This is basically a mild disaster story. When I say disaster, I mean a somewhat posh, snobby, first world disaster. Okay… Let’s call it what it is. I’m about to complain about the service at a restaurant. I was quite unsure about writing this, because I’d absolutely hate to come off as some pompous brat who’s upset because his lobster bisque was more warm than hot. Honestly, that isn’t the case; my favourite meals come out of microwaves! I only decided to write this, not to complain, but because I genuinely thought it ended up being quite funny… So bear that in mind as I start whining…
So, for the last couple of days, my girlfriend Rebecca and I have been visiting my home town, a quick pre-Christmas hello to some friends and family, before we drive back on Christmas eve. Two nights ago, I arranged to go out for dinner; Rebecca and I, and my friend Charlie, and his girlfriend Beth. I hadn’t been in the area for a long time, and Charlie had been away at university, so we basically picked a restaurant at random and wandered in. It was called Strada, and it looked very lovely.
In we went, to be greeted by a young man who promptly and politely showed us to our table. There was a bit of confusion as we initially walked in as a three, unsure if Beth would make it back from a late shift at work in time. This was obviously, our fault. Although, as politely as we did handle it, they already seemed to hate us. Anyway, after a good half an hour of waiting for them to do so, they came and took our food order. I only see my only friend around once or twice a year, so I didn’t mind the wait, not that we weren’t all starving. Rebecca ordered a three mini dish type thing, and Charlie and I, being the indominitable men that we are, order steaks. Two of Rebecca’s plates popped out straight away, and at this point, Beth arrived, so we had to swap tables again. She ordered her food, and all seemed to be fine. It’s probably unusual for Rebecca to already have two thirds of her meal when no else did, but we obviously didn’t care. Next, someone came brought out the third plate for Rebecca, which wasn’t what she ordered. She didn’t get a chance to say anything as he darted off straight away, so we just waited to get someone’s attention when they came back.
At this point, I do want to emphasise how un-snobby I’m trying to sound. I paused here, because I didn’t want to write this piece, in fear that it sounded petty and bratty, but I’ve spoken to Charlie again, and he insisted that he wanted to read it. So anyway, we managed to grab the attention of someone whizzing past, and told him about the incorrect order. His response was that they’d run out of what she’d asked for… So apparently he just thought to bring something totally different and hope she wouldn’t notice. He picked up the dish, a bowl of olives, and wandered off for a second before putting the olives back on the edge of the table and darting away; returning after about ten minutes to take a replacement order. We could hear a lot of other customers complaining about wrong meals, missing change, drinks being forgotten and such; and we were trying to be polite, as Charlie and I have both got experience working in restaurants and know how hard it can be when you’re understaffed, but more than anything, we were just starting to find it hilarious imagining what must be happening in the kitchen… Random waiters taking random orders to random tables in the futile hope that somehow if they keep blagging through, that everything will turn out okay. So worked up into hilarity were we at this point that when Charlie’s and my order came, supposedly two identical medium rare steaks that were very clearly ordered, that upon receiving something that was completely different, I genuinely thought “You know, it’s probably just safer to have this mystery food, rather than risk trying to send it back. Who knows what I’ll end up with. Who knows what will happen. Lives might be lost!”
I began eating my disgusting mystery chopped up meat thing, while Charlie had his not too bad steak. We were making posh jokes earlier about how angry we’d be if it was served with a béarnaise sauce instead of a peppercorn, “and god help us if it’s a Diane”, so we did breathe a sigh of mirth when receiving a paper cup full of ketchup. Ten minutes on and Beth’s pizza arrived. It was about now that someone wandered past, picked up the mis-ordered olives from earlier, darted off, and then returned a few seconds after to plonk them back next to Rebecca without a word and zip away again. I think we held back the chuckles until he was out of earshot. Now, we endeavoured to perhaps go somewhere else for dessert. After getting up and wandering around a bit in search of staff, we managed to get our hands on the bill. A waiter came over and I handed him my card. He slid it into the machine, and then suddenly, like a deer hearing a rifle, he looked up, dropped down the card machine and darted off… Leaving me to politely (and for some reason, honestly) enter the price of the meal myself, enter my PIN, confirm the transaction, print out a receipt for myself, and print out a second for the erstwhile waiter, which we left on our way out.
So that was weird. For dessert, we went to a restaurant where a spanish lady, very reminiscent of the maid from Family Guy, comically insisted that the single gin and tonic that I clearly asked for, and clearly drank was in fact a double, and charging me accordingly.
“Sorry, but I asked for a single, and this says double.”
“No… No… You say double.”
“Oh, no… I’m pretty sure I said single…”
No… No… You double. I hundred percent sure. Double.”
“Umm… Okay… I mean, I could tell it was a single, but…”
The following day, we went to a restaurant where every meal we ordered was sold out, with five minute gaps in between each request while they went to the kitchen and had to come back to tell us, and finally today, before we left, I again received the wrong meal at another restaurant, but didn’t bother saying anything.
I’m sure this all comes off as very snobby, but we only found it funny. None of it bothered us in the way it may for some, because we all had a good time together wherever we went, and if you’re willing to let silly things like that upset you too much, then chances are, you have to be a bit miserable to begin with. No, I’m not complaining… Again, to be clear, I only mention it because of how funny we thought it all was, to be so utterly hopeless, over and over again.
So having said that, I doubt I’ll be popping in to Strada for a bite to eat when we next visit!