While I normally don't do "Friday Fives" (a set of five questions posted on a website that a bunch of people answer every Friday), I do restaurants a lot, so this particular one appealed to me too much to ignore.
- What's your favorite restaurant and why?
Wow, for someone like me that's a really tough one. :-) Locally I'd call it a tossup between two restaurants:
- The Tampa Bay Brewing Company is, as the name implies, a brew pub--basically think of a place like Hops with a much more varied menu: entrees from tabasco-honey glazed salmon to Cuban-style marinated pork to shepherd's pie, and a variety of pizzas and burgers. They have some of the best buffalo wings I've tried. And their beer is really good (including their own root beer), and they find ways to sneak it into most of their menu items.
- Profusion is a sister restaurant to an Asian fusion place in Montreal. The menu's extremely creative, ranging from classic Oriental dishes to eclectic fusion (chicken with sun-dried chiles and ginger) and world-class steaks, and one of the best sushi bars in the area. Lately they've also had dessert martinis. With entrees usually around the $16-22 range they're not cheap, but they're in the same league as some much more expensive places.
- What fast food restaurant are you partial to?
Pete & Shorty's tavern here in Tampa, which is kind of like Steak 'n Shake but a bit more interesting. I also like SnS a lot, though. If you insist on making me pick a counter-service place, I'll pick Chick-Fil-A, or better yet, nearly any taquiera like Twin Cactus or Chilada's. It's in vogue to profess a great hatred of McDonald's, but I don't have one--I just don't have a great like for them, and over the last decade it seems to me that their service and, God help me for saying this, their atmosphere have both dropped appreciably. (Seriously. Check out a McD's built in the early '80s and compare it to one of the ones built in the last few years.)
- What are your standards and rules for tipping?
Basically I'll tip 18-20% for service that's good, 15% for service that's merely adequate, and 10-15% for buffets or "quick service" places (i.e., you order at the counter but they bring the food to you, but rarely do anything else). A server has be exceptionally bad to get under 15% from me at a full service restaurant. The way I look at it, their salary is effectively computed including that 15%; I don't think any of us would appreciate it if we had our salary docked every time a customer (or vendor or client or whatever) chose to do so.
- Do you usually order an appetizer and/or dessert?
Usually one or the other but rarely both, unless I'm really hungry or both of them are being split.
- What do you usually order to drink at a restaurant?
It depends. At TBBC, it'll almost always be one of their beers. I'm particularly fond of cosmopolitans, good margaritas, and mojitos (a Cuban cocktail made with rum, lime, mint and sugar cane juice). In the non-alcoholic camp, I'm a sucker for root beer.