Got upsold at Mrs. K’s Toll House Monday, Jun 15 2015 

Say you ordered a vegetarian dish, and got an add-on of meat; of course you’re willing to pay a little extra for the add-on, but how much is acceptable? If your dish is an $18 risotto, would you accept an extra $5 for some shrimp? How about $8?

How about $16?

This past Friday, I met up with a few friends at Mrs. K’s Toll House Restaurant. It’s in an old converted toll house, just north of downtown Silver Spring. It’s surrounded by green, manicured gardens, and the location itself is a beautiful building full of antique furniture. I loved it. Great ambiance. The service was wonderful, too, very attentive and courteous, and the food was delicious.

I even remembered to take a picture of my dinner, the mushroom risotto:

mushroom risotto from Mrs K's

Yes, that’s more than just mushrooms. When I ordered, the waitress asked if I would like to add on some shrimp. And I said, sure! I didn’t mind paying a little extra for protein. The shrimp, blackened and just a hint spicy, was a delicious counterpoint to the rich, creamy risotto. It was an great pairing – kind of like an amped-up shrimp and grits.

Really, everything was going swimmingly until we got the bill, which showed that I had spent $18 for my mushroom risotto, and $16 for the add-on of shrimp.

I called the waitress over, just to make sure there wasn’t some mistake, and she verified that yes, I had paid $16 – almost 90% of the cost of my entire entree – for five pieces of shrimp.

That’s $3.20 a shrimp.

I mean, it was good shrimp, but not that good.

This meant that my shrimp-and-mushroom risotto came to a grand total of $34, which, I believe, made it more expensive than anything on the menu except the crab cakes and the filet mignon.

Sure, I could have (and should have) asked what the charge would have been for the shrimp add-on. But, you know, if adding on a protein effectively doubled the price of someone’s dish, you’d think it would be polite to mention it, right?

I thought briefly about stiffing the waitstaff on the tip, but the service really had been exceptional otherwise, and besides, our party of five had an automatic service charge on the bill. So I let it go.

But I’m definitely not going there to get upsold again.

I cannot keep silent any longer. Monday, Jun 17 2013 

Listen, restaurants. I really, really need you to recognize the city of Brussels. It’s the capital of Belgium. It’s got a capital B, because it’s a name. It ends with an “s”. It’s famous for, among other things, the humble Brussels sprout. Yes, the sprout and the city have the same name.

I can’t emphasize this enough: there is no such thing as a “brussel sprout.”

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, from the menu of Cacao Lane:

Cacao Lane needs an 's'

Look, it’s not like this is the first time I’ve seen this mistake. I’ll forgive an error here or there from food bloggers. They’re just home cooks. They can’t be expected to do research into how things are spelled. But you, you’re professionals. Food is your career. You should at least spell food-related words correctly.

Even Bryan Voltaggio, celebrated chef on TV, couldn’t get it right on his menu at Family Meal:

Family Meal needs an 's'

Oh, Bryan. Your menu features far more complicated words, like sorghum, bolognese, bearnaise. You don’t capitalize anything else, so I’ll forgive you for the lowercase “b.” But just do me a favor: stick an “s” at the end of your brussel.

(By the way, I was wowed by everything we ate at Family Meal except for the Brussels sprouts, which is weird because I’m generally a huge Brussels sprout fan. It might just be me, though; others at the table loved them. I’m just not a big fan of nasal pungency (I don’t like wasabi or horseradish either), and the mustard or whatever it was in the sauce coating the sprouts was a bit strong for me. It’s okay. Everthing else was fantastic — incredibly moist fried chicken, really flavorful rockfish, and oh, absolutely extraordinary chicken pot pie fritters, crunchy outside with molten pot pie filling in the middle (how does that even happen?). They were tiny and cost $1 apiece, but they were totally worth it. Just be careful not to burn your mouth.)

Family Meal's brilliant chicken pot pie fritters

And while I’m at it, let me pick the scab off another pet peeve. After a great dinner with the in-laws at Family Meal, we went to Kloby’s for carryout the next day. They made me wait half an hour, even though they told me the wait would only be 15 minutes, but it’s okay, I forgive them for that. Their barbecue is totally worth the wait.

This is what I couldn’t forgive (and was stuck staring at for an extra 15 minutes):

Kloby's does y'all a disservice

It’s a contraction of “you all,” right? The letters that are elided are the “o” and “u”; since those letters are taken out, the apostrophe is inserted in their place. The proper rendition is therefore “y’all.”

(My college roommate, from North Carolina, informed me that when addressing larger groups, one may even use the delightful phrase “all y’all.” But that’s for advanced users only. Me, I’ll be happy if you just stick the apostrophe where it’s supposed to be.)

I know it’s a minor nitpick. But I have to stand up for what’s right.