Nobody whines anymore?
That was the question I received after last week’s column. It’s a question I’ve been getting for the past few months.
It seems there’s a real lust for bad news among Whine & Dine readers.
The reality is that this editor isn’t particularly happy to get the whining letters. Calling a restaurant owner and saying, “Hey, someone says you’re awful, and I’m going to put it in the paper,” is not the part of this job I relish.
Not to lecture, but it really is more constructive if diners share their criticisms and suggestions directly with a restaurant owner/manager.
Just this month, I received a note from a reader about a popular, long-established, family-owned barbecue joint. The diner said he was refused his choice of meats because, he was told, the ribs were only for “loyal customers and longtime friends.”
I started researching the restaurant, which the Chronicle had featured several times in its barbecue coverage. Other than the typical barbecue quibbles, I found only good reviews of the northside restaurant.
I called the restaurant owner and then forwarded via email the W&D letter.
It wasn’t five minutes later that the owner called me. He was hot — and hurt. It was a long, emotional conversation. After hanging up the phone, I contacted the reader and asked him to speak directly with the incredulous restaurant owner. It was a call the owner requested.
Several days later, I received another note from the Whine & Dine reader. The reader had contacted the restaurant owner. They, too, had a long conversation.
“Everything is OK,” he wrote, adding that he didn’t want me to print his original complaint.
My point? Whining letters may make good column fodder, but a conversation with the owner/manager may make a restaurant better.
Reader to reader
Many readers had recommendations for Diane Kinner, who was looking for restaurants that serve fried chicken livers/gizzards.
Lynn Luce, George Mathis and Dana Whitehead all wrote in to suggest Hartz Chicken Buffet.
Nancy Arnold of Waller writes, “I don’t know that Hartz Chicken qualifies as a restaurant, but then chicken livers and gizzards isn’t exactly fine dining either — just good down-home comfort food. And the bonus is a delicious yeast roll, not those awful biscuits that other chicken places have resorted to. While Ms. Kinner is ordering the chicken, she might as well order the fried okra. It’s as good as anything Grandma used to fix.”
Find the nearest location at hartz-chicken.com.
Other chicken-liver suggestions:
Joy Brunner: Beaver's Ice House, 2310 Decatur, 713-864-2328.
John Vinson Jr.: Gilhooley's, 222 9th in San Leon, 281-339-3813.
Bob Shearer: Cleburne Cafeteria, 3606 Bissonnet, 713-667-2386.
Mark Hanna: Haven, 2502 Algerian Way, 713-581-6101.
Sher Scott: Cracker Barrel. Find the nearest location at crackerbarrel.com.