Jumped the Shark is a website which catalogs old television shows and what story plot line diversion caused the decline and cancellation of a show. Though the concept can apply to restaurants and relationships --- where do we draw the line and say never again.
In early December, Evan reported a decline in Pho 777, which RST restated just before Christmas. The following is RSTs report which links to Evans original:
In the spirit of JeffBs declaration to take one for the team, I visited Pho 777 today with my Mom and friend to see if this negative trend remains and why.
I ordered my usual: Goi Cuon (Spring rolls) with peanut sauce, cigar-shaped Cha Gio (egg roll) with a vinegar dipping sauce and Pho 777 Special #1 which has eye of round steak, well done flank, fat brisket, soft tendon, bible trip and meatballs. My Mom and friend also ordered Pho.
The Spring rolls seemed normal except for the sauce. The sauce usually had a heavy layer of chopped peanuts on the surface, this time it was a bare sprinkling. The sauce itself was heavy on the hoisin, very light on the peanut butter, consequently not its usual thick, luscious, peanut sauce I adore.
The cigar shaped egg rolls seemed smaller than normal and didnt come with several sheets of lettuce. It is not unusual to wrap the lettuce leaf around the egg roll and dip into the sauce for extra taste and texture. We had one lonely sheet of decorator lettuce which none of us took because who wanted to look selfish? Though I did later eat it as-is to put it out of its misery! ;-)
At this point, the waitress drops off the fresh vegetables for the soup. I began to make my baby step inquiries into the changes at Pho 777. I commented things are not quite the same as we have normally come to expect here, has anything changed? New owner! My heart sank; I was hoping the cook went on vacation. We started to look over the vegetables to find the jalapeno peppers drying around the edges, the generous quantities of greens were no longer: only 2 strips of the long jagged edged leaf and a small sprig of basil. Limes. Not enough bean sprouts to support 3 large bowls of Pho.
After a long wait, the Pho finally arrived. I plucked out the meatball first and immediately detected a cold center. The soup stock wasnt the pleasantly somewhat sweet stock but salty and foreign to our recollections. The tripe was roughly cut, under cooked thus it was like chewing on textured, fishnet leather. The other meats were barely present. I never found any tendon nor fatty brisket nor eye of round steak slice, which cooks in the broth. I also had a very large quantity of noodles, where my Mom and friend had substantially less. Therefore after all the solid bits were eaten and only the stock remained, I had a lot less stock and my guests had a lot more. Everything was off, off, off.
After we received our bill, we waited for too long for someone to take interest in collecting our money. To have an excuse to linger at the cash register, I pocketed the cash and walked up with my credit card. Often while you're standing there waiting for the bank clearance, the owner makes small talk like How was your dinner, the trap was set. He asked the question. I debated to tell the truth or just smile and say fine. I then noticed some picture business cards on the counters edge. At a glance, I learned the fellow in front of me works for a financing company and his wife, the distracted waitress who spent more time admiring herself in the mirrors than acknowledging my wave, was a realtor. I decided to narrow in on the truth with specific grievances as outlined above. In conclusion, I said I was here today because of my long patronage however the meal was not up to expectations. He promised I should talk to him in the future. I then commented I had (chow) friends who have been here recently and according to their information the food has sharply declined. I didnt want to believe it, but indeed their opinion is true. I VERY POLITELY opined if your offerings dont improve, then you are tanking your investment (trying to appeal to his business sense).
Immediately in front of the door was a table waiting bussing with a substantial amount of abandoned food including a chili-tofu soup, which only had a few nibbles extracted. What a waste.
It really pains me to reconfirm RSTs and Evans negative impressions. Clearly, Pho 777 JUMPED THE SHARK in my book today.
Now if someone can clarify the situation at Silver Seafood, I think I have made my sacrifice for the team laurels for a while.
Argyle east of the el on the south side of the street
(The take out menu has no address!)