This is the fourth in a series of pans of disastrous dinners
I'd not previously been to Pio Pio To Go, which is paradoxically a sit down restaurant down the block from Pio Pio in Jackson Heights. Pio Pio itself takes knocks from people who wrongheadedly stray from the Approved Dishes: chicken, tostones, french fries, avocado salad, and NOTHING ELSE.
But, man, this place was a catastrophe. I tried to order the chicken combo with french fries. Waiter repeated back: chicken with rice and beans. No, french fries. Ay! yes, of course! French fries!
It arrived with rice and beans. I asked for french fries. Looking put upon, he dragged my plate back to the kitchen to actually scrape off the beans and plop on some fries.
The rice had been cooked in a pot that had massively burned. This rice itself wasn't burnt, but tasted like the day after an electrical fire. Inedible. And the fries seemed to have been fried in motor oil. Lukewarm motor oil.
My wine came toward the end of the meal (I was the only customer), and was unrdrinkable.
Chicken was good, salad was good.
Totally unsatisfied, I went across the street for an arepa at the little fast food arepa place. It was deserted, and it took forever for the manager to notice me from the kitchen. He started walking toward me, slowly, and stopped to take a minute or two to joke with the cook.
I walked out and moved on to the tapas joint on northern between 86 and 87. This used to be a terrific place, with an owner really into food and wine. But lately, ditzy bartenders rule the roost. Nobody could give me a list of wines by the glass. I was told "we have merlot...cabernet", you know, the run-down you expect in, like, diners that have 3 cheap bottles. I asked, incredulously, if they have only one wine for each grape. Uh, no. Awkwardly, she turned around, and started dictating wines to me, inaudible over the loud music (some Latin pop diva covering "I Will Survive" with gnashing anguish and wide vibrato), with her back to me.
I keep having the experience that I'm the only person ever using the restaurant for its explicit purpose....and that by doing so I'm driving everyone crazy. I feel like a visitor from outer space.
I selected a wine (not bad) and got grilled calamari, which was good but chintzy in portion for the price. The music was awful, nobody was there, the bartender looked totally bored, nobody gave a damn about anything at any point.
I need to go back to Newfoundland...