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I lied to the waiter

Today I was solo for lunch, so I tried a new-ish, highly touted, chef-centered place with a casual attitude, a reputation for being very serious about the menu, and prices in the moderate-to-moderately-expensive range. I've waited three months since opening to let them equalize the issues that I find perfectly expected and understandable at any startup business.

I arrived a bit after the lunch rush had gotten underway. They were pretty full, and since I was eating alone, I happily accepted the host's offer to seat me at the bar. It took a while for me to be acknowledged and get my order taken, but it looked like the bartender was also waiting or at least assisting at a couple of tables as well as manning the bar. I understand he had a lot on his shoulders.

I ordered an iced tea, a small starter and a sandwich. After about 20 minutes, I realized I'd run out of things to goof around with on my phone, but my appetizer hadn't shown up yet. Five minutes later I got that. The tea had only gotten there 10 minutes before, and it was almost empty by that time.

About 45 minutes later, the bartender came up to me and said, with a smile, "They're plating your food right now."

My meal was finally delivered at around the 55-minute mark, after which time the woman next to me at the bar had already ordered, received her (simple) dish, eaten it, guzzled two vodka tonics, paid and scooted out the door. A two-top behind me had done the same.

In other words, they obviously lost my order in the kitchen. This happens. But usually with an apology.

Now, I have to admit my food was pretty good. While the chicken was overcooked, it wasn't bad. The side dish was truly excellent. It was all very fresh -- meaning the bartender had lied about it being plated ten minutes previous.

But by that time I was absolutely seething with frustration. I really didn't enjoy the food much because I was so worked up over how long it had taken and how nobody even gave a word of apology or even explanation.

When the bartender asked how things were at the five-minute sweep-by, I said, "OK." He didn't notice my tea glass was again empty. I mean, he'd refilled it just 30 minutes before, so what's the big?

I ate quickly, tipped about 8% and left fast. (I normally tip at least 20% for adequate-to-good service. Many of my peers are waiters and baristas, and I recognize how hard they work, and how often they get stiffed.)

I'm sure the lousy tip got my point across. And later that day, I e-mailed the restaurant about it.

I should have said something, obviously. "No, actually, it's not OK that my lunch order took almost an hour, and that you lied to me about its progress."

Even my favorite places have screwed up like this in the past. I've forgiven gladly when it's been handled professionally.

I need assertiveness training. And now I'm even more annoyed at myself.

Shouldn't any reasonably savvy server not take some initiative when it's obvious a $16 lunch, served at the blazed bar, isn't ticking along like clockwork? Should I HAVE to say something in that situation? I'm cheap -- just comping my beverage would have made a world of difference.

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  1. I would have done the same as you dmd. Even when I have stuck up for myself and complained it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I end up not going back. I think you are right to be angry about the way you were treated but confrontation leads to more stress and maybe even indigestion. Sounds like they took enough of your time as it is when you were just trying to have an enjoyable meal. You shouldn't have to explain the obvious when you are handing over your money. I think you were just protecting yourself from more aggravation and you handled it in the way that was most comfortable to you. Let us know if they respond to your email and make it up to you somehow.

    1 Reply
    1. re: givemecarbs

      Yea. Curious if they respond back to you. And if so, perhaps with a comp or an offer of sorts, I would not rush back to the place say within next week or few months. New-ish place or not, no excuse for the lousy service. And I'd avoid the bar or anywhere near that guy...maybe wear a hat too lol

    2. I think you were appropriately annoyed with the situation and really were much more patient than I would be.

      At the 20 minute mark I would have made a bit of a fuss, especially if others that arrived later had received their dishes. And by fuss I mean asking "Hey, I know you guys are busy, but how's that app doing?" Just a casual hint. If 10 minutes later still nothing (at least a response) I'd leave payment for whatever I had been served plus a small tip.

      1. You were more than reasonable and your 8% tip was 8% more than jfood would have given, but then again, jfood would not have been present when the sandwich arrived. You were kind enough to sit at the bar, you were then treated like a second class citizen by your description of the priorities of the bartender, waited waaaay too long for the app, did not received any service from the bartender that met minimum standards and then the old "your meal is being plated" line.

        Jfood HATES being lied to, and even more so when the lier believes that they are speaking to someone with an IQ of a cantaloupe. Once you make that "plating" comment you have about 2 minutes to get the food to the table. Over the last 6 months three servers have made that mistake. And each time jfood asked for the check and told the server to cancel the order. Both times the MOD came over and jfood explained what happened and he was no longer interested in eating there. He insisted onpaying for the food and beverages he had already consumed. Jfood gives feedback both verbally and with his feet.

        No need to get all agitated by bad service, being lied to and the nonsense described.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jfood

          Not everyone can do it your/my/our way but perhaps they could practice. You wrote this perfectly. Go, boy.

        2. Well, I think you are a very nice person. Nice people like you often are taken advantage of unfortunately. I often just let things go too.

          1. Something similar just happened to me last weekend for breakfast in a new upscale cafe. I DID tell the "water gal" (because the waitress never came back to my table) about my runny eggs that were supposed to be "over medium", the soggy biscuits, lack of butter, and coffee refills. She didn't blink, no apology, no comp, etc. I was presented with the bill from the waitress with no eye contact (I knew she was told about it). I didn't insist on anything and was offended that they didn't offer anything. I left half of the breakfast uneaten so I left half a tip. I now wish I would have been more "disgruntled" but I hate to feel "petty" about a dollar comp by HAVING to ask for it in order to get it. It's not the money- it's the principal.