When I go out to eat, there are two things I find absolutely unforgivable in restaurant management. Those two things are not honoring reservations and lazy cooking. Now, I will be the first to admit that I tend to be a bit pointed in my comments on service and food preparation in my writings, but that is for the benefit of those who are sticklers for detail.
I certainly can forgive the fact that I have to flag down the server to get water everytime. However, as I said above, I can't forgive the reservation issue and cooking that shows lack of care or concern. If you want a great example of the former, I give you the old Mother Tucker's Restaurant that use to reside at 32nd Street and Lincoln Drive in Phoenix. My first adventure there was my last. At the time, they were the hotest dining facility in the Valley. But, they had the most ridiculous and pathetic reservation system ever. Ever.
When you called to make a, say, 7 PM reservation, you would give your name and the number in your party and then when you showed up, they would put your name on the wait list. Your reservation gave you the right to have your name placed on the Holy Wait List. So, if you had that 7 PM reservation, you were lucky if you got seated by 8:30 PM. Of course, they never told you that when you booked the reservation. Unforgivable all the way around.
Now, if you want an example of lazy cooking, I give you my trip to an old Mexican restaurant in Central Phoenix.
I headed to Jordan's Mexican Food after a particularly busy day at work. I wanted something very comforting food wise and Mexican food always is comfort food for me. Jordan's is located next to Wild Thaiger and Durants on Central Avenue in Phoenix. It is in an old buidling and had been there for ages. They are so close to Wild Thairger, the two restaurants share a parking lot.
I entered the place clearly after the lunch rush. The place was devoid of people except for the hostess, one server and two business types eating their lunch. Like many Mexican eateries, the place was dimly lit and my eyes took several seconds to adjust from the bright, sunny Phoenix afternoon to the darkness. I was quickly seated to a booth in the main dining room and handed a menu.
The server went to the table next to mine where the business men were located and refilled their drinks. She then disappeared and reappeared with a plactic tub and began clearning a third table. She disappeared again and brought the bill for the two suits and left. The hostess walked over to me and then sighed and then brought me water, chips and sauce.
A few moments later, the server appeared, but now was sporting her purse and said goodbye to the hostess and the two suits and left for the day. The hostess approached me and asked if someone had taken my order. I indicated that no one did and she asked if I was ready to order. I did so requesting the #4 combination dinner ($9.00) and a Diet Coke.
I surveyed the restaurant and it was a large open area with two rows of communal tables in the center with individual booths on the perimeter. The place was pretty subdued which matched the lighting.
I began munching on the chips and new right away that the service was not the only problem. The chips were crisp but suffered from lazy cooking: they had been fried in old, burnt oil. The chips weren't even palatable. If the rancid tasted didn't get you, the horrible burnt aftertaste certainly did. The sauce was slightly sweet and slightly spicy, but could never do anything to save these horrible, nasty chips. Simply awful.
About 10 minutes passed and my plate of food arrived. The #4 combination consisted of a shredded beef taco, a beef enchilada, rice and beans. I dove into the taco hoping for some redemption and finding the taco shell had suffered the same fate as the chips. Really now. How hard can it possibly be to drain oil and replentish it with fresh oil? Clearly, very difficult for Jordan's cooking staff. I scraped the filling out of the taco and ate that. It was uninteresting. The meat had no seasoning and the gobs of icy lettuce made the meat very cold.
I then tried the rice and beans. Both were the victims of, again, lazy cooking. The rice had no flavor.... at all. Nothing. No salt or spice. The beans were so overcooked, I was eating Refried Bean Paste than Refried Beans. There was simply no texture or flavor, which says to me the beans were so overcooked they cooked the flavor out (and pinto beans have a great, subtle flavor if cooked correctly).
My final attempt was the beef enchilada. Two bites into it, my hopes for comfort food had ended. It was terrible. There were two strips of beef encased in a tortilla then covered in a watery sauce and cheese. It was a bizarre texture destroyed by a sauce that was thinner than my Diet Coke.
I was able to get the hostess' attention and requested the check hoping she would notice that over half of my meal was still on my plate. In a very strange twist, she asked if I would like more chips. That was my cue to leave as quickly as possible.
I paid my bill ($11.87) and departed, hungry and discouraged. There are not a lot of good Mexican restaurants in the Central Corridor and I don't really have time in my lunch hour to venture out far. This is such a sad commentary.
Jordan's loves to tout the fact that they have been serving Mexican food since the early 50s. However, I now know why there was only one other table being occupied in the restaurant, even after the lunch hour.
Lazy cooking is unforgivable. At least Jordan's can maintain that it has mastered that skill.
Jordan's Mexican Food
2633 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004