My luffly bride Seraphim reminded me of two other experiences we've had in restaurants which I left out of my previous two posts. And, in a perfect sense of balance, one is good, the other bad.
CAROL at Frank & Linda's Diner, Rincon, Georgia, 2004-2005. For a good while F&L's was our Friday night routine. It's a very nice hole-in-the-wall eatery nicely tucked away in a side-mounted strip off 21 on the left as you're going into Rincon. It could best be described as a mixture of classic Southern comfort food and Greek cuisine. We've taken Nettiemac here a couple of times, and of course when Bolivar came over to visit last September, we had to eat here.
They have a great "fish fry" plate -- two (2) big-ass chunks of Pisces carcass, meeting 6,392% of the RDA for Omega-3. And it's a bargain at $10.99. That's usually what I order. Carol knew this, right down to my preferences (no lettuce on the side, extra plate - for ketchup, and extra napkins). Anyone sitting at our table would've been quite baffled at Carol's routine with us -- she'd ask Seraphim for her order, and then say "Okay, thanks." Carol would look toward me, smile, and not say a word. She knew exactly what I wanted, how I wanted it, and made sure everything was right.
And from us Carol got the tip she deserved. Every time.
Carol is long gone from there, and for awhile things started sliding -- not so much with the food, but with the wait staff and time spent waiting. Things are better these days, so we're making a concerted effort to show our decrepit selves there a little more often.
"PHIL" at Perkins Restaurant, Savannah "Gateway" (I-95, exit #94), 2005. One cardinal rule when dealing with Talmadge Gleck is when he declines to eat a particular dish of food, or topping, or whatever, you don't push any further. Some would say I'm a "picky eater", but I think I'm far more 'basic/spartan' than I am picky. Leave off the "bells and whistles." Meat 'n' potatoes, I is. I typically have my 'favorite' entree at any given restaurant, and tend to order just that one thing. You could say I stick to the tried and true.
It amazes me how people think I should be "changed" on this front. Geez.
Seraphim goes with the flow, saying this makes it easy to cook for me (well, it IS). My ex-wife, on the other hand, hailed from a family that always went for the frou-frou, adding gawd knows what to basic decent comfort food. My basic/spartan food repertoire was always getting in the way, especially with my former MIL.
Anyhoo, one night we were in the area of Perkins and partook of a nice Saturday night breakfast. I love breakfast as a night meal on the weekends ... that is, when we're near a restaurant that serves a good breakfast as a night meal on the weekends (see too-numerous-to-count rants about "when the @#$% are we gonna get an IHOP up in these parts??!!").
I ordered the "Tremendous Twelve" plate, basically the Perkins version of the "Breakfast Sampler." I asked for hot syrup with my meal, and "Phil" -- our server -- would have no part of that. He began pushing, and I mean PUSHING me to try the flavoured syrups on the table. I said NO, I LIKE THE HOT MAPLE SYRUP. The CLASSIC, TIME-TESTED stuff. As close to God's own syrup -- Alaga -- as it gets. I do not want the other syrup. It might be fine for other people, and I would never deny others the opportunity, but I wanted hot syrup with my flapjacks.
Phil damn near took the syrup and poured one of the other kinds on my pancakes; he kept on and on about it, despite Seraphim doing her damnest to convey gestures to the effect of "don' t go there, you'll be sorry." He ignored all warnings, and then said, "I'm not going to leave this table until you try that syrup."
And that's when Phil received several new ones, lovingly ripped him by Mr. T. Q. Gleck. I told him in no uncertain terms that his job was to bring me what I asked him, and since I was paying for this dinner, that by gawd I was going to eat it the way I wanted.
I was so livid I don't remember how much I tipped, but while it wasn't a penny, it was certainly far below 10%.
Eventually Phil became a running joke with us. We've been to Perkins several times since, but specifically asked the hostess for a table NOT in Phil's section. Service was good, but I know he was glaring toward us. People who wait tables have elephantine memories when it comes to faces.
Flash forward to Saturday, 16 December 2006. Again, we were in the area on Saturday night, and again we hit Perkins. We joked, "I wonder if Phil is here tonight -- it's been nearly two years since this incident, certainly he's moved on." We didn't ask for a non-Phil table. We sat down.
Our server? That's riiiiiiiight. I think he lives there, and sleeps on a cot in the kitchen.
Ohhhh, I know Phil remembered me. I could see it on his face. I was gracious and civil to him, while Seraphim was no doubt uneasy (as I was!). The food and service were good, not terrible, bad or outstanding, just ... good. I asked Phil for hot syrup. He said, in a voice clearly treading on eggshells, "Coming right up." Eggshells pretty much summed up that experience.
Tip? Exactly 15%. Minimum for good service.
There you have it, two extremes of reaction to someone who knows what they like. Carol got it. Phil did not.
Ciao for niao.
--Talmadge "That's why there's chocolate and vanilla" Gleck
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