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Get Lost, Anthony Bourdain

9 Jul

July 9, 2017

Have you ever had Moroccan food? Neither have I. But a Moroccan restaurant opened around here and despite the fact that my taste in foreign food starts at pizza and ends at egg rolls I figured let’s give it a shot. I had no idea what Moroccan food was and my general knowledge of the country was, let’s say, limited.

OK, it was Saarah’s idea. It’s always a woman, isn’t it? Guys do things like holding their purses at New York and Company for hours on end while they try on various jeans that all look exactly the same, or carrying heavy pieces of furniture up and down stairs at random, or eating sheisty Moroccan food when a woman asks.

So we went to the restaurant and checked the menu. It didn’t look too objectionable and we went in. We checked it out on Yelp too and saw some reviews. It had five stars after only five reviews but that’s not bad since it just opened the week before. However, I should have seen the red flags. It was only later that I noticed that many of these reviews were by people who had just joined the previous week and reviewed just a single restaurant, this one. Some were duplicated word for word on Facebook. The same exact reviews but under different names. But there were people in the place and it looked clean so we went in.

The front of the place looked like every other place in Bay Ridge. Some tables, a counter, and a long steamer table. But in the back they made a room that looked almost, but not quite, totally unlike what someone like me who knows nothing about Morocco might think a place in Morocco looks like. I’m sure that sentence makes sense. Anyway, it had tables, sofas and cushions, drapes, ugly wallpaper, and a freezer full of cans of Coke. Just like Morocco!

SERVICE: POOR
We were served by a nice waitress who did so much wrong. Brought wrong drinks, did not give condiments after repeated requests, and brought our two main courses almost ten minutes apart. Saarah ate while I waited. (Of course.) Eventually we got tired of waiting for things and started going right to the counter to get what we wanted. I almost caused a riot when I asked the guy basting some sort of meat-like item for sauce. The guy said something to waitress, the waitress said something back to him, the manager got involved and it was all in Moroccan so I can only assume they were talking about me. “Look at this American! Probably wants decadent American ketchup!” Well I got it, but after that the waitress almost nagged us to death. “How is everything? Is everything OK? It is alright? Is it? IS IT???”

Saarah asked for water, expecting us to be poured two glasses of water. Instead she was brought a bottle of water. That wouldn’t have been much of a problem if it was Poland Spring or any name brand, but it was store brand water from BJ’s Club. (Pure bottled semi-clear Hackensack water, I think). She gave it back and asked for a soda. Instead, the waitress brought over a pitcher of water and poured it into the single glass that was sitting on the table when we arrived.

We did not understand why there was only one glass on a table with four settings, nor why only one of us got water. Rightly suspicious of the single odd glass (was it left behind by a previous customer? Was it the restaurant’s only glass?) Saarah asked for a can of soda. After two requests she actually got it.

FOOD: MEDIOCRE
The Chicken Kabob plate, despite being described as “marinated in Moroccan herbs and spices,” was bland. The “Moroccan herbs and spices” seemed to be simple black pepper. Hey! I’m a Moroccan cook too!

The Chicken Tagine is described like this on the menu: “Served with green and red peppers, carrots, potatoes, garlic, and olives.”

a section of their actual menu

What was served had no potatoes, no green peppers, no red peppers, no garlic, five tiny cubes of carrots (we counted!), and tons of olives. The chicken was tasteless.

Also, this place boasts “authentic” Moroccan food. I was not aware that French Fries came from Morocco.

We complained to the owner before we left. (I assume he was the owner since he was wearing a fancy sash, like Miss America.) Why were there no peppers or potatoes? What happened to the garlic? He said we had to ask for them. Saarah showed him the menu and pointed out that it said “served with.” He stuck to his answer that it had to be asked for.

We also had to ask the waitress to bring a salad despite, once again, the fact that the menu said “served with.” She seemed surprised that Saarah wanted it.

On the plus side the Chicken Tagine is served in a nice plate. If dishes are your thing you may be happy with the meal. We were not.

BOTTOM LINE: Poor and confused service, bland food, missing food, and a staff that does not understand their own menu. Do not even ask what I tipped. Or didn’t.

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The Saturday Comics: GUARDIANS OF THE BLUE

2 May

May 2, 2017

 

Welcome to my review of the first issue of Guardians of the Blue!

I think you are going to like it. It’s by our talented friend, Mac of BIOnight. He’s already shown his prodigious ability in the world of music, and he’s demonstrated his talent with photography, and now he’s beginning his conquest of the comic book world. 

I’m going to keep this spoiler-free so you can discover this on your own.

It’s hard to know where to start, with the writing or the art. Like all the best comics, this is a synthesis of both. Art and dialogue. Panels and plot. Both contribute. Take this layout for example:

That’s not a blank page, not missing art. That’s a bold decision that, within the context of the story, adds to the feel in a way that mere words can’t convey. A good artist tells the story the best way he can, even if it means minimizing the art. But that doesn’t mean Mac has skimped on the art.

That’s a pretty dense panel and notice the sidebar. That’s not just a way of leaving the beautiful art uncluttered, it also adds to the tone and feel of this title. It is very well thought out.

But before you think this is all artsy, there is plenty of traditional comic goodness too.

Guardians of the Blue is a great comic with interesting characters and a plot that draws you in. It is not only very well done, it is very well thought out. Obviously, a lot of care has gone into this. Mac isn’t exactly new to comics. He’s been in this arena before, and he can explain it better than I can. You get behind the scenes peeks with this title, and Mac even shares one of his very, very early creations, Formicus!

 

 

You can find the first issue right here. Click this link to support Guardians of the Blue at Patreon. This is a great way to keep up with the next installment and also to support a great artist and writer.

 

There’s also an accompanying music collection of Mac’s own tracks which all the patrons on Patreon will receive, and it can also be bought – with the comic included in the download – from Bandcamp, here: https://macofbionight.bandcamp.com/album/guardians-of-the-blue-comic-book

And don’t forget to visit macvibes.com!

 

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