In the past few weeks I made long overdue visits to some of my mainstay eateries. Everyone has them, the spots you can always count on to give you your kind of food at your kind of price. While I won’t name either by name I will say that one is a Mexican joint in Park Slope and the other is a Senegalese spot in Clinton-Hill. Once upon a time both of these spots thrived on a steady and consistent clientele, a clientele which in turn introduced them to the masses as the real estate boom and demographic shifts have brought more folks across their threshold than ever before.
I can remember a time in both spots where everything you ordered came out fresh. The rice was moist. The fish and chicken were tender (still dripping with juices from the grill they were prepared). And the service was attentive. No ten minutes waits for a glass of iced tea of unposted announcements that they were out of tamales. I bit into a burrito yesterday that was considerably inferior to the ones I eat at home. The fish I ordered, though seasoned the same was dry. And yet in both places the prices are higher than they were before and there’s three times the number of customers all around. I guess it happens with everything. The price of success in any service industry generally comes with cutting corners if you want your profit margin to increased.
Like with most things, the only solution for me as the consumer is to move on to other places, new fledgling eateries that still knead their hearts and souls into their dishes because they still have something to prove. That’s probably the best thing about New York. Even in the worst of times there’s always something new.
But I’m rather looking forward to heading home for the 4th weekend, even if I was supposed to spend it in the A for the goddaughter Isoke’s first birthday. Not unlike the many weddings I’ve missed over recent years it once again comes down to dough, the most annoying of downsides that come with being in my profession. But at least I’ll get to sit down and have my first plate of crabs in ’08. My cousin and I will set off fireworks as if we’re not grown men, and I’ll get a slight change of scenery as the days of late have felt a little repetitive. It would be nice to go on a real vacation right about now. But like for most of us in the world, there’s very little rest for the weary. Out.