7.18.2006

I want my gift with purchase.

When we first moved to Texas, we were smacked in the faces with the realization that the Dallas area must be in the running for one of The Top Five U.S. Cities Offering an Abominable Dining Experience. I’d give you a list of restaurants we patronized to prove this theory, but I’m afraid I will die from the mortification that comes with admitting that half of your dinner outings involve chain restaurants or something called a Whatachicken sandwich. Let’s just say that a pattern of mixed-up orders, delayed entrees and cocktails that never came resigned us to the idea that eating out was likely to be far less satisfying than just staying home and saving our damn money.

And then we discovered a tapas place, where the wait staff is clearly not from around here and therefore not clued in to the requirements of food servicing in Dallas. And a certain steakhouse chain where the waiter practically sat down with us to chat while we enjoyed our meal. And a bar & grill on Lower Greenville with a cozy patio and a perfectly attentive waitress. And a few other places that delivered plates promptly, brought the checks at just the right moment, never forgot a beer, refilled the water glasses without being asked, and so on. Monk and I thought our luck had changed. Or perhaps we’d finally proven to Texas that we came in peace and were here to stay- the People Who Give Good Service could come out to play again.

I do have faith that the next time we visit, our tapas place will be a wonderful experience (sidenote to Monk: We are long overdue for a tapas night, no? Landito must
be missing me by now). But again, I think that’s due to the establishment not knowing any better. Unfortunately, on a return visit to the bar & grill on Lower Greenville, we found it had gone out of business. Another restaurant showed us that the former good service we received was kind of a fluke. And lo, a certain steakhouse chain did fall mightily from grace on Saturday evening, with the Incident of the Bread.

Like almost any other chain restaurant in the country, every table in the restaurant gets a small loaf of its trademark bread by the time the orders have been placed and usually before the first drinks arrive. However un-American it may seem, I do not get excited by the idea of unlimited free bread just for sitting down in a restaurant because heaven forbid I don’t stuff my face every damn second I’m at the table. Waiting for food is better when you can eat other food while waiting! Yay! However, much like taxes, freedom of speech and a monkey in the white house, it is something I’ve come to expect, as a citizen of these United States. So you can imagine how my breadless agitation turned into chagrin, then shock, when we remained sans loaf throughout the drinks, the ordering and the arrival of our entrees and, after inquiring, were told that the restaurant had (HORROR OF HORRORS) run out of bread. It wasn’t until I realized bread was no longer an option that a craving for it crashed over me in a wave of carb-y wonder.

Monk was prepared to get over it, Skyhawk was busy mentally adjusting to the Surprise Entrée he had received (which was clearly not what he ordered but I guess he figured he’d go with the flow even though I would have sent it back but whatever), and then we witnessed the unthinkable: Wait staff zipping by with trays lofted high- trays that held one and sometimes two trademark loaves of bread, delivered to people that had been seated long after we arrived. Why the loaf discrimination? Did we look anti-bread? I’m confident that we (at least when we first arrived) were the best tippers in the place (it’s Texas, but the funny thing is that tipping? Not part of the “everything’s bigger” boast). What was the issue? I began to feel defensive, and then combative. If they didn’t think we were worthy of bread, they had another think coming! I caught the manager’s eye, but he squared his shoulders and looked away from our loafless table, and we remained condemned to our gigantic plates of food and an upcoming dessert order. I wouldn’t stand for it. We deserved the same rights and courtesies as the next patron! We demand bread! Bread for the people! We shall not be moved (from the table until we get our bread)!

Halfway through our dinner, the waiter came over to see how things were and I seized the opportunity. “Here’s my problem,” I began, and described the gaping void in my soul where a free loaf of bread should have been. Possibly to get the crazy girl to take her crazy stare and crazy bread obsession somewhere else, he rushed off and miraculously returned with a fresh, warm loaf of the trademark bread. And it was good. Despite the fact that all three of us were fairly full at this point, we made sure we (I) consumed most of the free, delicious bread. And when the waiter came by at the end of the meal to clear our plates, I may have shot him a look that said I’d be stabbing him with my butter knife if he tried to remove the loaf from the table.

Next time we dine there (next time is right, people- not a lot of restaurant options in the suburbs) I’ll be sure to ask for the free bread right away. Although I don’t think it’ll be a problem, now that I’ve shown them what’s what. Really, a huge meal and beers and fried onions and dessert without a loaf of bread to wash it all down? Nope, that’s not how I roll.

(ha ha! How I ROLL, get it? Like BREAD?! Oh, I slay me!)

1 comment:

Blogger Lisa said...

LOVE Tapas too! And I HATE bad dining experiences. You just want to sit back, relax and things get fu*ked up and that sucks.

12:23 AM  

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