Archive for the ‘Dive Dumps’ Category

Raising Cane’s

May 29, 2010

Vegas never stopped suckin’, I just took a little break from writin’.

There’s no two ways about it, even though I haven’t updated in a few weeks and not like any of you care or anything since I have like eight people what read this blog and all; but in the last couple of weeks, a few Good Things happened. First off, I got a sweet-shit part-time-on-call gig that pays me way too much money. This is because I am awesome and have skills whose skills have skills. Then I managed to get another job and then another one on top of that. So fuck you, crippled job market. When a dude is awesome, it takes awhile for the fuckholsters and dickslingers in charge to notice, but when they do, Good Times come rollin’ like snow in an avalanche.

Ah but not all times are good. Newfound responsibilities and obligations find their way into my life, overriding my shiftless and lazy Bohemian lifestyle, precluding the desire and ability to bum around this godawful place and look for things that I find appealing, fun, beautiful or just downright wacky little metaphorical jellyfish awash amid the overwhelming ocean of overbearing light and cloying noise and needless oversexualization, all of which enticing the dumbshits like the little bobbing, blinking, blipping sexy lure that dangles enticingly in front of the Corporate Gaming Juggernaut’s greedy, snapping yap.

With that, let’s go back to restaurant reviews! I’ll write more about these horrible casinos later in the week.

Raising Cane’s fucking sucks.

Holy shit does this joint ever stink up the city. My Vegas friends do nothing but rant and rave and tell me about how this little chain is such a Vegas Institution and is so important to Vegas’ vaginal bouquet that it was featured in the movie The Hangover[1]. Good for it, I guess. In-N-Out Burger was like in every movie ever set in Southern California and that doesn’t make it suck any less either[2].

The first thing you notice about the place is the mascot. Now let’s go off-tangent for a bit and talk about fast food mascots. Mascots are a time-honored tradition in which the awfulness and cheapness of food is masked and obscured by a kitschy, friendly cartoon mascot. McDonald’s has Ronald, Burger King has the King, Jack in the Box has the Jack in the Box and Wendy’s has well, Wendy[3]. It’s not like these places have to get all that avant-garde creative with their mascots. For the most parts the mascot is the name of the joint, as if they themselves are the owner. Each of these mascots was designed and market-tested by focus groups and research firms in order to both brand the marque (or marque the brand) and solidify each chain’s identity with its target audience.

Cane’s mascot is… A golden retriever.

Not just any golden retriever, but a golden retriever with a bandana knotted jauntily around its neck and with a pair of dollar-store black sunglasses perched upon its snout. See! The dog thinks its people! Obviously this is the perfect sort of fast food mascot! Nothing chirps the frivolity of empty calories like… a dead dog.

That’s right, the dog’s dead. The store’s name is Raising Cane’s, which evokes the imagery of a zombie canine, staggering through the mist-choked shoreline of a desert lake. As if the chain’s founder went and buried his dog in the old injun cemetery on the hill in hopes that ol’ Cane would come on back and they could be bestest buds forever despite the tortured howling and whining and begging for the return to the sweetest release of death, the animal’s sole reward for a life lived with the agony of cataracts and hip dysplasia so as to satisfy the whims of the owner’s twisted vanity.

Fuck’s sake. Now we’re off on another tangent. I don’t get dog owners. It’s not that I don’t like dogs, far from it, dogs are kickass. I watch the shit out of Cesar Milan, I’ve learned to be the pack leader. I have kind of an unspoken bond with dogs, I don’t think I’ve ever met a dog along with whom I do not immediately get. Dogs listen to me, dogs for the most part obey my commands and we generally have a good time being smelly, unkempt loners living away from the pack. That said, dudes that fetishize dogs, people who consider their dogs to be family, rather than as possessions simply boggle my mind. It’s just an animal. A thing, a possession. I’m not the sort to advocate unwarranted cruelty or mistreatment to animals, but animals are a lot like small children[4] – you, as their owner – need to make an understanding in the animal/owner relationship that the animal is the subordinate or submissive member in the relationship, not the dominant or equal member. To treat dogs or cats or horses or pigs or cows as an equal member of the relationship is to invite ill behavior on the part of the animal. When a pet thinks that it is on equal footing as its owner, it begins to create an Oedipal power dynamic struggle where it will – upon realizing that it is of equal footing as the owner – attempt to dominate the owner.

This basically leads to chickenshit like the Raising Cane’s mascot.

That fucking dog is everywhere in the store. Something tells me that if the Clark County health codes didn’t permit it, each store would be managed by a goddamned dysplasic goldie, yapping and slobbering and shitting everywhere because the store franchisee didn’t have the ballsack to tell the fucking mutt to know its role in the relationship.

Now that’s over and we have zombie goddamned dog drippings and mangy patches of hair on the ground of our mental palate, let’s talk about the food!

It’s awful!

Never before have I felt so ashamed to waste seven bucks. I should have bought a Transformer or went to Las Pupusas or just given some homeless guy five bucks to kick me in the balls and I'd have the same experience as going to Cane's except I'm two dollars less-poor.

Seven bucks and small change gets you four limp little breaded chicken breast spears. There is no seasoning or flavor to the breading, just breading-flavor. Which is okay, I guess, because they give you this pale, pink sauce for dippin’.

But the sauce is terrible. It tastes faintly of ranch dressing, chili powder and coarse ground black pepper. When the Secret Sauce is mostly made by Lawry’s, can you really consider it much of a secret?

French fries! It’s hard to fuck up french fries, right? Julienne cut fried potatoes are the bedrock upon which our stately American physique is built, n’est ce pas? Oh, Ore-Ida crinkle-cut fries? Nothin’ says mouthwatering blandness like Ore-Ida! Good thing I paid seven bucks for this.

Hey check it out! Is that a little two ounce soufflé cup full of painfully bland coleslaw I see! Why yes it is! I’ll set that to /ignore and move onto the only part of the meal that was worth a shit:

The toast.

Yes. A big slice of “texas” toast with sesame seeds. It was only grilled on one side. Now, coming from a kitchen background, that’s always how I made my toast. I used to work as the graveyard cook in a greasy spoon and loved coming up with interesting ways to take what I learned from Professors Brown and Child and apply it to dive-bar salt-bomb red-eye meals. Instead of doing toast in the salamander, I’d grill it on the hottop. Just a little bit of garlic butter to lube the griddle and a sizzle on each side to bring it to that perfect GBD[5] state and onto the plate it would go. Nothin’ but compliments from the drunk-shit stoners and underaged tweakers back at the pool hall part of the bar. Zweiback that’s made on the grill is always, invariably better than that which is made over an indirect-heat dry-air method. So at least Cane’s has that going for it, right?

In short, fuck this restaurant chain, fuck their awful chicken, fuck their awful sauce, fuck their goddamned mascot and fuck their piece of shit owner for parading his dead dog’s corpse around like he was the two male leads on Scrubs.

You know a place is godawful terrible shit when the only thing it has going for it is the TOAST.

The one plus side of the place is that the ice machine dispenses the little tiny crushed cubes which are so much more satisfying than the big blocky cubes, je ne sais quoi, but I by far prefer them.

As a furthermore aside, the name of this place is confounding. It’s called Raising Cane’s. The heraldry in the store indicate that the place is really Cane’s, as in a restaurant that belongs to someone named Cane, see, that’s how apostrophes work in English. They do not – as many seem to accept – indicate that an S is coming up quick so you’d better be on guard because Ses are like snakes and will totally strike and snap at you if you turn your back on them. Rather, an apostrophe indicates a possessive. Were this French, we would say Chez Cane, literally The House of Cane. In English, we forgo all the honorifics and formality and just throw in an “apostrophe-s” at the end of the name or title to indicate possession:

Cane’s.

But what’s with the “Raising” part? It’s as if the chain owner was so damn distraught over his dead dog’s passing that he sought to hastily scrawl in the word “Raising” atop each of his painstakingly hand-painted neo-retro bullshit cursive logo so as to possibly suggest that the proceeds from each sale will go toward re-funding those totally rad Soviet-era experiments where they chop the heads off of dogs and then hook them to pumps and then re-animate said dogs? So then he can live on forever with the miserable, wretched corpse of his One True Friend to stick around with him forever as it bawls and howls in miserable jealousy of those who are allowed the actual respite of death? Dude, get a girlfriend. There are cats that prowl up and down the strip handing out little glossy cards of girls whose attention you can purchase and I guarantee you it’d cost less than your mad goal of resurrecting your dead damn dog. Let it go already.

Either that, or the fucking dead dog after which the chain is named was actually named Raising Cane, which is just so mindbogglingly-stupid that I honestly would not put it past the sort of person who builds shrines to his dead dog in every restaurant in his chain.

Absolute Worst Of Las Vegas.

[1]I’ll take their word for it, I ain’t seen The Hangover. I’ll remedy that eventually.

[2]It’s not that In-N-Out sucks exactly, it’s just a place that offers nothing I can’t do at home myself. What’s the point in going to a restaurant that makes the same stuff a dude with a skillet and a handful of meat can do on his lonesome? Not exactly knocking the place, it’s all-right. Not the best fucking hamburger in the cosmos, as everybody makes the place out to be.

[3]And you left our Carl’s Jr’s angry little “Fuck you. I’m eating” star. And then Arby’s had the oven mitt, which is non sequitur because the shop’s logo is obviously a hat.

[4]Rather small children are more like animals. And like animals, they need to be raised in cages, force-fed growth hormones and forced to fight each other for wager. That’d make the organized gaming industry in this state something worthy of my participation.

[5]Golden Brown and Delicious. If I were ever to open a law firm or advertising agency, that’d be its name.

Advertisements

Gugino’s

May 6, 2010

There’s this funny little eye-tah-yin place by the University campus that Mr. Right-Wing talked me into goin’. Okay, this is a new thing on me, given my previous statements of dislike for New York, New Yorkers and the whole New York experience.

We wandered in and I immediately found the place to be a bit charming. Steel kitchen racks line the walls and kickboards of the entire dining area. On these shelves are bags of flowers, jars of olives, chubs of polenta[1] and other kitcheny dry goods. A close examination reveals that basically everything is imported. “Producto de Italia” most read. Cool. Authentigo. Except aren’t stacks of racks like this out in the dining area simply for decoration? After all, I’m sure the kitchen is full of the same Sysco and Farmer Brothers boxes as are every kitchen in America…

Not just decor! Also New Yorkers really seem to be just proud of the fact that they're from New York. Provincialism always confounds me, it's not like the place is great enough to write a godawful pop song whose only lyrics are the city's name repeated ad nauseum, right?

So consider me surprised and shocked when a guido waddled out of the back, through the dining area, weaving between the chairs and customers to grab a bag of flour and a couple of cans of tomatoes from the rack. Okay, that’s cool. They at least try to stay authentic.

Speaking of authentic, meet our cook. Now as a foreword, I’m homeless. You might have drawn that from earlier posts here, but I ain’t have a house. I live out of a Jeep Cherokee. I have all my clothes in a duffel. I take my showers at the gym. I use my internet at the public library. I get by on basically 250$/mo between my car insurance, phone bill and gym membership. Our cook is dressed in a white t-shirt, basketball shorts and the delightful stereotypical guinea-on-a-gold-chain that he and his people wear more often than my Israeli friends wear their Stars of David[2].

This guy is wearing to work what I wore to sleep. I don’t have a home. I don’t go out in public dressed in what I wore to sleep. And yet this guy goes to work, he gets up out of bed in his house somewhere in the Valley, takes a shower, smokes up a Newport, splashes on the Drakkar Noir, looks at himself in the mirror and says to himself “yeah! this is sufficient! I shall go out into public, looking like this!”

Ready to work! Maybe I'm putting too damned much effort into this whole "finding a job" thing, what with my shirt and tie and suit coat and shined shoes and all.

He then hops into his 1991 IROC-Z (black, t-tops) and blasts the shit out of Led Zeppelin 4 on his cassette deck as he motors his way to Guigino’s Italian Deli.

And I’m homeless.

Now that we’ve gone so far to the side that we’re listing and in danger of capsizing, let’s talk about the pizza. I’ve a relationship with the dish that one would call “storied.” Basically pizza’s my favorite thing. If you know me, you can pretty much tell. I spent the majority of my twenties working in pizza shops and lawdy did it ever do my health buckets of good! So since I’ve moved on and away from what was my Life Before Vegas, I’ve shied away from the demon pie that has had such a tight hold around my arteries.

So here we go, into the eye-tah-yin joint advertising a 6.99$ large cheese pizza special. Fuck it, ain’t had a pizza since I moved here, let’s get it on.

Our working-in-bedclothes wop behind the grill proceeded to actually knead and roll out a dough ball. Holy shit dude, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone actually make the dough to order. Typically pizza places have dough pre-made and pre-portioned, ready to be slapped around and shaped into a vaguely-round disc upon which the toppings are placed. If anything, that was interesting.

When the pizza arrived at our table, I instantly noticed something about it: it was bland. Bland itself doesn’t do justice to the look, feel, texture and flavor of the pie. A new word needs to be invented to explain how boring this pizza was. Where most pizza joints have little screw-top shakers full of red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, this place had shakers full of oregano.

Yeah, the main herb what goes into pizza sauce, the one that gives it the very essence de Italia was placed off to the side, to be added by the customer.

While the guinea behind the counter did indeed make up some dough from scratch, he left out an important ingredient: the damn salt. Nothing makes dough taste flat, distant and pointless faster than the lack of our good buddy Sodium Chloride. Two eternal essentials to Italian cooking were left out completely.

Now maybe this is just a symptom of what’s wrong with the East Coast and its culinary tradition. They’re boring. Maybe to them, this is an exciting time out. But to us on the West Coast who were brought up to enjoy food that actually tastes like stuff, this pizza was barely more than a slice of toast, some ketchup and plain cheese thrown in the microwave to melt a bit.

No enjoyment, no gusto, no pleasure, just eating for sustenance and obligation having spent twelve bucks in this dive on a pizza and two fountain drinks.

Bleah.

Terrible.

Oh and there were no red/white checked tablecloths. Come on. Seriously? What kind of eye-tye joint doesn’t have red checked tablecloths?

Someone out there – someone with tastes boring enough to find Las Vegas exciting – is bound to enjoy this place, but I hated it.

[1]grits. Normal people call them grits.

[2]I wear a tan hospital bracelet that reads “NO CAFFEINE”. It’s supposed to be ironic!