Sunday, 24 January 2010

Dear Jackie and date

"Good night, thanks, bye, YOU ASSFACE" Obviously that last part was muttered under my breath (hesitantly not to their face) once the door was firmly shut behind (unfortunately not on) their rears.

Jackie booked a table for 2 at 8:30pm this evening. They came into the pub and not uncommonly began their evening at the bar with a beer and a bottle of wine. They came to me asking if they could have their dinner in the pub rather than coming through to the restaurant because they felt that the pub had a better vibe. We provide a lunch menu in both the restaurant and pub but in the evenings there is a menu of bar snacks for our pub goers as usually the pub is packed with drinkers with the odd snack to line their bellies. Jackie and her date really did not like the idea of coming through but did as they wanted to have some dinner. Immediately I could tell they had their backs up about having to do as I said and would be a challenge.

As the challenge begins they aren't too difficult but their tone is very negative and condecending. I take their order and as dictated by the order of service bring them some bread and butter, in roll form (sourdough chosen). I turn my back to attend to another table and when I happen to glance at table 1 I see Jackie harshly tapping, some might say banging, the top of her roll with her knife. Most people might know that bread in roll form does have a harder shell with a nice soft doughy bit inside, not Jackie. She eventually breaks the apparently tough exterior and butters her warm roll and enjoys.

Jackie and date do not order any starters but impatiently begins their wait for the pork belly and lamb shoulder, two of the longer dishes to cook, oh dear. When I do bring them their dishes, placed with smiles, kind words, and encouragement to let me know if they need anything else, I retreat from the table as Jackie lifted her plate and inspected it with what can only be described as a slight snarl on her face. Note to readers, the pork belly is one of the most delicious looking dishes there are. I leave it, assuming they are trying to get a rise out of me, stop by to ask if they need anything half way through, and return to clear clean plates.

Again, once the plates are cleared, table is wiped, salt and pepper removed, it is dictated by the order of service that dessert menus are placed. I must make a note that this is a Sunday evening and both the restaurant and bar close at 10:30pm and we all dream of finishing early after a long weekend of late nights and early mornings. After going to table 1 a couple of times to ask their dessert order it became clear they were not going to allow this to happen. I eventually left them alone, waiting for the sign that they were ready to order. By this point all other tables had paid and left and the chefs had changed. At 10:15 pm the bell was rung in the bar to recognize the impending closure of the bar at 10:30 and if any last drinks were wanted to order now.

I went to table 1 to make sure they were aware of this point and to kindly offer them one last drink. "Sorry to interrupt, I just want to see if you'd like a final glass of wine or drink from the bar before it closes." Jackie's date asked what time the bar closes to which I responded, "10:30." Then with one raised eyebrow he asked, "Is my watch 15 minutes fast?" Smiling I said, "The bar closes at 10:30 but we allow 15 minutes for last orders so if you'd like another drink we need to order it now."

Still sitting with the dessert and wine menu, the only table in the restaurant, chefs perched just out of sight, Jackie's date asks if we were going to kick him out at 10:35 if he orders another drink. I kindly tell him that we are happy to serve him anything he likes and he won't need to leave the restaurant until he is finished. After asking several questions about the different wines by the glass he orders another BOTTLE of Pinot Noir and a cheese board. Without hesitating and always with a smile I swiftly put the order through, made sure to provide them with details of each cheese they were eating, and left them alone with their cheese and bottle of wine.

As I did the cashing up, the pub was emptied, all glasses removed from the shelves as they do on Sunday night, and the restaurant broken down, Jackie and date were half way through their bottle of wine. I printed their bill, gave it to them with 4 home made marshmallows, and a message to take their time. They paid eventually, I finished the cashing up, the waitress changed, all other staff left, and as I poured myself a small glass of wine, Jackie and her date asked for their coats and headed to the door with no words of thanks or recognition of the fact they had remained a further hour and a quarter after we had closed. Hence the ASSFACE.

The high road can be a lonely place but I'll keep on the trail.