Friday, May 24, 2024 May 24, 2024
89° F Dallas, TX

Fine Dining By Phone? A Review.


flan.jpgMy plans to dine at Charlie Palmer on Wednesday night were canceled at the last minute. That’s like a snow day (night) for me—an unexpected night off at home and a DVR brimming with goodies. I pondered—should I call for Chinese or Italian, what I call my “delivery rut.” Hmm, where was that ambitious menu I picked up a few months ago from that wacky looking place on Inwood that said they delivered? Eventually I found it—Picasso’s Pizza and Grill—and perused the 10-page, 6X8-inch pamphlet of possibilities: 16 apps, 13 salads, 20 pasta dishes, 4 different pizza crusts with endless combinations, fresh fish, baby back ribs, burgers, sandwiches, kid stuff, and desserts. Crazy big. Skeptical, I picked up the phone and dialed the number. It was picked up immediately by Anthony. I asked him if they delivered everything on the menu and he said yes. Then he said, “I see on the caller ID that your name is Nancy. Do you mind if I call you Nancy?” Nice touch. (Note to self: get that changed.) My friend and I decided to give them a real test and began the ordering process. When I ordered a calzone, Anthony said, “That isn’t really the best choice from our pizza selection.” He went on to sell me a Masterpiece Pizza (pepperoni, sausage, beef, shrooms, and vegetables with a calzone crust. My meat-‘n-taters man ordered an 8-ounce tenderloin (cooked medium) with a side of risotto with roasted red bell pepper. In addition, he said, “Let’s see how they deliver a chocolate shake that isn’t melted.” Meanwhile Anthony and I were bonding. I asked him how he liked his job. He said, “I love it. I get the chance to talk to so many nice people and help them decide what they want for dinner.” I could hear other phone lines ringing in the background, but Anthony didn’t miss a beat as he wrapped up our order. “Thank you, Nancy, for calling, I really appreciate talking to people like you on the phone, you make my job so easy. Your order will be delivered in 35 minutes.”

steak.jpg Thirty-seven minutes—and about 5 miles as the crow flies–later, the doorbell rang. “Good evening Nancy, I’m Simon,” said the deliveryman. He passed over the food and the bill and before disappearing into the night saying, “It was nice to meet you and we really appreciate your business.” Maybe I’m just a cynical old broad, but it has been a long time since any fine dining restaurant made me feel so appreciated. Why does it have to be so difficult for service establishments to practice common courtesy? In today’s world, what should be everyday pleasantries stick out like a red silk cocktail dress at a funeral. But on to the food. My sidekick, Mr. More-Skeptical-Than-Me, tore off the top of his shake and looked up with a stunned face. “My god, it’s perfect,” he said. “Let’s see how they got the steak.” Much to both of our surprises, and despite the foil carton, we found a beautiful slab of tenderloin still hot and cooked to a perfect medium (pictured above). You could have re-plastered a bathroom with the accompanying risotto, but the steak was lovely. The pizza was delicious even though the calzone crust was a little too gimmicky for me; I’d rather have a cheesier pizza. And the homemade flan that Anthony told me I “had to have”? It was a Pamela Anderson-sized portion (and presentation) of creamy goodness and enough for four people (picture above). The total for our pig out–enough for four–was $60. However, here is the best part. Instead of chowing down in front of the couch and devouring Law & Order reruns, we were eating dinner, talking about food, and marveling that nice people do exist. I wish more restaurants could deliver that.