Monday, November 21, 2005

Restaurant service (or lack of)

Prompted by DA, thought I would add to the complaints about service. She walked out of a Joe’s CrabShack because the waiter disappeared. I don’t remember ever doing that. I do remember leaving pretty poor tips at times, commensurate with service received.

We once had a group of exchange students over from Australia, and took them to Disneyland. Side storey – we were talking to the boy staying with us about how everybody came to Disneyland, and usually saw people from back home there. He thought it very amusing, and highly unlikely. A short while later we were getting on the submarine ride. We sat, he looked up, and there was his dentist from back home sitting across from him. Guess he changed his mind right about then.

Back to service – after the park we went across the street to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. It’s a place I hit once in a while, working not too far away at that time. There were six of us, and because of the number of smaller groups filling up most of the tables, we got a table upstairs. I did feel bad for our waiter, hoofing it up there just for us. But after really long waits, cold food, and mistaken orders, we asked for the bill. I left a pretty miserable tip. He came running out to the parking lot yelling at us, saying ‘fifteen percent – you owe me fifteen percent’. I mentioned his darn poor service as we kept getting in the car. He kept yelling, and asked if we wanted to complain to his boss. I said yes, I would be willing to discuss his service level with management, but he just kept yelling for his fifteen percent. We drove off, expecting to be jumped by a bunch of Chinese cooks armed with cleavers.

Last week we took the group to the Lone Star Steak House. I like going there, getting the tasty ribs fairly often. It was four adults and three kids. I called ahead for highchairs, and figured a Thursday night would be rather slow, which it was. Our waitress was friendly, but after taking drink orders she brought them out, including some Lone Star Texas beer for the Swedes. C asked for a glass, not wanting to follow the Texas tradition of drinking right from the bottle. We asked for some bread while waiting for the food. Bread came back much later, a serving about right for two. We asked for more.

I ended up going to the bar to get glasses, she evidently forgetting about us. I saw her standing back at the pickup window, dancing along to the music. Rest of the evening was about the same, her not showing up very often. On the way to wash my hands I saw the manager, her having come over earlier asking us to keep Alex at the table instead of wandering around. I complained about the service, and she said she would discuss it with staff. We paid and left.

My question: does management really pay attention to comments like that? There was a Seinfeld episode where George was responsible for a waiter getting fired. Does that really happen? Sometimes it is well deserved. Some people pick the wrong profession, or wait tables while between jobs. As a patron, why should I put up with incompetence? Anyway, the ribs were good, and the twins loved the fries (see photos posted last week below).

Saturday we took the group up to Red Rock. Alex loved climbing the rocks, his parents continually screaming for him to come down. I guess at four it is nice to be able to get away like that, not paying the consequences until they can catch you.

Looking forward to turkey day – I just love cooking. Nobody but B and I this year. Everybody else is headed to San Diego for some reason. I’ll do a small one, love the stuffing and cold sandwiches afterward too. But even half a fourteen pound bird is too much for two. When on sale I’ll ask the butcher to saw the bird down the middle and only cook half at a time. With everybody selling big birds for five bucks with other purchases why not? I do the turkey in an oven bag, started cooking like that a while ago – keeps the bird nice and moist. Stuffing has just about everything in it – onions, celery, cranberries, water chestnuts (for crunch), sausage, pan drippings, giblets, whatever else I can think of, starting with Mrs. Culberson’s Herb Cornbread for a base. (Joe’s cooking class 101).

And for Clare:

1. Nice slow meal at a restaurant, with great food and good company to talk to and great service. (we find it once in a while).
2. Friends over for a big holiday dinner, sitting talking for hours while the smells of supper cooking flow through the house.
3. Cold turkey sandwiches for the next week. Yum.
4. Baking the pies after the main meal (we eat around 1, so as to have a second meal later) and the smell of the pies, and realizing that even though you thought you were stuffed there is still room for pie and coffee.

Those of you non-Americans. Let me know when you are coming, and I’ll do a pretend Thanksgiving turkey dinner for you, so you can see the excess you are missing.

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