Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Curse of the Restaurant

Chris has the curse of bad restaurant service. By default I have it now too. 4 times out of every 5 that we go out to eat either the food or the service is going to be just terrible. Now I always expect the food to be good, but we do try to make allowances for service. If it’s really busy we expect service to be a bit slow. If we get a trainee (which happens fairly often to us) we expect there to be some errors. We don’t (try) to keep the server running all the time. We try to order everything we’re going to want all at once, including extra salad dressing (why do they give you the little bitty thing of dressing? It’s enough to cover one piece of lettuce.), napkins, tea spoon, whatever. If they forget something, we nicely tell them immediately and have them go get it, but it’s not like they bring the food and we’re all “oh, I forgot I want this.” And they bring that and we’re “oh, I also need that.” We’re reasonable people. Usually.

But we’ve had some humdinger experiences. There’s the time the waiter took our order, came back and told us they were out of most of what we ordered, then forgot to turn in our order, then brought us the nastiest food you’ve ever seen. I’d ordered a brisket sandwich with mashed potatoes. They brought me a plate of brisket swimming in about an inch of grease along with mashed potatoes that had that nasty skin over them from sitting out too long. Like two days too long. I told the waiter I’d ordered a brisket sandwich, so he brought me out 2 slices of white bread and told me to make a sandwich out of it. He hadn’t brought out Chris’ onion rings, so a few minutes later the MANAGER brought out this blackened pile of something, set it on our table and started to walk away. You should have seen his face when Chris asked him to come back and eat some of those onion rings. And thru it all, we were polite and understanding, right up until the manager said “I guess we won’t be charging you for tonight’s meal.” Ya think?

We were running around last night looking at floor coverings (OMG, we’re looking at $3,000 to do the flooring we want – at wholesale prices!!!! Warning: Change of plan ahead!) and stopped by our favorite restaurant to have dinner. It was 8:00 on a Wednesday so it wasn’t too busy at all. Unfortunately for us, this was the 3rd time in a row that we got terrible service at this place.

Are we so hard to get along with? Is it too much to want someone to come by the table every 5 minutes or so to make sure we have enough to drink? Is it too much to expect to get the appetizer you ordered before your meal arrives (some 40 minutes after ordering)? Or even at all? When you ask to speak to a manager, don’t you expect one of the three people you’ve asked to go and find the manager?

Last night’s wasn’t as funny as the one above – we were actually laughing when we left that one. It had been so horrible you had to laugh. It was like a sitcom or something. Last night was just the last of a several month history of bad service at the same restaurant chain.

We left, and went to a more expensive restaurant across the street. Not a lot more expensive – it was about $20.00 more and we got desserts. We also got exemplary service, fresh hot food and a waitress that stopped by periodically to make sure that everything was alright. When we were done, I asked to speak to the manager and he actually showed up! In about 1 minute! So I told him that we’d walked out of the previous restaurant because of the terrible service and that I wanted to thank and compliment him and his crew for such a wonderful dining experience. I swear his mouth dropped open.

We’ve actually been to that restaurant several times and have never yet had a bad experience. We don't go more often because it's primarily seafood (along with some prime rib and chicken items. And also things like alligator) and I'm not a seafood fan. So if you want a wonderful meal with friendly and efficient waitstaff and really pretty decent prices (be sure and try the fried cheese – but beware, it’s cajun spicy) go to Trapper's. And if you wanted to, you could figure out where we were that was so bad (across the street and a little to the west).


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