Chow, Baby: Wednesday, August 1, 2002
Feast, Famine

Chow, Baby’s Sunday lunch at Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe — not Chow, Baby’s choice, but rather a failure of the democratic system — turned out to be the answer to its prayers. In a Chinese curse sense.

Backstory: A particular Chow, Baby Pet Peevetm is making a break for the Top Ten this summer after years of languishing in the low sixties. Overly Solicitous Service generally begins with eight requests of “May I take your order now?” within a five-minute period. Can you see Chow, Baby’s menu still open? Can you hear Chow, Baby in the middle of a hilarious story? No, OSS won’t rest until every anecdote is interrupted: “Your food will be here soon!” “Would you like more water/tea/Coke?” Here’s a tip: If Chow, Baby’s glass is empty, Chow, Baby wants more. No discussion required. “How is everything?” “Are you done with that?” Can you see food on plate? Can you see fork in hand? “Now? Are you done now?” Repeat each question three times or until Chow, Baby is ready to smack somebody.

In just the last few months, OSS has annoyed Chow, Baby in restaurants from Bedford to Granbury, in all cuisines and every price range. But not at Razzoo’s! A Razzoo’s diner gets little service but lots of exercise — a big plus, as the only thing Razzoo’s faux Cajun/Creole food has in common with the real thing is fat content. Want a cartoon menu? Get up and walk to the hostess stand. It’s deserted, of course — she’s busy holding open the door so hot air can blow in Chow, Baby’s face — but there are usually a few menus scattered on the floor nearby. Want more water? Jog to the bar and wave arms vigorously. (Shouting won’t carry over the “music.”) Chow, Baby’s sole Razzoo-related pleasure — showing off its easy pronunciation of Chicken Tchoupitoulas — is thwarted when nobody will take the order. Maybe too much service isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Food out of Time

Here’s another peeve that’s climbing the charts: stupid-trend lag. It’s 1997 all over again in downtown Fort Worth, where Grape Escape, Rio Mambo, and now Kalamatas, newly open in the Renaissance Worthington, use the word “tapas” but miss the concept. (It’s small dishes of various Spanish foods — as in Spain.) That Chow, Baby enjoys Kalamatas’ Mediterranean-infused cuisine is beside the point: Artichoke dip and marinated tomato with mozzarella are appetizers. Not tapas. In more 1997 chic, Kalamatas serves its marvelous salads (tuna nicoise, Greek salad, mixed greens, $6-$12) on heavy square plates. And oh, the architectural desserts: Chow, Baby’s lemon custard was dwarfed by its design elements — artful dollops of fruit compote, swoops of waffled wafers, arrays of berries, sprigs of mint. There’s a dated trend Chow, Baby can live with, but what’s next? Something really stupid, like California-circa-1997 oxygen bars? What’s that? No. Please. Say it isn’t so.

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