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There Will Be Brisket

March 30, 2010

Well, that was a surprise.

As I mentioned yesterday, a Passover Seder was on the horizon and brisket was going to be on the menu.  What I didn’t mention, but implied through my fiendishly clever link tags, was that the brisket was going to come from Capital Q.

While brisket may be a traditional food, getting it smoked and from a restaurant whose URL is is not.  But a couple of years ago I successfully brought an entire Capital Q smoked brisket down to Connecticut for a family Seder at my Aunt N’s house, and it was the belle of the ball.

So it seemed like a no-brainer when a smaller contingent of my family was gathering in Albany to outsource the cooking of the main protein to the more than capable hands of Sean Custer, the mad genius behind one of my favorite food joints in the area.

Turns out I was running a bit behind schedule and was having a difficult time figuring out when I could run out and bring back the beef.  Then I noticed Capital Q’s affiliation with a local online food ordering and delivery service, the unfortunately named

I’m a little uncomfortable with certain technologies.

It took me years before I would deposit a check in an ATM.  I still do not own a microwave oven.  And online banking gives me the heebie jeebies.

Honestly I was a bit loath to use this newfangled ordering system for the delivery of a central part of such an important meal.  But while I was still scrambling in the kitchen to put all the components of the Seder together, there was still an hour and a half until I needed the meat in the kitchen.  And I figured if worst came to worst, I could always cancel the order, run out, and buy the brisket the old fashioned way.

Plus in the delivery instructions I left the note, “I need the food to be here before 5pm.  If there is ANY problem, please call.”

Well, I did get a call.

It turned out that Capital Q was shorthanded.  But help was on the way and scheduled to arrive at 4:30.  I was given assurances that at 4:30 my order would be out the door and on its way to my house.  And if there were any problems they would call me immediately so I could execute Plan B.

The doorbell rang well before 5:00 and at my door with two pounds of the best barbecue brisket available in the region was Sean Custer himself.  And he was all smiles.  As was I.

I know I mentioned in the past that my idea of celebrity may be different than most people’s idea of celebrity.  But to me, this visit from the pit master was like ordering the complete Lost DVD box set on Amazon and having J. J. Abrams bring it to the house and put it in my hot little hands.

What an unexpected treat.

Here’s a question for you, though.  I had tip money ready in my pocket.  But it just felt wrong to tip the owner of the restaurant, even though he certainly went above and beyond to get me my food.  I think I did the right thing.  But we live in such a culture of tipping that it felt a bit weird.

Instead of a tip, I gave him a good firm handshake, and thanked him very much.  I suppose there are the above few hundred words, but I’m pretty sure he never saw that coming.

What do you think?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. llcwine permalink
    March 30, 2010 8:26 am

    If you didn’t know he was the owner, you would have tipped him, so I say, yeah tip him. Dan, can you give us a rough estimate of what the total cost for the brisket?

    Thank you and happy Passover,

  2. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    March 30, 2010 9:13 am

    I tip my barber and he’s the owner. So does everyone else.

  3. kerosena permalink
    March 30, 2010 9:28 am

    You were a bit LOATH! Yayyy!

    Mealeo looks like a cool idea. I’m going to have to check that out.

    As for the tip…I don’t really know the answer. I probably would have gone through a similar thought process and came to a similar conclusion. Of course, you’ve done something nicer than offering a tip by writing this post.

  4. Kate permalink
    March 30, 2010 10:05 am

    Didn’t you invite him in for Passover? aren’t you supposed to leave an open seat for an unexpected guest? He would have made a great dinner guest.

  5. Sarah M. permalink
    March 30, 2010 10:30 am

    I like Kate’s idea. You could have tipped him with Elijah’s cup of wine.

  6. StanfordSteph permalink
    March 30, 2010 11:49 am

    I need the “if you haven’t eaten at this place in the Capital Region, you have not eaten” rundown, apparently. I have never heard of this place, but clearly must give it a try. Thanks for the tip! Hope you had a nice Passover seder.

  7. March 30, 2010 12:24 pm

    Steph – head over to Cap Q, but first stop in next door at Bro’s Tacos and order some food to go. When you are waiting, get yourself a few of those mini sandwiches at Cap Q, then go to bro’s and bring your dinner home.

    2 of the best places to eat in the cap region.

  8. March 30, 2010 12:35 pm

    If you know he’s the owner, and he knows you know he’s the owner, then no tip. He’s done special favors for nabobs like you in the past and the recognition (and the virtual ink) is compensation enough. On the other hand, if in a logical scenario you would not know who he is (even though it happens you do) then you should offer the tip and it’s up to him to refuse it if he wishes.

    The issue of the barber who is also the owner is different, because some professions have tipping built into the relationship. Here is my painful story. Some years ago my wife and I got an elaborate personal concert from the great Mariachi harpist Lorenzo Mata. My cousin who’s a reporter for NPR had interviewed him and then put us together by sending us to a restaurant where he was playing.

    We introduced ourselves as relatives of this reporter and the musician pulled out all the stops. We sat eating all-you-can-eat grilled quail as Sr. Mata kept playing and smiling, they kept bringing out more quail, we kept applauding at the end of each tune, until after close to an hour he finally departed with exhaustion. At the time I felt there had been some magical connection, he had wanted to do something special for the family of the man on the radio, but very soon after it dawned on me. He had been waiting for his tip, and expecting a quite sizable one at that.

    That’s what Mariachi musicians play for. He’s a celebrity and I had a sort of backstage connection, but at the end of the day he gets paid by his patrons in the same way Leonardo would have pocketed a few gold pieces from the Medici. I have beaten myself up about this ever since. And there’s nothing I can do to make it right either.

    Now Lorenzo Mata is a recording artist and quite famous. If I contacted him and offered the long-delayed tip, money that is now meaningless to him, he would of course refuse it. But if I contacted him to apologize and did not offer the tip, it would open the door for him to say “there he goes again”. I’m screwed, and rightfully so.

  9. March 30, 2010 8:59 pm

    WTG, Capital Q! That’s awfully good of him to bring it right before dinner – totally awesome. I probably would have given him the tip and told him to grab some of the guys at the store some beer on me. No one minds a thankful beer.

  10. April 2, 2010 8:07 pm

    I think I would have at least offered the tip. If he refused fine. If he took it, that would have been fine too. After all, he is still performing a service I usually tip for.

    When I lived in the city I used to get my hair done at a salon where the owner was also the colorist. I tipped her every time.

  11. Jim permalink
    April 3, 2010 10:48 am

    Yes you should have left a tip and a generous one. Chances are the owner would have given it to the servers or better still the kitchen. I am a restaurant owner and I always look for ways to “tip out” the folks in the kitchen. Next time drop a few bucks and say, “Give this the good person that made my meal.” You will have made a kitchen employee the happiest one in the house.

  12. brownie permalink
    April 3, 2010 11:33 am

    I would have offered the tip, even if I knew the man owned the place.

  13. Dave permalink
    April 4, 2010 9:43 am

    Definitely should have tipped him–and he probably would have declined receiving, which would add to the Custer aura!


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