Friday, March 13, 2009

And the bad service award goes to...

Let me start out by saying I appreciate the inner strength of our food server friends. Waiters must utilize a ridiculous amount of self-restraint on a daily basis to keep from going postal on the many difficult people they encounter every single day. HOWEVER, I am not one of those difficult people - I do not think I have ever sent an order back, complained about the number of ice cubes in my glass, or anything of the sort. So when I have a bad waiter experience, I must assume that it is them, not me. Sensible, right?

OK, so last night I went to Cuba Libre to catch up with an old friend from college - Farah. The plan was to have a leisurely dinner and some drinks for a couple hours so we could catch up on everything that's happened over the past few years. We arrived around 6:15 and got seated immediately. As the waiter showed us to our table and we began to sit down, he asked for our drink order. Since we hadn't even settled into our booth yet, we asked for some water and a couple minutes to peruse the drink list. He was back almost instantly with our water, which is something I would normally appreciate. However, his abrupt tone of voice when he asked if we had decided on drinks yet turned me off just a bit. He also asked at that point if we were ready to order our dinner, but since we had been seated approximately 3 minutes we said we would have to take a bit more time to look at the menu. We ordered a pitcher of sangria and began to look at the menu. A couple minutes later we got our sangria, courtesy of the sourpuss waiter, who asked us if we were now ready to order. Thankfully we were, because I am pretty sure he would have physically injured us had we said no. Our food came in record time, which again is something I would typically appreciate. However, throughout the course of our dinner, the waiter came to our table pretty much every five minutes. He would stare at us and then walk away when I assume he figured out that we had not yet inhaled all our food. I finished my meal before my friend, and the waiter appeared promptly to take my plate. He also asked Farah, who still had her fork in hand with half a meal left, if he could take her plate as well. She said no, she was still working on it. He stalked off, clearly annoyed. Five minutes later he was back to see if she was done, and again she said no. He stomped away. Five minutes get the idea. Eventually Farah just let him take her plate. At this point we still had some sangria left and were contemplating ordering another pitcher. But, it was not to be - our waiter appeared and gave us our bill without ever asking if we would like another drink or some dessert. Farah and I discussed his attitude and then looked around the restaurant to see if it was a particularly busy night. It wasn't - there did not appear to be any parties waiting to be seated. I looked at the clock - we had been there only an hour. So, we figured that there was no reason we should be forced to hurry. We poured our last sangria and continued to sip and talk for another 20 minutes. During that time, our waiter lurked around our table every five minutes, as usual. Finally we just decided to pay the bill and walk over to Old Monk, where we would hopefully encounter a more positive vibe from the waitstaff. When Farah asked our waiter if he could please split the bill evenly, he all but rolled his eyes and uttered a very condescending "yeah" as if she was an idiot for not assuming that he knew exactly what to do with our credit cards without being told. Needless to say, we wasted no time getting the heck out of there. We continued our night at Old Monk and had a lovely time. But, WTF, dude? Is it SO hard to be polite to your customers and allow them to enjoy their meal without force-feeding them and pushing them out the door? Apparently so!

Has anyone else had a terrible waiter experience at Cuba Libre? Anywhere else?