A brilliant banker, writer and culinary journeyman, Steve Jordan, lamented the manic idiocy that passes for Food Shows on cable television. He noted that what had once been a comfortably informative sharing of recipes and food prep techniques is now a mere rat-race of reality TV tryting to beat the clock.
Cable has done more to kill history than Howard Zinn - witness the History Channel Lineup: Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Ice Road Truckers, Counting Cars. Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall is the greatest holistic consideration of an epoch of history and the History Channel is a cartoon station with very rare exceptions. So too. have become Cookin Channel Food Network treatments like Chopped, Rev Runs Sunday Dinners, Cupcake Wars, and Cutthroat Kitchen.
People who relish these television servings of shallow and empty I.Q. calories, also tend to flock to LongHorn Steakhouse, Chipotle, Applebees, Chilies, Olive Garden and other trick-name ( PTSD McNugget's Shamrock Pub Grubs) big-box swill troughs. Family owned restaurants offer better food and often better parking, service and mosty certainly atmosphere.
Yesterday, I treated my lady friend to dinner at Forest Park's. Golden Steer*.
This is a family owned and operated steak house run by the same family since 1969, "Owners/Chefs Kiriakos (Charlie) and Gus Tzouras bring more 35 years experience in creating meals that will warm up your stomachs and your souls."
Tell me about it.
We arrived at 4:30 P.M. and were greeted by two lovely women who have worked at this restaurant for more than two decades. The hostess informed me that she also works as a soda jerk in an old fashiones icecream parlor during the day. Our waitress was a decades long veteran who said," We love coming to work here and if we get fired, we are hired back the same day - go figure."
Loyalty begets great service.
I ordered a T-Bone medium rare with baked potatoe, roasted asparagas and Roqueford salad and the exquiite Miss Sullivan ordered the broiled scrod, baked potatoe and house salad and shared the broiled asparagas. After we placed our order the Owner/Chef Charlie asked if we would mind moving to another table, as a large family had come in with more guests than the reservations taken - it was big Mexican American family celebrating a young lady's graduation from Dominican University in River Forest. We were only too happy to jump tables.
By 5 P.M. the restaurant was filled to capacity and the bar was thick with people waiting for a table.
The food was wonderful and our waitress was attentive and sweetly salty with me, " Want me get a wheel chair to roll out after tucking away the grub, Honey?" Truth be told, I took home 3/4the of the T-Bone and Miss Sullivan carried away half of her scrod.
Before I could call for the bill, the owner and our lovely waitress put a thick slice of Tiramisu between us and order us to do it justice. I did most of the heavy-lifting. This was Chef Charlie's thank you to us for moving to another table. Family means much to a family business.
Will family owned and operated restaurants be around for future generations?
I rather doubt it. Look at what passes for television and look at the forest of Applebees, Longhorns, Chili's and DT McPtomaine's.
*Get to Golden Steet - there are no on-line reservations - you must call in