June 21, 2007

The State of Dining out in Lubbock

Lean Cuisine Sesame Chicken - not badTonight for dinner I'm eating a Lean Cuisine Sesame Chicken dinner. Surprisingly, it's not awful. I bought a little passel of Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen dinners, because I don't have time to cook except on the weekends, and for dinner I always choose one of those frozen dinners or cereal to offset whatever gastronimic monstrosity I happened to have for lunch. Also, it would be nice if I would reduce a little bit. I am a diehard foodie, and I like to tell people so, obviously. But I fear it's become unnecessary to announce my love of food. It seems my reputation, in the form of a rotund tummy, precedes me, or rather, the rest of me. It's just not cute to be such a diehard foodie that you can't fit through the restaurant doors. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Fortunately or unfortunately, there just aren't that many restaurant doors in Lubbock I'd care to pass through anyway. Today for lunch, I went to Stella's, which passes itself as an Italian-themed, New York style restaurant with pizza, pasta, sandwiches, seafood, and some other stuff. The quality of the fare was somewhere between average and gross. I hadn't eaten at Stella's in awhile, and though I have never eaten anything Stellar there, I thought I'd give it another try when a co-worker suggested it. How do you mess up a balsamic vinaigrette? Pauline's pork was salty and smelly. Jacqueline and Steve got the Soho Spaghetti, and they both thought it was awful.

We were talking about the mediocrity of the food, as well as the slow and unspectacular service, post-lunch. Although we were approached by two restaurant employees in addition to our waiter, all of which asked us how the food was, no one in the party spoke up. We probably all left a decent tip. I know I felt gypped by a too high bill for what I was served. I confess that I'm a little afraid to be high maintenance at a restaurant. I don't want some Hell's Kitchen chef throwing me out of the restaurant or some evil waiter doing something nasty to my food, beverage, or silverware.

Last week I went to Twain's, which is on the cusp of having something going for it. Cute place. Good theme. Great feel-good story behind its beginnings. Still, the food is just very unremarkable. I would love to find a place that serves wonderful food that I can't get anywhere else, but I have yet to find it in this town.

How to Be a Better FoodieI try very hard to find the decent eateries in Lubbock. I try to reign in my critical diehard foodieness. It would be fun to start up a blog or wiki about the restaurants in Lubbock, but there are only so many synonyms for mediocre. How exciting is it to write about a chain restaurant that you could find in any other mid-sized town in the US? Or to write about the Chinese buffets that are multiplying like rabbits? Or "Don't eat at any of the Little Panda Restaurants except for the one on 74th & University. Eating at the others is at best, unwise, and at worst, deadly."

Is it a good idea to speak up when you're disappointed with the service or food at a restaurant? How do you react?


Janssen said...

That's a hard question; because I'm uncomfortable complaining about that sort of thing, I'd probably just never go there again and tell anyone who asked that it wasn't good enough to warrant their dollars. But I probably wouldn't say anything at the restaurant.

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