called No. 1 New China. The delivery took forever, and once it got to our house, the food was ice cold. This is bad enough, but when we tried to heat it up, it was so bad we couldn’t even swallow it. To be fair, I did call to complain and received a refund. Unfortunately, that did not save No. 1 New China from being placed on the black list. I could go on and on about restaurants on the black list, or the provisional black list, but it would take forever. We don’t actually have a list written down, we just remember it.

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