As many of you know, I am a man of varied tastes. I eat a lot of food, and therefore, enjoy food; the healthier the better of course. I also enjoy women of varying tastes; the healthier the better of course, and take it upon myself to enjoy the company of a fine lady every Friday evening.
One particular Friday I was in the company of a very special lady whom happened to notice a new restaurant had opened on the promenade of the station we were in. I often prefer buffets due to the sheer volume of food I consume, but buffets are often lacking in quality, and there is definitely something to be said for a quality meal, though it usually has a quality cost attached.
“What the hell.” I said. “Could be fun.”
The restaurant itself had a nice feel about it; nothing that made it memorable decor wise, but it felt familiar, like many other restaurants I had been in and enjoyed. We were politely greeted, notified of a thirty minute wait time, and were directed to the bar to wait.
Generally, I hate waiting for food. I get hungry every few hours, and when Roc hungry, Roc mad; and when Roc mad, Roc smash.
We sidled up to the bar, and waited to be noticed by either of the female bartenders. It was typical to have attractive bartenders in an establishment, as it enticed us foolish men to spend more time and money there simply to be around beautiful women. It’s a smart business strategy, appealing to our stupidity.
Sadly, the bartender that finally noticed us was none too sociable. My date and I almost felt as though we were disturbing her by being there. She made it clear she had better things to do then serve us, as we weren’t drinking that particular evening, and were merely interested in appetizers. I’m sure bigger tips were to be had, and that is the sentiment she exuded through her very pores.
My date cautiously asked me if I wanted to stay, knowing how I get about customer service, and wanting to avoid a scene. I would have no qualms about up and leaving, but not before letting everyone in the restaurant know why.
I smiled warmly at my lady, and let her know that it was a wonderful evening, and I wasn’t going to let one snotty bartender ruin that.
We looked over appetizers, and originally had decided on a baked potato stick concoction smothered in cheeses and a fatty unclean meat product. We asked the bartender if we could substitute the disgusting meat for a healthier choice, something leaner. She looked at us as though we had just asked her to orbit the neighbouring moon in a jetpack, and I could feel the vein in my forehead pulsating, my bitch meter almost full.
“I’ll have to check with the kitchen.” she said, turning and leaving before we could reply.
“You do that.” I said with smugness to the empty air. It didn’t sound as insulting or snide when nobody was around to hear it.
A few minutes later she returned and informed us that indeed a substitution could be made, but with a hefty surcharge.
“I see.” I began, taking a deep breath. “If we simply asked for it to be removed, there would be no deduction in price, correct?” She nodded. “Yet because we want one thing to be substituted with another, there is an extra charge. Do you see where the logic is failing me?” She started daggers at me, and my lady became uncomfortable, knowing I wouldn’t back down once I got going on a logic tangent.
“You can speak to the owner if you wish.” she said without any enthusiasm whatsoever.
“Yes, I’d like that. I’d like that a lot.” I replied, already forming my diatribe for the owner. I had decided we would be leaving. I had no patience for non-accommodating service personnel. While I try to be respectful to everyone, you will quickly get what you give with me. It’s not my fault you may be having a bad day; you’re my first impression of the business you represent. Remember that, because I certainly will.
It wasn’t long after that the owner came and greeted us personally. She was remarkably friendly, and held a familiar quality about her. I’m not sure if that was her “thing” to disarm potentially hostile guests, but whether genuine or not, it worked like a charm, and I was diffused.
She explained that the substitute meat would be a much larger portion, and that sadly healthier meat was at a premium in the market currently, and she simply couldn’t afford to do a straight product swap, absorbing the cost herself.
It made sense, and that was all I needed.
We cancelled the order, and were escorted to a nice booth by the owner herself.
Our server was a small, cute Achura, in training apparently, but full of confidence, charm and ability.
Something I had come to set as a standard for testing the quality of food in restaurants was to order two particular items: calamari and burgers. Calamari are often a challenge to get right; they can turn out rubbery if undercooked, or too crispy if overcooked. That, and my lady loves them. Burgers were my specialty; the balance and blend of tastes, the tenderness of the meat, cooked properly but not charred, not undercooked and bloody. It should be something simple, but too many places I have been couldn’t produce a good burger, which was often indicative of other issues like rushing through orders, not paying attention to product quality, lack of skilled chefs, etc, etc.
There was a lot of fun date conversation, and the owner returned often to our table, engaging us directly about our lives, not once turning the dialogue into a business pitch, apology, schmooze, or anything one might expect.
We got talking about my career, my recipes, my unique philosophies on life, and she actually asked me to give an honest critique of my experience at her restaurant. I warned her I wouldn’t hold back. She welcomed it, and hopefully as she is reading this now, is getting exactly what was promised.
The calamari was fantastic, perhaps the best I’d ever had. The burger was a close second. My date, on the other hand, had ordered fajitas, which were typically ordinary; not a single good, nor bad, thing about them. They simply were.
A pleasant surprise was the free dessert that arrived. Neither myself nor my date are dessert eaters, but hey, I’ll take free any day! The dessert was interesting, and didn’t taste bad, but it’s hard for me to give me an honest appraisal as I have nothing to compare it to.
Pricing? For what the fajitas were, I found them overpriced. The rest was exceptional value for the food quality.
Service? Aside from the bitchy bartender, whom I hope reads this as well, the service was top notch. I suppose I shouldn’t complain really. The place is called Crabby Joe’s, and the first taste of it I experienced was definitely crabby.
We will be going again, probably this Friday night. In fact, we may even bring friends, which is rare for us; not because we don’t have friends, but because we don’t really think highly enough of most food places to take people we like there.
So Crabby Joe’s, you did ok in my books. Overall I’d give a 7.5/10.
I look forward to seeing you again. By you, I mean all the staff except the bitchy bartender.