Friday, July 26, 2013

The Beer-Waiting Is the Hardest Part

I'm pretty sure it's not just since dining at the French Laundry that all service has seemed to go to pot. At the French Laundry, it's clear every possible moment has been considered; how that moment could go absolutely the best has been chosen (always accurately); that way is taught to every last person on staff; said staff manages to do that exact right thing every single time. That leaves plenty of places for service to go wrong in lesser establishments: most places just seem mindless; when they do figure out the right thing, it's often not part of training; if there is training it's inconsistent; and then the waitstaff might just not be able to, or care to be able to, pull it off.

For instance, it's been a thing lately--if two data points count as a thing--that servers fail to bring the second drink I've ordered in a timely manner. Now this might just seem like whining, but if the server asks when he or she leaves the food, "Do you want anything else?" and you say, "Yes, I'd like another beer please," you're sort of hopping that beer shows up to go with the meal just brought to you. And it's only been a draft--it's not like the drink involved muddling or flamed citrus or anything in the slightest time-intensive. I didn't order that second beer for dessert--the point is it will go well with my burger. Get that Ninkasi over here! This failure smarted even more at a place that usually has great service--well, at least your favorite server in town--and when you don't get her (she doesn't work every hour of every shift, sadly), things fall apart. At a place that makes its own beer, so you think would like to get you to drink it. Oh well.

These issues pale to the disaster that is the spot I called Mike Harkey in my complaint/rant about it two years ago. I guess you have to give it credit--it's consistent. Consistently infuriating. I met two people already there last night, hoping I, too, could get a cocktail, since, after all, that's what they do. Upon arriving another table empties, so we are the only three people in the bar (at about 7 pm, so no one should be too exhausted from a long evening of exercising their cocktail shaking muscles). There's no recognition that a new person has joined the table and might be curious to order. Then again, one of the people at the table has an empty glass, too, and for a good 20 minutes no one asks if she might like another cocktail. Finally we do get a waitress's attention and order. My drink comes without its signature candied ginger garnish. But why should I expect attention to detail when they can't even bother to do that "let's ask customers if they want to buy something" part of the business.

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