Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bad restaurant experiences

Sunday, September 6, 2009
I am the most non-confrontational person you will likely ever meet and I try really hard not to complain about anything, because I am so so fortunate just to even be able to afford going out to a restaurant to eat. As such, I can gladly say I've only had three negative experiences at eating / drinking establishments.

I'm going to detail them here because I just had my third one recently, but I'm curious to hear about other people's experiences so please leave a comment telling us about yours.

So two of the negative experiences involve tipping. At the Phoenix near Sherbourne St. and Carlton St., on my birthday no less, the 40-something bartender called me out on a 50 cent tip I left on a $3.00 shot. The best part of this story is HOW he called me out on it: by having the OUTRAGEOUS nerve to say to me as if I am a four-year-old who can't quite understand his plight: "Excuse me, I'm a student." Um, EXCUSE ME, forty-something-year-old man. I am a student too, half your age, and that comment is not going to make me tip you more either. Hey, I'm all for people going back to school when they are older, but don't expect more than a 15% tip out of my pocket because of the choices you made and don't you dare try to guilt me into giving you more! Terrible! Instead I just wanted to take my 50 cents back, but I believe I took the high road and left it there for him. The sense of entitlement was ridiculous and that was the FIRST time I had encountered someone questioning my tip.

Second time was last week at one of my favourite patios and casual dining establishments, Hot House Cafe at Front St. and Church St. Service there had always been fine, food is tasty and comforting, and I always have a great time people-watching with my friends on their patio. I have brought many people there to eat dinner with me who had never been or even heard of the place - in short, I was bringing them business.

So last week a group of us went there for dinner. We had given enough money to the server (whom I haven't had before - maybe she was new) so that when she came back with change we'd leave that all as a tip. Sure, it wasn't an amazing tip, but this was a casual Thursday night dinner (do me and my twenty-something friends LOOK like executives?) and for the amount of $ that place gets out of me, paired with the fact that servers are in the wrong to EVER call a customer out on a tip, I was fuming. Again, the best part here is HOW we were called out on our group tip. I suppose she had been watching us to see if we added anything to the change we left on the table, which we didn't. As she was clearing our table and we were getting ready to go, she kept asking us repeatedly if we enjoyed our meal. This is kind of how it went:

Server: "Did you have a good time?"
Us: "Yes, thanks!"
Server: "You sure? You had a good time?"
Us: "Yes... sorry, just curious, why do you keep asking us that?"
Server: "Because your tip doesn't reflect that..."

Rude. Again, we left the tip, taking the high road, but frankly any server who calls someone out on their tip is disgusting in my opinion. Sorry, but it's the truth.

The other experience is less about service and more about a downright disgusting establishment. Mark and I went to Cfood near Yonge / Eglinton (now closed, I believe) and were served rotten scallops (a horrendous taste I hope never to taste again) and we got to watch our centrepiece die right in front of us, along with the other centrepieces around us, as they were live goldfish in small vases. One by one, they were flipping belly up as we were trying to eat. Truly disgusting and sad.

A colleague had been telling me about the bad service at Spice Route she had. The manager wouldn't split the bills and so they took a long time to count it out amongst about 12 people and he came back to them and said "What, you don't know how to count?" Again, rude. It's sad, because in that case, that was the manager, not a server... Spice Route was on my list to go to soon but it has dropped right to the bottom (if we go at all) because of that story.

So that's probably the only ranting you'll ever hear from me, but there it is - my 3 bad restaurant experiences. At least they make for entertaining stories! :) Happy long weekend everyone!

Yours in food,