Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And No Sauce: A Dinner Out Lament

Why is it that I can't get a great experience while eating out?  I mean, I can't complain too much--I'm eating out.  I'm eating food, good food, and I've got the money to do so.  I'm sure those kids in Darfur would love to have some Full Moon BBQ chicken, sauce or not, for dinner.

But if I'm paying hard earned money, can I not just get what I want, especially if I speak clearly, friendly enough and with concise ordering perfection?

Case 1... Taco Bell
I've discussed this at length in previous posts, but I just don't understand how hard it is to leave something off.  I mean, I'm not asking for a precise amount of lettuce on my taco, I'm actually asking you to do LESS work.  Not putting lettuce on my taco is a step you don't have to take.  Just don't do it. 

But IF you do, then you need to be nice enough about it to say, "Oh, hey, my bad dawg... let me fix you another one real quick like..." because while I've never worked at a Taco Bell, I've watched from my perch on the other side of the counter, and let me tell ya, it ain't hard.  It ain't rocket science.

But the worse thing is not only when they screw it up, they actually leave it out of the bag.  Twice.  TWICE have I gotten home without my entire order.  And TWICE have I gotten back in my car to go back and get my paid for but not received food... the first was a soft shell taco, only meat and cheese, and the second was a cheesy roll up.  Both times did I say, "Hey, I got home and realized I didn't have my (insert which one at that time), so I came back up here to get it", and both times I was greeted with a simple sigh, a fake smile, and a piece of food tossed at me with a "sorryboutthat".  And I don't think they meant it.

When I left, I'm fairly certain that they were probably telling each other how dumb I was for, "coming all the way back up here for a taco?  man, is it that important?  it ain't but 89 cents..."

Yes, its that important.  Its the principle. 

But, with the couldn't-care-less resolution, I didn't leave a satisfied customer.

Case 2... Full Moon BBQ
Out of the three main BBQ places here in town, I think Full Moon is my favorite.  Jim-n-Nicks is good, and their cheddar biscuits are the bomb diggity dot org, but Jim-n-Nicks has two things against it--its pricey and its usually overly crowded.  Sunday lunch for two is a commitment, usually taking well over an hour and resulting in a bill of about $25 to $30--and that's two sweet teas, and two plates, and maybe sharing a piece of pie, maybe not.  The other known place in town is Johnny Ray's, and I tend to find their chicken to be a bit dry.  Its good, just not great. 

Our dear Aunt Becky is here this weekend, and Thursday night, I was given the task of going to get dinner at Full Moon. I like this place because its right down Hwy 280 from The Cabana, its reasonably priced and... well, the food is excellent. 

But I don't like BBQ sauce.  Sorry, I just don't.  I don't like sweet sauce, I don't dig on tangy sauce, or hot sauce or honey sauce or anything else... hence, I don't eat ribs often.  That's just the way I'm built. 

So when I order my BBQ chicken, I use the words "and no sauce" about four or five times in the conversation.  I use it often enough to hear the cashier repeat the words back to me, letting me know that she understands "and no sauce".

A few minutes later, my order comes up, and stupid me, I don't check it.  I get home, give Aunt Becky her pulled pork plate, I give The Lovely Steph Leann her veggie plate, and am ready to open up my own plate and chow down...

...again, not that I'm complaining, but this is an evening that followed a day that had me up at 3am (i must be lonely), picking up Hot Manager Melanie at 350a, picking up a few other managers and going to Atlanta to tour stores.  So, I've driven 350+ miles and I'm just flat out tired, not to mention that I have to be back up at 4am on Friday morning to work all day. 

I open the plate, and there's a big heaping helping of thick, what I can presume to be tasty but I wouldn't know, dark BBQ sauce all over the chicken.  This is actually the third time this has happened, though the other two times I wasn't doing the picking up and was far enough away from Full Moon to not make a return trip viable.  However, this night, I'm at The Cabana. I just frown, close the lid, put it back in the bag and walk right back out to the garage.

Its right at 9p, and they are closing.  However, I make it in the door before she locks it (I think she was headed that way) and the chick who rang me up recognized me.  "Is everything okay?" she asks, already knowing the answer.  "Well... I asked for no sauce, and there is BBQ sauce all over my chicken.  I need to get a new plate."

She responds friendly enough, and I follow her to the counter.  The manager comes up, I politely explain the situation, and he apologizes about four times.  One of the Full Moon'ers offers me some tea, and I gladly accept.  Meanwhile, I hear the manager in the back saying loudly, "And NO SAUCE on that chicken!  NO SAUCE!!"  He offers me an extra side, then a piece of pie... both of which I politely refuse.  Yes, extra fries would have been good, and a piece of chocolate pie would have been good, but I didn't need either, and I really just wanted my chicken, to go home and have dinner, then go to bed.

Perhaps next time I should lead with "And no sauce on the chicken I'm ordering right now."

However, I did leave a satisfied customer.

Don't get me wrong, I love Pablos.  I love the atmosphere, I love the band that plays, I love the fun servers that are there, I love the deck, and the food is exceptional.  Moreso than Pablos, I love the company that comes with it, as we generally go with The Zarzaur Kids--The Zach Attack, Special K and Jay-Z--the daddy-o and Hot Manager Melanie, so its always a good time. 

But for whatever reason, sour cream eludes my order.  See, I don't like lettuce.  And I don't like spicy things.  But I do like tacos and quesadillos, and what makes it all better is sour cream.  Enough sour cream on any Mexican dish, and its a tasty meal.  But when I order my meal, and always order it with sour cream on the side, one of two things happen... either the plop a little dollop of sour cream atop a bed of shredded lettuce, which makes it hard to separate what I love and what I hate, or they just forget it altogether, and by the time I remind them and they bring it, everyone is half done with their food, and mine is only lukewarm.  Having said that, understand that Pablos is my favorite authentic Americanized Mexican cuisine--but this is the only area where they are grouped with others... all Mexican places forget my sour cream.  If fact, we visited the genuine Mexican place at Epcot... no, not the pyramid, the other one.  And guess what?  They forgot my sour cream.

By the way, Pablo's was still better.  Just sayin'.

Last time at Pablo's, they got the sour cream part right.  A bowl of the white heavenly condiment topping came out with my meal, my fish tacos ordered with "NO LETTUCE", and it was great.  However, in my tacos--Lettuce.  Tons of it.  And its mixed with the shredded cheese.  So removing the lettuce removes 94% of any cheese on the tacos. 

I didn't ask for another taco, I just went with it.  Sigh.

The company was more than satisfactory.  The dinner was satisfactory.  The lettuce was not. 

There's a new pizza place in town, but I'm afraid to mention it, because I don't want the following anecdote to dissuade you from going--its excellent pizza, and I will go back because it is such a good meal at a good price... so rather than call it Marco's, I'll just call it The Pizza Place.

...but never again on a Friday night.  Once again, I was sent out to retrieve dinner for The Lovely Steph Leann and Aunt Becky, and once again, it wasn't as easy as I wanted it to be.  I arrived at The Pizza Place at 739p, and made my order at 746p.  Its busy, so I'm thinking that it might be a good 20 or 30 minutes before my pizza, sub and cheezybread would be ready.

Time ticks slowly by, as I hear a woman come in who has "three starving children, so can I go ahead and order cheezybread?  Please get that in, and then I'll order the pizza..." and another guy who came in and said, "Yep, I just want some cheezybread and a large pepperoni..."

I can tell, however, that things aren't going as swimmingly as it should be, as the people behind the counter seem a bit frantic.  There is a nearby restaurant that I also frequent for lunch, and the couple who run that establishment apparently are the aunt and uncle of the owner of The Pizza Place, and the uncle was there telling me how they never expected to be as busy as they are.  Their cafe is rather small, but it wasn't meant to hold a ton of people--the expectations were they would have pretty good delivery/carry out, and a cafe to hold a few patrons.

And when they started doing gangbusters, the whole staff was caught off guard. 

The aunt of the owner saw me and said hello, and asked me how long I had been waiting. I looked at the receipt, did the quick math and replied, "about 45 minutes." Then, still politely, I added, "you know, you probably should tell people it's going to be awhile for food--I probably wouldn't have ordered if I had known it would take this long."

Now, I must mention to you Brenda, across the counter. I'm sure she is a very nice lady, and I'm going to give her doubt's benefit in saying she was probably stressed, but she had the bedside manner of a wet mop. At the moment I was talking to Auntie, and giving my "truth about the wait" suggestion, I heard Brenda finish up an order on the phone by saying, "oh, it will be about 20 minutes." When Brenda hung up, Auntie said, "he's right. Don't tell people 20. You need to be saying 45 or 50."

The wait continued.  A few minutes later, the lady with the three kids who were starving came back up... "Um... we've been here for 45 minutes, and we don't even have cheezybread.  You didn't say it would take so long... my kids are still starving..." and at the same time, the dude who just wanted some cheezybread and pepperoni came up, saying, "Yeah, so we never got our bread.  Our pizza is half eaten already, so can we just cancel the bread?"

At the same time, I observed a couple who came in, and told Brenda, "We ordered our pizza an hour and 10 minutes ago for delivery... well, we only live 5 minutes away, so we figured we would just come get it."  Brenda gave a big sigh, and said, "What's your name and house number?"
Baseball players like Wes gotta eat too
Over in the corner, Major League Baseball player Wes Helms sat with a buddy.  He saw me and we both waved.  "Waiting for your pizza?" I asked.  "Yeah, man, been here for about an hour."

The one common denominator for all of these stories is simply this:  We LOVE the pizza, but didn't want to wait this long.  And its true--The Pizza Place has great pizza, so much so that we chose this on Friday over just ordering Papa John's across the street from The Cabana. 

Finally, 56 minutes after I placed my order, I was given a pizza, a sub and a box of cheezybread.  For my troubles, I was also given a good coupon for next time, a cup to get myself a refreshing beverage, and a two-liter to take home. 

In short, I waited forever, and was starving by the time I got home.  But the steak-n-cheese sub was excellent, and the pizza for Aunt Becky and The Lovely Steph Leann was great, according to them, so we were satisfied customers.

So there ya go.  Four cases of food service travails.  White people problems?  Sure.  First world problems?  Absolutely.  Blessed life troubles?  Yup.

But problems and troubles nonetheless.  I would imagine much of life's problems would be fixed, though, if they'd just include the cheesy roll-up, leave off the lettuce and warn me that my food might take almost an hour to prepare.

Oh, and leave off the sauce.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I want to hear your response! Click here!!