Before I tell you today’s tip, I need to give you a little back story. I’ll try to keep it brief and leave out some of the bitching. (If you skim the text you’ll see I had problems keeping it brief)
About a year ago, Brian and I decided that we were going to try a new downtown restaurant because a few of our friends had been there and had given it a thumbs up. We were excited but, like any abnormal couple, we needed to do a little research first.
After a few days of reading reviews, memorizing the online menu, interviewing past guests, and studying the floor plans provided to us by the county, we made a reservation for two.
Advice: When choosing a restaurant, choose it like you’re looking for a life partner.
The restaurant was modern but warm, and beautifully decorated. We were seated in a one-bench curved booth, the kind where you’re forced to sit awkwardly next to one another while watching other diners eat. I ordered a martini. Problem solved.
But problems began again when the food was served. ugh. I get so bent out of shape when discussing this meal that I don’t even want to get into it…so much was wrong. Food was sent back, ingredients were missing, etc. And believe it or not, before that night, we had never sent anything back to a kitchen…ever! They had turned us into “those people”.
breathe kim. breathe.
Brian hates to bitch or complain to anyone unless it’s to (or about) friends or family. So imagine my surprise when he wrote a letter to the owner of the restaurant to inform him of our disappointment. I was very proud of him…and then this happened…
We received a response from the owner saying that he had taken our letter seriously. Turns out he was not in the restaurant that evening and had left his sous chef in charge. As a result of our letter, he demoted the sous chef and fired the pastry chef. AND he shared our letter with his staff. OH SHIT.
Later that evening, as we were laying in bed, we heard a car with a loud muffler slowly cruising down the street, then we heard a loud boom, then the car tearing away. We glanced out the window and saw nothing out of the ordinary, so we went back to sleep.
In the morning, I found our mailbox on the ground decorated with a size 12 shoe print.
Me: “Hey Brian, by any chance did you put your last name and address on that letter?”
Him: “Maybe” He totally did. Classic rookie move.
Your Tip is coming (that’s what she said! sorry)
Thanks for being so patient. The obvious tip is to use a fake name when complaining but that’s not where I’m going with this.
We received a coupon recently for this very same restaurant. Well, maybe not recently. We’ve been sitting on this coupon like it were a ticking time bomb. But we decided to give it one more try because we’re twisted and beg for abuse like that.
We made the reservations under my maiden name and planned to pay in cash for fear that we would be identified. So now that our identities were safe, how could I ensure we would be served a well cooked meal? hmmm? Then I found the answer waiting for me at the bottom of my margarita (where all the best ideas are kept)…
PRETEND TO BE A FOOD CRITIC!
2. a professional looking notebook (do not use your kid’s Spongebob folder)
3. a pen (again, not your kid’s)
4. a judgemental expression (fortunately, this comes natural to me)
1. When you first sit down, relax, chit chat with the waiter, order your drink.
2. When the waiter comes back, ask him his name. When he answers, pull out your notebook, ask him how he spells it (I don’t care if his name is Bob, ask him), and jot it down. He’ll ask why you’re writing his name down and you should answer very cryptically “Just curious. This is absolutely NOT for a food column” *wink*
3. As each course is served, I want you to pull out your notebook, take a bite of food, nod, jot notes. And look bitchy while doing it. Like this…
Of course, you can take real notes if you like. But I prefer to spend my time drawing scenes from my life.
I recommend you continue your notes right through dessert and into your after-dinner cordial. Though Brian didn’t think that was necessary…
4. Once the waiter hands you the bill and says “Have a great night folks!”, you can either give up the gig or really round out your performance with a “Can I quote you on that?”. It’s up to you and your acting ability.
I believe this is a fool-proof way to experience the best food and service that a restaurant is capable of providing. And I must say, we had a terrific meal thanks to me- but Brian thinks it was a coincidence. I swear I don’t get enough credit in this household, so try this and validate me, please.