To Serve Mankind

{October 29, 2008}   Nutritional Information

OMG, you guys.  I hope nobody gets mad at me for copy and pasting, but I saw this article at  and I had to post it.  True, I work in a chain restaurant and I dish this “crap” out all the time.  But I don’t necessarily condone it…I believe we are all responsible for ourselves and what goes into our pieholes.  So, don’t let’s act too suprised.  Read on, if you dare.  And especially if you love your chain appetizers.

”   A funny thing has happened to America’s restaurant appetizers: They’ve started growing bigger than the meals they prepare us for. It’s now common to wolf down 500 or 600 greasy calories before we even start on our entrees.

One might wonder where all the calories end up. The answer is: our collective belly-fat supplies. The obesity rate stayed constant in only 13 states last year, while the other 37 states saw an increase. This big fat growth — which stretches over 75 percent of America — is due in no small part to our propensity to eat full meals before we eat full meals. (It’s not uncommon anymore to take in two days’ worth of calories in one meal at one of our favorite restaurants.)

To help you wrap your arms around the problem, we’ve gathered the most gluttonous pre-meal binges in America. If this list doesn’t make you hungry, then you’re already ahead of most of us.

Texas Cheese Fries w/ Jalapeno-Ranch Dressing
2,070 calories
160 g fat (73 g saturated)
3,730 mg sodium
Fat Equivalent: Like eating 16 Taco Bell Crunchy Tacos!

After we identified Chili’s Awesome Blossom in our investigative report here on The 20 Worst Foods in America, the chain’s 203 fat grams of deep-fried onion disappeared from the menu. Unfortunately that’s like taking a kiddie shovel to a menu that needs to be cleared with a front loader. The Texas Cheese Fries with jalapeno-ranch dressing has nearly two days’ worth of sodium in this one starter — and nearly four days’ worth of saturated fat.

Grande Fajita Nachos – Mesquite-Grilled Steak
1,970 calories
127 g fat (54 g saturated)
3,780 mg sodium
Fat Equivalent: Like eating an entire package of Oreos!

Even if you’re only one of four people working on these nachos, you’ll still bludgeon your belly with half a day’s worth of fat. The same is true for the Border Sampler. Opt instead for the 500-calorie basket of Chips & Salsa.

Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch
2,030 calories
??? g fat
??? mg sodium
Calorie Equivalent: Like eating as many as 21 White Castle Hamburgers!

Consider this one of America’s most questionable appetizers. That’s because Outback doesn’t provide full nutritional data for any of its products, forcing diners to guess exactly how many day’s worth of fat and sodium must really be crammed into this cheesy mess.

Earlier estimates from nutritional analysis groups put the pile at 2,900 calories with close to 200 grams of fat; even with Outback’s more conservative calorie counts, these frightening fries should be avoided at all costs.
Taters (full order)
1,580 calories
104 g fat (20 g saturated)
4,160 mg sodium
Sodium Equivalent: Like eating more than two full bags of Ruffles Original Potato Chips!

A bag of Ruffles has about 11 servings, which means these tater-tot miscreants carry the heart-taxing sodium load of 22 servings of potato chips. Throw these over your shoulder for good luck; you’ll avoid nearly two days’ worth of sodium that come with this one side. And to discover other salty foods you should steer clear of, check out these 20 foods your cardiologist won’t eat! They’re among America’s worst. 
Romano’s Sampler (fried calamari, fried mozzarella, tomato bruschetta, garnish)
1,640 calories
98 g fat (22 g saturated)
4,000 mg sodium
Calorie and Sodium Equivalent: Like eating more than 10 Extra Crispy Drumsticks from KFC!

This sampler is a roundup of the worst offenders on the menu: fried calamari, fried mozzarella, and tomato bruschetta. The only massive calorie bomb they bypass is the 980-calorie Shrimp Artichoke Dip. With a menu as heavy as Macaroni Grill’s, you’d be better off skipping the starters altogether. 
Grand Sampler (fire wings, southwestern spring rolls, fried mozzarella, and chicken tenders)
1,644 calories
100 g fat
Calorie Equivalent: Like eating 5 McDonald’s Cheeseburgers!

There’s enough fried food here to feed an entire Little League baseball team, so unless you’re taking them to Ruby’s (and you have signed permission slips) after the game, I’d recommend avoiding a swing at this bad pitch.
Jack Daniel’s Sampler (Jack Daniel’s glaze over fried shrimp, Sesame Jack Chicken Strips, and Baby Back Pork Ribs)
2,330 calories
??? g fat
??? mg sodium
Calorie Equivalent: Like eating more than 8 Steak Fajita Hot Pockets!

Thanks to new legislation in New York City, chain restaurants were forced to post their calorie counts on their menus. As a result, what Fridays’ patrons discovered was that they’ve been unwittingly paying for a clobbering with a big, greasy fat stick. More than half the appetizers top 1,000 calories. 
Pizza Skins (full order)
2,400 calories
155 g fat (50 g saturated)
3,600 mg sodium
Calorie Equivalent: Like eating a Large Domino’s Hand-Tossed Sausage Pizza!

Would you ever think of saying to a waiter: “Why don’t you start us off with a large meat pizza?” If you’re ordering for a party of more than 5 it might be OK, but for smaller groups, it’s tilting toward gluttony gone wild. Order the Thai Vegetable Pot Stickers instead — the only item carrying fewer than 800 calories.  ”

So, there is more to read if you want to.  All the credit is to David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding and the article title is “The Worst Appetizers in America”.  And, yes, I DO plan to look up nutrition info for the Robin.  This will be interesting…


Dedicated to all the crazies ordering a diet cola with your fry fill.




{October 27, 2008}   One Step Beyond…

Ok, it’s one week later and if you happened to read my last post you may be wondering what happened to me this Friday.  Well, let me tell ya.

     I got to the Robin at 4:45 and did my usual scan.  I had 3 tables and it was my duty to back up the bartender.  Ok.  I worked steady and strong all night, even taught my gf Dawn some yoga while we were on break.  It was a $5 night.  I kid you not…you other tipped staff know what I’m talking about.  It’s one of those shifts when every table gives you the same $5 tip.  Yep.  Isn’t that bizarre?  I haven’t had that happen in probly 2 years.  Tonite, I had one of those nights.  At least I only hadta sing 2 birthday songs…And I left making less than half of what I’d made the Friday before.

     Kelly and Steve; yous need to come out more often! You were like good luck charms!




{October 24, 2008}   A Happy Friday

     Last friday the 17th was a record night at the Robin.  I made over $30 an hour in tips.  I am still totally amazed and have been reflecting on what I did to make it such a successful night.  I mean, coming home with $160 is a new record for serving in the city of Riverbank and especially with the economy like it is.  Like most other businesses, the restaurant industry has taken a hit too.  Not only are people eating out less, they are also tipping less.  The average seems to be about 10-12%; my personal standard is 20%.  Mrph, ahem.

     So it went down like this…I arrived late due to a minor schedule confusion.  No big deal, fortunately.  No problem shaking that one off.  The rest of the night went picture perect!  I was on fire.  Nothing could bother me.  I was getting 20% tips left and right.  And when I got a $5 tip on an $80 tag, I shook it off without hesitation.  I was calm and focused.  I was truly enjoying my shift, and I guess that came thru to the guests.  I was lucky – none of my guests were buttholes or attention hogs.  It was a really smooth shift – I didn’t even have to sing a birthday song!

     Maybe it was becuz I was still on the move from my shift at Sips.  I had no down time in between jobs.  Unless you count driving in the car, I suppose.  Maybe it was becuz I knew there were friends waiting for me at my house.  Maybe I did just the right kind of yoga that morning.  Or maybe the planets were all perfectly aligned.  All I know is Friday the 17th was a model shift at the Red Robin, and I’ll be doing everything in my power to make that happen again.

Feedback welcome and encouraged!


Riverbank Red Robin

Riverbank Red Robin



{October 5, 2008}   What I love about Sips

   Have you seen this place yet? This wine shop is wrapped in a bistro sprinkled with creative variety and adorned by people who are doing what they love to do (except for the paperwork).  And, blissfully, we have guests who I believe we can really call “fans”.  They come back regularly for a variety of reasons.  The perfect portions of food … fresh soups and desserts made from scratch … immense wine experience and information … inimitable personalities; ah, the list goes on.  Being an employee (and unfortunately a rare visitor off-the-clock) I can attest to the fun and sometimes even bizarre dynamic that makes Sips a most comfortable place to enjoy a few hours.

    I first heard about this place in January while flipping thru the Modesto View.  The paper had done a feature on the new shop, which had opened beginning of December ’07.  I was suprised to see the picture of Bill and “some lady”…  I had to call and scope out the situation.  Diane answered and we exchanged pleasantries – I told her I knew Bill from the Wine Shop and BevMo (as do most of our guests) and I told her I was very happy she and Bill had opened this little bistro.  Our town needed this place since the Wine Shop closed down!  I told her I’d be in to dine soon.

     Four months later…I finally made it out to Sips and shame on me for waiting!  I brought my mom-in-law, Linda, for a girl’s lunch.  We fell in love immediately.  With everything.  The ambiance; cozy and inviting with out being pretentious.  The wine shop – a varied selection and I was definitely able to find most of my favorites.  The ceasar salad we split was fresh and zingy.  The grilled chicked sandwich on foccacia we shared was equally delicious, perfectly complimented by the pesto aioli spread.  And then there was the broccoli salad.  This fusion of complimentarily contrasted flavors and textures can hardly be just classified as a broccoli salad – it’s loaded with silky cheddar cheese, chewy dried cranberries, crisp red onion & walnuts, and smoky applewood bacon.  I swear I could eat that salad 3 meals a day!

    I loved the concept, and asked Bill if they needed any servers.  I knew that it would be an immense experience to learn wines from Bill.  And I knew that my days with “the-restaurant-who-shall-not-be-named” made me a perfect candidate to assist in marketing and building Sips’ business wherever Diane would like to use me.  I’m really excited about our potential!

   Whatever reason endears you, please come and come back often to our proud little establishment.  Enjoy the tastes, enjoy the flights; but most of all enjoy yourself.  I look forward to seeing you there!  Tuesday and Wednesday 4-6 is Happy Hour.  I’m there Wednesday and Friday nights, so those are the happiest hours!





et cetera