Tina Nguyen: Trump Grill Could Be The Worst Restaurant In America


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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56 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    My brother made this observation about Trump first. The poor person’s idea of a rich person.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

      John Mulaney made it years ago. I think it’s been around awhile.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Morat20 says:

        @morat20 @leeesq

        I got it from Jacob Weissenberg writing way back during August 2015.

        Normally I am against Jaybird’s dada points on snooty Democrats and liberals but the sneer against Trump being a poor person’s idea of a rich person strikes as the kind of snarky observation that might be true and might feel cathartic to say but can ultimately backfire.

        But I wonder how much we are really in trench warfare and a lot of people on the left simply think we are not convincing anyone so all the snarky is coming out.Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          The problem with american journalism is that editors have really dropped the ball. Meaning that if I’m a left of centre editor, and one of my writers says something utterly snooty, I should know that this will totally hurt my team (and it is rude and offensive). Even if it makes for great click bait and hate reading I should try to censor this stuff. Sometimes self censorship is constructive. We don’t have to shout out to the world every suggestion of our id. Similarly, if your a right wing editor and know that racist statements by Derbyshire will hurt the cause then don’t print them.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Murali says:

            Even if it makes for great click bait and hate reading I should try to censor this stuff.

            Follow the money. Back when print subscriptions ruled, revenue came from (I think) three sources: subscriptions, classified ads, and advertising. Now they’re down to one – advertising – in a radically different context (ie., clicking) with a radically different purpose (click-thrus).Report

            • Avatar Murali in reply to Stillwater says:

              Obviously the incentives are all wrong. But if we can criticise financiers for screwing the pooch even though all the incentives point towards the kind of short term thinking, we can similarly criticise editors for misusing their editorial control in the service of self interest.

              While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with self interest, it cannot be that people are never criticisable when they act wrongly out of self interest.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Murali says:

                In this case, it can.

                If the purpose of your employment is to make money for A and you aren’t making money doing X, then you shift to Y to make money for A so you can retain your J.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                As an example: as Josh Marshall’s presence in the internet news world continues to increase, he ALSO increasingly permits his editors to post pure (liberal) CLICKBAIT as if it were actual news (rather than the pandering bullshit it actually is).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m stuck here thinking “at what cost?”

                I mean, look at the restaurant review here.

                Do you believe anything they say about the restaurant?

                I mean, after I read that article, I had no idea whether the restaurant was good or not or whether I would have enjoyed the steak and mashed potatoes.


                I mean, I could easily see the story as being an accurate description of their dining experience.

                I can just as easily see the story as being pandering bullshit.

                It was a fun story to read and snicker at but I have no idea whether the reporters were telling the truth.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m stuck here thinking “at what cost?”

                Heh. That’s what Murali was wondering about too.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Remember when you said to Joe last night that capitalism unleashed the most “progressive” force known to humankind?

                That. maybe not exactly progressive in this case, but whatevs. Now we’re bickering over details, yeah?Report

              • Avatar Mo in reply to Jaybird says:

                Trump gets mad and tweets about them in a thin-skinned manner and their subscriptions soar. Perhaps “at what cost” should be directed at PEOTUSReport

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mo says:

                The types of people who hate Trump buy Vanity Fair.

                If you hate Trump, you will want to subscribe too!

                Maybe they’ll have an article about his board game next month. How much it sucks.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

                I very much like the way the incentives run when criticizing, mocking, and/or speaking truth to those in power is profitable.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

                I’m glad that dissent will be patriotic again, don’t get me wrong.

                I’m just irritated that I’m noticing that it’s patriotic again rather than still patriotic.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jesus, again with the BSDI.

                What dissent was deemed unpatriotic during the last 8 years?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If you’re not counting the criticisms that were obviously based in racism and xenophobia, I guess you’re right.

                There weren’t any.Report

              • Avatar gregiank in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Gotta be fair Chip. No liberal or Dem ever….ever do you hear me!!!!…. criticized O in any manner here. It was truly verboten.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Make Dissent Great Again!Report

              • Avatar Mo in reply to Jaybird says:

                For some reason I don’t think you responded to the Chick-fil-A buycotts with, “The types of people who hate gays buy Chick-fil-A.

                If you hate gays, you will want the chicken too!”

                Maybe the president should get a thicker skin.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mo says:

                Hey! I remember the Chick-fil-A boycotts!

                Let’s see what I said at the time

                If they wanted to demonstrate the true and deep realities of gay marriage, they should have a couple go up to the counter and have one order a sandwich and a side of waffle fries and have the other one exhale through his nose and the first one can say “what?” and the second can say “nothing” and the first can say “you think I should get a salad!” and the second can say “I didn’t say you had to get a salad” and the first can say “I have had a really bad week this week and I thought that the highlight of my week would be sharing this meal with you but you’re dead set on ruining that for me too!” and the second can say “IF YOU WANT FRIES THEN GET FRIES AND I CAN GO TO YOUR FUNERAL AND SAY AT LEAST HE ENJOYED THAT MEAL TWO YEARS AGO BEFORE HIS HEART ATTACK”

                and so on.

                Play the long game.

                I stand by that.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Stillwater says:

                Depends on your margins. Not everything click-baity is impermissible. Obviously slate does a lot of clickbait, but its not necessarily “trump is so low class” kind of snootiness. There is some exchange rate of marginal traffic and offensiveness which makes publishing something offensive but eye-catching not blameworthy.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Murali says:

            @murali @stillwater

            I wonder if the snarkiness is a sign of giving up hope at ever having a large electoral victory or Congressional majority. It seems to me that a lot of people think that the lines in the sand are drawn and no one is moving from their respective sides and things are in permanent 50/50 deadlocks more or less.

            Does this despair create an incentive to be snarky at least as a balm?Report

  2. Avatar j r says:

    I don’t quite disagree with the observation that Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person, but I will add that quip turns on constructing a wealthy person’s idea of a poor person.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to j r says:

      Nice observation.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r says:

      Trump seems to engage in conspicuous conspicuous consumption.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        WHich is to say Trump is less “What would a poor person do if they found a billion dollars?” and more “What would an insecure person with an inferiority complex do if they found a billion dollars?”Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

        Before his political campaign appeared to be anything other than an exercise in vanity I had once said to a friend that Donald Trump made part of his public identity “conspicuously conspicuous consumption.” Where conspicuous consumption has as its object the display of one’s wealth so as to inspire envy, to engage in this activity conspicuously meant that Trump did so for the purpose of letting you know that he was quite aware that you were aware his intention was to inspire your envy.

        In our narcissistic, publicly-lived, and shallow age, people may well have confused envy with admiration. (N.b., this may not be a new phenomenon at all.) Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Great minds, counselor. I am honored to have arrived at a similar thought.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:


          But whose envy? The whole Trump aesthetic in consumption is a 180 against about 99.9 percent of taste done by the reasonably monied upper-middle class and possibly the upper-class as well.

          He is not buying modern or contemporary art, he is not serving farm to table food that is both simple seeming and elegant at the same time, does anyone else buy the kind of 19th century gilded furniture that seems to dominate as Trump’s interior decoration?

          The reason for the sneering quip is because his tastes are so far off from what other people with money seem to be doing.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Yes, other people do buy the furniture. *eyeroll*

            You don’t know much about how the elite live, do you? He’s not having uncurried fries, that cost about $4,000 a plate. (And you thought “spirit cooking” was weird.)

            Rich people don’t have faux rich kitchens either. They have industrial-like kitchens that they don’t enter. The Help does.Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Back when I did tech work in South Florida, I had a few rather posh clients in Palm Beach, and yeah, that kind of “gold plated everything” aesthetic did exist among (certain members) of the Palm Beach set. Now, I’m not “of that world.” I have no idea the subtle boundaries between “new money” and “old” — whatever those terms mean these days anyhow. But Trump’s aesthetic, it doesn’t seem so off to me.

            That said, it is shockingly ugly. I don’t know what else to say about that, other than, it is a matter of taste, but taste matters.


            Honestly, I have zero doubt that Trump has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, that he is a deeply broken person, a flim-flam man, fragile as fuck, and hideously dangerous. He reflects the worst in America, and the fact he won a nation election reveals something very ugly about us.

            Bluntly, our nation does not deserve to survive Trump. It is a pity, however, that a nation is made of people, and that people suffer as a nation does. Perhaps in some transhumanist future this will no longer be true. Until then, dream of cyborgs.

            Anyway, I think you see can see Trump’s character reflected in his aesthetic, but not in a totalizing way. Taste is complicated, its contours subtle. The point is, his crass display is just one aspect of the whole rancid package of fail.

            I’m pretty sure I’ll never eat at the Trump Grill[e].Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to veronica d says:

              I’m sorry, has he said he supports parents paying thousands of dollars to murder their children?
              Does he actively participate in pedophilia, and subsequently blackmail people about it?

              Or would you really like to know who I’m talking about?Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to veronica d says:

              For a couple of years we lived next door but one to a building that used to be a smallish synagogue, and was gradually undergoing remodelling into… something. Our friends had to lived in the same apartment for the two years before us, and this ever-so gradual renovation had been going on through their tenure there too.

              Our first guess was that it was being split up into suites – it was about the same size as the apartment building we lived in, with ten suites, but this was getting a bit of a posher look, so we figured maybe half a dozen larger apartments.

              But as it began to come together, we could see there was a bunch of open mezzanine floor, stuff that would bridge upstairs and downstairs – couldn’t have been apartments, if you sneezed your upstairs neighbour could pass you a tissue. So we figured a single mansion.

              Around this time, various vehicles showed up – a speedboat on a trailer in the basement, a Hummer on the front terrace, a motorbike in the lobby, a horse trailer snuck in beside the fence.

              Then there were intensely saturated purple and green lights everywhere inside, and a big black awning and pillars out front went up, and a big industrial-scale kitchen was put in. So we figured ‘great, a nightclub. Hopefully we move out before they get around to opening’

              And one night, we were walking by and for the first time saw someone in the vast institutional kitchen – an elderly lady in a housecoat making a pot of tea before bed.

              Our conclusion by the time we moved away was that this was a home for one dude, whose aesthetic frame of reference was nightclubs – so he was basically modelling his home after a nightclub.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r says:

      Indeed, it is pretty patronizing.

      But Trump is a real-life Scrooge McDuck.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I understand that Trump: The Boardgame, was a terrible boardgame. The dynamics of playing it were not particularly fun. It was dull. The board pieces themselves were cheap. It was a crappy, crappy boardgame.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

      This appears to be a close cognate to my thoughts about the Trump restaurant.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        And yet you both seem to have spent money on products with his name on them. Trump makes suckers of us all.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Don Zeko says:

          Dude, I haven’t eaten at Trump Grill(e), I just read the review and now that I have, I feel no desire to eat there at all ever. Jaybird hasn’t played the Trump boardgame (despite being a boardgame connoisseur), he’s responding to what he’s been told about it.

          I once bought a taster bottle of Trump Vodka and I do have to give Trump credit for this bit of personal consumer education: vodka is supposed to be tasteless and odorless. Trump Vodka was indeed tasteless and odorless and in that sense indistinguishable from any other better-than-bottom-shelf competing product. The only distinguishing features of this product were the “T” logo on the front of the bottle and the elevated price.

          You may read as much metaphorical meaning into this epiphany as you like.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

      It actually wasn’t that bad. I had several worse games (mostly of the Monopoly persuasion).
      It’s true that I had far, far better boardgames, but that one actually got played a couple of times.
      (My parents bought me more boardgames than I had friends.)Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    The main restaurant in the hotel Trump operates in the Old Post Office building in DC got a very good review in the Washington Post this weekend.Report

    • Avatar Mo in reply to Kolohe says:

      BLT is a chain, so they’re going to have consistent high quality in their locations. Laurent Tourondel hasn’t gotten to the point where he can just say eff it and cruise on the brand name yet.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mo says:

        Guy Fieri does!

        (I’m glad Tourondel does not. I am wondering how being a no scare quote legitimate businessman is going to work out for him at the Old Post Office. Will the people seeking to ingratiate themselves plus those that don’t care outnumber the people boycotting the entire building on general principle? Will something (court order?) force the Trump org to divest and change the name on the front entrance?)Report

        • Avatar Mo in reply to Kolohe says:

          But did Guy Fieri ever trade on high quality or just kitsch?Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Mo says:


            I always thought of Guy Fieri as a comfort food guy and not a fine dining guy. A guy whose flagship show is called Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives is not known for haute cuisine.

            That being said when I was in JFK last week, I grabbed a perfectly reasonable cup of coffee from a stall and it turned out to be a Guy Fieri business.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kolohe says:

      Well, the review notes that dessert was unremarkable and used out of season (read: hothouse grown) ingredients, and the octopus was a little bit tough. And a $61 piece of fish had better be as good as the review makes it sound.

      I nitpick, because I don’t like Trump and so ought to not like anything with his name on it. But yeah, that was a pretty glowing review of what sounds like a kick ass steakhouse.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:


        I just read the review. I used to roll my eyes at liberals who got angry at the copy in the NY Times style section but there is something about how that article nudged and winked at corruption that really ticked me off. I get that a restaurant review doesn’t have to be the political section but there is a certain disconnect.Report

  5. Avatar Damon says:

    Tina’s column smacks of trying to hard. Yes, lets compare the crappy food at a name brand resturant to his personal life, and his election, ’cause we feezls bad. We all know you’re going to do a political hit job under the template of a food review…you could at least make the review clever.

    This guy knows how to do it right.Report