Monday, July 14, 2008

An Exclusive Club

One of the side benefits of business travel in Asia is that you usually get to stay in much nicer hotels than you would elsewhere. In Nanjing, I'm holed up in a place called the Frasier Suites. My suite includes a full kitchen, a living room with a sectional couch and large flat-panel television screen, an office, a bedroom with another large flat-panel television, a balcony, and two full bathrooms; one with a washer/dryer. Pretty sweet digs (pun intended) for a slob like me. So far, the stay has been enjoyable.

Except for the food. The service in the restaurant has been slow and the food subpar. Earlier, we calculated that of five meals that we have had there so far, three have been disappointing to the palate.

But as often occurs, hope overcame experience on Sunday night as I looked to the house restaurant to come through with a room service standby: the venerable Club Sandwich. The Club is a simple sandwich in principal. Yet all the elements must be executed properly to pull it off.

The bread must be of good quality and toasted properly. The bacon needs to be crisp, but not overly crunchy. The lettuce needs to be crisp as well, the tomatoes ripe. The chicken should be plump and juicy and the mayonnaise judiciously applied. And, if said Club includes a fried egg--and my past favorites have--the egg should be done, but not overdone. When carried out just right, such a simple sandwich can be sublime.

Unfortunately, the Frasier continued with its poor culinary performance and delivered to my room a sub-standard Club that failed miserably to live up to its reputation. Starting with the soggy bread, continuing with the scraggly chicken and wilty lettuce, and ending with an egg fried beyond recognition, it was easily the worst room service Club Sandwich I have ever had the displeasure of trying to choke down. It was a major letdown and, in my opinion, the final nail in the restaurant's coffin. If you can't nail The Club, why should I have confidence in anything coming out of your kitchen?

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