Let me first preface this with the fact that I worked in a superb restaurant for 4 years, as everything from bartender to hostess to dishes. Not only do I know how people are supposed to wait tables, and what is proper form, but I am also well aware of how hard they work, so I am a 30%+ tipper.
Let me further preface this with the statement that I really do enjoy the company of these people. It’s just sometimes I think one of them is not really with it.
Let me still further preface this with an apology: You’re going to get a play-by-play. For both Friday and Saturday night’s dinner.
FRIDAY, 2PM: PJ’s friend D (but I’m guessing really his recently-turned 21 year old, more wealthy, more high maintenance, easily offended girlfriend) suggests a triple date at 8pm The Blue Pearl. I read 30 reviews on it…15 from Zagat, and 15 in general say it’s bad food, long waits, terrible service and really overpriced. It wants to be a chic NYC fondue place. I can’t eat dairy and C doesn’t touch cheese. Oh well. God forbid we go someplace where everyone can eat.
We go anyway. We get there at 8:30, because D called and said, “Sorry, I meant 8:30.” We have a 35 minute drive to New Haven. Thanks. Our waiter looks like a real life Mii. Asian, glasses, goatee. Total hipster. Ok, whatever. It was amusing.
The tables are small and wobbly. This place sucks.
8:40PM: Finally, all 6 of us are there, and seated: Me and Peej, D and A, and PJ’s college roommate and girlfriend, C and V. For the record, I adore C and V. And D is pretty awesome too. I like A, but she’s just kind of girly-girl and way too high maintenance for me to deal with sometimes. We ordered our food, and A always gets an app, so that came out pretty quickly. It was just melted cheese and raw veggies, for crying out loud. Mii brings us bread. It looks like a slice of bread, cut into 6 smaller pieces, with a vat of olive oil, and no spices. Classy.
9:05PM: The waiter comes and takes the first fondue pot. We’re waiting, watching videos on the Blackberries, joking, whatever. There is enough visual entertainment with the other patrons in the restaurant to keep us amused, i.e. 6’5″ 300lb black woman, sitting on a round stool about 10″ in diameter.
9:45PM: I’m getting kind of hungry. PJ and C have to work Saturday, PJ at 7 and C at 6. My wine glass is still half full, but some waitress brings another full glass and bounces before I can say no thanks. PJ takes out his phone and starts looking something up for A. She has the audacity to point at him, reprimand him, and tell him how it’s her pet peeve when people have cell phones at dinner, and how when someone calls they answer. D tells her to be quiet, and mind her own business, because she does it all the time. I tell her he’s looking something up for her. She does not answer.
10:00PM: Mii comes over. “Can I get you another wine?” I tell him no thanks, someone brought this but I didn’t order it. He says “OK” and leaves. We still have entertainment: Harry Potter came in to DJ, broken, falling off glasses and all. He wasn’t good. Weird hipster trance music.
10:30PM: We still don’t have our food. Mii comes over with another plate of bread, and a “Sorry the kitchen is backed up.” (Let me interject that he was about….an HOUR late with that. You approach after 30 minutes, not an hour and 30. And after that long, we should have gotten a fricking free meal. There were 2 other tables in the damn place.)
10:35PM: Our food comes out. C and V, D and A got more fondue…C’s has oil and salt as the dipping, and D’s has horseradish and cream. This is not rocket science. It does not take 90 minutes to heat up oil and salt. On top of that, the meat and fish that came out was sparing. It was 6 bite sized pieces of beef, shrimp, white fish, and chicken. The kind hibachi chefs cook in 5 minutes. Unless they were slaughtering the food in the back, there is no reason for this.
I ordered calamari, and PJ had a burger. With raspberry aioli. And cinnamon onions. I am not making this up.
My calamari batter was tasteless, and parts of the pieces were undercooked and some were overcooked. PJ’s “rare” burger was closer to well done. It had obviously been sitting for quite some time. I sent the calamari back. It was terrible. (Let me interject that I NEVER send food back. I’m not picky; I usually suck things up and eat it. It is probably the second time in my LIFE that I’ve sent it back, and the first time was because it was the wrong food.)
Mii gives me attitude when I tell him why. “Undercooked? It’s not undercooked.” I’m not stupid; I grew up in RI with an Italian family, asshole. I know what undercooked (and crappy) fish tastes like.
10:50PM: We’re done eating. It doesn’t take a long time to eat food for mice. PJ and I shared his pretentious burger. It wasn’t good. We ate about half, combined. C jokes if there’s a DQ open. A is pissed, because no one liked her restaurant.
11:00PM: The bill comes. $231.96. Gratuity of 18%, or $33, is included. WTF?!?! Tax was $12. My second unordered and untouched wine is included. We call Mii over. PJ says, “She didn’t order this, and didn’t drink it.” Mii says, “Well, she didn’t refuse it.” I say, “No one gave me a chance to, she dropped it and walked away before I could, and I can’t even drink 2 glasses of wine.” Mii repeats, “Well you didn’t refuse it.” And I say “And I didn’t drink it.” Mii finally says (in a huff), “Fine. I’ll take it off the bill.” (Let me ask here what kind of restaurant policy is it that you pour, mix, and serve drinks that are unordered, then don’t allow a customer to refuse them, and then charge for them? You should NEVER do that…unless it’s free refills of soda or water.)
The $230 bill is reduced to $220. Gratuity and tax are not adjusted though. Jerk. Whatever. Between PJ’s burger ($12), my drink ($8), and his drink ($6) we have a grand total of $26 for our meal (or lack thereof). We throw in $35. I do understand that it’s not 1/3 of tax+tip, but when you break it down, it’s more than we technically owe. D and A ran up the highest tab, with the app, five $10 drinks, and a $26 dollar entree. At PJ’s surprise party, D and A stiffed me $30, and last time they stiffed PJ $20. So we weren’t too worried.
We all put money the money in. We’re $6 short. A looks directly at me and says, “How much did you put in? We’re $6 short. Did you put in for tax and tip?” I look back and say, “Yes, we did. It’s factored in.” PJ says, “We left $9 on $26. That should be more than enough.” D throws in $6. A gets mad and yells, “Don’t do that! You don’t owe it! Don’t put that in there!” D tells her to shut up, because it’s $6 and we all want to get out of there.
11:15PM: PJ and I leave. We bitch the whole way home how bad it was, and how A was being stupid. PJ doesn’t care. Out of the entire group, she is the only one that most people don’t like.
12:50AM: We drive down the road to my complex. A drunk driver in a big truck tries to exit the complex next door, at 40mph without stopping, and nearly plows into the passenger side (read: MY side) of our car. Brakes are stomped on. I nearly have a heart attack. My hands shake till I get in bed. The bumper was right at the window. I would have broken my arm (at least) and had glass all over my face. Great.
SATURDAY, 6:30PM: After half an hour of waiting in RI at the local sushi place, CR and I get a table. (There are about 10 hightop tables, and 4 hibachi tables, but only 3 dining tables in this place.) It was a very nice table, right next to the fireplace, which is clutch, since it’s so cold out. We were waiting for a hightop but hey, we’ll take the best table in the place. Sushi is ordered, food is eaten.
7:45PM: We pay the bill. We’re chatting about things, since we see each other a few times a year. A large, middle aged woman comes over and says, “Are you going to be much longer? We’ve been waiting for this table, and we’d like to sit down. We’d go to hibachi, but we have a baby with us and it’s difficult, so do you think you could finish up and go somewhere else?” Then FatWoman STANDS there and waits for our answer. (Note: There are several hightops open, that can be pushed together.) CR’s eyes got really big, and my jaw was on the floor. Caught off guard, we stammer, “Well, I guess we can go…” FatWoman says “Oh, good” and goes off to get her daughter (?) and the baby. Who are right behind us.
The older couple next to us is shocked. They ask us if that lady asked us to leave. They offer for us to sit with them, and say they cannot believe the rudeness. I hope they say something to her, because CR and I can barely form sentences at this point.
I try to talk to the hostess, but FatWoman is in ear and eyeshot. I take a card and call. The hostess tells me it is against policy to ever ask anyone to leave because of a waiting party, and she is sorry, but she can’t do anything because she didn’t see it. Thanks for nothing.
9:45PM: I make it to CT, and play poker. I am out in 6 hands. I suck. I watch Wall-E and Prince Caspian.
3:00AM: We finally get back home and go to bed.