Thursday, March 8, 2012

Whining & Dining

Last weekend the boy and I did something a little out of character for us....we went out to one weekend.  That pretty much never happens.  Over the last year, we have been very money conscious.  Who hasn't?  While I have never been a "fast food" person, I can't say the same for the boy.  He loves himself a little drive thru breakfast sandwich and a sweet tea, and he works right next to a Qdoba.  But we really sat down last year, looked at our finances, and made a conscious decision not to spend money eating dinner/lunch out unless it was a planned date night.  Lately however, we have been a little more relaxed and have allowed ourselves a few extra "date nights" in the last couple months.  We worked really hard last year to save money and cut back where we could, and taking time to enjoy that is a wonderful treat for us. 

All that said, I have been so disappointed with some of our restaurant experiences lately.  I thought about this all week and it just made me more and more annoyed every time I think about it. 

Exhibit A:  Friday dinner at "AP Crafters" in Louisville
Friday night, K and I spent the evening at my parents' house in Louisville.  I had appointments there all day, and had spent the late afternoon hunkered down in my parents' basement watching storm coverage and worrying about the boy traveling up later that evening.  Once the weather passed through, my parents went to a friends house for dinner and pretty much left K and me to our own devices for dinner.  Not wanting to make anything, we decided to head up to one of the restaurants nearby to grab a quick bite.  We ended up at AP Crafters in Westport Village after turning down an hour long wait at Mojitos. 

When our waiter greeted us, he asked us what we wanted to drink and then immediately asked if we wanted to start out with some Pretzel Bites.  Ugh...I hate that.  I know it's a common practice at restaurants (or anywhere) to "up-sell" your customer, but it just really annoys me when waiters immediately tell me what I should order.  99% of the time I haven't even looked at the menu yet, and truth be told, we know before we even sit down if it is going to be an "appetizer night" or not.  I know I'm being nit-picky, but it bugs me. 

After we ordered our drinks, we perused the menu.  Slightly disappointed to see that nearly everything on the menu was fried, but that's about what I expected at a "pub" type place like this.  I narrowed my choices down the Fish Tacos and the Salmon.  K quickly narrowed his choice down to the Dixie Diner (aka, the "Heart Attack Special") which consists of fried chicken on country biscuits and mashed potatoes, and covered in bacon gravy.  Ironically enough, it also comes with a coupon for one free visit to a cardiac specialist. When the waiter came back, I asked him what he thought of the fish tacos.  He raved about them and how good they were.  Then I asked him about the Salmon and if he thought it was better.  He raved about the Salmon.  The Salmon is "awesome" too.  I then apologized for asking so many questions about the menu, but that I always ask for the server's opinion when I can't decide because they know the menu so well.  He then admitted to me that he had only been working there about 3 months and hadn't tried hardly anything on the menu.  Ummmm, really?  Because you have now told us how awesome the pretzel bites, dixie diner, salmon, and fish tacos me a cynic, but I find it hard to believe that he had tried any of them after admitting that.  Whatever.  I'll overlook it. 

I ordered the Fish tacos without the ancho aoli mayo, but with a side of the jalapeno salsa that comes with the nachos (for a little spice).  No problem.  I ordered a house salad instead of a side of fries.  No problem.  25 minutes later, my fish tacos were in front of me, but not the salad that I had been assured would be out before the meal.  "Did that salad ever make it out here?" the waiter asked.  "Nope." I said.  He ran back to get it and I looked at the boy like, Well, I don't even need it now that my meal is here!  Regardless, I pushed my tacos aside and waited for the salad while the boy dove in head first to his plate of clogged arteries.  He was in heaven.  I was starving.  I waited another 5 minutes for my salad, and after it came, I picked at it for a few minutes before going to try one of my fish tacos.  Of course, he had forgotten the jalapeno salsa, but he did remember to SMOTHER my tacos in mayo.  Let me be clear on this...I am repulsed by mayonnaise.  Literally.  All of which I explained to our waiter when I was asking him about the ancho aoli sauce.  I picked at my salad for another 5 minutes while I waited for the waiter to re-appear so I could have him fix my order.  When he came back, I explained that there was mayo all over my tacos and that I hadn't gotten the jalapeno salsa I asked for.  His response?  "Well, did you try the tacos with the mayo to see if you liked it?"  He apologized and took my meal back to fix it while K polished off his meal and then began eating the salad I'd given up on. 

The waiter returned with my corrected meal, and I ate one of the 3 tacos before asking for a to-go box because I was so over it and it was almost 9:30.  We asked for the check so we could settle out and head home.  Now, let me say, I did not ask for the salad to be credited, even though it came out after my meal and I barely ate it, and I did not ask for the repulsive mayo tacos to be credited either.  I did not expect that, nor would I have asked for it.  I was too over it to even care.  What I did not expect was for our waiter to charge us for the ramekin of jalapeno salsa I asked for!  Even though it was only a $0.50 charge, it infuriated me that after all the screw ups with our meal, our waiter had to nickel and dime us at the same time.  That's just bad business.  K and I said nothing...we paid the bill, left a 20% tip and headed home.  When we got in the car, I looked at K and said, "I feel like we would have been better off just setting our money on fire."

Exhibit B: Dinner at Dudley's (on Short) in Lexington

Saturday night, K and I were downtown for a hospitality event with some of my business customers who were going to the Brad Paisley concert.  When the concert began, K and I headed out in search of food downtown, and ended up at Dudley's after a french man sent us away from Table 310 because there was an hour wait for a table.  My brother was meeting up with us, so I ordered a glass of wine and K ordered a Maker's Mark.  Since the boy had helped himself to some of the food at the hospitality event, we were definitely in more of an "appetizer" mood for the evening since neither of us were starving.  When my brother arrived, K and him split a half dozen oysters (gross) and I ordered a starter salad.  After about 45 minutes, my co-worker, Hilary texted and said she was heading over to meet us.  Once she arrived, we chatted it up for a bit, before the waitress came back and asked if we wanted to order anything else.  Let me just say...this girl was really working my nerve.  She kept flitting over and asked if we wanted more drinks when we literally had half-full glasses of wine/bourbon.  While I am sure she was disappointed that we weren't partaking in Filet Mignon, that's not really my problem.  I don't need you to harass me over my drink!  My main problem, however, was the fact that she consistently called me "sweetheart" and "sugar pie" (and not in a sweet, southern way).  This might have been one thing if she had be my mom or grandma's age, but she could not have been a day older than me, and it came off as completely condescending and inappropriate.  It was really annoying me. 

Regardless, we told her we were ready to order.  Hilary got a salad, my brother ordered the crab cake sliders, and I ordered the Pork entree.  When she looked at the boy for his order, he said, "I'm good."  Like I said earlier, he had eaten at the hospitality event and wasn't starving, so he was just going to eat some of my pork.  When she all but rolled her eyes over his decision to not order anything, I chimed in and said, "We ate a little before we got here...he'll probably have some of mine."  She said nothing and left the table. 

When our meal came, I noticed that our waitress had split my pork up and brought out a plate for each of us.  It was very tasty, but I didn't eat a ton of it...after sharing it with everyone at the table, we finished up and called it a night.  We asked for the check and were delighted to see that not only were the boy's Maker's Mark bevvys $10 EACH, our waitress had charged us a $5.00 split entree fee.  Really?????  Since when does, "he's going to eat some of mine" translate to an extra charge.  Maybe we are just not that classy, but I am completely fine with the "grab a fork and dig in method" we usually have when indulging in one another's food. 

Once again, we said nothing and left a 20% tip and headed home. 

Okay, so all that said, let me now say this:  I have worked in many restaurants over the years.  My first job at 16 was washing dishes in the back of a restaurant on Saturday nights.  I have hosted, done carry-out, and been a server.  I get how the restaurant industry works.  I get that our waiter at AP Crafters could have very well put the order in correctly and the kitchen messed it up.  But guess what?  It's your responsibility to make it right.  I don't expect free food or discounted entrees, and I can't remember a time when I have ever requested it, but wouldn't it have been nice if he had offered?  Our experience at AP Crafters would have been completely turned around had our waiter offered dessert on the house (we would have declined) or at least sent the manager over to check on us.  Instead, we left with a horrible taste in our mouth over the whole experience and feeling like we wasted money at that establishment. 

The Dudley's experience was different.  Our waitress was clearly put out that we didn't spend more money at her table and was doing everything to raise our ticket.  The split entree fee was absolutely ridiculous and kind of insulting.  Having worked in many restaurants growing up, it is a rare occasion when I don't tip pretty much never happens regardless of the service I get.  However, what I will do is take my business elsewhere the next time I go out.  In today's economy, with people being more and more tight with their money, it is more important than ever to be accommodating to every guest that sits at one of your tables.  For a lot of people, it's a rare occasion to spend their hard earned money on a night out, and things like going out for dinner is a treat.  Even having only ordered a side salad, a glass of wine, 2 makers marks, one entree, and 6 oysters at Dudleys, K and I still spent $150 with tip, and we would expect more than condescension and eye rolling from our server. 

Regardless of the experience we had at these restaurants, let me reiterate that we were nothing but nice throughout our meals.  I don't think you get anywhere (especially at a restaurant) by being a bitch to your server.  It's just so disappointing to spend money somewhere and leave so disappointed, regarless of if it is a 5-star retaurant or the local roadhouse.  We still left a nice tip and said thank you.  But we won't be going back, to either place.

I'm curious...what are your thoughts on going out for dinner?  Was I justified to be annoyed by this?  How do you handle bad service when you go out to eat?


Rachel said...

I would consider myself pretty easy to serve but this story drove me crazy! They are lucky you left them any tip at all! I am a firm believer in only giving servers what they deserve, and I have been known to leave a note as to why they got 15 percent and not 20. 20 is for great service, 18 is for mediocre, and 15 means you somehow pissed me off. I was a waitress once too (a bad one at that and didn't last long) and I know how grueling the work is, but it's not hard to apologize when something is wrong and make it right. I also like to utilize sites like Yelp to rate my experience, but I typically use it more for positive than negative reasons. If I have really REALLY good service I sometimes like to tell the manager, but I never complain to managers.

Post a Comment

Life, Love and the Pursuit of Chocolate

Designed By:

Munchkin Land Designs
Designed by Munchkin Land Designs • Copyright 2012 • All Rights Reserved