30 January, 2006

Maggiano's, Kay West and Spaghetti At The Post Office

First off, Kay West should just get a blog. She appears to be in dire need of the catharsis wrought by typing out one's opinions on other people. Her review of Maggiano's begins with a tired dismissal of people who first bother her by vowing to exercise and then bother her anew by failing to keep that vow at her crowded Y.

[A personal aside: Perhaps if those of us who've tried that before had been left to our own devices, we would keep coming to the Y instead of building our own home gyms. We're sorry that we've "tried [your] patience", Ms. West. Hope you enjoy continung to judge us from your lofty "perch on the StairMaster."]

She veers from that judgment of the overweight (fat, but too fat to bother her at the Y) to a judgment of the restaurants who serve large portions. As though my fatness and the fatness of all fat people I know is simply because they're too darn stupid to eat right. As though all fat people are hogs who will mow at the trough until the food is gone. It's not, you see, that we fat people have made the twin mistakes of being born into a gene pool and enjoying to eat. It's not that we make our own choices--a legal right of adults in this country. It's that we walk into a restaurant and blindly eat whatever is set before us, no matter how large or distasteful.

"Wasn't this a restaurant review? " I think to myself. Don't worry. TWELVE PARAGRAPHS LATER she will start talking about the food, dismissive of its quality and damning about the portion size. My favourite part of the review is where she reveals her raw, naked, seething hatred of large portions. She orders spaghetti to go. AND TAKES IT TO THE POST OFFICE TO WEIGH IT. (3.5 lbs)

Lady, get over yourself. So the spaghetti weighs 3.5 lbs. Big Friggin' Deal. If I were to get that spaghetti I would eat it. For several meals. Sometimes you're busy and tired and since you can't work out at the Y and bother all the regulars it's just easier to swing by a place like Maggiano's on Monday night, pick up a big container of ready-made food and have it for supper the next 4 nights. Then you can eat at home and work out at home, shower at home (so Kay and her buddies don't have to stare at your flab in the locker room) sit on you couch and eat your spaghetti in sweats while watching "The Biggest Loser" and feeling a perverse sort of "There but for the Grace of God go I" .

What Kay West never mentions in her review--she apparently forgot to address it, being too busy enlisting the Federal Government in her cause--is that she is a major proponent of the idea of locally-owned restaurants. Her reviews consistently damn the chains for their generic food, low food quality and lack of culinary originality. She openly lauded the establishment of the new "locally-owned restaurant" cartel, the Nashville Originals. You know, the group founded in part by the guy who owns the restaurant across the street from the new Maggiano's. How much of her damnation of Maggiano's is propelled by her apparently vested interest in preferring local eateries over chains.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, until I am blue in the face: what does the presence of a Cheesecake Factory, ... attract some portion of the corporate parent’s expansion dollar? Except for possibly some negligible design differences, the Nashville Maggiano’s is no different than the 35 others in that chain.

It is the independent restaurant—owned by the couple who live down the street from you, or the man you went to high school with—that speaks to the heart, the soul, the spirit of who we are and where we make our home. Only here can you expect to be greeted by a friendly, familiar face at the door who knows your favorite table; .... In 2006, let’s resolve to celebrate Independents’ Day all year long.

Well, Kay. Here's the thing. I love restaurants. I love some chains (yay, Maggiano's), hate others (ugh, Cheesecake Factory.) I love some local restaurants (Yay, Ellendales & Mad Platter), and really don't care for others (boo, that one Italian place on West End everyone raves about whose name escapes me). I'm rather egalitarian that way. Serve me some combination of good food, satisfying atmosphere, excellent service and respect--and I'm yours. I don't care where the cheese comes from, who signs the paychecks or who parties with you on the weekends. What's more, I've lived in this city for almost 15 years. There are several locally-owned restaurants we patronised regularly. Never once (prior to the excellent Ellendale's) has one of these sainted Local Restaurants greeted us familiarly or known our favourite table. Even when we went to Tin Angel sometimes twice in one week, for weeks on end.

Circumstances consipired to have us at Maggiano's twice this weekend. Once, Friday night for a romantic date. It was hands down the best service we've had in a Nashville restaurant--chain or local--in the past year. The leftovers made three extra meals. Our Sunday school class went again for lunch yesterday. We sat at a big table, laughed and talked and enjoyed the bounty set before us. Every single couple went home with leftovers in a bag. Some of us are fat, some of us are skinny. None of us looked down on the other, judged each other by what we ordered or how much we ate. The food was excellent, the service was peerless.

Just a suggestion, but if you want to start looking for why local restaurants are hurting, you might want to start with that "get your fat butt out of my eyeline" attitude. We know where we're not welcome. So we make our home gyms and we eat at places who don't tell us we've ordred too much food.


At 12:45 PM, January 30, 2006, Anonymous Sarcastro said...

West's reviews are never as much about the food and the service as they are about her. Well, her and the ten freeloaders who tag along with her to gobble up free food and test the patience of the waitstaff.

At 1:09 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

She's a Y elitist...thinking it should only be for her and the people who are gonna be there and comit to exercising, dammit.

I've been guilty of this as well....this time of year when you have the people she talks about, it's hard to not be bitter. But I've taken the live and let live attitude--they're gonna be gone soon and hopefully take the little shits who keep jumping in my swim lane and disrupting my lap swimming with them. It's not that I don't want to share, but the kids need to not jump into my lap lane when I'm swimming in it cause I could hurt them or me or both...

Anyway, what was I saying?

At 1:20 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

She's a Y elitist...thinking it should only be for her and the people who are gonna be there and comit to exercising, dammit.

I got very much that she thought it shouldn't be for people whose committment to exercise wasn't as "good" as hers. Having belonged to the Y in the past, there is definitely the attitude that some regulars have toward the newbies that says "This is OUR Y--get out." Sounds like maybe you have it too. Frankly, unless you own the Y, you have as much right to it as anyone else who pays a membership fee. Squatters' rights don't count at the gym.

But I also get your point, because that is exactly why I quit the Y. I joined to swim, and I can't swim laps when people are playing Marco Polo in the lap lane or making fun of me because they've never actually seen anyone swimming with a butterfly stroke or a modified side stroke. I also didn't like those same kids hanging out in the Adult locker room. 8 year old boys waiting for their mother and staring at my breasts is just not fun for either of us.

But in my mind those are both management issues.
The Y needs to enforce locker room policy better, and the lifeguards need to enforce lapswim better.

If somebody join the Y in January and only come for 6 weeks, why should I friggin' care? They're the one wasting their money on a gym membrship they don't use. Their exercise policies are none of my concern or business. Getting ticked at them for not being "serious" is the same as trying to figure out which people in church are the "good" Christians.

At 4:31 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

I had a lot to say about this so I blathered on in my blog about it...LOL

At 6:30 PM, January 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree about the "knowing your favorite table" thing. There are several businesses, both restaurant and retail, that I frequent on a regular basis. Whether they recognize me and give me good service does not hinge on who owns the place. It depends on how friendly and well trained the employees are. Frankly, I find that the "chains" find and train better people more often than not. They have a vested interest in maintaining a well run business with friendly employees because if too many people complain, they could lose their franchises. Whereas the locally owned businesses that West loves so much often don't care as much if people complain because the owner doesn't have anyone to answer to but himself. Besides, he has a whole client base of self-important, snobs who will give him their custom no matter what because he's locally owned. West's Y snobbery is completely ridiculous and has no business in a restaurant review. I have now given her way more time out of my life than she deserves!

At 12:16 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger grandefille said...

Oh, Miss K. Please don't ever take anything KWest says/writes to heart. She's an elitist, all right -- for anything that's connected to her. I learned a looooooong time ago not to read her reviews, chiefly because by the time you waded through eleventy-teen paragraphs about how she came to Nashville from NEW YORK and everything's better in NEW YORK and God why can't anything in Nashville be like NEW YORK, you'd forget what restaurant she was talking about. It's tiresome and a waste of column inches. You're never going to find out anything that isn't about her.

Bring back Nicki Pendleton -- the only Nashville food writer who ever made me salivate and go to lunch (at the place she reviewed) early on a regular basis! (Plus, referring to her freeloading carnivorous co-workers as Thing One and Thing Two always cracked me up.) Yay!

At 12:36 PM, January 31, 2006, Anonymous Sarcastro said...

That broad can't write a review of a Chinese restaurant without bemoaning the fact that nothing in Nashville can compare to any of the Chinatown restaurants in NYC.

That's just lazy writing.

At 1:01 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

The funny thing is that I don't normally read her reviews because they ARE usually about her and her lovely children. (Did you know she has two books published by Thomas Nelson about raising kids? Brag much, lady?)

Anyway, I read this on Friday because I knew we were going there Friday night and this was the only review I could find. I was bummed because after reading it I was sure the food was gonna suck and we'd have an awful date.

Well, the food was wonderful, the service was the best we've had in a year. And that convinced me that she is about the single worst "reviewer" I've ever read.

At 1:22 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger grandefille said...

(Did you know she has two books published by Thomas Nelson about raising kids? Brag much, lady?)

Considering her kids were the holy terrors of her workplace because they ran around screaming and breaking things, I guess her book was about how other people raise their kids.

Oh, my. I didn't mean for this to turn into a bash-KWest-personally-instead-of-professionally-fest. I'll go do that on my own blog. Glad your restaurant date and church lunch turned out deliciously, MIss K.

At 1:24 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger grandefille said...

Whoops. That should have read "I guess her books were about ..."


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