Is This Chicken Dead Yet?

5 04 2011

Speaking of restaurant sanitation… Let me tell you about the Pacific Palms Resort in the City of Industry, California, just 25 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. Hailed as a hidden gem, like any other boarding facility, they have their moments, as I learned.

The first time I stayed there, I arrived on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, I did return in spite of this experience. What would you expect from a man who patronizes a restaurant where dogs and dirty diapers thrive in the kitchen? (see Tina’s Barbecue post) As dinner-time approached I did as I usually do; I asked the desk clerk for a restaurant suggestion. The young lady told me the only place in the area was a cafeteria about a mile away. I was beat, having traveled all day, and I was hungry.  But I was too tired to go out and cafeteria food didn’t appeal to me.

One thing I have learned as a frequent traveler is, that if the hotel owns and operates the restaurant, then it is usually bad. If the hotel restaurant is privately owned and operated, then you can count on it being good. For that reason, I usually try to avoid hotel restaurants, as most are owned and operated by the hotels that house them. But, because I was so tired and hungry, I decided to take a chance. After all, this was a nice place so how bad could it be?

Where are the Truckers?

Cima was the restaurant at the Pacific Palms. I walked in and noticed right away that I was the only customer in the entire restaurant. That should have told me something-no truck drivers! Granny Clampett always said that you could tell a restaurant was good if that’s where the truckers ate.

I sat there for about 10 minutes before a waiter finally came to my table. The Hawaiian chicken sounded good so I ordered that. It was a half chicken marinated then roasted and finished with pineapple chunks and coconut.

Well, it looked good on the outside!


This is Where You Hum the Jeopardy Tune

So after I ordered I sat there for about twenty minutes and the waiter returned to apologize and assure me my dinner was coming right up. I sat there another 25 minutes and was just about to get up and leave when he came from the kitchen with my dinner. I wouldn’t have sat there so long but I only had two options-the cafeteria down the road or the vending machine. Besides, I was really anxious to try the Hawaiian chicken.

So with my dinner finally in front of me, and still the only diner in the joint, I cut into the chicken just in front of the thigh. Immediately I could see the chicken was not done. Ugh! It wasn’t even close to being done. I’m not sure I didn’t hear a “cluck” when I pierced it.

Chicken tartare, anyone?

I called the waiter and showed him the raw bird. He offered all kinds of apologies and took the dish away saying he would return soon with another. I told him I wasn’t going to sit around another 45 minutes and wait for it so he assured me it would not take that long. He explained, along with another apology that the reason for the long wait the first time was because the chef was late getting to work. He must have been out gathering chickens.

So I agreed to wait a little longer. Only five minutes later he returned and placed my dinner in front of me. There where I had cut into the chicken the first time was the same incision I had made. It was the same bird! I’m sure he had just popped it into the microwave and nuked it for a couple of minutes. So, I got up and left-angry.

I Won’t Eat Raw Chicken Nor Will I Eat Crow…Not So You Can Tell it Anyway.

I got into my car and headed down the road to the cafeteria, but by the time I got there it was closed. After driving around for a while, I finally concluded the desk clerk was correct. There was nowhere else to eat. So, I returned to the hotel and decided I could not show my face in Cima again so I would order room service.

There on the room service menu was the Hawaiian chicken. It sounded just as appealing, even more so because of my ravenous hunger, so that’s what I ordered. Twenty minutes later there was a knock at the door. Dinner was here and not a moment too soon; the plastic fruit on the table in my room was beginning to look pretty good. Smear a little toothpaste on it and it might be tolerable-better than raw chicken anyway.

'Scuse me but have we met before?

I lifted the metal plate cover to reveal a half-chicken which to me appeared to be quite dark and over-done and covered with black specks of burned coconut. Then I saw it-the same cut in front of the thigh! Can you believe that? They were determined to get rid of that chicken. They had no way of knowing they were preparing Hawaiian chicken for the same disgruntled customer. Did this chicken not have another half they could cook? That makes two and a half times this poor bird has been cooked. I’ll bet the dogs at Tina’s wouldn’t even eat it.

I’m not one to do a lot of complaining. I mean it takes quite a bit to push me to my limit, but when I get there I like to hang around long enough to make my point. The General Manager would not be in until morning-after I would have to leave. So, I wrote it all down and delivered it to the front desk when I checked out. A week or two later I got a letter from the manager offering me a discount on a future stay. What makes him think I would want to stay there again? Well, because it was preferred by my client, I did return, but that’s another story.




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