Ask Tom, Answer Gansie

man without a face

Hi all. Welcome to the next edition of Ask a Professional, Answer a Blogger.

Dupont Circle, D.C.: Hi Tom – When I walk by The Palm on my way to work in the early morning, I notice that they turn the chairs upside down and rest them on the already-set tables, presumably to clean the floors. Seems pretty unappetizing, to say the least, to have a chair seat resting on a plate and napkin that will be used by a diner. I suspect many restaurants do this. I wonder if The Palm management realizes that their new fishbowl room reveals this practice to passers-by. Your thoughts?

Tom Sietsema: Chairs on pre-set tables might look unappealing, but I can think of worse sights. I recall addressing a reader’s concern a few years ago, about the restaurant practice where servers refold used napkins and put them on diner’s chairs when diners excuse themselves from the table. My response was formed by a medical expert who said germ transmission was minimal/unlikely. I’m thinking the same thing might hold true in this case. But still — the staff could at least wait to set the tables the next day, huh? First Bite: The Palm

gansie: Really? Is this what people worry about. Um, how about this?

Washington, D.C.: I have a vegetarian friend coming to town and I’ve paid no attention to restaurants with veggie fare. Where should we be going for dinner where both she and I can enjoy our meals?


Tom Sietsema: Before I answer your question here, can I share a pet peeve?

It’s the word veggie. I hate it. If I promise never to print “cool beans” again, will you promise not to use veggie?

Places where you and your friend can happily dine together: Bombay Club, Heritage India, Banana Leaves, Zaytinya, Jaleo, Regent Thai, Rice, just about any new pizza place … the list is long. But hopefully these ideas will help.


DC: Tom,

Hear, hear! I too hate the word “veggie.” It’s so… cloying. I hate that word almost as much as I hate the word “foodie” which I despise beyond description.

Keep up the good work, Tom!

Tom Sietsema: I’m trying really, really hard not to use foodie in print. Has anyone noticed?


Anonymous: Seems like you have an awful long list of “words/phrases” that you hate! How come? I know you’ve said several time that you dislike “It’s my pleasure”! I’m in the hospitality business and I use it all the time — maybe the difference is that I truly mean it as opposed to someone saying it because they think it sounds good.

Tom Sietsema: I don’t think my list is overly long. Maybe you’re confusing me with all the readers who chime in, here and in the Magazine, about phrases they’d rather not hear?

“My pleasure” doesn’t grate as much as “No problem.”


Bethesda, Md.: If you’d also eliminate “my bad,” you’d make a lot of people happy.

Tom Sietsema: Do I use that (often)? If so, my bad.


Banned Words: Among the words I now prohibit from usage in these chats:

veggie – foodie – fonzie – fennell – lardon – lhasa apso – yummy – tummy – ergo – ergot – escabeche – subtext – y’all – all y’all – cran–anything – LOL – ROFL – ROTC – soupcon – mung beans

Thank you,


Tom Sietsema: I think I know who this is. Thanks for the god laugh.

I’m guilty of “LOL” and soupcon (but only once, and I can’t believe I used it).

gansie: So I’m thinking, maybe ES should come up with a list of hated words as well. I mean we’re so arrogant to create an entire list of foods we deem ourselves too important to be seen with – why not include words in that list too.

I’ll start: foodie, locavore, sammie (sandwich), or anything else that RayRay says.

Oak Hill, Va.: Hi Tom,

My wife and I had dinner at Proof last week. I drank a cocktail; my wife had two glasses of wine. The wines by the glass are priced according to the volume of the pour. Because I was not looking at that part of the menu, I did not know this and my wife neglected to specify the pour. We were a bit taken aback to find that her two glasses of wine totaled over $40! Apparently, they gave her the largest pour without asking. We didn’t complain, as we received what we paid for, but still. What do you think of variously-priced pour, and what is the best way to prevent this next time?

Tom Sietsema: I love the idea of different size pours. Sometimes you just want to try a few sips of something rather than commit to a full six ounces, you know? But the server should have inquired: “Half-glass or full?”

gansie: One, wine is sooo over priced at Proof. I took 80 there for his half birthday. Oh, wait. Have I explained half birthdays yet? Well, when 80 and I first started dating I somehow convinced him that celebrating half birthdays was an absolutely normal thing to do (even over the age of 4 and a half.) He bought into it basically because as nature would have it, we both have half birthdays so it’s equal opportunity partying. Well, not really partying. The deal: No presents. But the night of: cocktails first, usually somewhere we haven’t been before and somewhere relatively close to the chosen, secret restaurant. I drink between one and two martinis. One martini = gansie can hang for the night, even through dessert. Two martinis = gansie is drunk by the end of the appetizer section of the evening, 80 is forced to finish her 3rd glass of wine, gansie can barely sit up straight through dessert and then falls asleep in the cab. Happens Every. Single. Time.

Back to Proof. The food is great (from what I remember) and like I said, the wine is $$$. And I do agree with Tom, it’s both mature and fun to drink small portions of lots of different wines. Sonoma is also an excellent restaurant that is so cool that it keeps wine on tap.

Clarksburg, Md.: Tom:

Now I know I’m not in Kansas anymore..I will be in Las Vegas in March on business and a group of 10 of us are going to Rosemary’s for dinner…what an amazing restaurant by the way….Anyways…they asked for a credit card to hold the reservation…no big deal…LOL…however, if we are a no show…they will charge my credit card $75 per person…LOL….not just $75. That sure is an incentive to either make sure you go to the restaurant…or make sure you cancel your reservation…

Thanks for the weekly chats…without you I would definitely not be as knowledgeable about food as I am.

Tom Sietsema: Requests for credit card information to hold reservations is increasingly common. I know a lot of diners who detest the practice, but I sympathize with restaurants who have to deal with no-shows. $75 a head for a non-destination restaurant seems like a stiff penalty, though!

gansie: Just last week 80 and I were planning on going to Komi while 80’s dad was in town. Komi is certainly one of the more prominent eateries in the area, as hottie chef/owner Johnny Monis was recently named something important in Food & Wine mag. Regardless, as I was making the res the person on the phone asked for my credit card info. I immediately backed off and said, uh, let me call you back. Now, sure, I know this happens. But it still pisted me off. Don’t you trust me, Johnny? Well, we ended up going to Hook instead (order the squash fritters.) So there, Komi.

But, this is not the real point of the story. So when I relayed the tale to 80, my head growing ever so much bigger by the second, I realized – “Wait! I shouldn’t be making reservations in my own name anymore! Tom would NEVER make a res in his name – unheard of! I mean, now that I’m a published food writer I can’t just announce my presence at a dining establishment!” But, don’t worry, 80 brought me ever so gently back to earth.

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  • Britannia February 11, 2008  

    Can we include “sarnie” and “butty”, these two are sandwich related terms. Ugh, the British are so crass.

    VEGGIE VEGGIE VEGGIE… They’re all sinners in my opinion!

  • gansie February 11, 2008  

    i’ve never heard of those words before, but if it will increase our readership in the UK, i’m all for it.

  • Tim February 11, 2008  

    Here are some words that I hate, and vow to avoid in future bloggerings:

    eat, eating, ate, food, cuisine, hunger, hungry, Hungary, make, making, made, cook, cooking, cooked, had cooked, had to cook, had not to cook, chill, cool, refrigerate, refrigerator, freeze, freezing, froze, frozen, freezer, kitchen, utensil, oven, stove, range, microwave, toast, toasting, toasted, toaster, counter, counter-top, bake, baking, baked, upside-down pineapple cake, right-side-up pineapple cake (jesus, what a crap joke), restaurant, restauranteur, chef, sous chef, server, waiter, waitress, runner, host, hostess, hosting, napkin, condiment (shit, condiment’s ok, strike condiment), umm, geez, I fecking hate water, the word, and H20, glass, half-full, half-empty, braise, baste, brussels, broil, banana, bread, muffin, muffin top, and shallot.

    God, those really get me going! I especially hate it when those people are like, “Oh, I think I’ll toast some bread in the kitchen and then I’ll eat it because I’m hungry.”

    Bunch of idiots.

  • gansie February 11, 2008  

    as always, tim, you have surely taken this list to a whole new level.

  • BS February 11, 2008  

    you might have to start using a body double for your blog glamor shots

  • 80 Proof February 11, 2008  
  • BS February 11, 2008  

    wow. that is some impressive image searching

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