After doing a bit of house-hunting on the Hill yesterday, HC and I stopped at Cafe 8 for some lunch. AEF and I went to Cafe 8 in January when she was here. I thought my omelette was okay, but a little dry. But I should have known better. I should have ordered something more typically Middle Eastern, like hummus or falafel or something.
Anyway, so we sit down and I ordered an iced tea. This was mostly because I was feeling a little hung over and one of my tried and tested hang over pick-me-ups includes iced tea. So the server brings over my beverage and a sugar bowl. Immediately, I was irritated.
Okay, so I get that there is a plethora of sweetening products out there, because G-d forbid we not have ample sweetener choices. But generally, a restaurant will pick one or two options to place in their sugar bowls. For example, you will have regular sugar – be it refined white or brown – and one or maybe two artificial sweeteners. Oh, not Cafe 8. There were both types of regular sugar – packets of refined white and brown – and three different artificial sweeteners – Sweet & Low, Splenda, and Equal.
Seriously, who needs to have that many sweetener options? Are you trying to tell me that someone will judge a restaurant on whether their sweetener of choice is available? I mean, every day Coke-drinkers
face this reality – sometimes you are at a restaurant without your beverage of choice. I’m pretty sure that, unless absolutely deranged,
they just make do. Are the sweetener fanatics different? Will they boycott if they can’t find that little pink or larger brown packet?
For crying out loud!
My sweetener query was quickly interrupted when I over hear the server interacting with guy who just sat down with his wife. Before even looking at the menu, the man asked the server what the specials were.
Pause here for a second.
First, is it possible that folks haven’t yet read Heat or Kitchen Confidential or flipped through the Food Network on a Saturday afternoon? Specials = crap you have left over in the kitchen that you haven’t been able to sell and may have to throw out if you don’t sell it that day, so you call it a “special” and the people will flock. Okay, so that’s not always the case. Sometimes a restaurant has a true special – something that is very laborious to make and which they plan to only make a few servings of on a given night. But this is the exception, not the rule.
Second, when did the menu become a bad thing? Look, I’m the first one to ask for all sorts of changes and substitutions and on-the-sides. But I still manage to order off the menu. And I don’t think a restaurant is mailing it in if they, you know, stick to the menu.
Third, is this guy fucking kidding me?! You just sit down, you haven’t even cracked the menu, and you’re grilling the server about specials?! Jesus Christ, you’re fucking on vacation (clearly a tourist, by the way); relax a little.
Anyway, this guy was annoying on his own. But then the server joined in. In my limited interaction with her to this point, her approach to serving seems similar to Conrad’s approach to building Jerry’s kitchen in Seinfeld – 1000 questions to get a glass of water. I figured the interaction with the jerk would throw her.
“I’m so sorry, but no, we don’t have any specials right now. But I can go and speak to the chef for you if you’d like.” The server said this without an ounce of sarcasm. Having worked in a restaurant, I can tell you that there would be LOTS of sarcasm in this response. The guy says, seriously, “Yes, I’d appreciate that.”
Who the fuck does this guy think he is, and where the fuck does he think he is? This isn’t Babbo or Central or some other equivalent. And it’s lunch. Ridiculous.
Of course, she returns to the table and tells the guy that no, the chef doesn’t have any specials prepared for that day. Um, no kidding. Then she says, “I hope this isn’t a deal breaker for you?” Deal breaker? What the fuck is she talking about? Fuck this guy. Look in the fucking menu. Order something from our 5-page menu. Christ!
But she doesn’t stop there. No, this server started doting on this couple. “How’s this?” “Can I get you more of that?” “Are you okay?”
Okay, one thing you simply can’t do in this situation is dote on the jerk. I mean, as a server, you’re number 1 goal is making tips. And if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re lying. Anyway, doting on customers and allowing them to walk all over you is NOT the way to increase your tip intake. Because who the fuck is going to tip someone who they don’t respect? And, by trying to please everyone, you please no one.
By the time my food came, all was (mostly) forgotten. It was a perfect plate of Middle Eastern treats. I am a sucker for Middle Eastern food. Oh, and delicious Turkish-style bread! That was hot! Literally. So good. That and a little pre-season baseball talk, which included rehashing the whole A-Rod mess, saved lunch.