Seriously Wicked: conversation with a reader

I recently interviewed Evelyn about “Seriously Wicked” by my friend Tina Connolly. Spoilers below!

S: Alright, who was your favorite character in the book, and why?

E: Um, my favorite character in the book was probably the witch, because I like her, like, passion. Even though Cam kept rejecting her spells and stuff, she just kept on trying, and I think that’s… I mean, she stuck with it.

S: Do you, so, do you think the witch was a wicked witch?

E: I think she was a wicked witch in its own sense, like, she was wicked totally because she wanted to take over the town and be in charge and everything, and she was going to do it in wicked ways. You could also think of her in other wicked ways, like she kills animals for her spells. But, like…she also is like a nice mom and she takes care of her kid. And it’s probably very hard for her since her husband died, so.

S: What was the funniest part of the book?

E: The funniest part of the book is when – it’s also my favorite part of the book – is when Sparkle figures out that… She’s like, what is going on? How do you guys know that I’m a witch and like everything is coming back to her and stuff. It’s the funniest part because she’s just so confused and she doesn’t know what’s going on because she did a forgetting spell on herself.

S: Do you think if you were like Cam in this book, do you think you would like having a witch for a mom or not like having a witch for a mom?

E: Well if I was Cam I would have the same personality as Cam, so then–

S: (laughing) Okay, well let’s say you were in a situation like Cam but you were yourself, would you like that your mom was a witch, because, you know, maybe you could learn some spells and stuff, or would you not like it, because she might be evil?

E: Not like it, because, um, I don’t know. (laughing) I just think that the witch’s plans were pretty crazy.

S: So who has crazier plans, Cam’s mom or your mom?

E: Probably Cam’s mom, because she wants to take over the town, but mommy, she… (laughing) Yeah, pretty much Cam’s mom.

S: Do you think this is a good book for someone your age, and why or why not?

E: I think I would recommend maybe a few years older even though I liked it, because… I don’t know, I feel like people would understand it a little bit more, because like… I don’t know, it’s about like boys and love and stuff. I mean, no offense, but…

S: So were there any parts you didn’t understand? Or to take it a different way, is there anything you would want to ask the author if you could?

E: I would ask Tina Connolly where she got her inspiration from because most authors combine people they know, and I think that Cam’s personality – and all the people in the book in fact! – have very different, interesting personalities, and I want to know where she got her inspiration from.

S: Do you think maybe her mom was a witch?

E: Very unlikely. But maybe she was like me and Oliver when we made potions in the bathroom?

A10 gets an A+

In addition to watching some movies, I also mentioned going out to eat while the kids were gone. In particular, we finally (finally, FINALLY) made it to A10.

We have been meaning to go to A10 for a long time. I remember peeking in the windows when they were still building the place. We were excited! And yet, it’s been open for almost a year, and we’d never actually made it.

Now, I’m a guy who’s willing to drive for food, and A10 is the kind of place that I would drive to. The menu is unique and interesting, and the food was great. The location is great, and the place exudes cool. The bar is one of those places where you want to order martinis or an Old Fashioned and wait for Dean Martin to stroll in. Even the bathroom was cool.

We had the country bacon pizza to start, and Sara followed that up with the A10 burger. I went with the green tomato sandwich, on the waiter’s recommendation. It was good. I would have prefered a few more green tomatoes (the sandwich should rightfully be called “the pork belly sandwich which happens to have some green tomatoes”), but it was tasty and filling.

But here’s where it gets cooler still.

Apparently there was some kind of computer glitch that caused a bit of a wait. It took about 40 minutes for our food to come out. It was definitely a long time, and I looked at my watch more than once, but we were there without kids and it wasn’t an unenjoyable time. The waiter apologized profusely to us and another table, but we really weren’t that put out. Perhaps we would have been, but again, no kids, and nowhere to be. After we had finished eating, the manager stopped by and casually mentioned that it was unacceptable that we had to wait for so long, and the food was on the house.

Looks like someone just earned themselves a blog post.

It was completely unexpected and I almost had to ask to hear it again, I was so surprised. We would have been happy with just taking a couple of bucks off, hell, we were happy as-is. The apology was sufficient. But that’s what a good restaurant does. They make you WANT to come back, and to tell all your friends about the place, and to order drinks that would fit in on the set of Mad Men until you think a dead guy from the Rat Pack is talking to you.

Take a minute to compare that to our experience at Founding Farmers. It’s as close to a photo-negative as you can get.

A10, man. Tell your friends. Get some of those northsiders to drive down to OUR neighborhood for a change. I’m sorry it took us so long to try it.

Founding Farmers – A Bad Experience

I don’t know if I’ve ever written a bad review of a restaurant before, so this is somewhat of an unfortunate first.

As I mentioned on the D.C. post, we had planned out a few special restaurants well in advance. Founding Farmers was one that we were particularly looking forward to. On top of the fact that several people have told me it was their favorite restaurant in D.C., it’s mission of supporting small farmers and buying local, organic ingredients when possible is certainly right up our alley. A restaurant that composts!

And the food was, overall, pretty good! But there were a series of increasingly bizarre mishaps that were sort of impossible to ignore. It could be that we were just unlucky or had a particularly bad waitress, but I believe indicate a larger problem with the way the restaurant is run.

The first incident was that we got the wrong appetizer. Now, before you jump down my throat, this was no big deal and probably wouldn’t even have been worth mentioning if not for everything that came after. It was quickly and painlessly resolved.

However, when the meals came out, we also received a wrong entree. I can’t stress enough how much I don’t like to send food back or make a fuss at a restaurant, but in this case the kids had ordered a plain hamburger (no cheese), but instead received a blue cheese bacon burger. The waitress even said, “Hamburger, no cheese!” when she set it down on the table. Evie will not eat cheese of any kind, but especially loathes blue cheese, so I had no choice but to ask for a new one.

Unfortunately our waitress had disappeared and it took quite some time to get a replacement. Now again, even at this point, it was no big deal. It was the next incident which was really the kicker.

After we exchanged the burger and started to eat, Sara said, “My salad is wrong too. This has olives on it.” So we once again flagged down the waitress and explained there had been another mistake. Naturally, she was flustered. “No, that’s the salad you ordered!” she insisted. “I don’t remember which salad I ordered, but I really don’t like olives, so I’m pretty sure the one I ordered didn’t have olives,” said Sara. “I wanted the one with the grapes and the dates?” “No, I’m sure that’s the one you ordered,” insisted the waitress again. “I’m sure of it.”

She went off to get the menu to prove it to us, and at this point I know Sara was feeling like maybe she accidentally said the wrong salad. But when the waitress got back and showed us the menu, the salad listed said:

Farmers Salad

Baby Lettuce, Avocado, Dates, Tomatoes, Red Grapes, Almonds, Parmesan Cheese, Champagne Vinaigrette

“Yes, that’s the one I ordered!” said Sara. “It doesn’t say olives.” “Well,” said the waitress in a snotty tone. “It doesn’t list everything.”

This is where it started to go off the rails. Yes it does too list everything, and furthermore olives are a pretty significant ingredient. We’re not talking about some extra sunflower seeds or something; adding olives to that salad significantly changes the character of the salad. You can’t add olives and not mention it; Sara is not the only one who doesn’t like olives. In retrospect, there didn’t seem to be any dates on the salad, so maybe they substituted olives for dates? But, again, you can’t not mention a substitution like that.

But furthermore, if there are unlicensed olives on a salad and someone complains about it, you can’t get snotty with them! Get snotty at the chefs or manager or whoever authorized dates-for-olives, but not at the customer who didn’t want the olives!

“Do you want us to make you a new one without the olives?” asked the waitress, extremely put out. “I’m really sorry,” said Sara, “but I really don’t like olives.”

It took quite a while for the new salad to come out, so by the time Sara got her meal, the rest of us were finished. We had originally planned to get dessert, but at this point we thought it best to just cut our losses and run.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t over yet.

When the check came out, I made sure to triple check it, especially with the wrong appetizers and everything. It just seemed likely there would be a mistake. There wasn’t…until she brought my credit card back. The amount charged to the credit card was not the same as what was on the bill.

“What do I do?” I asked Sara. “They couldn’t have added gratuity for just us, right? Do I just subtract the difference from the tip or something?” “You have to tell her,” said Sara. I really didn’t want to. I mean, I didn’t want more grief, I just wanted to get out of there.

The waitress was apologetic and made jokes about our table being the “cursed” table, but honestly, this was a bridge too far. It took her FOREVER to correct the bill. The kids were getting squirrely, and we were feeling very frustrated. I don’t really understand why we didn’t jump to the top of her “to do” list at that point, if for no other reason than just to get rid of us.

It should be noted that, at no time during any of this, did a manager come over to talk to us or did anybody mention anything about taking something off the bill or anything like that. Of course, I didn’t ask to talk to a manager or anything (and I really don’t think I ever would, short of the food actually murdering a member of my party), but, I don’t know, it just seemed like it might have been appropriate.

So, despite the food being generally good (would it be petty at this point to mention the deviled eggs and potato salad were meh at best?), I can’t in good conscience recommend Founding Farmers.

Least Helpful

Certainly, it is very helpful to look at reviews before buying something. Sometimes reviews are useful, and sometimes they’re not. A lot of sites even let you mark if a review is helpful or not. But what about the *least* helpful reviews?

I’ve certainly encountered very unhelpful reviews. For example, you’re looking for information on a product, and someone gives it a one star rating because of the return policy of the company. Not helpful. Well, someone bothered to aggregate all of these unhelpful reviews into one location. Marvel in the stupidity.

For example, the guy who used Rit Dye to dye his hair:

I guess, to some people, that might actually be a helpful review. How about this one?

Maybe it’s just children’s literature in general?

I’ve read both of these books to my kids. What a bad parent I am! I wish I would have read the reviews first!

Oh well, at least they’re not part of the liberal conspiracy, like Holiday Inn.

Link via Eliza.

Cafecito

I had one of the best sandwiches I have ever had in my life.

This is not a statement I make lightly. I am a big sandwich fan (and a former sandwich artist), and I have had my share of tasty sandwiches.

However, we hit up Cuban coffee house Cafecito the other day and one of the sandwiches really spoke to me; the Chivito. At the time I thought it was a specialty of Cafecito, but I’ve since learned that it is the national dish of Uraguay. Cafecito’s version consists of Steak, Ham, Bacon, Fried Egg, Mozzarella, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Shoestring Potatoes, and Citrus Mayo. In short, what’s not to love?

I found this picture of the Chivito on yelp:

Despite the ingredients list, this is NOT a breakfast sandwich. I don’t know why exactly, but the sum is different than the individual parts somehow. I was a little nervous about the citrus mayo at first, but it was surprisingly good and really meshed with the whole sandwich. It was a welcome addition.

All of the food was good, though the service was a little slow (we took it to go and had to wait for a while). There were lots of good looking things on the menu. However, I would be hard pressed to order anything else with the Chivito staring me in the eye. It is not to be missed.