Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Recipe for Bacon

A Recipe for Bacon

Yesterday I was served another of the worst lunches of my life at a restaurant I have been going to for over 10 years. 

I say “served” because I couldn’t choke down enough of it to say I had eaten it.

First, let me say that I have the extraordinary gift of Restaurant Bad Luck. It has followed me across every state I have lived in, visited, or worked in, and every major city I have eaten in. It doesn’t crop up in the fast food drive thru lane ever, just in sit down chain restaurants, stand-alone specialty places, and even starred establishments in major cities.

I once had a waiter in NYC chase me down the street when I did not leave a tip after he spilled coffee all over my coat. I have had waiters drop knives between my glasses and face while removing dishes from the table, found bugs in beverages, and been served countless inaccurate orders. 

Yesterday I had to ask for “ice water, no lemon” three times before they got it right. Is this difficult, even though Brain Dead Server 1 wrote it down? I had high hopes of order accuracy since it was penned on paper.  If in doubt there is even a "how to" on a website available for reference.

After 15 minutes with no water, I asked Brain Dead Server 2 for “ice water, no lemon” since Brain Dead Server 1 apparently had left the building. BDS2 disappeared and after 10 more minutes BDS1 reappeared with “ice water with lemon.” 

I told BDS1 that I did not want lemon in my ice water, check your order pad, please. “Well, the other girl fixed it,” I was told. Yeah, but 2 brain deads added together do not make one brain alive. She was the one serving me, so in the interest of order accuracy and customer satisfaction one would think checking the glass would be common sense. Um… NO.

Hopes for the remainder of my meal teetered precariously on the fence, but I held on. Finally, my sandwich arrived. “Jack Daniels Chicken Sandwich” sounded like an appealing menu item, but the reality wasn’t. The chicken was still pink in the middle (I have learned to cut sandwiches and inspect the inside before taking a bite), the lettuce was a white chunk of iceberg that was dying an early death, and the bacon was almost raw, apparently having declined the dance with the grill. 

I asked to speak to the manager. 

“Hi there,” said the dissipated version of Pee Wee Herman 20 years later. “Is there a problem?

“No,” I thought in my mind, “I’m desperate for a date.” I actually said, “The bun is stale, the lettuce has less flavor than the napkin and is whiter than cabbage in the 8 inches of new snow, and the bacon is raw. Would YOU eat this?” 

PWH: Corporate policy is iceberg lettuce on sandwiches and we follow the corporate recipe for bacon.

Me: There is a recipe for bacon? Let me guess. Place on grill regardless of temperature, and when allotted time is up, place on sandwich whether it is cooked or not. Is your food cooked by robots or humans? Can’t they look at bacon and see that it is still raw?

PWH: We follow the corporate recipe. 

Me: But there are real people in the kitchen, aren't there?

PWH: We are told to follow the corporate recipe.

Me: How about the corporate recipe for “ice water, no lemon?” 

Note to restaurant servers: TIP means “To insure promptness.” A tip is not an entitlement just because you showed up to work today. If an order is not accurate, and prompt to the customer’s time requirements, then you are at fault. You are the buffer between the kitchen and the table. You write down the order
and are responsible for its terminal condition before it is placed before the customer.  If something is inaccurate, go back to the kitchen or manager and tell them. If they care, they will fix it. If not, get a different job.

Patrons keep a business solvent. Perhaps the majority of patrons in restaurants are satisfied with mediocrity, but expecting and meeting high standards is what keeps businesses thriving. I am eating out much less as time passes, and sadly, I have eliminated another neighborhood establishment from my repertoire. At home I can assure quality control in food freshness, cooking accuracy, healthy eating, and more. My life is worth it.

Next: Hot tea with honey?