In order to keep my title of Scottsdale Culinary Travel Writer, I’m obligated to write at least one review every 30 days. Two would be better. Actually, the more often I publish an article, the happier the powers that be.
But I find myself discouraged. Once upon a time, I was thrilled to be dining out and writing about my experiences along the way, especially living in a new place. Not just any new place on the map, but Scottsdale, Arizona.
Just the name sounds cowboy, glamorous, rugged and rich all the same time. The problem is, a lot of people seem to think that up here we all are rich and willing to spend more for the same things that people in other areas of the valley spend less on.
Take gasoline for example. Watch the news. In Scottsdale, gas is always more expensive. Take a drive out to the Shell/Circle K station at Dynamite and Alma School for a fill up. I dare you.
On one hand I’m a bit offended by the stigma, of people thinking because I have a Scottsdale address that means I’m willing to pay the hirer prices.
On the other, I’m ticked off just enough about paying these hirer prices that I’m willing to drive into “normal land” and save more than a few dollars.
But as the Scottsdale Culinary Travel Writer, I’m supposed to write about food in Scottsdale.
For starters, it’s more expensive. And the punch line to that story is that the food isn’t always better. In fact, it’s usually not better, making it not worth the $50 + per person that we’re paying for it.
A few weeks ago I wrote about a new restaurant in D.C. Ranch. I wrote honestly about our experience. Bottom line, our overall take away from the dinner was that we wouldn’t be back.
That article stirred the pot and I got some strong emails and even a phone call from one of the investors of the place. In the phone call, the gentleman was apologetic and invited me back to the restaurant to try again. “Just let us know when you’re coming,” he said. I didn’t think that was the way to get a fair “re-evaluation” of the place.
My gripe about the place – too expensive for what you get. That meal cost us about $75 a person. Was I out of line? (By the way, I haven’t been back yet.)
Another new place opened up with much fain-faire. Too much if you ask me. The Grand Opening, that was delayed several times, was fueled by a mass mailing invitation promising free food and adult beverages. Granted the adult beverage selection consisted of white or red wine, but still, tell people you’re going to give them free food and alcohol…? Yes, a lot of people showed it. It was standing room only, long lines for food that was mediocre to say the least. We chocked it up to being a buffet type of event and decided to try the place again for Valentine’s Day.
For the lovers holidays, the restaurant offered a special menu at the special price of – you guessed it - $75 a person. If I had been blown away by the selections, maybe I wouldn’t be griping? Yes, I would be griping - $75 per person?
Since I haven’t tried their regular menu, I won’t go into details. But since they did give me gift card, I will go back and write a full review.
Until then I want to know – why do these new eateries come up to this neck of the woods and think it’s okay to feed us food that is bland, blah and sometimes questionable and charge us three times what we’d pay for the same or better down in the valley?
The email explanation I received from the first poorly spoken of restaurant, told me that perhaps I wasn’t their “target demographic” and my “tastes” just didn’t match their menu.
I took the demographic part to mean that I’m not a snowbird and therefore must not be in the desired income range as their target. What I wanted to know was how this place would survive the off-season months when all those rich snowbirds who are willing to spend $75 a person per meal, fly on back to a cooler summer and only me and my low-rent Scottsdale desert dwellers are their meal ticket?
The second part, this guy telling me my tastes must not be sophisticated enough to appreciate his menu, well… that got me.
I’ve eaten in some of the greatest restaurants in the country. I’ve been to Europe and Mexico. We were in both places long enough that we had to eat. I’ve eaten from the taco cart on the street to the most expensive sushi in Los Angeles. I’ve been impressed and disappointed. But I’ve never been told that my tastes must not be “smart” enough to like a menu.
I know what I like. I like a good meal. One with flavor. One with some presentation – although if the food is good enough, presentation won’t matter at all; that food will be gone too fast to appreciate the swizzle of sauce around a piece of meat nestled into a bed of sweet roasted vegetables.
But mostly I like a meal that feeds me, makes my family happy and doesn’t break the bank.
And if it’s going to be expensive, at least let there be enough left over for a doggie bag and lunch tomorrow.