Tuesday, January 31, 2012


In my blog post 'If I had one more day.' I had written that I would have taken a picture of our hands.  Hands can tell you so much about a person.  I remember meeting then Governor Huntsman at an event and when I shook his hand the first thought that came to my mind was 'You have never worked a hard day in your life.'  They were the softest hands I have ever felt. 

Three years ago my friend and great photographer Ms. D'Arcy took this photograph of mine and T's hands.  Some people may think it is cheesy, but this photo always makes me smile. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Response from The Bent Brick.

Dear Nubian,

I'm very sorry about your experience at my restaurant on Saturday night.  As a seasoned chef and restauranteur, I am accutely aware that all of my guests arrive expecting to eat fantastic food, have a great time and leave fully sated and happy.  My goal is to satisfy every guest that dines with us whether they are having a few drinks or Eating The Whole Menu.  I take all of my customer's feedback, positive and negative, very seriously and I respond to all feedback personally after I discuss the issue with my staff.  

With this said, I must certainly apologize for the miscommunication generated by the server at your table.  She misrepresented the Eat The Whole Menu at The Bent Brick which unfortunately ruined for you what has historically been an epically great experience for all of the guests who have ordered it. Apparently your server led you to believe that we strongly encourage large parties to Eat The Whole Menu.  This is not the the point that should have been communicated.  We like our customers to order however they wish to order.  It's certainly fun for large parties to Eat The Whole menu but how our customers enjoy our menu is entirely up to them.
 It is very unfortunate that your server stated that there was no manager on duty when you requested to speak to one.  We always keep 2 managers on duty at all times, one in the kitchen and one on the floor. There were, in fact 2 managers present when you left on Saturday.   Her lack of communication on theses two points are egregious indeed, and will be addressed.

We have trained our waitstaff to let our customers know that the Eat The Whole Menu is our version of what would normally be a "grand tasting menu" at high end restaurants.  It consists of 5 to 6 amuse, 10 courses and 3 desserts.  It is a big experience in that it involves eating more than 12 ounces of food and it typically takes 2 hours for 2 people to eat at a relaxed pace and 3 plus hours for 6 or more people.  This equates to 1 course every 7 to 10 minutes.  We think that this is the proper pace for a night out to dinner. We believe that if you are at The Bent Brick to Eat The Whole Menu it is our obligation to let you enjoy it.  If you want it expedited we will happily do it but there is a limit to how fast most non-competitive eaters can injest their food.  

As it clearly states on the menu, ($55 each, 10% of which gets donated to Blanchett House) it is designed so that everyone at the table gets one menu.  The value perception on the Eat The Whole Menu has been so positive that most of the people who get it the first time return to eat it again. . . except that they want to split the menu amongst 2 or more people when they return.  This is a fair request and we like to try to do everything we can to accomodate our guests. Unfortunately, accomodating this request can sometimes cause undo problems. 

Your table contained 8 guests; 2 people ordered a la cart and the other 6 people split 3 tasting menus. At $55 per tasting menu that equates to $27.50 per person.  Yes, this is real money and we don't want to be responsible for it being mis-spent at The Bent Brick.  But this is not $55 per person. This is $27.50 and it is what you would typically spend on 2 and a half appetizers at any decent restauant in Portland.  Some large parties split Eat The Whole Menu in order to sample our entire menu and reorder the dishes they want more of. Judging from your reaction you were too displeased at the portion size of the split dishes to consider reordering.  Possibly, you chose to split the Eat The Whole Menu among your table to save money.   This is a valid move but you should not have been lead to believe that you would get full in doing this.  

It is unfortunate that you came in to The Bent Brick expecting us to comp your corkage because one of your party made the wine they brought in.  We don't expect, and rarely receive, free wine or services from wineries we don't know.  You shouldn't expect free services from unfamiliar parties either.  We have very many close contacts with local winemakers.  We have built our wine program around those relationships.  We treat these winemakers as our friends and family and they return to The Bent Brick frequently to taste their wines on our draft system.  You can talk to any of the fantastic local winemakers who have engaged us about our keg wine system and they will tell you volumes about how well we treat them when they come to The Bent Brick.  But, it is impolite and disrespectful to walk in to a restaurant that you are unfamiliar with and expect them to give away services.

I do sincerely apologize that your server on Saturday did not communicate clearly with you how the Eat The Whole Menu should have been applied to your party.  That mistake ruined what should have been a fun and enjoyable evening for you.   I appreciate your feedback on this and it will be used constuctively.  I assure you that I will address how this particular issue gets handled in the future so that our efforts to accomodate our guest will end up pleasing them.  I know that we probably won't be seeing you again at The Bent Brick but your feedback will be used to improve our service in the future.  I hope that you will put this response, unedited, on your blog.  I will put this exchange on the Bent Brick blog so that our followers can see how we are trying to improve their experience night in and night out.

Regards, Scott  

*This post is unedited

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dining Debacle.

A few months ago I read this blog post about The Bent Brick, a restaurant in Portland, Oregon.  It sounded wonderful and I liked the idea of being able to sample the entire menu.  I thought it would be a great thing to share with my friends on my birthday.  I went online and made a reservation for eight people.

Saturday evening arrives and we are at the restaurant and I was pleased to see that they seated us against the wall as I had requested.  Alas that was the only good thing about the evening.  The waitress approached us, handed us the menu and informed us that with large groups they prefer to do the tasting menu.  I opened up the menu and was surprised to see that the price was now $55.00 per person.  Based on the blog we read we figured that there would be enough food to share and placed our order with the waitress.  The response was "I don't know, we prefer that you all have your own." to which one of my friends asked "well could you find out?"

At this point we should have got up and left.  I was seething.  I watched her as she asked the Chef and there was lots of pointing and huffing.  After a while she came back and informed us that it would be fine.  Two of our friends chose not to have the tasting menu, but have their own entree.  At no point were we told that the food portions are only enough for one, or is it on their menu.

Our friends Becky and Beau (Becky from a local vineyard in Oregon) bought along a bottle of her Brut and wine to share.  Corkage fee was $20.00 per bottle.  In most restaurants around the country corkage fee is waived for industry because that is what we do to form better relationships with the people who are most likely to be asked when pouring their wines, "Could you recommend a place for dinner?"  It is all about helping each other out.

Now this is where it got to be fun.  First plate plonked down in front of us were three mussles on a bed of rocks.  Yup, rocks.  We all looked around and Bear asked the waitress what we were supposed to do.  Her response, "those are to share."  So I took one mussel, cut it in half and shared it with Bear. I was so dumb founded I forgot to take a picture.  Becky was then in charge of the camera.

We arrived at 7:00pm and food started coming out at around 7:35pm.  I am noting the time as it is an important part of the tale.

Next up was the pickle plate.  The tasting portions were for three people.  Remember we are all sharing. One plate was for 3 people.  Hopefully this will clarify any confusion.  We were not given three individual plates with individual tastings.

Pickle Plate, how adorable one sliver of pickle each.

Next was the country ham rillettes, green tomato mustard and toast.

Tasting portion for three people

Crispy pork snacks , buffalo style.  Sorry no picture and I am to blame.  I was so damn hungry that when the plate was put down I would grab and pass along.  Suffice to say this was no more than thinly sliced pork skin deep fried. 

Ken's Bread and Butter, which I cannot remember and Sunchoke Tot and sorrel cream were to follow.  Again no picture, but you can now imagine what the portion size was.

Parsnip, Carrot, Rye berries, brown butter, sage

Crab Louie sauce, cucumber, grape

3 clams, Sunchoke, Chowder, Seaweed

Braised sunflower seeds, Peppers, Cheddar, Chicory (sunflower seeds were like boiled peanuts)

Egg, Chanterelle, Bone Marrow, Onion

Sweet Bread, Cabbage, Horseradish, Dill, Bacon (that little piggy was hiding)
The time was now around 8:45pm.  Remember when I said that two of my friends decided to order off the menu.  They had not received their food yet.  At no point where they told when their food would arrive.  As you look back over the above pictures are you remembering that we were sharing?  At the cost of $55.00 each.

Finally the LARGE items, the Salmon was half the size of my palm.  Our friends at this point received their food as well.

Salmon, Pumperknickle Spatzle, Brussel (leaves only) Red cabbage (hiding under Salmon)

Lamb, Beets, Quince, Buttermilk

Pork, Fried Rice, Persimmon, Turnip
Honestly at this point we were all beyond disgust stage.  We actually turned it into a game and my friends truly did save the evening by making me laugh and pouring a little more wine into my glass.  I was truly so ticked off I didn't even take a picture of the desserts.  Suffice to say, Cheerios should not be part of a dessert and serving various forms of chocolate milk in three shot glasses with a straw is just not classy.  If you were to put one portion of every meal that we tasted, I would wager a guess it would not fill the inside of dinner plate.

While training in the hospitality industry I was fortunate to work under some of the greatest chefs.  Chefs who belong to the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs  As the waitress was putting down the samples and explaining what the dish was, the phrase my Chef would say came to mind, 'keep it simple.'

There is obviously a market for The Bent Brick in Portland, alas it is not us.  I really do feel that their wait staff need some training.  Let's start with the diner that just sat down worked hard for their money.  Make their experience an enjoyable one. We did try to speak with the manager at the end of our meal, last dish being served to us at 10:15pm.  She had left. The cost for three tastings was $165.00. 

As the waitress put down our checks she said "Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me."  So it was her birthday as well. 

I should have responded "Thank you for almost spoiling mine."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My birthday weekend in pictures.

This Saturday was my birthday and the weekend fun had been planned by our twitter besties, Lars and David. 

Friday evening T, Bear and myself went out for sushi.

mmmmm Sake

Nigiri and Spider Roll

Avocado Roll, Veggie Roll, Cucumber Roll, Corvallis Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll

On Saturday morning we headed to Portland to start the day.  First winery stop was Cathedral Ridge.  Our blogger friend Beau runs the tasting room and we stopped by to taste some great wines.  We then proceeded to The Four Graces, Domaine Serene, Vista Hills and Lenne. 

I love this.


Our friend Beau. You all should be following his blog.
Cathedral Ridge wines that we tasted.
Four Graces Pinot Noir

Love the broccoli fuzzy balls.

I love their label.

Four Graces Tasting Room

Vines (duh)
Drive to Domaine Serene

Very, very good Chardonnay, also very, very expensive.

I must say so myself, this is a bloody great picture!

Domaine Serene Tasting Room.
Vista Hills Tasting Room

I love creative wine labels.

Vista Hills

At this point I was hungry and beginning to giggle, hence this pic.
Lenne Vineyards

More lovely labels.

Sunday morning we joined 14 other people for the monthly hashcapades.  This time it was at Cafe Nell.  So thrilled that Lars and David introduced us to this great event.

Cafe Nell

Best Bloody Mary!

Trout Hash with egg and hollandaise sauce.

Omelet stuffed with Gruyere Cheese.

Omelet stuffed with Granny Smith Apples and Gruyere cheese.
Sausage and Sage Hash.
To Lars and David, thank you for making my birthday so special.  You guys rock mountains!  (If you are on Twitter go follow these great people.  Lars - @virtuallars Dave - @ZtypeAlpha)

To Bear, thank you for a great weekend and for spoiling me, I love you. (Hubs isn't on Twitter, but I know if he was you would follow him.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I heart my KitchenAid.

Generally the rule is that for Mother's Day one does not give a gift that has a plug.  This has been Nubian's rule, feel free to adopt it.  One Mother's Day I did receive my KitchenAid and I am so happy that Bear and T. did not heed the rule.  Numerous hints and pictures on the fridge may have been the clue to them and I was thrilled.  I have had my KitchenAid for a few years now and I get to make great dinners like this.  Enjoy the pictures.

Getting ready to make the pasta.

Pasta goodness - I know it's not the right attachment, I don't have the spaghetti one.

Not quite perfect, but that is what I love ~ rustic pasta.  I get points for being creative.

My home made pasta sauce bubbling away on the stove.
Ta-Da!  Pasta yummyliciouness.  

If you don't have a KitchenAid and would like one for Mom Day, feel free to forward this blog post to your significant other and show them what great dishes you could be making.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Beauty and Adobѐ

"This commercial isn't real, neither are society's standards of beauty."

Isn't this a great ad!  A friend posted on G+ and I wanted to share with you all.  I do like the liquify button, got to find that one.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I have talented friends.

A while ago I was introduced to the blog Mitchell is moving.  This is his description of his blog. 

Jerry and I have moved around quite a bit. In the summer of 2011, we arrived in Southern Spain in the beautiful city of Sevilla. This is a chronicle of the paths we have taken and continue to take. Along the way, I tell stories about us and the years leading up to us, the many plunges we've taken together off the high board (sometimes into an empty pool), and all the other stories of two lives constantly on the move.

I love reading the daily blog about their trials of moving, Jerry's wonderful cooking and Spanish faux pas and Mitchell's ability to always look at the funny side of life, whatever the situation.

Many of us follow so many talented bloggers and sometimes I think their talent is glossed over as it is on a sidebar that many of us don't read.  My intention today is to introduce you to the great talent of Mitchell and his website, ToldemArt.  ToldemArt designs are created using the letters of the words they illustrate.   

Go on over to ToldemArt and see how talented my friend is.  Sometimes I envy my friends being so talented, but then remember that I do have the talent of Bitch.  

I use my talent well.
Penguin Mousepad by ToldemArt
Penguin ~ how clever is that!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Cheers to my Nubinites

I have been reading a few blogs about 2012 resolutions.  I don't make resolutions.

I just want 2012 to be nice to me.

2011 was a bitch.