this is me Alejandro Rangel

25 03 2009

I’m a blog about my experience in the cafe. This is my second time taking cafe and thats because i basicly miss to many days in the class. The second time i took the class i realize that in the real industry there not gonna have that. I never work in the resturant as a server or how they would say it the front of the house, and threw the three weeks that i have done it i learned to set up tables (setting up the utenzilsthe right way). I also learned that even though i’m not cooking, I have to prep for unexpected things.I also learned not to make the same mistake twice. I have learned to be a hostess, bartend, bus tables, and run the food to our customers, and a dishwasher LOL!!! One thing for sure is. Having mike as my teacher was the best three weeks i have learned and had at C.H.I.C and i hope me brown noseing gives me a better grade.


Restaurant review: by Marie F.

17 12 2008

Hemingway’s Bistro
211 N. Oak Park Avenue
Oak park, IL 60302
Chef Christopher Ala & Lucia Ala
Tel: 708.524.0806
Fax: 708.524.1143
Hemingway’s Bistro is located in the Frank Lloyds Wright Historic District in Oak Park, IL, nestled in The Write Inn hotel. The regular menu features American and Parisian items served both for breakfast and lunch. The dinner menu offers a beautiful and delectable array of hors d’oeuvres, salades, les plats du jour (soups), and les plats principaux (entrée). Portions are generous, so do leave room for the tantalizing desserts. Prepare for a memorable experience of French cuisine in a casual atmosphere. Service was as I expected, from the moment I called to make reservations (which at 6:00pm wasn’t necessary), pleasant and warm. We arrived and were seated immediately, our waiter Aaron was all too eager to commence what he was so very well trained to do. At times we felt rushed, but I suppose it had everything to do with the time it took between each course. We started with raviolis filled with duck confit accompanied with a balsamic reduction, followed with Foie Gras du jour, delectable! Our entrées, what a delight, an Herb Crusted Whitefish served with caper butter and a Pork confit served on a bed of rigatoni. Service was outstanding and the décor was quaint, just like I would imagine a French bistro in France would be. I would recommend this restaurant to everyone who would like to experience a little bit of France. Breakfast: 7:00am-11:00am, lunch: 11:00am-3:00pm, and dinner 4:00pm-10:00pm daily, 11:00pm Fri & Sat. Menu is totally ala cart, however additional daily specials are available. Once you have entered the bistro look for the board with the Specials of the day. A full service bar with an extensive wine list is available. Valet parking is offered only on Friday & Saturday. Hemingway’s is also available for private parties. Reservations are recommended. Bon Apetite !

Mercat (Restaurant Review) by Tera P.

24 11 2008

The experience at Mercat for the most part was great.  I liked the almost perfect professional atmosphere and the great tapas that were on the menu.  The one thing that I thought was a little unprofessional was the wine service.  I know that Chef picked this restaurant so that we could see how professional wine service was done and that’s why I was disappointed at how different is was compared to what I was expecting.  They didn’t present the bottle to the person that ordered the bottle, Chef, while opening it and they sat the bottle on the table to open it.  Professional wine service is supposed to be presented to the ordering person at all times even while opening the bottle and the bottle is not to be sat on the table until the bottle has been opened or almost opened. 

            The tapas were very good.  I tasted a sausage that I had never had before and if I knew what it was before eating it, I probable wouldn’t have.  The blood sausage was good as well as the sauce that accompanied it.  Another one of my favorites was the seafood croquettes. They were awesome with the tarragon sauce. The restaurant also had a lot of color.  The multicolored chairs at the tables and the oak finish on the tables were a good atmosphere for a Spanish restaurant.  I do think that they could have made the experience more Spanish by playing Spanish music in the background. 

            The waitress was nice and we didn’t have to look for her when we needed something.  But the service could have been better just by putting out more silverware with each course.  Overall this was an enjoyable experience and I would like to go to this restaurant again for dinner or even lunch.

resturant reveiw

14 08 2008

over all I think it a good program which teaches a lot. I think I worked hard came along way andearned more that I was given! It wont slow me down! no disrespect intended! thank you any way.

The downfall of service

23 07 2008

Over the past year, I have taken different groups of students to various restaurants around the city of Chicago.  My goal is to visit places where we experience quality food and my students see how outstanding service can add a whole other level to the dining experience.  In general, we have had good experiences… until recently, that is.  These latest experiences, from bad to terrible, have left me asking the question “Has guest service in the restaurant business gone away?”

About six weeks ago, I planned to take my class to a small restaurant in town that specializes in small plates.   It has a casual atmosphere and casual service.  While the service at the restaurant is generally adequate, the service I received from the GM on the phone prior to our visit can be summed up in one word:  pathetic.

The first thing to know about this particular establishment is that they do not accept reservations; the hostess who answered the phone made this abundantly clear.  Second, while I do admit to calling last minute (about 2 hours before we were to arrive), I could not believe what happened next.  The GM got on the phone and told me that they could not “accommodate any reservations!”  I responded that I was not making a reservation but giving them a courtesy “heads-up” that I was bringing a small group (12 people) of culinary students in that evening.  After 15 years in the restaurant business, I have always found it a help to know when a group that size is coming to dine with you.  Next he said that it was “not cool to do this to them…you will take up half of my dining room!”  Knowing the restaurant seats 80, I told him that I was not planning to bring 40 people, just 12.  The conversation ended with the GM telling me that we could come but we had “better be there before 6 pm” and that “we may not be able to take care of you!”

The next experience that makes me wonder what has happened to guest service was just last night.  I took my students to a relatively new, upscale wine bar that focuses on good value wine ($40 – $80) that can be paired with their above average selection of cheese and cured meats.  I had been to this place many times myself, and while the service hasn’t been spectacular, it was congenial and helpful.  The service last night was, well, non-existent.  The owner was taking care of our group so one would think that service would be perfect.   He approached the table, gave a short spiel, brought us two already opened bottles, set them on the table, and never came back.

We were supposed to have cheese and meat plates.  There was supposed to be conversation about the wine.  We received absolutely nothing… I really do mean nothing.  It was the least amount of contact I have ever experienced between customer and server.

While these two experiences are extreme, I do find that most restaurants have forgotten that guest service is as important, if not more important, than the food one serves.  It is astounding that we, as industry professionals, will stand by watching guests leave our establishments less than 100% satisfied.

Ending on a negative note here would not be right.  There are establishments in Chicago, as well as all cities across the country, that still feel that guest service is as important to a restaurant’s success as is its food.  One such restaurant, and here I will name names, is Boka.  On the night the GM essentially told me that he did not want my business, Ian, the GM of Boka, was more than happy to help me and my class find an outstanding experience.

I called Boka after my conversation with the aforementioned GM of the small plate restaurant.  I told the hostess who answered the phone our situation and she placed Ian on the phone with me at once.   After explaining our group size and that we would like to dine within the next 30 to 40 minutes, Ian told me that they would be more than happy to accommodate us.  This happened to be on a Monday night when they had only two servers on, yet they opened a new section just to seat us.  The service was seamless from the phone call until the end of our meal.

At the end of our meal, I told Ian about my phone conversation with the other restaurant and thanked him for being so accommodating.  His response? “It was nothing at all.  This is what we are here for.”  If only we would all remember that small but powerful sentiment.

Ginos East Pizza: Maurice Jones

22 07 2008

My experience at Gino’s East Pizza wasn’t the greatest. They have been slinging pizza since 1963. I was actually glad to go there and eat some pizza, which I hadn’t had since the age of thirteen. My friend Joel Davis and I stopped in there for lunch on our way to school for a quick bite to eat. As soon as you came in the door it was very unprofessional in more ways than just one. We were standing at the host stand for about three minutes before the hostess came out to seat us. OK we are seated, water and menus for our perusal I’m feeling more comfortable now. My only gripe with the seating was the booths were all made for the smaller man not us with the extra couple of coats. The waitress was we had was the host also but she did a hell of a job managing the few tables and the front door. She explained the menu of ordering a deep dish pie would take 45 minutes to an hour. A few minutes later our appetizer appears which is a tasty spinach and Artichoke dip with what appeared to be large croutons that were actually french bread toasted until crispy. After that the deep dish pepperoni comes out the taste of the filling is incredible crust wasn’t the best it sort of taste like cardboard. All in all the taste of the pizza for the forty dollar price was outrageous but the atmosphere was pretty good. I would give the two and one half stars.

Let me know how you feel on pizza in Chicago, whats you favorite pizzeria in Chi-Town!!! M. Jones

Avec- A review by Jeremy T

22 07 2008

If you ever thought about eating good food inside of a sauna, this is the place. Last Monday, I and a lady friend of mine went to Avec for dinner. Located in the west loop at 615 Randolph Street, the kitchen stays open until midnight so we got there around 9:30.

The place does not take reservations and when we got there it was a 45 minute wait. The outside waiting area was open, so we had some drinks to wait for a table. However, there were no chairs and no bartender, so we had to go to the bar get drinks and go back outside. Kind of awkward because of how small the place was but no big deal.

Inside the space was nicely used, for being a small place there were a lot of people there eating. It’s a long somewhat narrow space with one half being a bar and the other half being 1 long table that extends the entire restaurant.

The wine list was decent sized with selections from Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy. Around 10 bottle selections from each for reds and whites, and 5 of each for sparkling and digestif. Bottle prices ranged from around 25-100, and glasses went from 8-15. Glasses were actually around 1 and ¾ of a glass. They were served in this mini decanter with a seamless wine glass over the top, neat little piece of flair, kind of unnecessary but it looked chic and kind of went along with what the all around atmosphere of the place.

The actual menu was very cool with a selection of small and large plates, also a choice of cheeses. We chose three cheeses for 15 dollars as a starter. They were all very nice and had great explanations from the server. Then we went on to have the chicken sausage and the chorizo stuffed bacon wrapped dates both small plates which were really cool. The chicken sausage I thought was standard, like exactly what you would expect it to be. But the dates were fantastic. Main course I got the braised pork shoulder which was good, but not exactly what I expected it had a Dijon sauces that I may have mis read because all I could taste was Dijon overpowered everything else on the plate. The other main we got was a oriental style steak that was good, but nothing great. The meat was tender but the sauce was not enough for me, I thought it was almost missing something. In all honesty I think because the dates were so amazing I felt like nothing could hold a candle to them.

Over all I had a great time, the food was either good or great. Wine was moderately priced with good selection. Our total bill was around 160 with starter, small plates, mains, and almost 2 bottles of wine. I recommend it highly