No more tea mysteries please.
No more tea mysteries please.

Tell me what's in the tea!

I don't drink a lot of soda, so when I'm out for lunch, my drink of choice is more often then not, iced tea, no sweetener with a slice of lemon and a water on the side.

And, when I order iced tea, I expect it to be just plain old iced tea. I don't expect sweetened or flavored iced tea. And if it's either of those, I want you to tell me. Peach iced tea, which seems to be gaining popularity in local restaurants lately, is not plain iced tea, and it's a shock when you take a big old sip from a straw and get a mouthful of unexpected peach.

It's kind of like if you were to take a large slug of what you thought was Sprite, only to find it is actually tonic. Blech. Your body has an immediate, confused and negative reaction.

Yet, this seems to happen to me more and more frequently to the point that I now ask servers if the tea is flavored when I order. I would much prefer this information be volunteered, but maybe that makes me high-maintenance. Maybe I shouldn't be such a tea purist and I should just drink whatever they give me with a smile.

But that doesn't seem very fair since I'm paying for whatever ends up being at the other end of my straw, whether I like it or not.

Waiter, there's a fly in my soup...
Waiter, there's a fly in my soup...

The lost art of the "make good"

Mistakes happen in restaurants. No one is perfect, and if you're turning enough business, occasionally something won't turn out right.

I think "make goods" are potentially the most important part of being a good restaurant; how your staff and management react after something unsatisfactory happens, and how they make their customers feel good enough to return for another visit.

But in recent years, the art of making good seems to have fallen by the wayside at many places, and I find that disappointing.

Scott and I were out for brunch the other morning, and my meal was awful. Usually, I won't say anything because, for the most part, I'm actually a pretty low-key diner, and because I worked the industry for so long, I understand and I forgive and forget quite easily. But this time, my food was so disappointing that I wouldn't have eaten it at all if I hadn't been so hungry.

The dish had appeared layered with a white sausage gravy that wasn't in the menu description, and my over-easy eggs came cooked solid (which I hate -- I like a runny yolk). When the server came over after a few bites and asked how things were, I said, "You, know, my eggs are overcooked, and this gravy over the top is really bitter."

"Oh," she said, "I'm sorry." And then she walked away.

I was stunned.

But then I started thinking about it more and realized it's unfortunately a sign of where more and more Milwaukee restaurants are heading. The art of lagniappe, or going above and beyond, has really gotten lost in our new generation of restaurants. That's not to say that all of them aren't making good, but it's becoming rarer and rarer.

Another one that stands out in my mind was during a review dining visit when I dug my fork into a plate of pasta and came up with a piece of a plastic cooking glove. Back in the day, and still at many well-run restaurants, this would have merited taking the entrĆ©e off our bill completely and bringing me a new dish. At t…