It's time to hear from the readers. Here's Jan, who has a question:
"My husband and I have enjoyed your columns over the years. We recently traveled in Austria and the Czech Republic and had some wonderful food. One thing that stood out was how piping hot the food was when delivered to the table. It seemed to stay hotter longer, too! Were we imagining this? We dine out frequently in all types of restaurants here and it seems that we have gotten used to having our food served warm but not hot. We wondered about your take on this subject. Thank you!"
It's a personal thing really, Jan. I like soup very hot and coffee very hot. And I'm not crazy about entrees that are served room temp or tepid. Sometimes a server will warn "this plate is very hot," and it is, but not profoundly hot, and it cools down fast. I blame the microwave.
And here's Hana J., who is happy:
"Thank you, Ms. Okun, for talking about the NOISE level in most restaurants! What was wrong with soft music? Is everybody deaf already? Well, I don't care, I don't want to be one of them. Please, keep on fighting this insanity in our environment. Loud noise is harmful to our ears, especially to children, and it should be banned from public places the same way smoking was. Very grateful."
And here's Michael DeS., who is not happy:
"Regarding your Aug. 8 article on upscale pub grub, let me first off say that it's patronizing and promotional for Buffalo restaurants - as usual.
"You mention 'wings, burgers, fries.' Later you say 'not particularly healthy,' which led me to anticipate that you were going to list trendy pub food that also is somewhat healthy. But, alas, you settle into carnival type food - cheddar bacon-flavored chips, burgers with foie gras (yuck), bacon rilletts (sic) made from pork belly (yummy), in a basket full of bacon. May I ask to what crowd you are appealing to?
"As a food columnist with influence, don't you have some sort of obligation not to print stuff that's unhealthy at best and harmful at worst? If Janice Okun suggests it, surely it must be OK. Why would anyone in their right food mind 'dive into a basket of bacon?' Your readers would be better off with wings, burgers and fries.
"And you call this stuff trendy? Is being obese trendy? How about diabetes and arterial inflammation? You can probably get better grub at the Erie County Fair. How trendy is that?
"By the way, Buffalo has two great restaurants while Amherst has five.
But keep those promotions coming!!"
Michael, Michael, Michael. I can tell you're angry, but I'm not sure why. I talk about food I like to eat, period. I hardly suggest you eat burgers all the time. Not even with foie gras.
You say I am "promotional," but I truly am not. I like to go all over Western New York to visit all kinds of restaurants.
Still, you've got me curious. Which are the five great restaurants in Amherst? Which are the two in Buffalo? Why didn't you give us their names? (You don't happen to own a restaurant in Amherst, do you?)
Of course, one thing we know for sure, Mike: None of those "great" restaurants serves bacon.
Send your questions and comments about dining out to Janice Okun at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will respond in this column, which appears every Wednesday in the Taste section of The Buffalo News.