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This is a question Crap meals out

I'd chosen to take my in-laws to one of my favourite restaurants, only to discover it had changed hands the week before. We waited half an hour to get menus. The waitress broke the cork in the wine we ordered. She got our order wrong. The food was luke-warm, mine was overcooked, the rest was undercooked. After waiting another 40 minutes for the last course, we were told that we couldn't have any as the chef had "forgotten to de-frost the puddings".

Let's just say they didn't get a tip. Tell us of your crap meals out.

(, Thu 27 Apr 2006, 14:22)
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don't forget the flies in the toilet
As we had just been on what could better be described as a drunken techno-infused camping-party than outdoor festival, the only vittles we had consumed that past week were standard camping faire, beans and...beans. And rice, and cereal and things that weren't meat because of the hippies...er, vegetarians, that we were with. The first "outside" food we all get to eat was actually, as luck would have it, MEXICAN FOOD, just across the border in Oregon. My general disposition is to avoid all "Mexican" family-type restraint establishments, due not only to the rather horrid quality or quantity of food, but also to the rather tacky surrounding, sometimes incomprehensible waiters/waitresses, "great" music, and the overall cleanliness of everything (this does not apply to authentic burrito or taco trucks in California, those sell the best Mexican food outside of Mexico). The Mexican restaurant that we chose is 'LAS MARGARITAS,' which is a small family run chain that is ruining the good name of not being sick after eating. Aside from this joint being practically deserted, the room that we were escorted to was apparently used also for a dance hall of sorts; tacky disco-ball, karaoke-type machine-thing, scuffmarks everywhere, oh, and a GIANT MIRROR-WALL. Anyway, the menu was filled with your standard Mexican food-fare, if not a little expensive. However, the first true treat of this place lies within the bathrooms.
Now, the bathrooms, while being quite worse than most restaurants, they are not as bad as your standard punkbar (ie "decrepit hole"). That being said, they wouldn't have to do much to reach that level. Lit by a rather yellow fluorescent light, the bathroom is bathed in what appears to be a thin layer of disgusting. However, the human mind attributes this to a trick of light, conveniently allowing us to ignore the fact that it truly is a thin layer of disgusting. There are three standing urinals; the farthest to the right flooded (complete with cigarette butt), the middle relatively clean (thusly it was chosen), and upon inspection, the farthest left apparently had something in it that fruit flies and gnats find most appealing (The flies will return!). The two other waste-receiving options in this bathroom were probably shrouded in a dark corner for good reason. I had to assume they are nothing more than just two stalls regular stalls, which were not illuminated in any way, and given the state of the things in the bathroom, probably didn't work either. I was too scared to find out; that's where the wild things are. The hand washing facilities were also no shining example of proper "I own an actual restraint" management. The mirror had a thin layer of grime (slightly akin to grease that would cover a frying pan after making a few good pounds of bacon), and the wall was in slight disrepair. The molding that separated the wall from the dark-orange shaded tiles of the sink counter was strangely only attached in the middle; both ends were drooping to reveal a rather shoddy caulk job. One of the three sinks was missing the handle for cold water; however, if it worked like the sink I used, then it wouldn't need it. A quick crank on the cold water handle of my chosen sink resulted in nothing; however, the hot water spat out an undefined gush of cold water. Surrounding the sink were several dead flies, apparently drowned, or smashed (or possibly suicide?). One of the two soap dispensers contained soap. However, the paper towel dispenser looks to have been refilled recently, asking the question, why did this bathroom, if actually being stocked with paper, be completely neglected in the area of cleaning (or, it asks the question: does everyone in Oregon just not dry their hands? Or even wash them to begin with?)? As you exit the bathroom, there is a sign posted to encourage washing your hands. "Stop! Please wash your hands; Help prevent the spread of disease!" And they are right; by washing your hands you do help stop disease, much to the chagrin of the bathroom, and the apparent management of LAS MARGARITAS.
Good music can do a lot to camouflage otherwise unworthy settings, but bad music just reminds us of the failures. The music at LAS MARGARITAS was the most wonderful rendition of circus music performed by a drunk mariachi band I have ever heard; in fact, it's the ONLY circus music I have heard performed by a drunk mariachi band. If perhaps the instruments were not out of tune or used by tone-deaf musicians, and if the music had actual Spanish or Mexican sounding origins then there would be no problem. What this strange mixture of sounds achieved was to make a veritable mockery of eating. It seemed as though every action was farcical, purely due to the fact that the crazy circus music conjured up images of sleazy country fairs and circuses, where cheap prat falls, water-in-the-face roses, and other unfunny clown effluvia reigns. This is the same feeling you get while being in Las Vegas's famed casino Circus Circus (add about 70,000 cigarettes a minute and just as many crushed dreams, that is). In fact, the strange Mexican caterwauling seemed to fit the Circus Circus scene in Terry Gilliam's rendition of Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." A drunken, stumbling confusion, both aided and hindered by the circus like surroundings, mockery by the employees, and disgust by the fatter and more sober Vegas natives. Some songs actually added another element to the strange bastard creation that was the mariachi circus; by having a 2-note tuba beat and with some seemingly accordion sounds, we were transported to some strange dimension where the mariachi circus crash landed in the middle of a north western European Oktoberfest. If you try to think of a cherubic Norse-Mexican fat guy in lederhosen, wearing a sombrero, while simultaneously playing the tuba whilst riding a unicycle on a tight rope, you are pretty much there. In order to recreate this masterpiece of work that is the oktober-mariachi-circus, first obtain a mariachi-circus record. This will be no small feat, as the only mariachi-circus band probably died in a bus/elephant collision. Providing there were more copies of this music that did not spontaneously combust while passing within a mile of any god-fearing church, then simply place the record on your turntable (or phonograph), but do NOT turn on the mechanism. Instead, use your own arm to spin the record at its recommended speed; the following sound produced will be a good approximation of the out of tune and tone deaf performance. Oh, and I almost completely forgot to mention that while we were eating to this accursed music, at any moment I expected a clown to attack me with a pie, or an audience to laugh at me while I attempted to stomach the joke that was our food.
Don't forget the flies in the urinal

Then it became time to order us up some of that good ol' food nonsense. I, being secretly described by the other loathsome souls that made up this endeavor, am a food Nazi. I am very very picky. So, I ordered a 5 oz. cheeseburger. Iko ordered a beef tamale and chicken enchilada. Kait had a shrimp enchilada (sans any milk product, she being of the lactose-intolerant persuasion), and Amber decided on a vegetarian enchilada. Drinks were water, coffee, and the mystery of "Mexican" coffee. As an appetizer, we had the normal incredibly stale and flavorless tortilla chips, and a round of super-nachos (Chicken on a side plate to appease those that scoff meat). All of these foods had flaws. (oh, let's not forget the actually passably honey-sugar-strawberry-whippedcream on a fried tortilla bill/dessert, possibly the only reason to eat at a Mexican restaurant aside from getting stomach cramps).

Now I'm going to start backwards from the order I listed the food, but moving the drinks to the end to confuse anybody trying to read this.

Super-Nachos: take stale chips, coat with cheese. Hide some refried beans someplace, top with random vegetables, and just enough guacamole and sour cream to let people not have enough guacamole and sour cream (this way they can charge $1.50 for a side plate of said). Cook enough to appear thoroughly cooked, serve on hot plate to complete the illusion. Not much left to say about the Nachos. The cheese was only heated enough to melt on the surface, which means that the end result was a massive rubbery substance that would attempt to retain its shape under any circumstance. The chicken on the side was a tad cold and watery, like they were reheated remains from the night before (which they undoubtedly were).
Amber doesn't like mushrooms. Therefore, her Vegetarian enchilada, advertised to contain carrots, spinach, tomatoes, guacamole, onion, green beans, peppers, mushrooms and a creamy white sauce (supposedly "'Popeye' approved" due to the spinach), did not contain a good 80% of these ingredients. She received a tortilla filled with mushrooms, and less other vegetables than African-American members of the KKK. When I was young, I did not imbibe in the sins of the mushrooms either, but over time I have come to cherish them, and that being said, I have seen enough properly prepared mushrooms in my life to know that the mushrooms in said enchilada were stored cold, dried out and became slightly rubbery, and then quickly reheated, thus not being anywhere near the ideal cooked mushroom. This meal was quickly scuttled, after the loss of her entire crew to inedibility.
Kait ordered no cheese on her shrimp-configured enchilada. So after making it with cheese, the chefs were kind enough to just scrape and pick the cheese out. If the description of Amber's enchilada leaves an impression of a preponderance of mushrooms, Kait's is alike but almost not. Imagine taking a good handful of only two colors of M&Ms (let's say red and not-red-but-kinda) and then tossing them on a plate and arranging them so each M&M can only touch two other M&Ms. Now exchange shrimp for the red M&M, and cubed tomato for the not-red-but-kinda M&M [(colors the total opposite of what you'd think)], the plate for a tortilla. Serve with a smirk knowing it's complete crap.
It had appeared that Iko had routed his beef tamale rather quickly, though the chicken enchilada had hit a fatal flaw in common with most cuisine that is made by half-crazed (probably full-crazed) hermits who wander through forests for too long; it was wood. Well, it wasn't actually wood, but if a cheap wood substitute was needed (like there isn't) then the chef could definitely hold out for a few million on his invention. The interior of the chicken-food-thing is quite reminiscent of acoustic tile, common in schools and other places nobody wants to be at for an extended period of time. Grey, slightly pulpy, can easily be converted to a dartboard. I envied him not the next time at the toilet.
I'm a connoisseur on hamburgers. I've had many that were disgusting, and many that weren't. And a few, despite the name, were NOT hamburgers. Or, at least, they were hamburgers, but actually made with HAM (Go England!). This burger, despite being small, overcooked, with the texture of cardboard, was actually not that bad, aside from the fact that the "cheese" in the "cheeseburger" equation apparently meant to put enough cheese to argue that it is a cheeseburger, but not enough to be visible or tasteable. The fries SUCKED.
There is coffee that you drink and proudly proclaim "Now THAT"S A GOOD CUP OF COFFEE!", the same way you give props to a strong alcohol that has sterilized your digestive system and made you go blind. And then there is the coffee you just manage to squeeze out of a two-day old lump of grounds and uses a gym sock as a filter. The latter was the coffee at LAS MARGARITAS. Nuff said.
When you take a well established, well, anything, and then completely change whatever it is, but just add a descriptive word to describe the new form, it completely baffles me, just like how that last sentence baffles you. I'm talking about Mexican coffee, which as a drink containing coffee, kahlua, tequila and whipping cream, just leads me to believe that Mexicans get up, get drunk, and like it to be mildly sweet. If you haven't already guessed by reading this peachy review, the Mexican coffee also failed not getting hit by the bus of suck. Starting with the incredibly weak coffee, add only enough of both alcoholic additives so that the profit margin of said drink is around 5000% (take two just-emptied bottles of each liquor and dip the spouts in the coffee, so only the few remnants of the lip are used). Forget to NOT add the whipping cream like the lactose intolerant person kindly asked for, and then go "make" the drink again by putting room-temp coffee in a glass and lying.
It's very hard to ruin up water. And, actually, the water itself wasn't ruined. It was the presentation that failed. I'll forget for now (though by writing it it's a clever trick we writing types like to call "Being a Jerk") that after the waitress brought our food she didn't bother to check in on us and refill out water, so I was left waterless while eating what my mouth was telling me was cardboard. Anyway, at the end of the so-called meal, she came and refilled our waters for us. Now, remember what I told you not to forget? FLIES! So, after I take a long swig of my freshly refilled water to aquify my dry palette, I discover a little fly floating, dead, in my glass. Ick. Not that I'm really too concerned at this, it's just displeasing. And then I find another one in there. And more in other peoples glasses. Did she just not notice the small colony of fruit flies that she was soon going to drown with near-ice-cold water at the bottom of the carafe? Ok, if you work in a bar you can and do get fruit flies to attack the beer spouts at night, but a quick spray and clean remedies that. But, if you work at such an insanely skuzzy place as LAS MARGARITAS that the fruit flies find something edible in the standing urinals, then you have problems. Iko's ex-house, aptly named The Insect Temple (the aptness will soon reveal itself), had a horrible fruit fly problem for awhile, but they never a) died, or b) were killed over somebody’s water. This discovery prompted our expedient removal of ourselves from LAS MARGARITAS, all doubting whether or not we ate clean food. I doubt I did, as having a "hand formed" burger meant that I probably ate 70 of those flies after being smashed into a hamburger patty.
I have to assume that the bill was large. We got a good laugh and probably a case of food poisoning from it though. As we left, I eyed the little gumball machines filled with assorted junk, and found two interesting things; one, a sticker machine containing grafitti-esque drawings of Mexican stereotypes, and more oddly #2, a gumball machine containing both off-brand chicklets and off-brand peanuts covered in chocolate. I am sure that has pleased the hell out of many kids over the years.

And such is the tale of LAS MARGARITAS, which, while my Spanish may be rusty (ie, non-existent), I am sure that translates into "HA HA You actually think we made food you could EAT?" The only other thing I can remember, as it is written on a note, is this:

Amber ate a Pepcid AD after this affair, and now, four hours later, still feels shitty.

eventually this with pictures at students.washington.edu/denki/lm.html

(, Sun 30 Apr 2006, 6:43, Reply)

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