If you don’t love me now…

(I wrote this a few days ago, thought I published it, and now realize I never did: oops.)

So I’m trying out a new restaurant tonight, just opened by Mick Fleetwood, the founding member of Fleetwood Mac. He’s  lived here on Maui for a while, and I’m really hoping it’s good…for both of our sakes’. The fact that he brought on a well-known TV chef’s right hand guy is, I suppose, promising. It’s promising if one assumes that to be on TV is to be a good chef. That may not pan out so well in the Rachel Ray department, but as for someone like Gordon Ramsey, well, I’ve eaten at his restaurant in Atlantic City and it was great. Granted, I don’t think he was within 100 miles of the kitchen that night, but still…

However, in contrast, I’m just now remembering a meal I had at Tom Collichio’s restaurant (disclaimer: no idea if he was in the kitchen), Craftsteak, in Las Vegas where my medium rare steak had to be made THREE times before it was actually medium rare. And this was like a $65 piece of meat and they didn’t so much as take $5.00 off the bill or send a manager over to apologize or anything. Grrrr… Tom Collichio.

But I digress, as usual.

In case anyone has come here trying to figure it out: now you know what the newest food writer in town looks like..

I’m hoping Fleetwoods is good because I’m already weary (and leery) of reviewing places that  are mediocre or worse. Why does Maui suck so much in the food department? If you read Yelp reviews like others might read an issue of People, you’ll see over and over things like, “It’s okay Italian…for Hawaii.” “It’s acceptable…for Hawaii.” “It’s good…for Hawaii.” It’s true. I remember coming here for the first time in 2002 and was astounded at how downright bad (not to mention breathtakingly expensive) the food was.

Surely something can be done about this. We have fertile land and great weather. People raise cattle and there are wild pigs and an ocean full of fish and lobsters (in season). There are scads of organic farms. Just because it’s a tourist economy shouldn’t mean that mediocrity is okay. In fact, it should be the opposite. It should be BETTER than what people are used to so that they want to come back again and again.

<<<climbing down from high horse>>>

So anyway, two nights ago I got a shockingly expensive and rather bad pizza from a new restaurant. All they serve is pizza, so I will be making a return visit in the hopes they can improve their performance (and actually prepare it somewhat like how it’s described on the menu) so I don’t have to publish the review I’ve already written as-is. :\

I’m annoyed that I’ll have to drop another $30 to craft a review that will no doubt anger them regardless (the first experience had some low points that were notable and will be retold), but I really do want to be fair.

In fact, I’m rooting for them.
I really am.

But there are (major) kinks. And pricing issues. And I guarantee my experience was not unique. In other words, if they don’t straighten some of this out, their brand new place will go under. End of story.

So what’s the problem?

Truth be told, underneath it all I’m a really nice person: ridiculously nice even. And that part of me is doing some inner back flips as it somewhat pains me to make some of my “blunt assessments.” Moreover, there are bound to be ruffled feathers, hurt feelings, and yes, probably even straight up hostility directed my way…and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a little worried about that. I would never want to harm anyone’s business or livelihood, and I honestly offer up my criticism in the spirit of helping them. Really.

I’m probably over-thinking this, but today I found myself writing an explanatory page on my Vanessa Wolf Freelance Writer website. Forgive me as I mention it again with different words: girl’s gotta eat too and now that I’m a Hawaii-based freelance writer, I also have to promote myself any which way I can.

So anyway, I am realizing I suffer from “please love me-itis,” and I’m probably going to have to get over it right quick. What’s that quote about if everyone loves you, you must not be doing it right? Well, I would presume with food critiques that’s a given.

Ironically enough, all the feedback thus far has been outrageously positive, but I can feel the storm clouds gathering – especially with this pizza business I mentioned. It wasn’t just that the pizza was bad, but the owner was downright condescending, telling me that a clearly missing ingredient was invisible. Okay, okay, he said “translucent,” but still…

That’s where I get into a pickle. See, I want to be nice, but I also feel like that little detail needs to be mentioned. If people are spending $26 (before tax and tip) for a mediocre pizza that doesn’t match the description on the menu, maybe you could do a little better than telling them dismissively that  it’s got invisible ingredients on it when they ask. Maybe you could apologize or offer to remake it or bring out the missing stuff? Maybe?

The dilemma is I feel like mentioning this incident isn’t very “nice” of me, but it is honest. And it did happen. And so it will be included. At any rate, for now, that review will rest on the back burner as I look forward to my upcoming meal at Fleetwood’s. In anticipation, I’ve already started to work on some prose. Let me know what you think:

“While the kidney pie didn’t make me cry or break down, it did rather notably shatter my illusions of love. All that was left was to pick up a doggy bag of the pieces and go home.”

“The Reuben rings like a bell through the night and wouldn’t you love to eat it…”





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