Nobody likes a sad, skinny baby...nobody!

Whether I’m ordering a meal at a restaurant or cooking up something at home, enjoying what I eat brings me immense satisfaction. On the other hand, being disappointed in a meal sends me into tantrum mode.

I expect certain things out of a dining experience. I’m realistic about the standards I hold for each place, from the local taco bar to the five star steak house. What I've decided is that it's about a perfect balance between service, food quality, ambiance and price. That may seem like a lot to juggle, but Houston is a big city with a plethora of restaurants to choose from. There’s no reason to expect anything less than the best.

If you strip my needs down to the bare essentials, you'll find I'm very much like a baby; I love tasty food and I love to be happy. If an experience doesn't generate a sense of fulfillment for those two basic're gonna hear me cry.

Nobody likes a sad, skinny baby...nobody!

Candelari's - Made Me Cry

The Skinny: Tastes like frozen pizza at restaurant prices.

The Fat: There's just something about pizza. Eating it makes you feel like a kid, no matter how evolved your choice of toppings has become over the years.

My friends and I had never been to Candelari's on Washington, so we decided to give it a shot. We had some very important TV to watch that night and so we opted for take out. After reading over several selections, we called and ordered the Arugula pizza from their special menu and the King Mike's from their standard menu. We chose the 5-Grain crust for both pizzas; it just makes me feel better to know that each sinful slice of pizza has a little something healthy in it.

While we waited for our friend to bring back the pies, we set out plates, knives, and napkins, all in eager anticipation of the feast to come. As soon as he arrived with the pick up order, we gathered around the boxes he'd placed on the kitchen counter.
OK, so you know that warm wave of excitement that washes over you right before you pounce on a fresh, hot pizza? Well, it dissipated about 2.5 seconds after we opened the boxes.

Here's why:

  • The featured Arugula pizza (I use the term "pizza" lightly) was nothing more than cold white crust with a mound of dry arugula thrown on top.

  • The other pizza was nearing room temperature.

  • We didn't get the 5 grain crust we ordered.

We all agreed to look past the obvious shortcomings and give these babies a try. I mean, we were famished and totally ready to tear up some pizza, we weren't gonna give up on these pies so quickly. We poked around the Arugula pizza for a second. Lacking any apparent trace of cheese or oil, we tilted the box ever so slightly only to watch the dry greens roll directly off the dry crust, it was entirely inedible. We pushed that box aside and headed for the King Mike's. One bite in and my friend (who worked at a pizzeria for years) exclaimed "this one is stale, but it taste almost as good as a frozen pizza...almost."

Picture this, I'm in my pajamas at my friend's house. (We do this sometimes - just get super lazy on a Friday night and lounge out in our pjs. Whatever...don't judge...that's my job.) We have a ridiculous night of self indulgent TV shows lined up to watch. We've got Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream in the freezer and instead of enjoying a warm slice of delicious pizza, I'm standing in the kitchen holding a stiff piece of bread, one recently abandoned by some leafy greens. Boo! Needless to say, I was bummed. Food has the potential to make or break my day. I'm simple that way.

Feeling a bit broken, I realized I could call Candelari's and let them know about this. After all, I really care about restaurants, I want them to do well or at least have a chance to redeem themselves if they don't. Surely this is not the way they always serve food, surely there was a misstep in the kitchen, surely someone would be grateful to be notified...right?

I decide to call up and ask to speak with the manager. Knowing how people tend to react when they feel attacked I was careful to explain myself in a friendly, considerate voice. I made it clear that we weren't asking for a refund and we had no intention of driving back to return the food, we just thought he'd like to know what we were given so that he could take the appropriate steps to tighten up the product.

In so many words, he assures me that their pizzas were supposed to be made that way. "With bread and lettuce and nothing else?" I ask. I get an answer that makes no sense to me. "With the wrong crust?" I remind him. I get another answer that makes no sense. "Cold?" I ask. Finally he apologizes, swears that lots of people love their food and tells us that we should try them again sometime.

"Is he nuts?" I ask...just after hanging up the phone.

P.S. Every restaurant has a bad order, a bad night, or even a bad idea for a special "pizza" now and again. In any case, here's a tip; don't try to cover up the fact that a sub par dish left your kitchen. If that's your stance when a customer complains, you are basically telling your customer that they will never like your food. Why? Because you know that thing you hated about our food? Yep, it's supposed to be like that....Oh and come back soon! Well, I already spent over $30 to give you a shot and I would have probably given Candelari's another shot too - but if that's the best they can do, why bother?


Beantaxi said...

I've been to both and I like Candelari's quite a bit better. Looking forward to why I'm not supposed to like them . . .

Fat Baby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
exo said...

I've heard good things about Star Pizza (which I haven't tried yet), but every pizza I've had in this town pretty much disappoints. (Hey, I'm from Brooklyn,)

I'm at the point where I'll go with Domino's, simply because I know what I'm getting and make peace with that.

Anonymous said...

The problem with their pizza lies in the crust. The thin crust is too thick, the regular crust is like deep dish and the deep dish is like a loaf of bread.