Thursday, September 15, 2011

On the importance of the whole package

AB and I are suffering foodies. We love good food, we love eating out. The food I can cook, but wow I get tired of my kids questioning and turning their noses up to everything. We occasionally seek to eat out, but we truly do not live in a restaurant town. There are a few places that are angling to take the area a little more in that direction. But it is bad. AB and I reflect on our years of dining out in Northern California fondly. We used to eat at some fabulous places both there and on travels.

Now that we have kids, those adventures are fewer and further between.

The other night we had AB's sister babysit and we had reservations at a local restaurant, Picazo 717. We have eaten there twice before. The first time was fabulous. The second time we shared the paella and were less than enthused. This was the third time.

If you have read my blog before you know that I have secret dreams as a food critic. I would be the undercover type...

Anyways... we had fabulous food at Picazos last week. Really the food was solid. I didn't care for the clams, but that's just me and the fact that I think I have become horribly spoiled having a family cabin on a great clamming beach.

What sucked? The service. It was so so bad that AB and I were contemplating dropping our normal 20% tip to 10%. I can't stiff a wait person, my sister is a waitress and works her butt off. But it says something when I look to drop below that 15% mark.

Indulge my critic-ness... or scroll past. I just need to get this out.

  • 20 open tables, 3 of them occupied, we were sat at a small little two top next to two guys sitting at a 4-top. And I am talking SMALL two top. We were awkwardly close (I should have asked for a different table.)
  • The hostess spills my water and doesn't even return with a rag to wipe it up.
  • Waitress doesn't speak to us for 15 minutes, seriously we were ready to go find a wait person.
  • When she arrives she asks for our food order. I asked her what the specials were. She recites them and asks for our order. We sent her away while we contemplate our plan with the specials in mind. (She didn't ask for a drink order, but we didn't think to ask for drinks...)
  • When she finally returns we tell her we are doing tapas and salads and place the order. I call her back to ask for a glass of sangria since she never asked if we wanted drinks. Which they didn't have any sangria then. So I went back to the wine list.
  • After what seems like ages she brings a huge tray out with all our tapas and salads and then declares, "I don't know what YOU are going to do, all this food won't fit on this table." I said, "yes, the table is VERY small". She had the tapas on the table, I sent her back to the kitchen with the salads since there wasn't room and she suggested we don't uncover the clams until ready to eat so they don't get too cold. Duh. Doesn't seem like this took too much forethought... but I was suddenly wishing I would have sent her back with the tapas and not the salads. Oh well, my stomach will survive.
  • We finish the tapas, but she has disappeared again. Seriously like 20 minutes pass between being done and AB deciding to flag down the hostess to see if she can find our waitress.
  • She returns and asks if we want our salads now. Umm yes.
  • Salads were delicious.
  • She clears our plates and announces, "thanks for joining us, I will be back with your check".
  • "How about dessert?" I ask her. "Oh, your choice is X, Y or Z, what did you want?" Z we answer, with two Spanish coffees. She leaves.
  • Comes back with dessert that has ice cream topping. AB asks her if the coffee is on its way? It is.
  • 5 minutes later she comes back and asks if the Spanish coffee is a bar drink. We tell her it is.
  • 10 minutes later (dessert is gone) she comes back and says that the bartender only has Kahlua, will that work instead of "whatever else is supposed to go in"? YES, we tell her, just bring them.
  • Coffees finally arrive.
  • Check arrives. Dinner in right at 2.5 hours.  
Her saving grace tip-wise was that she didn't charge us for at least $25 worth of food. Did she know she sucked it up royally?

Some people can get by with being given sucky service. But for AB and me, our opportunities to eat out are rare, we can cook food as good as ANY restaurant in the area, I will wager that hands down. Our indulgence with eating out is having the quiet atmosphere to sit and talk, not having to clean up, not having children whining and having someone wait on us. Food for us, is only a minor part of the package. When the rest of the package is screwed up, it isn't worth it.

1 comment:

NanaNor's said...

Hi there, This reminded me so much of your mom-I can hear you sharing this story. I am so looking forward to our visit of San Juan and Orcas and can't wait for fresh seafood-maybe steamed clams. Hope the weather isn't too cold but we'll come prepared. Sounds like Rick is going to visit you guys soon.
Have a great weekend.
Hugs, Noreen