Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is a Martini at 11am Inappropriate?

Garlic Shrimp -- Schiller's Liquor Bar
Schiller's Liquor Bar

We don't like to go to the Lower East Side.
To Be Fair, It's Not So Fond of Us Either
Our animosity toward the Lower East Side stems from its propensity for narrow sidewalks, non-hosed down streets, and an overflow of hipsters. It is no accident that even though there are two 5 star Best Thing I Ever Ate dishes on the Lower East Side (the French Onion Soup dumplings and grapefruit margarita), neither of us has returned once to have them again.

In other words, you're welcome, Schiller's Liquor Bar, that we have agreed to grace your establishment with our presence at all.
Oh, the Moral Sacrifices We Make for Best Thing I Ever Ate Purposes
Schiller's is the home of Tyler Florence's, he of widely-variable-San-Francisco-taste, Best Thing I Ever Ate WITH GARLIC dish, the garlic shrimp.  We arrive at Schiller's a full hour before our reservation time (in our defense, we tried to call ahead to alert them, but people on the Lower East Side do not seem to believe in ANSWERING THE PHONE).  
They're Too Busy "Not Having a Computer," But More on That Later
We are seated in the middle of the room without incident, and we get down to ordering.  And by "ordering," we mean "drinking."  It's nearly 11am already, after all.
The Term "It's Not Even Noon Somewhere" Was Born on the Lower East Side. We Better Do It Justice
"They have a wet ginger martini," Ginger states.  "Though maybe I should get something more appropriate for the hour."

"I'm getting an Old Man Martini," Vodka tells her.  And thus it is settled: martinis all around.
Old Man Martini = Stellar Name, By the Way
Along with the martinis, we order a side of French fries and a plate of the garlic shrimp (and thus make our waitress think that we are decidedly more hungover than we are).  Said waitress asks if we would like bread to mop up the garlic sauce from the shrimp, and who are we to deny ourselves any carbs?

Cut to: the bread arrives, and it is pretty much one serving of some questionable-looking loaf.
Well, THIS Will Never Do
"This is really all the bread they could spare?!" Ginger mumbles to Vodka as we take our first sips of the martinis, which are, in a word, sour.  And not that great.  But they contain alcohol, so, you know, down the hatch.
It's Not Even Mid-Morning Somewhere
"Could They Not Have Found a Less Hideous Section of the Peel?!"
Before we can drown our frustrations too deeply in second-rate booze, our food arrives.  Well, more specifically, a heaping cone of French fries (good portion) and a steaming dish of teeny, tiny, minuscule shrimp (bad portion) arrive.
Objects in Picture Are Larger Than They Actually Appeared
Naturally, we count said shrimp, just to prove a point.  And there are eleven of them.  Do you know how much this garlic shrimp dish costs?  $13.  By our calculations, that works out to $1.18 per (minuscule) shrimp.

Does this place think they're Le Bernardin?  We all know how well that place lives on in our memory (ahem).
Did They Ship This Shrimp In from the Pacific?!
The shrimp themselves are... garlicky?  Slightly.  Lemony?  OVERWHELMINGLY.  If anything, either someone made a heavy-handed mistake with the lemon in the kitchen, or this dish would more properly be called LEMON shrimp.  
That Yellow You See Is Not Butter. It Is Lemon
The garlic is playing second-fiddle here in a big way, and between this and the cocktails, Schiller's certainly seems to be fond of catering toward customers' sour tastebuds.
Have You Ever Heard of Salt? We Like Salt
While $13 buys you a few measly shrimp, what it does NOT buy you is any sort of plate on which to rest these crustaceans before placing them in your mouth.  Same goes for the bread and the French fries -- NO PLATES.  We are inconvenienced by this fact, if not enough to actually do anything about it (ie ask for plates).
We Prefer to Stew In Our Own Displeasure
The French fries are tasty, if nondescript, and if we ever came to Schiller's again (unlikely), we'd plan on ordering a burger, if only to get more bang for our buck.
Also, Because We Like to Eat French Fries
Our check arrives ("$46 for this nonsense!"), and Vodka, checking her phone, discovers that we have never been checked in for our OpenTable reservation.  One our way out, she inquires about this with the host:

"Could you check us in for our reservation on OpenTable?  I'll be penalized if you don't."
"We don't have OpenTable."
"But that's how I made the reservation."
"Right, but I can't check you in."
"Then how will they know if I showed up?"
"I tell them if you DIDN'T show up and we get $1 back if you don't."
"But we showed up."
"So can you check us in?"
"I don't have a computer."
Who's On First, Lower East Side-Style
Ginger, who is somehow understanding this guy's rationale more than Vodka, all but shoves Vodka out the door.  But between the puckering cocktails, lemony shrimp, and irrational reservation policies, Vodka looks like the undisputed sourpuss of the Lower East Side.

Schiller's Liquor Bar's Garlic Shrimp: 3 stars

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