On first impression, it’s quite nice. I can still totally see the old Lyon’s layout, but somehow the architects had subliminally added in Asian elements. Like the main supports of the dining room in the rough shape of the pillars of heaven. Pretty cool. And the mural work on the side and back walls is quite beautiful. And another big plus for a sweltering Fresno day is good air conditioning. Too bad the customers were cooler than the produce in the back, but more on that later.
We’re seated promptly and strangely, before seeing a menu, we’re asked what we would like to drink. Since I’m interested in what unique beverage items they might have, we opt for waters. Odd that I would have to establish that, since it’s pretty much the universal constant of a sit down restaurant. I’ve got that sinking feeling in my guts. Like I’m going to have one of those, “Oh yeah! THIS is why I blog!” moments. Damn it, I really wanted to like this place.
And so the death knell came. “Well, our freezer went out, so let me check and see if we have any.” Wait, what? Your fucking freezer is down? Isn’t that where all restaurants keep the lion’s share of their perishables, only to be thawed for use on the same day? Shit! Half the menu is seafood! And why in the hell are the coconuts in the damn freezer? This does not bode well for our intrepid eaters.
Dick in the ear #2: The drinks arrive. The Thai iced tea is pretty straight forward and what I expect. Chai tea extract mixed with some soy milk over ice. Not exactly innovative, but whatever. The real embarrassment was the young coconut. It comes with it’s little baby dome chopped off and a straw tossed into it’s depths. Not exactly the Jaques Pepin school of plating, but again, whatever. I’m giddy with anticipation. And so, I lift it’s little lid and scoop out the first bit of…hey! This shit is hard as hell to get off the shell! And it’s…it’s fucking hard! What is this crap?? Maybe the milk will…taste like the fry cook was soaking his toes in it! Mother. Fucker.
You know what enters into a kitchen refugee’s mind when they hear the freezer is out? Oh shit, what is the manager going to try and save, despite the loss of quality and potential risk to the customer? Most often, the contents of a restaurant’s freezer is worth over ten times more than what they have in their safe. And so, if it looks like that stuff is going to have to be trashed, whoever is doing the books will do their damndest to make full use of whatever they think they can squeeze past their customer’s blunted palates. Well Mr. Mangosteen Manager, you picked the wrong dude to try and slip shoddy coconuts past. And your sins are only compounded by the remainder of the meal.
Man, where do I start on the wrap up? If I had filmed dinner tonight from start to finish, I could make the perfect training video of how not to operate a restaurant. While I personally appreciate candor, telling a customer that the freezer is busted is a fast track to making a smart (smarter than me) eater run out the door and never come back. An even faster track though is for the kitchen to fulfill every nightmarish scenario running through my head. Seriously, trying to salvage bad shrimp? The chef should be fined and horse whipped. Just for ruining my coconut moment alone, they have earned my eternal nutritional enmity.