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Back to the Kitchen


I’m a bonafide foodie and love to cook; more than just cooking I know how to select a good piece of meat. When I want something special I will go out of my way to butchers like Cumbrae’s in Toronto so that the meat I cook at home is every bit as good as the meat I can get in a restaurant. While I don’t have a Montague Broiler at home, I do take grilling steak seriously. My steak of choice is typically a Rib Eye; you could say I’m something of aRib Eye expert, but I am a sucker for a bone-in fillet too. I do have a good grill at home and have been complimented on my steaks by more than just family. For the record my Prime Rib roast and Roast turkey have received raves too. 😉

Knowing how to cook and select meat does mean that I have high standards. This does have some disadvantages, I tend to be rather picky on how my food is prepared. I’ll eat anything, but if it isn’t prepared correctly, and I’m in a restaurant, I will send it back. I hate sending food back, but I am the customer, I don’t like doing this but it does happen. Last night I was out with the family for a nice meal at The Keg where I ordered one of my favorites, a Rib Eye, the steak was tough. Sure The Keg isn’t Harbour 60, or Jacob’s Steakhouse that said the steaks at The Keg are still good value and I’m seldom disappointed. This steak wasn’t just tough to the touch the big steak knives at The Keg really struggled with cutting it. How a restaurant handles themselves when you send something back tells you a great deal about the restaurant.

Last night I would rate The Keg a 7.50/10 for how the handled my particular situation. There were no complaints by the staff and they quickly whisked the steak away, and in fact the only thing preventing a 10/10 had nothing to do with the steak and everything to do with the sides. When my plate returned my steak was perfectly tender, which I could tell by both the “poke check” and cutting; exactly as I would expect it. The problem was the “onion straws” they weren’t replaced along with the steak, neither was the potato, and while the potato I can let slide the onion straws once sitting for a while tend to lose their crispness and “steam” and go soft, and that’s exactly what happened to mine. So my steak was perfect, but one of my sides was ruined. Hence 7.5/10.

This experience is nowhere as bad as an experience a couple of years ago at Via Allegro, a high end restaurant in Etobicoke. I sent my steak back to the kitchen and the waiter returned 2 minutes later and said “Chef suggests you choose a different cut of meat, as the Rib Eye tends to be a tougher cut perhaps a Fillet would be more to your liking?” I was beside myself that the waiter would even think this let alone say it. I’m sure they cut into the steak in the kitchen, they may have only done the “poke check” on it. Regardless the customer told them it was tough, and I assure you it was, and their response wasn’t what it should have been. The replacement steak was perfect.

Sending something back doesn’t just apply to food, but wine too, ~8 percent of all wine is “corked” and while you don’t want to be wrong, you sholdn’t feel bad sending something back that isn’t right. When it comes to wine not everyone can tell that wine is corked, assuming you’re eating in a higher-end restaurant simply ask for the Sommelier he’ll know for sure.

As a patron in a restaurant you have to feel comfortable sending food back to the kitchen, you’re spending your hard earned dollars for something, it should be prepared correctly.

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