Tuesday, October 16, 2012

PSA: If you find you are going to be short staffed on your first day....

....then DO NOT go to Farragut Square to serve.  Obviously the first day out is tough enough as it is, and even with a truck full of people, working out the kinks at one of the busiest destinations for trucks in the city is just a bad, bad idea.  Sure, we're not the most convenient spot for parking, crowd control along the sidewalks, or much else for that matter, but we're really loyal, reasonably reliable, and know our stuff when it comes to trucks.  While I had been blogging updates only about once a month recently, the new truck I tried today got me so bothered, I felt compelled to draft something while it was still totally fresh in my mind.

Fork & Spade said today was their first day, but it looks from their tweets like they've had a couple of days out in Tenleytown.  According to a City Paper article published less than a month ago, they had planned on having the truck generally focus on that area due to its low volume of mobile vendors.  But alas, a couple of good days out in Tenleytown probably equates to attendance at a weeknight baseball game in April, compared to many downtown locales which would equivalently better resemble what a Cubs game would look like in the post-season.  I'll start off to say the food (what I was able to get) was pretty good with only a couple of issues to be discussed shortly.  Yet my 25 minute engagement with the truck was not limited to food.  Let's start with the menu posted when I walked up...  

After standing at the window as the cashier fumbled with a whole bunch of tickets for what I believe have to be something other than food for a good 5-6 minutes before I could even place my order (and, for the record, it took about the same of time after me prior to the next customer's order being taken,) I asked what form the Sloppy Sue took.  He explained it was "slider-style in a chinese steamed bun," so I ordered one of everything.  Only at that point did he say "we're 86ed on the burger."  Hmmmm, ok.  I'm thinking, "It's still before noon, and it's clearly not because service is so speedy they've run out.  Why is it on a handwritten menu at all then?"  The explanation was they were short staffed, so I ordered a fish taco and 2 sloppy sue's.  Now I understand the menu says $3 each or 3/$8.50, but I must say particularly after not being able to fulfill my original order, when I selected 3 items which cost exactly the same and have equal quantity discount, I for sure thought my bill would be $8.50.  (Just going to assume the tax which has been in place longer than 2 weeks now is included, btw.)  It may be petty, but I questioned him on at $9 tally and got a sharp retort back along the lines of, "WTH would you think it would be $8.50?"  So, I've already waited.  Then my order couldn't be placed.  Now I'm being shortchanged (from what I think would be fair and appropriate.  Granted, it is what was posted, but given the situation, it's the principle of it.)

Following the exchange at the window, I still had to wait about 20 minutes for my 2 bao and 1 taco, along with a number of other annoyed customers -- all were peeved at the wait for food, plus the person who came after me that also tried to order the burger after a long wait for both he and me to place orders at the window, was also quite perturbed when he couldn't have it.  During my wait, the burger was eventually rubbed off the board, but I did see the guy who ordered before me walk away with one.  Just for a clear picture, the wait was not due to a high volume of orders either; trickle would be a strong word to describe the pace at which food left the window.  Not a single "sorry for your wait" was proffered at any point either.  Anyway...

Now, for the food.  The homemade pickles on the bao made the dish, however the otherwise nicely flavored pork was not hot and was excessively salty.  On the other side we have a fish taco so loaded with slaw it was hard to find the few small pieces of fish dredged and fried in a delicate but zesty beer batter. In the photo I think you can discern both the sparseness of the fish, but also the brittleness of the flour taco shell. 

I'll go back, but this truck needs some seasoning, if ya know what I mean.  For the total experience, I'd give the truck 2-2.5 honks, but the food was better than I expected after witnessing the general chaos that I'm inclined to give them closer to 3 honks, giving them the benefit of the doubt as a new truck.  I did get a tweet later which indicated they were a man down AND had a broken fryer.  Not that I'm a food truck owner, but a bad impression is a bad impression and I probably would have reconsidered my decision to launch under those circumstances, particularly at a venue like Farragut.  Good luck, Alex & Renee.

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