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Sardine Loves Pork (Warning to non-pork eaters)

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Sardine Loves Pork (Warning to non-pork eaters)

Postby sitnspin » Mon May 14, 2007 11:32 am

I'm one of those picky eaters who loves seafood, but don't care for pork, chicken, or beef (occassionally I'll eat some turkey).

The first day Sardine was open for brunch last weekend we went and and tried the Crab Cakes, as well as a morel/someotherstuff omelette. They have an interesting menu and we were excited! Halfway into my crabcake I thought it tasted smoky, like it had bacon in it or some other type of pork product. First we double checked the menu…Nope, no bacon listed as an ingredient in the crab cakes. Then we asked our server. She went to the kitchen to double check with the cooks, and bingo! The crab cakes were chock-full of something they like to call "bacon lardons". I passed the remaining crab cake over to my pork-eating partner, very disappointed and bummed I just consumed something I wouldn’t normally touch. Why wouldn't they list something like this on the menu? I asked her what else on the menu has pork hidden in it? She said the salmon on the dinner menu--the lentils are cooked with it. I've had this entrée a minimum of three times! WTF?????????

To me this is a big deal. I feel ripped off, misled and utterly disappointed. Our server said this has come up many times--She said her manager told her people dining at Sardine should expect pork products in their food, as it's a "French bistro" and that's the foundation of their cooking (I checked L'etoile's menu and notice they seem to list everything that goes into their cooking, including things like "bone marrow" that's incorporated into a butter on one of their menu items--while at times it seems lengthy to list, I fully appreciate the effort. I also placed a call to Balthazar's in NYC -- which Sardine seems based on http://www.balthazarny.com -- And they said they'd always list if a menu item included pork).

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Is it true I should just expect to find pork in my food at a "French Bistro" if I don't ask first?
Last edited by sitnspin on Tue May 15, 2007 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby TAsunder » Mon May 14, 2007 12:27 pm

Whether pork is used in french cooking depends on the region. I don't know much about sardine's influences, having never been there, but if Nadia's, a provencal restaurant, uses pork, I sure as hell expect them to mention it since it is not a staple of southeast french cooking to my knowledge.

Personally, I don't think it's a fair assumption. The only cuisine I think it's reasonable to "assume" isn't kosher without asking is thai cuisine - specifically, curries - due to shrimp paste being a common curry ingredient.
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Postby nevermore » Mon May 14, 2007 12:48 pm

Hilarious! Oooo! The meal that once had a face was mixed in with something else that once had a face! I'd better call New York! Only in Madison can we expect this kind of behavior.

You should discover the same clue that gastronomic societies all over the world discovered centuries ago: That the pig was invented to be a kick-ass flavoring agent.

And I'm not one of God's chosen foodies, but if I were and I gave a shit as to whether or not what I was about to ingest was trayfe, I'd have the sense to ask first before ordering. And you should too (Excuse me, I have this food hang-up. Does this dish have any...?)

And if I owned Sardine, I'd fucking fire that waitron.
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Postby depinmad » Mon May 14, 2007 12:54 pm

those crabcakes do sound yummy!
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Postby sitnspin » Mon May 14, 2007 1:17 pm

nevermore wrote:And if I owned Sardine, I'd fucking fire that waitron.


To the waitron's credit, the crab cakes were taken off the bill.
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Postby MDM77 » Mon May 14, 2007 1:26 pm

I am a chef and have worked in restaurants all around the country. You gotta face it bacon is in just about everything and you should let your server know if you don't eat bacon so they can point out the pork free menu items to you.

Also that server should be fired what was she thinking?
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Postby TAsunder » Mon May 14, 2007 1:38 pm

Why should the waitress be fired? I don't get the issue. She should be fired for revealing the truth about their recipes? Or for agreeing with the customer? :roll:

Bacon is in almost everything? No, I'm pretty sure it isn't.
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Postby NullDevice » Mon May 14, 2007 2:02 pm

Not *everything*, but the lardon is a pretty common agent for adding fat and salty/smoky flavor to things in "upscale" cuisine. Bacon fat, duck fat, beef tallow - all are often used behind the scenes but won't be credited on the menu because...well, what's appetizing about "rendered animal fat" on a menu?

Way I see it is it's just good practice to ask. Whethere obeying the laws of kashrut, having food allergies, or just picky, it probably safer to just find out first before ordering. I've found it rare for a restaurant to list complete ingredients on menus, most just touching on the big ones.
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Postby nevermore » Mon May 14, 2007 2:08 pm

TAsunder wrote:Why should the waitress be fired? I don't get the issue. She should be fired for revealing the truth about their recipes? Or for agreeing with the customer?

She should be fired for running down the business that is employing her to a customer ("She warned us that 'Sardine loves to hide bacon' and to watch out.") and for comping the crab cakes.

It's good practice to comp an item when a restaurant fucks up something. It's bad business to comp an item because the restaurant didn't have the sense to use a crystal ball before cooking the dish to find out what ingredients the customer may disagree with.
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Postby TAsunder » Mon May 14, 2007 2:27 pm

Wow, you must be one anal, uptight businessperson, nevermore. If I went to an expensive restaurant, I would expect to be comp'd if I were strongly dissatisfied with an item, regardless of the reason. In fact, I would consider it pretty bad business to have a policy against comping customers at a "fine dining" establishment. This isn't mcdonalds we are talking about. What kind of crappy-assed "upscale" restaurant has such uptight policies that they fire a waitress for trying to appease a customer?

As for the "running down" theory, it is worth a scolding at best.

I guess if you ran the business you'd tell waitresses to not ever offer any opinion about anything and never go out of their way to keep a customer happy. Based on this, I'm guessing you manage the tutto pasta on state street.
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Postby nevermore » Mon May 14, 2007 2:31 pm

TAsunder wrote:I guess if you ran the business you'd tell waitresses to not ever offer any opinion about anything and never go out of their way to keep a customer happy. Based on this, I'm guessing you manage the tutto pasta on state street.

I guess if you ran the business you'd tell waitresses that it's ok to give away food because of mere culinary disagreements and never go out of their way to make a profit. Based on this, I'm guessing you don't manage shit.
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Postby TAsunder » Mon May 14, 2007 2:49 pm

nevermore wrote:I guess if you ran the business you'd tell waitresses that it's ok to give away food because of mere culinary disagreements and never go out of their way to make a profit. Based on this, I'm guessing you don't manage shit.


This isn't mcdonalds, fool. If you run an upscale restaurant you are expected to put the customer over profits. Only a selfish douchebag tells their wait staff to never comp the customer if they are dissatisfied with an item. What's your approach? To tell the waitress to insult people who don't like pork like you apparently do? That's a winning approach to making profits if ever I heard one.

Of course, based on the original post, it sounds like the manager may in fact be a douche since it has allegedly "come up many times" and yet they still choose not to include that information on their menu because "it's french cuisine, people should just assume it".
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Postby nevermore » Mon May 14, 2007 3:06 pm

TAsunder wrote:
nevermore wrote:I guess if you ran the business you'd tell waitresses that it's ok to give away food because of mere culinary disagreements and never go out of their way to make a profit. Based on this, I'm guessing you don't manage shit.


This isn't mcdonalds, fool. If you run an upscale restaurant you are expected to put the customer over profits. Only a selfish douchebag tells their wait staff to never comp the customer if they are dissatisfied with an item. What's your approach? To tell the waitress to insult people who don't like pork like you apparently do? That's a winning approach to making profits if ever I heard one.

Of course, based on the original post, it sounds like the manager may in fact be a douche since it has allegedly "come up many times" and yet they still choose not to include that information on their menu because "it's french cuisine, people should just assume it".

Oh, for fuck's sake. This ain't the Soviet Union. If you give away the store and lose money, you're not going to stay in business long. You see how it works? At the end of the day, the number at the bottom of the ledger has to be a positive number, not a negative number. Fool.

Lookit, if the food comes out bad, if my steak is burnt, if my chicken's bloody, if they obviously dropped my entree on the floor and it has dirt on it, I'm sending it back and demanding something for my trouble. If it has tarragon in it and I didn't bother telling my server I don't eat shit with tarragon in it, I write it up as a learning experience. Only somebody who shouldn't go out to restaurants would demand satisfaction in this case.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon May 14, 2007 3:25 pm

I'm with you, nevermore.

Unless the menu specifically says "no pork" the restaurant is under no obligation whatsoever to divulge every last detail of their ingredient list.

I'm one of those unfortunates who finds cilantro tastes like (really, really nasty) soap. I can't tell you how many times I've ordered something in a restaurant that I was basically unable to eat because of the cilantro. But I wouldn't even dream of demanding that the food be free of charge - after all, they fulfilled their obligation in perfectly good faith, no?
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Postby TAsunder » Mon May 14, 2007 3:35 pm

The thing that is escaping you, nevermore, is that an upscale restaurant is expected to offer superior service. While superior service may affect this coveted "ledger at the end of the day", it's going to pay off later when that customer returns. That is part of the implied agreement being made at an upscale restaurant. I'm not really interested in paying $30 for an entree if it means my wait staff has to put immediate profit over superior service.

And it's a little different than cilantro. Last I checked, there weren't any major religions requiring that people abstain from cilantro, and it is also unlikely that an objection to cilantro would "come up often".
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