Eating out

My family -- family of origin, that is -- loves nothing better than to eat out at a really good restaurant. When we return from a vacation, the stories always revolve around the food and the restaurants rather than the sights. We remember details of meals eaten decades ago. Though we are frugal about some things, we do not look at the price when we order. And certain incidents involving waitstaff have become the stuff of family legend.

For example, there was the waitress at the Queen's Hotel in Stratford, Canada, who whispered "excuse me" in the tiniest little voice you could imagine, every time she set down or removed anything from the table.

Then there was the waiter in the local Chinese restaurant who offered my dad "snake" as an appetizer. After some discussion my amazed dad was led to believe he would be served cross-sectioned slices of a snake that were about 6 inches in diameter. Turned out the waiter was actually mispronouncing the word "snack."

And then there was the waitress in the upscale Italian restaurant right here in town with the exaggerated fake Italian accent. Sure, it's acceptable for a Midwestern American waitperson to roll the R and accent the Ts when saying "ricotta." But the real kicker was when she described a dessert with "Meeshigan chairr-r-r-r-ries." And another dessert: "epple pie." I know I'm not getting the orthography right, but hopefully you get the idea.

Last night we had dinner in the same upscale Italian restaurant. Just the grownups, celebrating my sister's birthday. We had a rockin' good time, with cloth napkins and all. Epple Pie Waitress doesn't work there any more, and the food and service were impeccable. Nevertheless, because it was us, the conversation eventually turned to the topic of Great Waitstaff Goofups.

Sissy regaled us with the time she was waiting on four U-M hockey players in a campus pizza joint. As she pulled her order pad out of her little apron pocket two tampons also flipped out and landed right on the table. That's right, two.

And we had to retell (for the umpteenth time, but it never pales) The Story Of The Greatest Waitstaff Goofup Of All Time. In fact, this one sounds like an urban myth, though Sis and Bro-in-law say it really happened to the brother of someone they know. As the waiter set down the bowl of French Onion soup in front of the customer it became apparent to all that there was a thin string of cheese going from the bowl to the waiter's mouth.

What's your best/worst restaurant story?


  • I'm going to forget I read that last part right now, lest I be forced to cook every meal from now on.

    I don't have anything that nearly compares, just soup spills, etc.

    posted by Blogger Carson on 2:22 PM  

  • Oh, these are brilliant. The tampons on the table remind me of a scene that happened in a bar, instead of a restaurant-- does that count? My friend was sitting at the bar, and a woman a little ways down opened her purse, and a diaphragm rolled out. All sound stopped. In dead silence, the bar patrons watched it roll down the length of the bar before shimmying to a stop. The woman didn't say a word; she just got up, snapped up the diaphragm, and walked on out.

    posted by Anonymous martha on 3:57 PM  

  • I am a really fussy patron, although you wouldn't know it while I am actually in the restaurant. As soon as I leave, I start foaming at the mouth and declaring boycotts. Currently on the list: the Washtenaw Dairy. Actually, it has been on the list for about nine years. When we meet up in January, I will give you the scoop.

    posted by Anonymous Nixie Knox on 9:15 PM  

  • Take a look at this blog

    Great stories from the other side of the order pad!

    posted by Blogger GuusjeM on 10:01 PM  

  • Terrific post, J! Wonderful to read of family fun coupled with great stories erupting in laughter again. :)

    I will need to link back to you, when I find time to write an answer to your question because I have waitressed in my lifetime...ah, the stories. (That is not my link above from G.)

    P.S. Please update your blogroll. I changed the name of my Silken Threads blog to "Irrepressible Secrets" and moved it due to a new address on blogspot. Thx

    posted by Blogger GEL on 12:55 PM  

  • I've never been a waitress (thank heavens), but after working in the kitchen (of Kelly's 107 in Saline) for a couple of years, I swore I'd never be one of those customers who are difficult. (You should hear the waitresses complain!)Thankfully, we've never had any really serious complaints. Mostly slow service. But that's to be expected when you go into a restaurant with three kids. What I wish is that the service wouldn't go from middling to worse when we don't order any alcohol.

    But then, I said I wouldn't complain, right?

    posted by Blogger Melissa on 1:21 PM  

  • Dining AND entertainment wrapped in one.

    OK my dad, in Florida, sat down to his soup. He said to the waiter, "Taste this."
    "Sir, no, I'm not going to taste it."
    "Come on, I want you to taste this."
    "OK, uh, well there is no spoon here."
    "AHA!" My father shouted, triumphantly.

    posted by Blogger Running2Ks on 3:57 PM  

  • Congratulations on your nomination of the BoB Awards, and I wish you good luck!

    posted by Anonymous Jim Turner on 5:31 PM  

  • EWWW - that onion soup story makes me glad that I cooked at home tonight!

    posted by Blogger MsAbcMom on 8:54 PM  

  • When I visited Paris ten years ago, one of the girls I was having lunch with started shrieking about snails. At first we thought she'd ordered escargot without knowing what it was, but later we found out there was an actual live snail among the cooked ones on her plate. Heaven knows what it must have thought of all that.

    posted by Anonymous Ella on 7:00 PM