Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Restaurant Reviews

The owner of a swanky restaurant in the Midwest once told me, “People will tolerate bad food if the service is good. However, people will not tolerate the best food in the world if the service is bad.” He’s absolutely right.

Overall, I’m told I’m an easygoing girl – but one thing I cannot tolerate is bad service at restaurants. Maybe it’s because I have a friend who’s an amazing caterer – who taught me how fantastic good service should be – I don’t know.

I figure if I’m paying for food and a place to sit, I should enjoy the experience.

The other night, my friend Becky and I went to a popular (and crowded) downtown brew pub. We waited a long time for the server to take our drink order. We waited a long time for the cocktail to be delivered... We waited a long time for the server to return... we waited a long time for the food we ordered… which bothered me.

Occasionally a server would rush by and assure us that our food was on its way. Eventually, it came…. It was good food - really good, in fact. However, when I finished both my cocktail and my water, no one noticed. I waited for my server to walk by. He was nowhere to be seen. I finally asked another server for a glass of water. He looked at me as if I had curly locks growing from my nostrils, said ‘certainly,’ and sauntered off.

Ten minutes passed.

I asked another server if it would be possible to get a glass of water. She too, noticed the invisible nostril hairs, agreed to get water, and disappeared forever.

Ten minutes passed.

I finally see MY server, ask for water, and wait. (nothing...) After awhile, I finally get up to get my own water, when he comes around the corner with my glass.

I won’t bother telling you how long it took for the bill to appear… but I will tell you that I had to go and find it myself. As I’m standing at the register, I mention to the host that the wait for food was longer than necessary (it wasn’t filet… or soufle' - it was pub food) – and that I had to ask three servers for water.

“I’m sorry – we’re just swamped here…”

I explained to him that where I understand, it’s not my fault that they’re understaffed. I will go further to note that had they given me the option and told me service was slow, I would have made an informed decision – and whether I stayed or left, I would still have a high opinion of them… I explained that where I’m not a bitch, I wasn’t impressed. I tried to be nice about it… and normally, I’m okay – but I just felt I’d received really shoddy service.

“We’re sorry,” they said. I'm not sorry. They're not the only restaurant in town.

Last week, after I watched my sister’s cat, she and my brother-in-law took me to dinner. “We have a gift certificate to Red Lobster!”

I hadn’t been to Red Lobster in many, many years. I guess it's just that the idea of chain seafood doesn't sit right with me, I guess. The thing about this particular restaurant was, the parking lot was always jam packed… Lunch, dinner – there were always a million people there – and I had no idea why… When we arrived, I waited about 20 minutes for a table, and we sat down to order.

The food was pretty mediocre and certainly overpriced... But the fact of the matter was – that the servers were so nice, so attentive, so unassuming and so well trained that I didn’t even care. I was enjoying my restaurant experience.

After dinner, our waitress noticed that I hadn’t eaten my shrimp/scallop dish.

“Was there a problem with the shrimp?” she asked.

“Well, I didn’t like it….”

My sister, who had the same dish agreed, “Yeah. It was kind of metallicky”

The server, without a beat, asked, “I’m so very sorry! Can I get the chef to make you something to take home with you?”

“No, that’s okay.” But we ordered dessert instead.

I now understood why the parking lot was always full – it was because everyone who came to Red Lobster was treated with respect and genuine attention.

So I’m giving 5 cat butts to the brew pub, and even though the shrimp tasted like lead (and I won't likely return), I’m still giving a thumbs’ up to Red Lobster for the pleasant evening.



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