I read something on Facebook tonight that left the worst taste in my mouth. Maybe my senses are heightened right now given all the “drama” going on in my life, but I just can’t seem to stop stewing over this.
Michigan serves up some great eateries! From mom-and-pop breakfast joints to cozy coffee shops to historic restaurants to eclectic pubs to trendy cafés. We have places that are great for families with young kids, places that are romantic for date night, ideal for group gatherings and tech-friendly for working business meals. We deliver it all, and there have been times in my life where every one of those scenarios has come into play.
There are also some key cities around the state that are “foodie friendly” meaning they have high concentrations of restaurant diversity, surrounded by the bounty of local farms, wineries, breweries and distilleries to offer a complete culinary tourism experience. My Top 3 (in alphabetical order) would be Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Traverse City.
And while we have enough restaurants to go round, enough tourists (and residents) to take care of, the one thing that we don’t have a need for (in my honest opinion) is intentional unwarranted criticism of one establishment by the chef of another place.
Tonight I witnessed a chain of derogatory comments on the Facebook wall of a Michigan chef who was visiting an iconic restaurant in his town (ie “competition” of sorts)—a restaurant that has served generations, year-round, and has contributed significantly to the economy not only in terms of the number of tables that are flipped on a daily basis (7 days a week, 52 weeks a year…minus a couple holidays)—a restaurant that employs dozens of people, from teenage bussers to bar managers and wait staff who have been there for 20+ years because it’s that great of a place to work.
Granted, the two restaurants are as different as night and day. One is noted for their large portion sizes and a menu that you can count on to be the same as it was when you were a kid. A place where the staff know your name and what you drink every time you walk in the door. One is relatively new, with an innovative chef big on small plates and high prices. The one thing they have in common (other than the town in which they operate) is that in the peak season, you could have an hour-long wait to get table.
I keep asking myself…WHY!? Why would this noted chef (who has been written about in a variety of national publications and blogs) take a knife to the hospitable restauranteur who has done absolutely nothing wrong but serve up the finest cuts of steak, fish filets and yes, fried appetizers that you crave every now and again…along with a nice selection of Michigan craft beer and wine? Why would he post photos of things so random as the dish of butter packets? Or, encourage comments about garnishes on the plate?
What I keep telling myself is that you can bet that I won’t drop a single dollar at this chef’s restaurant ever again. No matter how inspiring and glorious he thinks his menu is, just walking in the door would ruin my appetite knowing how he has attacked another local business for no reason whatsoever.
What I will do, is continue to support this legendary restaurant just has I have since I moved up north. Ironically, I was already planning to have dinner there tomorrow night while in town on business.
I can’t wait to see the staff (who are actually now my friends), and greet the bartender who will pull a bottle of Michigan wine of their choice – just as they do every time I’m there – and say how great it is to see me again. And I’ll take an hour to order, even though I know now that I’ll order a rare ribeye steak (although, I am subject to change my mind between now and then, maybe it will be prime rib and lobster with extra lemon for my butter), just so I can catch up with everyone (staff and friends who I’ve met there at the bar). I’ll have my wine poured into a plastic cup so I can walk out on the deck to see who I know out there (maybe there will be music, if so…BONUS). And I’ll linger as long as I can before I have to take the 90-minute drive home because it’s worth the trip each and every time!
My mouth is already watering…