Friday, February 12, 2016

I need a ruling on this restaurant issue

SCENE: A bustling, fairly trendy restaurant in San Francisco.  The kind of place with artisanal cocktails that all have one ingredient you have no idea what it is and waitresses with full sleeves.  The Wife and I are out on one of our very very very very very very rare nights out together.  Baby Beyonce - who is now Toddler Beyonce I guess or even Kid Beyonce, because she's almost 3 and speaks in full sentences and has opinions about things - is being babysat by her great-aunt and great-uncle.

HERE'S WHAT HAPPENS: Having drinks, perusing the menu.  I pick the following option:

OK!  I definitely know what beef is.  I know what braised means.  I kinda know what kohlrabi is - some kind of cabbage thing? Hey, the Times is ON IT.  I know what lollipops and kale are, never had them together, but what the hell, I like them both so it couldn't be that bad.  I even sort of know what bagna cauda is!  It's like a vegetable sauce you dip shit in, like a less-fun fondue.  OK, let's do it.

After the obligatory deviled eggs (seriously, if you have a restaurant and you don't have a deviled egg appetizer you might as well just fucking send your address in to Eater's "Restaurants That Closed" because you are FUCKED), entrees arrive.  It looks fine!  It's a little bit of beef with some green stuff sprinkled around it.

Now, of course, like all restaurants in San Francisco of the aught-teens, it is PITCH BLACK inside and so I'm basically eating blind but I take a couple of bites and it's fine, and then suddenly I take a bite and BOOM my mouth is full of fish taste.  ACK ACK WHY IS THERE FISH ON THIS.  I didn't ask for fish and don't want fish.  And this is like really sharp fishy fish.  Ugh.  My life is ruined.

The Wife sees me convulsing and examines the dish with her superior eyesight.  "It's an anchovy," she says.  WHY GOD WHY.  Why have you cursed my otherwise satisfactory dish with the loathsome presence of anchovies, the broccoli of the sea?

THE DISPUTE: Do I say something to the waitress or not?  Something like, "Excuse me, but I think some mental deficient in the kitchen accidentally sprayed stale fish all over my otherwise edible beef" or "Excuse me, I think someone's pizza from 1975 is missing something" or "Excuse me, please get this the fuck out of my sight."  The Wife says no, so I accede to her wisdom and say nothing.

(Further research conducted IMMEDIATELY after leaving reveals that bagna cauda "is made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil, butter, and in some parts of the region cream." Which, fine, mix them in the BC if you must, but that doesn't mean drape them all over my meat like a fish blanket.)

I guess I should have said something but I'm always like who does that?  I don't want to be that guy.

Anyway, have a good weekend.


Leslie said...

I've never heard of bagna cauda, but I would definitely not expect to have a sea creature in this dish. I'm always delighted by the surprise presence of anchovies, but I know that I might be alone there.

If restaurants cared about being smart they would list way more ingredients on their menus ESPECIALLY ingredients that are commonly polarizing. But they don't care about being smart. They only care about making you look like an asshole who has never heard of bagna cauda. So it's their fault when people send shit back. Anything really spicy, fermented or fishy should probably make it to print.

If you're not a fan of unexpected fish, be extra vigilant if you go to Japan. You can't even order pizza without someone trying to sneak some squid and kewpie mayonnaise on it.

Stephen said...

To the extent it's a standard ingredient in bagna cauda (words I've heard but don't know the meaning of), I guess it's on you to ask ahead, to avoid the unspoken "the menu *said* bagna cauda, rube." But I think I agree with the above. No one without a solid background in bagna-caudaticism would expect fish on their beef. The menu shouldn't say "bagna cauda," it should say "fish sauce."

Anonymous said...

Wait...there was bagna cauda on your braised beef on purpose, or your braised beef and the bagna cauda got intermingled around their respective edges? Or there were anchovies on your beef?

With "it's an anchovy," as opposed to "it's anchovy," it would seem the latter, which is fucked up. They shouldn't be putting anchovies over braised beef without prior notice any more than a restaurant should sprinkle ground beef over their seared ahi with miso glaze without warning.

And I say that as someone who likes anchovies.

This all reminds me of how Schnitzelhaus (R.I.P.) used to serve a schnitzel variant with an anchovy cream sauce. Apparently you would have hated it, but it was great.

Alissa said...

This is why I often just have the server tell me what everything is, even if its like 4 or 5 things that I dont know. We recently went to Pizzeria Delfina which just serves PIZZA and still the menu was full of unrecognizable ingredients. Its also hard to tell what is a pork product because pork products have like 5000 different names these days and I dont eat pork. Last time I didn't ask I ended up eating lardo, which is just lard. Awful.

Michelle said...

I'm with chestery on two points:
1/ how did a whole anchovy end up on your beef because
a. Bagna cauda means 'hot bath'
b. all ingredients should have melted

2. RIP Schnitzelhaus

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