Tag Archives: waiter

I want a cosmo, but not a cosmo.

28 Nov

Sometimes I’m not sure people realize how stupid their comments sound out loud. Tonight I kept getting the most asinine requests that I didn’t know how to respond to, or execute for that matter. They just kept coming, one after another. In this post I’ve listed: a) the guest’s request; b) what I wanted to say in that moment; c) what I really said, and then finally; d) how I solved the problem.

I hope you enjoy these little gems.

1) “I want a cosmo, but not a cosmo.”

What I’d like to say: “Of course.”

What I really say: “Of course.” 

Solution: I bring her a cosmo.

2) I’m supposed to meet my girlfriend here? She’s blonde? She’s really tall, ughhhh, she’s a model?

What I’d like to say: I’m sorry sir, but nobody here matches that description.

What I really say: Ooooooh, gosh, is she you’re girlfriend?

Solution: I point to the model at my table.

3) “I want it medium, but still have some redness in the steak.”

What I want to say: So you want me to change the laws of physics and cook a steak to 150 degrees but still have blood in the steak?

What I really say: No problem.

Solution: Start at rare, and if he wants more heat, give it to him.

4) “I want an extra-extra dirty martini up, but not too salty, you know… too dirty.”

What I want to say: Well, why don’t you take a trip with me to the bar, and you can tell me when it’s too salty.

What I really say: Of course.

Solution: Tell the bartender to make the saltiest martini he can conjure.

5) “I want the grilled chicken, grilled.”

What I want to say: First of all, you want the grilled chicken, why? And secondly, the last time you had the “grilled chicken” was it poached?

What I really say: I’ll make sure they grill it.

Solution: Not applicable.

6) “This Monkfish tastes too much like fish.”

What I want to say: Oh dear, well, don’t tell the fish that.

What I really say: I’m sorry to hear that. Monkfish can taste fishy.

Solution: Send out desserts.

7) [Whispered] “It’s his birthday, so can you like, do something… like not a big deal, or a candle or anything, but like a candle. You know?”

What I want to say: Fuck you.

What I really say: Yeah, I know.

 Solution: “Happy Birthday” written on the plate in chocolate.

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Priceless.

26 Nov

I left the restaurant for a month, to work on a project.  When I came back Wednesday night, it was jarring to interact with the guests; my restaurant caters to a subculture of people so entitled, that their behavior is truly out of adjustment with the rest of world, and I had forgotten just how pathological some of these people really were.

Enter my first table of the night, two twenty-something female business suits, who drank ten “grey goose n’ sodas” between the two of them, in two hours, while discussing sales demographics, and dirty office assignations.

The blonde alcoholic seated in the banquet asked me if “there were any bones in the chicken,” as if bones would certainly render any entrée inedible. I responded, “yes, there were some bones in the thigh meat,” and “no, we couldn’t remove them from the dish.” The notion that a chicken had bones, which could not be removed, revolted the blonde to such a degree, that she opted for the chilean sea bass instead.

When the sea bass arrived at the table, I checked back with the blonde. She was indignant, and began a passive aggressive tirade.

“I’m not difficult. I’m not,” she said. “… But you remember how I asked you if the chicken had bones?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Well, I can’t eat something with skin. This has skin on it. You didn’t tell me there was skin on it. I can’t eat this. It’s disgusting.” (the very thin  and tasty skin –easily removeable– was on one side of the filet.)

“Do you want Chef to remove the skin in the kitchen?,” I offered.

“No, now that I know it has skin. I can’t think about it. Just get me whatever she’s having,” the blonde said, pointing to her friend’s plate, and waving me away with her wrist.

I personally brought the blonde her new couscous entrée, but she had to get a little dig in first, before I was excused.

“Are you new here?,” she said.

“No,” I said.

“Well, I guess you’re a little slow on the learning curve then.” (her implication being that someone who doesn’t like bones in chicken, obviously can’t tolerate skin on a fish). 

“Yes,” I happily agreed. “I guess I’m a little slow on the learning curve.”

“Going forward. If there’s skin on a fish, you really should mention it.”

“Thank You,” I said, with the most saccharin smile I could muster. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I will make sure to mention it… Going forward.”

I kept my cool, but couldn’t resist when the perfect opportunity to one-up her presented itself: the blonde at the banquet paid with a novelty “alum” credit-card, sponsored by my alma mater. We were both graduates of the same over-priced university. Cute! And she was treating me like shit. Cuter! 

The second she handed me the card, I noticed our alma mater’s iconic university building, clearly featured on the card-front, and I uttered the building’s name under my breath, as if it was a passing thought.  The blonde was drunk, but she picked up on my cue immediately. Oh, the look on her face. I didn’t even give her the satisfaction of apologizing. I just dropped the check and said, “Have a wonderful evening, ladies.”

Chilean sea bass, at a swanky NYC restaurant: $32 dollars.

Ten Grey goose and sodas, with two-limes: $160 dollars.

Letting a privileged bitch know that she’s a bitch, without calling her a “bitch,” and losing your job: Priceless.

10 lies, in 60 minutes.

19 Oct

New Yorkers distrust Waiters, and they should; we are forced to lie constantly.

In one hour alone, the following 10 lies were told tonight:

1) “I’m sorry sir but we’re out of that Burgundy.”

Translation: Management has reserved 12 bottles of your Burgundy for a private party.

2) “You’re still waiting on that Cosmo… oh.”

Translation: You’re cut-off, Drunkard.

3) “It is cold… I know… I just told a manager to raise the temperature.”

Translation: Management is literally chilling the walls because this place is going to be packed with hundreds of people, and your individual body temperature is of no concern to me, or to them.

4) “I don’t own a TV.”

Translation: Yes, that is the girl from The Sopranos.

5) “Oh, yes, I love the Monkfish.”

Translation: Your date just ordered the Monkfish, after I recommended the Halibut, and now you are asking me if it’s any good.

6) “The busser just cleared your water glass? Oh– so sorry, let me get you another.”

Translation: You’ve been holding this table for two hours; get the hell out!

7) “Yeah, unfortunately that table’s taken.”

Translation: You can’t sit there, douche-bag.

8) “He said thanks. He got the joke.”

Translation: The NFL superstar didn’t get the “Blow-Job” shots you ordered him, and I’m not going to solicit him, asshole. Did you really think I’d give a football player “blow-job” shots?

9) ”   —   .”

Translation: If I say anything right now, “yes,” or “no,” to whatever sexually inappropriate question you just asked me, I’ll be fired.

10) “It’s a good time. You’ll have fun.”

Translation: I’d rather wait two-hours for an G-train, than see that Broadway show.

Waiter, I’d like a “Pinot.”

13 Oct

“I’d like a Pinot,” many a guest will tell me, perusing the bottle list.

Unfortunately, “Pinot” has become the accepted moniker  for “Pinot Noir,” and the phrase “I’d like a Pinot,” is often a red flag for snobbery, much like the word “appee” is a sure sign of douche-baggery (See my post Spreken Ze Douche.)

If I want to one-up the snobs I reply with, “Would you like a Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier, or Pinot Grigio?”

Inevitably they want a Pinot Noir, but the real problem is that people who say “I want a Pinot,” really have no idea what they want, even if it’s a Pinot Noir.

There is ONE underlying factor that determines what someone who says “I’ll have a Pinot” wants, and it has nothing to do with region, taste, year, or food-pairing.

Usually the conversation goes something like this:

Waiter: “What region?  Would like an old world Burgundy, or something from Oregon, California or perhaps New Zealand?”  

Snob: “I don’t know.”

Waiter: “Well… are you looking for light, soft, fruit-foward Pinot Noir, or something darker, earthier, with more tannins and spice?” (Of course, the best wines  may have all these qualities, but it’s a start.)

Snob: “Ughhhh…. I don’t know.”

Waiter: Let’s go by food pairing. You’re getting the filet, and she’s getting Monkfish, so how about something dry, medium bodied, with ripe fruit for the fish, yet enough tannins for your filet? Let’s look at this Oregon…

Snob: Uhmmm, okay. But I’m still not sure if…

Waiter: I love this winemaker here… (Snob sees price; $162 dollars).

Snob: No— no no. I’ll have to look at this a second…

Waiter: There’s also a similar Pinot Noir, not quite as complex, from Central California… (Snob sees price $54.)

Snob: Oh. We’ll try that. Sure, why not?

See, “I’ll have a Pinot,” also means “take me to the $50 dollar bottle,” which isn’t problematic except when you are being directed to the $50 dollar bottle of Pinot Noir (Thankfully my restaurant doesn’t even bother with $50 bottles of Merlot, “No-no0-na-no.”)

“Take me to the $50 bottle you’d drink,” is indeed a very good question to ask a waiter, because the waiter will know exactly what delicious bottle to recommend. The guy who can ask for his price point right off the bat is certainly going to get a better bottle, than the snob who pretends to not care about the price.

Lesson learned? I hope so, Mr. Pinot.

The Dragon Lady [PartI]

8 Oct

“Jamie? Sammy? Daaaaaaaavid? Where IS everybody? I’m here!”

Our most infamous regular had arrived. It was only 4:30pm,  the restaurant was empty. And I was the only person on the floor. It was just me, The Dragon Lady, and the bruised shadow of her Ego, secretly hiding in the dark folds of her waist-length black hair. 

“Where is everybody?,” The Dragon Lady asked again, this time with suspicion. The creature in her hair was already roused, assessing the threat, ready to attack.

I waited on Nikki, The Dragon Lady, for the first time on October 8th, 2008.  I was at my old restaurant then, a small french bistro on the Upper East Side.  Nikki struck me as so eccentric, that I held onto the waiter-pad from that night (I was thinking about TheInsideWaiter blog even then), and I wrote about her in my journal, the whole train ride home. 

The first thing I noted about Nikki was her delicious voice. She spoke like a queen, with heightened speech, and long sung vowels.  Her voice was more than “affected,” it was effective, making even the most stubborn waiter hinge at his waist. 

The Dragon Lady was a modern regal, a stunning, petite woman of  ambiguous Asian descent, and the Ex-wife to a famous New York restaurateur and club-owner. She was highly educated, and yet, there was something just plain cow-town American about her, especially when she said things like, “Awwww’ come on!,” and, “gimme’ a break!”  

Sonny, our most senior server, once told me the story of the afternoon Nikki earned her celebrated alias, The Dragon Lady.  Nikki was one sexual cat, a cougar one might say. In the summer, Nikki’s idea of “Sunday Best” was a coral silk negligee with bamboo print, that she proudly wore, without underwear, to our bistro’s brunch, every Sunday.  Nikki loved to bring her one night stands with her, usually younger men, and make-out with her Johns on the patio, after being emboldened by a few bottles of Peirre Jouet.       

One afternoon when Sonny was waiting on her outside, and her John was in the W.C., she asked Sonny, “Hey Sonny, What do you think of Brazilians?” Sonny didn’t quite understand what she meant, until she uncrossed her legs and opened her silk negligee, and said once more, “Now… what do you think of Braaaaazilians?” And so The Dragon Lady was named (After a racist-sexist stereotype, perpetuated in film and on this blog). 

Sonny once warned me, “Waiting on her is like riding a wild Bull.  If you can ride her once, she’ll remember. But if you can’t ride her, she’ll remember.” Tonight I  intended to ride her for at least 8 seconds, if not for eight courses.

And I was well prepared. This was not my first encounter with the Dragon Lady. I had waited on her many times before, but only as the back-waiter to her favorite servers, the aforementioned Jamie, Sonny and Daaaaaavid (He was as pretty as his long “a’s” implied).

I knew what to expect: In the first place, she was an eater. Secondly, there would be many questions. And most importantly, The Dragon was as indecisive as she was decisive, and the process of ordering would probably take twenty minutes, if not half an hour (Fortunately I had no other tables);  and once the kitchen got the ticket, multiple changes to the order would be made throughout the night. Things were inevitably going to be sent back: “smudged” glassware, “dry” bread, “unsippable” cocktails,  “measly” mussels, “overdressed” caesar salads… you are getting the idea.

I escorted The Dragon to table,  Table 41, her corner-booth of choice. 

“Oh. Let’s try something in the sun this afternoon. I’m cold,” she said, before assuming her throne.

She was testing me already. I knew very well that she would move from “something in the sun” to her old table 41, in a matter of five minutes; but, let the games begin.

“So where is Sonny. Where’s Daaaaaaaaaavid?” she insisted again.

I explained for the third time, that her preferred waiter toys were “off tonight.”  I watched her trying to imagine Sonny in civilian clothing –without an apron– not anticipating her entrance into the bistro. She was clearly nervous to be taking risks with a newbie like myself, but not as disappointed (or nervous) as I was.   

Whatever; I’m hungry,” she said whimsically, pretending that it didn’t matter. “Oh, I haaaaaave to eat. I am FAMISHED. Just FAMISHED!,” and then she began laughing at herself, with those delicious low tones. “I have a new trainer. I can hardly moooove, but feel these abs, feeeeeeeel them. Go head. Feeeel them!,” she demanded.

“Just say NO,” right? Easier said than done.  It would have been more awkward not to touch her, than to touch her, so I petted the cat’s belly.

“Can you believe I’m forty-seven. Forty-seven! Aaaaaaaah!,” and she screamed like a party girl. “And I have five kids. FIVE. Feel that stomach.”

Nice. You have kids?,” I asked.

“Oh my god, yes, they are with him tonight. Thank God,” she said. “Do I want a cocktail? What do you think I want?”

She asked the most dangerous question a customer, let alone a Dragon, could ask: What-do-you-think-I-want? Ohhhh, She was bold, buttering me up like that with her abs, her kids, and then hitting me in the face with a question like that.

“Well— I hate these sweet cocktails. What would you get?,” she queried.

The time had come to ride the bull.

“Honestly, right now,” I said. “I’m craving a dirty, dry, Plymouth martini up.” I thought she’d never go for it, but hey, tell the truth.

“Oooh. I like how you said that! I’ve never had a gin martini. I must have one.”

Bombs were going off in my head. Never had a gin martin? She was a forty-seven-year-old Manhattan socialite, the divorcee of a prestigious bar owner. How could you avoid a gin martini?

“What does it taste like?,” she asked, now concerned by her hastiness.

My God, this was like asking, “what do eggs taste like? What does the sky taste like,” It tastes like eggs, the sky; but still, I tried to muster up some description.

“Well, there’s definitely juniper berries, and herbaceous notes on the gin, with hint of pine. And… the olive juice adds a bit of saltiness? You have to try one.”

“If you think so,” she dared.

“Yes, lets,” I countered. She smiled at my boldness. I turned to place the drink order, before she stopped me.

“What’s your name?,” she asked with a smirk.

“TheInsideWaiter,” I said.

“Well InsideWaiter,” she said, “Do you happen to know what TIPS stand for?”

“Uuuugh— no,” I said.

“To-Insure-Proper-Service. TIPSsssssssss,” and she slid a tightly folded piece of paper into my hand, while looking directly into my eyes.

Indeed, she was a dragon. In the server station, I opened my hand and unfolded the bills. That’s why Sonny was so protective of her, that’s why he worked himself into conniptions over her entrees; he was just insuring proper service. By the end of this dinner date, I would insure that she was my regular, not for the money, but for the material . . . [Pt.2]

 

 

 

The Devil Under Table “4”

12 Sep

Call me superstitious, but sometimes tables just can’t shake-off the bad energy, of the last pair who sat there. 

Certain  tables, on the right nights, that are just plain liabilities. In my restaurant for example, table “25”  is called “The Devil’s Lair,” some call it “The Arm Pit.” And on Satuday nights, “25”  is infamous for unruly parties (i.e. A group of projectile vomiting women, and most recently, Spaniards.)

This evening I’m in section 5, which is three deuces, a five top and an eight top.  It’s an easy section, but I’m concerned about  Table “4.”  You see, I’ve noticed that  Table “4”  is turning into one of those tables like “25,” that seems to  attract one shipwreck of New Yorker negativity after another.

Enter my first couple, Bitch Number One and her little balding-dog-of-a-man (We’ll call him Roni).  Bitch Number One had every idea, but no idea, about what she wanted to drink. She had similar ideas about what to wear. Roni had no idea, at all.

Let the scene begin:

“A cocktail, but I hate bubbles, the fizz you know. And I like sweet, but not too sweet… (She asks Roni  what she should drink in her native tongue -perhaps Russian-, he suggests something, and she, happy that he falls for this trap of confidence, belittles him for even thinking she might drink such a liqueur.) I don’t know. What do you think?”

Now, I wish I didn’t have to fall for the trap like Roni, because I know she’s not going to pick anything I mention; she will undoubtedly remember some drink she used to order in the nineties, but still, I must play, for it is my job. I must wait.

-Perhaps a vodka gimlet up?

-What’s that?

-Lime juice, vodka…

-No vodka. Ew!

Ah yes, so it begins, the long road to nothing. Time is of the essence. There are drinks to be run, orders to be taken, and I cannot forget the candle on that birthday cake, table thirty-four, seat three, the underage girl with unruly hair. And here comes the hostess , scouting out new territory. She spies my empty section, with hungry eyes to report back to the Maitre D’. It’s just a matter of time before she will navigate a school of people through the dining room, to colonize my entire section. One table at a time.

Bitch Number One must decide. Decide Bitch, decide. But no, it’s not about her decision. It’s about the charade of deciding.  She has no other profession or joy in life, but to decide; and she decides like a pro: the scalloped edge or the smooth… the turquoise or the teal… Cherry Hill or Upstate?  There must be a satisfactory number of options offered before the game can end.

And so I desperately throw suggestions in the air, until the quota is met.

-Uhm. What about a mojito without soda water?

-What is that?

-It’s mint, lime, lite rum shaken…

-No mint. I can’t tolerate mint.

-A light glass of reisling, perhaps a pinot grigio?

-Nooooo. Nooooo. A red. Something good.

-I have a beautiful pinot noir by the glass from Oregon.

-Not california?

-Not by the glass, no.

-Welllll.

Throw me a bone bitchThrow me a bone. After seven minutes of performing “What Drink Am I?,” Bitch Number One settles on a Bellini, despite her vow against “the fizz.”

And Roni, gets a Heineken Light. I pour the Heineken Light table-side for Roni. He lets me pour it; he drinks it, and then tells me he would prefer it in the bottle.

-No problem.

I bring a new Heineken, and Bitch Number One asks if she can “move the table.”

-Can I move the table?

-Uhm, like, move it over?

-Can I move the table up there (she points to the second floor seating)?

-Oh. Unfortunately, no.

I say this with enough confidence that the issue is properly dropped. And I go without incident for the whole meal, order, apps and check back, until Roni gets to the last three bits of his filet-MediumWell. He flags me over, points to three small, cuts of filet on his plate, and asks if I can add some more heat to them. Well, what am I going to say?

No, sir. It’s impossible to grill three pieces of meat this small, as they will fall through the cracks on the grill, and if I bring these three pieces of meat back to the chef, in the heat of service at 9pm, when he is trying to push out two hundred covers,  he is going to tell me to go fuck myself.

-No problem.

Fortunately chef said, “Fuck me! Fuck me!,” when he saw the three pieces of meat, and not, “Fuck you.” After the morsels were burnished brown, with a hand held blow torch from the pastry department, I ran them back to Roni, but neglected to bring him his original steak sauce.

-Where is the sauce? There is a sauce, no?

Roni found it highly amusing that I didn’t bring his sauce, it was as if I had poured wine on the table, without there being a glass to pour it into.

Hang on here. We both know the reason you are laughing at my alleged stupidity right now, is because you are uncomfortable that you just had me refire your dainty scraps of meat, and the bussers are looking at you for the fool that you are.

-Oh, I’m so sorry. Let me get that for you.

End scene.

Needless to say, there is difficulty turning this table –deliberations over desert, sent back espressos, and continued requests to “move the table–; but, I make sure that within twelve minutes of Roni finishing his meat-morsels, the only hint of this man and his Bitch is a signed check, on table “4.”

Within seconds, the table is reset and the newly seated pair –two women– situate themselves.  I approach the thirty-somethings, who appear to be  dressed for a rehearsal of Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Not the human part, the monster part.) And my deep suspicions about table “4” becoming a problem table are confirmed.

-Hello, ladies. How are you?

-Not so good, considering we waited half an hour for this shitty table.