The lady of the house was feeling fanciful and suggested that an excursion downtown, (where we rarely tread on weekends) for brunch and cocktails, would be a nice change from our usual Sunday afternoon shenanigans. Chestnut was on our wishlist, and though I was getting the shimmy shakes for some Early Girl delights, I figured that taking the plunge into somewhere new wasnt such a bad idea. So there we were, looking respectable, but knowing otherwise. We were seated by a very bored looking young lass and after a minute or two, our server arrived. Some people might refer to his style as 'enthusiastic' or 'eager to please'. But to us his act was simply overbearing, obvious and completely unnecessary. He was the most dreaded type of all servers; the infamous: 'best-friend-that-youve-never-met-before'. He wants to know about your pets, and shares recent dilemmas regarding his own. Was life turning out the way we had hoped? His ear was ours. His contributions to the legion of local mushroom cultivators was one of his most proud, but humbling, achievements. A connoisseur of fashion; he admired my loafers, as well as my wifes blouse. He understood the inner worklings of our quest to later find a place to purchase unbleached flour. He made it understood that he too, was an everyman, but of the sophisticated sort. Not that he looked down on lifes simpler pleasures, like the occasional video game or microwave pizza. He understood everything except that all we wanted to do was order some god d*mn food and have him quit beaming down on us with all that falsity. We finally managed; a lobster bisque to start, a porter for myself and a mimosa for my mistress. After he exclaimed what fine choices we had made and how they were all favorites of his own, he left us. We both looked at each other, knowing words were unnecessary, but speaking them anyway. He soon shuffled back with our drinks and we decide to get the ordering over with; an omelet for myself, with home potatoes and wheat toast, while the misses (in her own manner) boasts 'to hell with it': chicken and waffles. Again, ensuring us that we have indeed; made some critically acute choices, he hovers over us until we each take a sample of our beverage so we can report back our feelings about them. Satisfied with our mutters, he then slithers away. Left to peace, at least for the moment, we let our eyes and ears wander, taking in the environment we are now a part of. It doesnt take long before we begin to remark how there is a certain chorus that keeps repeating itself throughout the restaurant. Its comes from behind, and then from the left and then, over there to the right. You hear that? Its the waitstaff, singing a song called "Sorry". It goes like this: "Im terribly sorry sir, let me fix that for you" and "Im so sorry, let me see what I can do" or "I forgot about that, my apologies, Ill get that right out". It indeed, is a very busy song, which is momentarily interrupted by our dear friend, who wants to know if this one ramkin of ketchup will be enough for my potatoes. I assure him that will be fine, but when he leaves we both look at each other, knowing what the other is thinking; that our prized lobster bisque; the reason we came here, has been lost. A few minutes later, a gentleman, along with our server, arrives with our entrees. "I guess the lobster bisque isnt coming?" I ask. Then, that ever growing chorus begins to commence, which I immediately cut short. We have our meals in front of us, theres no point now, to the appetizer. He is very distraught about the whole thing and finally assures us that he will certainly take the cost of the bisque off the bill. Obviously, we were flattered by such a gesture; not having to pay for the food we didnt receive, and I kindly tell him so. He then hurried away and left us to our plates. My home fries were mostly undercooked and thats the way that most people dont like them, myself included. As for my omelet, the single strip of bacon and trifle of cheese inside were about what was to be expected at this point. As was the discovery that my wheat toast had nothing to accompany it. But just at that moment the manager showed up with a bowl of lobster bisque and laid down his rendition of that ever so popular tune: "Sorry". He then noticed that he had forgot to bring soup spoons and was about to run off and fetch one when I mentioned that perhaps some jam and butter was in order for my toast. I managed to cut "Sorry" short after just one line and away he went. He came back with a spoon, rang out the lyric again and then disappeared. No butter, no jam. Perhaps he passed that miscue on to Mr. Personality for redemption. Anyhow, we sampled the bisque. It was one of the most delectable bits of decadence either of us had ever tasted. But having already eaten a chunk of my omelet, and my wife; her fried chicken, the moment was simply out of joint.
Ahh yes, her chicken and waffle. What better way to enjoy a waffle, and fried chicken, than with no syrup, or sauce of any kind, other than a bit of thick (and sour tasting) country gravy. Just a bunch of dry and abrasive textures that you can barely get down your throat without guzzling a glass of water. Though perhaps they thought that tiny drizzle of chocolate was going to help with that. One can never be sure about these things, and at this point, one really didnt care. We knew we had been defeated, or had lost, completely. If we could manage to get out of the restaurant without having a carafe of water spilled on us, we would consider ourselves lucky.
Our buddy swung by and I think he had received some of the telepathic messages we had been sending his way; new approaches to be considered, other lines of work as well. Meekly, he asked about the bisque, I couldnt conjure up the bastardliness to ask after my butter and jam and simply took the check. Looking it over, I was surprised to find that they had indeed, discounted the bisque in its entirety. I fully expected them to have blundered that as well, and for us to have to spend another 10 minutes waiting for them to adjust it. Fortunately, it seems that there are limits to even their caliber of ineptitude. Unfortunately, I didnt have exact change so we had to stay on just a little longer anyway. By a stroke of rare luck, I was able to make eye contact with him before he ran off to the back and handed him our monies. He took it, started to leave, opened the book, peered inside and asked if we needed any change. Apparently he surmised that his performance commanded, deserved, a 25% tip. I cracked a special kind of closed mouthed smile for him and simply said "Yes, we need change". He was gone for a while, quite a while. Even the manager came over at one point, probably feeling the love that was emanating from our hearts, and asked after us. I explained that we were waiting on our change. His face folded into an unhappy look and he then scampered off. We sat there, waiting, but it wasnt long before we picked up on someone singing that local hit song at the table just down the way, and of course we couldnt help but smile and sing along a bit ourselves. It was then that the apple of our eye returned and showered us with thanks and his usual rot. He then turned away to tend to the table next to us, who had just received their food. Low and behold, I did hear in that most monotonous voice, those familiar lyrics: "Im so sorry, I'll check right into that....." I left him two dollars and we then made our way gingerly towards the door, whistling that tune, music, resounding in our souls...
Grade: D- ( a staff consisting of 18 year old kids who cant describe the difference between fontina and cheddar cheese will lead your restaurant into an obituary)
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