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Mission Yuppies

Friday night we decided to go out for dinner instead of just getting boring old delivery. There is a Vietnamese restaurant in the 16th and Valencia/Mission district which has become a magnet for yuppies ever since it was "discovered" as a "hot new place." Consequently, you can't just go without a reservation, and when you call to perhaps get a reservation, they are always booked. They don't even give you the "We've got 5:15 and 10:00 open" routine like all the other popular restaurants. For some reason, they had a 6:00 reservation open on Friday, and since it has been , like, a year since we last went, decided to go.

Since the Mission district is the next area to be affected by the wide-sweeping gentrification that is going on in San Francisco, we were eager to see what has changed in a year. The prices, for one thing — simple stir-fry-type entrees that were once between $6 and $10 were now in the $14 – $18 range. Avery ordered an Erdinger Doppel-Weisen-Bock, and I ordered a Duvel (a Belgian Trappist Ale&#41. The waiter then brought over two wine glasses, which we thought was a little weird, and went to get our drinks. They were actually planning on serving our non-wine drinks in wine glasses. Now, I don't expect all restaurants to have the specific appropriate glassware for every last drink in their kitchens, but you would think that they would at least have a regular pint glass lying around! I suppose that the wine glass was the closest thing they had to a Duvel glass, but I did feel weird drinking a beer-type drink from it. Either no one ever orders those drinks, or the yuppies don't know how they're supposed to be served.

Halfway through the meal, one of the water-glass-filler/table-clearer people snuck up behind me, picked up my little 11.5 ounce bottle of Duvel and poured what little was left into my glass; which is another thing that I guess I understand from a service perspective, but rarely appreciate. Whenever we order wine with dinner, for example, one of the people in the party will inevitably be drinking faster than the others, so their glass will always look emptier. Those people are the ones who get their glasses filled over and over again by the waitstaff, while the rest of us slower drinkers end up with maybe one glass rather than our fair share of 01/2 or 01/3 of the bottle.

Like any other restaurant that gains haute-cuisine status, even though the prices were higher, the portions were smaller than a year ago. The "Shaking Beef" dish used to come with the lime, salt and pepper on a little dish on the side, allowing the diner to season it to their liking…now they have it pre-mixed in little ramekins. Either they need to keep up with the hundreds of people that they need to pack in per night, or the yuppies must have thought it was a garnish and got confused. Don't bother trying to linger over tea and dessert either, because the water-glass-filler/table-clearers start circling your table like hawks and start hinting that you've perhaps overstayed your welcome (of a whole hour!&#41 by taking little things off of your table one by one. Why is it that the most attentive service happens when they want your table? I swear, I stood up to put on my jacket, and in not even a second someone was already there, changing the place settings!

I guess that this experience was not as bad as going to dim sum, as we did on Sunday, and watching clueless people ask for the menu or pour the soy sauce into their teacups.

Posted in Scowls.

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