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Dec 14, 2006 09:07 PM

Service in Suburban Maryland

Many of the restaurants in suburban Maryland use unprofessional waiters - some seem barely 18, but there are broader problems.

The three scenarios occurred within one week.

At the Gaithersburg Kentlands' Bonefish, a trendy spot specializing in martinis, I recently ordred a [regular vodka] martini. The young girl waiting bar tables returned and asked if I wanted red vermouth or white vermouth. When I appeared stumped (red vermouth?), she stated emphatically that "we do not put vermouth in any martinis unless the customer specifically asks for it!" I ordered coffee. (I am 60, and not that demanding. OK, so that is a big part of the problem of course; recognizing my limitations, I am taking steps to dine out as infrequently as possible.)

I went to a Bethesda restaurant (Centro) and asked for an Old Fashioned; the yougster disappeared then returned in a few minutes and pronounced proudly: "We don't carry bitters!" I left.

Latter in the week, I had lunch at Amici Miei, a noted Italian neighborhood upscale restuarant. The trout came with bad olive oil. I fetched the proprietor through the busboy (I didn't know the busboy from the waiter) and got the main man, who lectured me on "Don't tell the busboy, he is non-verbal." and then told me in no uncertain terms that he and the chef use only the finest ingredients. So I was wrong on two counts, embarrassed - as the tables nearby caught it all - and a little sick from having tasted the olive oil. There was no attempt to remove the trout from the bill and I and my friend skulked out.

I used to dine at some pretty fair restaurants, like Lion D'Or, Le Bec Fin in Philly, and I still like Jean Michel in Bethesda, so I am not new to dining. But I see a trend. Any comments?

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  1. The example of the rude proprietor is REALLY bad, atrocious behavior on the part of the proprietor. The incident at Bonefish seems to be a combination of a somewhat bratty know-it-all server and the abomination that is contemporaty "flavored martinis". The Old-Fashioned incident at Centro seems to involve slovenliness on the part of whoever orders supplies for the bar more than bad service

    1. I rarely feel that I get good service anywhere I go. Maybe I'm just a pain in the butt though...?

      1. I always got good service at Persimmon in Bethesda. Lots of the servers were young and the service was casual -- but always very good. On my first trip there I loved the soup so much I asked for the recipie, assuming there was no chance they would give it out. She took my e-mail address and a week later she got it from the chef and e-mailed it to me.

        1. It is totally inappropriate for you to compare Bonefish Grill and Amici Miei to Le Bec Fin and Lion D'Or. No one expects more from a restaurant than I do, but that is ridiculous.

          No, most kids at cheap chain restaurants and most local italian joints aren't versed on the lost art of cocktails. I would think you would have noticed the decline over the last, say, THREEE DECADES. Tell them what you want and how to make it. Or go to a better class of restaurants. Or go downtown.

          1. I can count on one hand the number of bars downtown where the barkeep knows how to make an old fashioned that's worth drinking.

            And if you think Montgomery County has bad service, come to PG County.

            It's sort of a chicken-and-egg argument: what came first, the lousy customer or the lousy service?