Archive for the tag “NYC”

Great company cannot save a so-so meal…

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a few weeks – for a couple of reasons.  If I’m truthful (and I am!), the first reason is that I didn’t want to write this post.  The second reason is that I’ve been so incredibly busy wrapping up last-minute details for our annual Digital Summit (people…registration deadlines are not meant to be a suggestion!) that I haven’t really had time to sit down and give this post proper attention.  Thankfully, the conference was wildly successful (based on the feedback that I received), and I can get back to “She Ordered What?!?” business!

As I start to go into my carb coma from The Mac Shack’s “Papa Smurf” mac ‘n cheese I devoured tonight,  I decided I should finally share this lackluster dining experience.  If you missed my post about The Mac Shack, please find it here.  And, for reference, here’s a picture of the “Papa Smurf” and the “Koh San Road” mac ‘n cheese dishes.

“Papa Smurf” (left), “Koh San Road” (right)

While I was in NYC, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, I had a business dinner with ~40 other folks who were at the Forrester Research client dinner.  The group was full of terrific people – I really enjoyed the company and the associated conversations.

A wonderful group at dinner!

The only downfall about the evening is that the food was not properly prepared, and was a quite a let-down.

Now, proper disclaimers: we were a large group, we went to a chain restaurant, and it is a steak joint, so my expectations were really not set too high.  That said, Smith and Wollensky really dropped the ball, in my opinion.

I handed the waiter, Carl, my blog card.  He read it, and acknowledged my request.

After sharing several platters of shellfish, onion rings, veggies, and salad, Carl and his coworkers began to deliver our entrees.

A plate with a rib eye was placed in front of me.  I’m not a huge steak connoisseur, but I was surprised that Carl chose a rib eye.  In any case, my request for beef is to have it prepared medium-rare.  The steak I received was medium/medium-well (medium-well, I’m being honest again!).  Not much flavor, and not prepared to order – but not the worst of it!  At least my hash browns were pretty tasty!

What was worse was that my dinner companion to the left, my Forrester Account Manager, Matt, had ordered a medium-rare Porterhouse, and was served a WELL done steak that had essentially been butterflied.

Matt and Sue (a firecracker of a woman!).

I gave him a portion of my steak, to hold him over while the restaurant prepared a new steak for him.

To my right that night, two of my dinner companions had ordered medium and medium-well filets, respectively.  The steaks came back RARE (bleeding!) and medium rare, respectively. (I would have gladly exchanged my steak for one of those!)  Seriously, not one person received dinner the way he or she had requested.  Again, we were a big group, but this was ridiculous!

I do wish that we had a better dining experience – to go with the fantastic social experience we had!

One of the “positives” (I guess…) is that Matt did indeed polish off the second Porterhouse he was served that night!

And, he lived to tell about it – he and I had lunch the following day and he claimed he felt just fine.  Amazing!

Another positive is that we all shared several wonderful desserts.  It took some major prodding to get me to taste some pecan pie, but I’m glad I did.  It’s one thing I really miss about living in the South.

A plethora of desserts...

I have experience in the catering and general restaurant business.  I know it’s tough to deal with larger groups.  What we experienced at Smith and Wollensky’s was pretty darned disappointing, IMO.  And, Carl’s choice for me was disappointing as well.  With my only exceptions being maple syrup and scallops, I think he could have found a better option than an ill-prepared and non-descript rib eye.

I hope the rest of the team had a great social experience – like I did.  And, I hope we have a better dining experience next year too!

I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

– Ker

My first two nights in NYC – I let my friends choose for me.

I’m in New York for a conference this week, so I know I won’t have much time to explore or enjoy the extensive culinary options that Manhattan boasts. It’s kind of a bummer – even our networking dinners always seem to be at a high-end chain restaurant. Never a local gem. And, while these aren’t true “She Ordered What?!?” posts, I’m posting them as such since my friends ordered for me, and I really didn’t know what I was in for!

After what felt like an epic journey to get here (which had me ranting on Facebook and Twitter – ignorant mom with your mobile phone stuck to your ear while your children disrupted every last passenger on the plane, I’m talking to you! American Airlines, I’m also talking to you for boarding, de-planing, re-boarding, de-planing again, canceling, all the while lapsing in customer service and forcing passengers to carry their own bags up and down rickety stairs while in dresses, carrying other personal items, babies, etc, and up again, and down again – and then finally getting us to NYC. – post-script: same bologna on the way home!), I decided to take the advice of my friend Daniel. He tweeted me and advised me to grab chicken and rice with the “crack” sauce (the white sauce I would surely get addicted to) from a street food vendor on the corner of 53rd and 6th called Halal’s. He also advised me that their would likely be a line, indicative of just how good the food was!

It was about a ten minute walk from my hotel, and it was a gorgeous night. The line was 6-7 people deep at 8PM. That was a good sign!
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I spent $6.00, plus a $2.00 tip, and carried home enough food to feed four people! I spent more than twice that on a glass of wine from the hotel bar!!

But, Daniel was correct. It was really good food, and the “crack sauce” was yummy. Not spicy like I thought it would be, given Daniel’s addiction to Sriracha sauce, but that’s why I was also given a tiny tub of red spicy sauce along with the white sauce. To spice it up!
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I was only able to eat about 1/4 – 1/3 of the portion, and I wish I had a fridge in the room to save the rest. But, alas, most of it went to waste. 😦

I think that food gave me some good energy too! Monday morning, I woke up early and went for a run through the city. I knew I was motoring way faster than I used to when I was a regular runner…and map my run (while getting a bit confused amongst the skyscrapers) seemed to agree. I covered some pretty good ground in about 18 min. And, I broke a nice sweat. I was glad to get a workout in, because I knew I was meeting a dear, dear friend for dinner that night. Beth lived in the city for 12 years before she and her husband bought a home in New Jersey last year. My original plan was to go visit them Sunday, but as I mentioned, that didn’t happen.

So, after a day of fruitful meetings, I set out on foot to meet Beth at Inakaya – at 40th and 8th. Again, a short walk, but nice to get out for a bit!

After her long day, and the rough start to my trip (did I mention that my brother called that morning to tell me my mom had broken her leg and was in the hospital?), we decided to split a bottle of wine along with sushi, sashimi, egg custard, and maki.
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Round two – we had already finished off the sashimi and sushi platters (I forgot to take pictures because we just dug right in!).

I let Beth order everything, since she knows me as well as I know myself! We caught up (it had been a year since we’d seen each other) and enjoyed really fine food. The lone “eh” piece was the mackerel. Fishy and not up to snuff with the other pieces.

It was a great night though…how can you go wrong with a good friend, good wine, good food, and in an amazing city?!?

A bit later, another friend messaged me and asked if I wanted to join him for dinner. I told him I’d keep him company and watch him eat…so that’s what I did. I kid you not, Jeff polished off this whole platter of chicken parmesan before we went on to meet up his colleagues and business contacts of mine. I had to throw this photo in for good measure!
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While I wish I had time to spend walking the city like I do on personal trips to Manhattan, I simply don’t. I am grateful to have had two nights to dine as I like to, without forced networking that comes with conference attendance! Tonight, it’s about networking (and turning back into that shy girl I was so many years ago!). Wish me luck!

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