Donald Trump is our president-elect. He also owns hotels and has some real estate and a winery, in case you hadn’t heard. He’s got a taco salad-serving restaurant too and the Yelp reviews are… mixed. You can’t really go off of the score, because Trump Grill’s Yelp page plays host to lots of people imitating Trump’s writing style while trashing the place, but there’s no shortage of feedback from people who actually seem to have eaten there:
Since we all love a good burn fest, Vanity Fair ran a review by Tina Nguyen this morning. It was, as you might imagine, unkind — a piece that makes you giddy to read because it’s so wonderfully harsh. Trump, of course, didn’t respond because he’s more focused on running a divided nation and —
Naaaaaah, of course he responded. Anyway, as strange as it is to joke about Trump when so many people feel real and sincere fear about his presidency, this review was pretty funny. The best lines are assembled for you below:
As my companions and I contemplated the most painless way to eat our flaccid, gray Szechuan dumplings with their flaccid, gray innards…
Daaaaaaaaamn, coming in hot! Our own Vince Mancini has already elaborated on how adjectives like this are the best food disses in the writer’s toolbox. Add an impotence metaphor, with the word “flaccid” repeated twice in one sentence? Tina Nguyen is not F-ing around today, folks.
The restaurant features a stingy number of French-ish paintings that look as though they were bought from Home Goods.
This is actually my favorite burn from the whole piece because I totally get how people who pick the wrong old-art to love actually seem like they got stuck with a bunch of generic stuff out of a catalog called “Fine Living Essentials,” while the person with a good eye who picked up a shabby painting of a Tyrolean farmer at a swap meet ends up getting praised at partied like a freaking art historian.
I could see Trump being the sort whose restaurant spent real money on pieces that look like cheap reproductions… although they might also just be cheap reproductions.
The bathrooms transport diners to the experience of desperately searching for toilet paper at a Venezuelan grocery store.
This is a deep cut reference to shortages at Venezuelan stores and included a link to a Vice story. That’s next level, when your burns require someone to watch a mini-doc.
The dumplings, for instance, come with soy sauce topped with truffle oil, and the crostini is served with both hummus and ricotta, two exotic ingredients that should still never be combined.
Truffle oil is literally the most “Donald Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person” ingredient in the world. With that said, truffles in Chinese soup dumplings (xiaolongbao) add an awesome earthiness, this is just a terrible way to go about it. It feels like a first year culinary student saying, “Let’s fancy everything up!” and then having the boss say, “You have $4 to spend on ingredients per dish.” Which is a reality of hotel or office building restaurants no matter where you’re eating.
The menu itself would like to impress diners with how important it is, randomly capitalizing fancy words like “Prosciutto” and “Julienned” (and, strangely, “House Salad”).
This is a wonderful detail and I salute the author for noticing. Again, it’s like the self-importance of the current food scene, filtered through a team whose internal barometers are all way off.
Our waiter, coiffed and charming, was determined to gaslight us into thinking we were having a good time. “Trump gets the taco bowl and the lasagna and baked ziti,” he said, before subsequently informing the table that we could not order the lasagna or baked ziti.
Little known fact: After the wonderful ‘Teen Vogue’ essay that came out last week, all media mentions of Trump must include the notion of gaslighting.
(Instead, it looked like a salad made by someone who believes that rich women only eat vegetables.) But the cuboid plant matter ended up being the perfect place to hide several uneaten Szechuan dumplings.
She’s talking about the “Ivanka Salad” here and there is only one suitable response:
The steak came out overcooked and mealy, with an ugly strain of pure fat running through it, crying out for A.1. sauce (it was missing the promised demi-glace, too).
A1 is whack, if your steak is crying for it that’s a bad sign. Also, on a personal note, I hate when chefs put the sauce right on the steak, which photos reveal the Trump team absolutely does.
Renowned butcher Pat LaFrieda once dared me to eat an eyeball that he himself popped out of the skull of a roasted pig. That eyeball tasted better than the Trump Grill’s (Grille’s) Gold Label Burger, a Pat LaFrieda–branded short-rib burger blend molded into a sad little meat thing, sitting in the center of a massive, rapidly staling brioche bun, hiding its shame under a slice of melted orange cheese.
You see the bun in the Instagram above. It clearly looks bad. That’s obvious. The rest of it, I can’t speak to, but I too have tasted eyeballs from the head of a roast pig and found them delicious (smeared across a tortilla and eaten as a taco) so this one is a little murky for me. Still funny though.
If the cheeseburger is a quintessential part of America’s identity, Trump’s pledge to “make America great again” suddenly appeared not very promising. (Presumably, Trump’s Great America tastes like an M.S.G.-flavored kitchen sponge lodged between two other sponges.)
Tina Nguyen would make a great guest judge on Top Chef, because that line is pretty wonderful and Padma and Tom would have laughed and laughed.
Trump himself does not drink alcohol, a possible explanation for why the cocktails seemed to be concocted by a college freshman experimenting in their dorm room.
Sidenote: I used to make a drink by crushing up Vivrin into a Koolaid and vodka mixture in college, which I’ll still stand by. My lips were red for a whole semester. In more pressing news, the cocktail issue with Trump Grille seems best summed up with this tweet from today (it seems like every writer on earth is clambering to eat at Trump Grill right now):
And indeed, it was slop: as soon as I got home, I brushed my teeth twice and curled up in bed until the nausea passed.
Strong finish, though there was a kicker as the author felt terrible for the waiter (who brought her a free piece of awful cake):
It’s not his fault that the only way he can make it up to us is with a free cake, still frozen in the center, that tastes like Tums.