Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Would you like fries with that?

After a recent trip to a Queens eatery for brunch with Mike and my sister Jess, I found myself thinking back to my most absurd, silly, outlandish, asinine, and confounding restaurant encounters.

We had spent a lazy Sunday morning lingering over food and beverages. Minutes turned into hours and after requesting several rounds of mimosas, tea, and coffee, after begging our server for refills on the complimentary mini-muffin basket, and after feasting on eggs Benedict AND cheese cake for dessert, our server greeted us tableside and asked “Are you ready to order?”

“Um, okay there, buddy!” We had been gorging ourselves for several hours, requested the young lad’s service almost a dozen times, and he appeared sheepish and perplexed when we shot him baffled facial expressions. That’s putting it mildly- my face was contorted into a giant question mark, complete with dotted I’s and T’s!

After he ran away, tail between legs, to pick up remnants of self-respect (and gather our check), we all burst out in uncontrollable, although uncomfortable laughter. We had developed a superficial relationship with this kid and he failed to recognize that he had already served us brunch and dessert and many, many drinks. I don't want to say we were the bain of his morning, that we were voracious, ravenous pests, horrible heathens of hedonism, every servers worst nightmare, but we were surely demanding in our hunger that morning.

We started questioning our identities, wavering between confusion and laughter and started to speculate- were we that unmemorable, faceless gluttons in a sea of hungry infidels? Or was he just having an off-day? Or perhaps he'd been hitting the mimosas! Either way, it was strange in a Twilight Zone kind of way.

I tried to recall any similar circumstances that rang out in my mind, anything as oddly humorous, as quirky, perplexing. As I surveyed past eating experiences, I conjured images of undercooked pizza crust, soggy fries, forgotten orders, misplaced meal tickets, spilled beverages. Obviously, this is one of those “you had to be there” moments, but it has become one of those things we mention in passing, just for a quick laugh. I began referring to this event as a “would you like fries with that?” moment. And yes, we would have liked fries with that, but of course, our server neglected to ask!

Do you have a similar "would you like fries with that?" tale? A tale of humor, a tale of bad service, a tale of bad food, a tale of restaurant darkness?

"Would you Like Fries with That" Salt and Pepper Oven Fries
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Serves 6

3 large baking potatoes (about 2 1/3 pounds) peeled, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide planks, each plank cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper

Place rack in top third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Place potato strips on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat. Roast 25 minutes. Using spatula, turn fries over. Roast until tender and golden brown around edges, about 25 minutes longer.

Mix salt, pepper, and sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle over chips.


Amy said...

The one time my fave JP place made us wait between seating and serving, they confused us by overcompensating - two different servers decided to take us on. And we didn't realize until a few interactions in, because at first it just seemed like "Oh, that nice fellow brought us the bread basket and now here's our real waitress to take a drink order"

I also have more infuriating than amusing - such as the time our BBW server neglected to put in our apps order. We waited nearly 45 minutes, looked over and saw him on his break, eating an entree , asked the bartender and finally got our order about 15 minutes later.

Mark in L.A. said...

Not nearly as wacky as your experience, but still memorable to me...

Years ago, I was at a Czech restaurant out in Cicero IL called something like "The Dumpling Haus."

Dinner was fine. Then the waitress came by to see if we wanted anything for dessert.

"What do you have?" we asked.

"Jell-O," she replied.

Ummm, okaaay... bizarre. This clearly needs further exploration. "What flavor?"

She reflected a moment before answering: "Red."