The best seat in the house at a restaurant is in the bathroom. Trust me.

The key to... You read that title right. The key hint is in the picture to the left. No I didn’t write “bathroom” on that plastic trash can lid. But if you look closely in the upper left corner of the lid the answer is there…

That’s the key.

Literally.

To the bathroom.

Not too long ago, I ran into the Mobile convenience store near our house to use its bathroom. The door was locked. I asked for the key. The store attendant handed me the whole trash can lid with the tiny door key attached to it. I had to take that selfie once inside. For proof. No one would believe me that I had to use a trash can lid attached key to get in.

Which brings me to this as a food critic—

When you go to a restaurant you will find that the best seat in the house is not a prime table or booth. It’s in the bathroom. Trust me. It’s the toilet…

Uh huh.

Really.

Seriously.

Inspect the bathroom before you place your order. If it’s messy, dirty, full of hand stains on the stall doors and on the in and out door think of what the kitchen is probably like. Get the picture now? You better. If restaurant staff can’t be bothered to keep their bathrooms clean they aren’t thinking of you. It’s one thing to have a few toilet squares or hand towel sheets on the floor. But if it looks really messy, gunked up around the sinks then think about them not caring about exposing you to contagious germs and viruses.

Look at the flooring. Is it tile? Is the grout grossing you out? Or is there black growth around the edges where the floor and the wall meet? Is it wood? Is it vinyl? Does it look old, worn out, looks like it has never been scrubbed? Here’s your sign. You are in a restaurant where staff isn’t interested in you the consumer but instead they are more concerned about cleaning out your wallet than they are about cleaning up their toilets.

Check the urinals too. Are they stained with yellow water spots? Nuff said. I just can’t say more about urinals that have dried urine spots on or around them. Sorry but the eatery is not aiming to please. You. As my sister Lila Beans said when we discussed this part of my article…

Oooooh.

Gross.

Just thinking about it.

A good restaurant will care about its bathrooms’ hygiene. Restaurants are always full of humans who bring their hunger along with their individual germs. What better place to share them with everybody than in the bathrooms. A well-kept bathroom is a sign of a well-kept place to eat. If the staff cares about keeping their bathrooms spanking good you can bet the house salad that their kitchen is kept the same way too. Erma Bombeck was write when she rote “The Grass is Greener over the Septic Tank” because the green in that eatery bathroom you’re in is not hygienically growing there nor is it the restaurant’s official indoor herbs garden. So if it’s green and growing in or around the toilet tank…

GET OUT!

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

TRUST ME!

Don’t exposure yourself to a filthy bathroom. You will either end up with some germ-infested sickness from it or from the kitchen after digesting something that has been exposed to bacteria. E Coli for one from the food. A viral contamination for another from where you wash your hands at a filthy sink. There are just too many good eats here in Vegas where staff does care about you and your health. They want you back as a repeat customer. Repeat customers pay the monthly operating expenses. Regular cash flow keeps restaurants open for business. Clean-flowing bathroom waters keep these eateries’ good reputations from going down the crapper…

Literally.

Really.

Seriously.

NOT THROWING KNIVES. But yep! I killed it in the kitchen and it felt good…

Don't Mess with MenoMe!

It’s been a long, long time since my last post. I apologize for that. There was a monster in my kitchen. I had to kill it. It showed up in the middle of 2013 refusing to leave, creating havoc and determined to mess up my life.

Ahhhhhhhhh…

The menomonster me!

Unexpectedly I went from just being Chef Aunt Weenie’ to this horrorible horror moan me. For about 18 months I had the menopause blues, news and no clues as I struggled to deal with this inner turmoil. Did you know there are some 34 menopause symptoms? Forget about just the hot flashes, cold freezing night sweats and anxiety. I was hammered with meno-morning sickness, vertigo, migraines, stuttering (yes the horror moan imbalance can make you stutter), brain fog, shaking and more.

Last year, in 2014, I ended up in the ER at St. Rose San Martin campus five times. Three trips for the menopause and twice for bronchitis. Honestly I thought sometime last year I was going to die. It was that bad of a body experience. Even my friends and family thought for a while that I wasn’t going to make it. Mostly because we really didn’t know what was going on in my body to make me so sick.

With a lot of internet investigation on my part and several fantastic doctors including my gyno who saved my life 15 years ago with finding my body’s breast cancer in December 2000, we were all able to piece together what was going on. Animal Planet has a series called “Monsters Inside of Me” and I can honestly tell you that menopause would qualify for an episode on that AP show. Easily I may add…

When we finally were able to figure me out I set out on the journey to kill it. AND KILL IT INDEED I DID. By using my culinary skills I not only revamped my diet but I also took on some awesome helpers including Zincm Maca Root and L-Theanine which led to the demise of the monster inside of me. While it followed me into my kitchen I used my kitchen to kill it and it felt oh so good.

By using foods, nutrient-densed foods at that, and going off caffeine for all those months I was able to get my body back on track to a better, healthier me. While I’m not completely over this meno phase of my life, it has become so much better that those folks who know me very personally all think I’m cured. I am not. But I am working on it.

Today I saw my primary care physician and the excitement coming from her as she declared this is the best I’ve ever looked to her in two years just thrilled us both. Let me say, and she knows this to be true, having done chemotherapy 15 years ago and being autistic do not mix well with the change of life. It’s like taking an Italian dressing and trying to blend it with buttermilk ranch. It’s a mess. It’s gross. It’s tastes terrible. Well you get the picture! And it’s not a pretty one at that.

So here I am, it’s January 8, back on track with my blog. Ready to take on the world starting at home in Las Vegas. I love to write. I love to critique. I love to write about critiquing. What better way to satisfy my passion in that capacity than to be a Las Vegas-based food critic. But not just your typical food critic. I’m everything but typical. My goal is to review restaurants, their owners and chefs from a business woman and chef’s point of view. I won’t basturdized our eateries here or anywhere else on this planet like a lot of food critics do. There’s nothing to be gained by being a jerk about it. Jerk chicken is okay. Jerk attitude is not. Eat jerky instead. There is no such thing as a bad restaurant. Only bad individuals who need some direction about how to do their food establishments a little bit or a lot better.

We are already a nation of A-holes and the like. It’s time to take it back to old school when our country had manners not only at the dinner table but also out in public socially. It’s time to bring back the “Yes please.” and the “Thank you.” to the table of our lives again. It’s time to teach some of the culinary peeps how to do it better, improve their look, clean up some of their messes all the while without resorting to being mean and nasty about it. After all, these people in their professional kitchens are busting their pork butts to make a living feeding those of us who don’t bust our chops from the back counters. There’s nothing to be gained as a food critic for me to stomp their steaks for the public to see.

So with that get ready to embark on my food critic adventures while I, myself, am still continuing my culinary studies at Rouxbe.com getting my professional chef credentials. Not everybody is cut out to critique food. You need a working knowledge of the field, hands on experience and a greater understanding of what it’s like to be the head chef, a Sous chef, the kitchen help and the chief dishwasher so to speak if you’re going to mess up or mess with their culinary turf and surf.

Otherwise expect to not be invited back because you chose to create flaming enemies from your strongly negative and opinionated writings. Putting someone out of business because you don’t like the food or you slammed their restaurant by being downright nasty only serves to dish out to you being one of the most hated persons on the planet. Food critics often live lonely public lives. By their own doings.

There is just too much of brutality across our nation in all aspects of life that is not restricted in journalistic capacities or the television media. All it serves is to promote, to create more hostility. Look what happened to Ferguson and how people attacked one another’s businesses almost destroying a whole city. Yes you can be angry. But not to the level that you create violence out of freedom of expression. There has to be a balance with using freedom of expression. And that is what I intend to do by being a different type of food critic. To make peace while being honest but not to create discord that disharmonizes people’s right to earn a living by making food for you because you did choose to eat at their places.

Are you ready for me? I hope so.

Happy New Year. Let’s do some really great food adventures starting in my own neighborhood area. Join Chef Aunt Weenie’ me, Evil Eater Ed, Sous Oui Chef DazE and Noodles Nadja as we set out about town to conquer by taste what makes a restaurant so good you have to go back for more. And when we do find it we want you to know about it too. Don’t expect perfection. No restaurant, no chef, no eatery owner is perfect.

Just about every food place has had health code violations or other business issues that are temporary demerit marks on their faces. Unless you are that ignorant or stupid like Tapas Firefly who finally had to close its doors permanently because of continued numerous health code violations, most restaurant staff members get it when they learn they have to do better after the health department inspects them. There are strict codes to operating an eatery as a legal food business. Being a nasty food critic just adds insult to their injury. They know they have to do improve, change, clean up their act. They don’t need to be kicked down further. The health department in every state comes with the territory of running and owning a restaurant. It’s a marriage but it’s not made in heaven. That’s for sure!

However restaurant staff do need to be encouraged as to how they can really raise their own work standards. Sometimes staff is so busy making the food they don’t see the food as we customers do while we are partaking of it. Or they don’t have the understanding of the day to day business operations or marketing skills that also make running a food business. First impressions are lasting impressions. A smile is worth more than the weight of gold. There are many small aspects of a business that can make or break it without it being about the food alone. Nuff said.

With that in mind remember this—

No I’m NOT THROWING KNIVES as a food critic. But if there is a monster in a kitchen somewhere on this planet you can be sure I will find and happily kill it without ever making a mess. Here’s a hint. At home in my kitchen called Duck Bones Diner, I’m known by my family staff as General McAuntie. So much so that when my husband and our two nieces who live with us watch food programs you can hear them from time to time exclaim aloud that OMG those people would never do that in auntie’s kitchen. Hell no. She would kill them for making a mess like that. Yep. Reputation is everything. Even at home. I trained them well to much higher standards. I will train you too. You may not like it but later on you will have learned to appreciate it.

Get ready Las Vegas. I’m coming out of my kitchen closet to check out your kitchen closet. Together we will improve your look, have your food taste better and get your customers to love you more. You may only need a little tweeking. Or you might need a huge overhaul. Either way it’s a win-win for you if you want it to be.

See you soon. I look forward to eating you up. You can take my words anyway you want. I know what I mean by that statement. I’m hungry for some good eats. Are you ready to swallow my words in the process? HOT DOG I’M EXCITED… I HOPE YOU ARE TOO!