Latecomer diners especially at the end of a lunchtime service are the bane of Chefs life.Especially those ones who invariably then go on to order a leisurely three course meal(always with a bit of well done protein) which might mean the pudding order isn't extracted until around 4.30pm.Anyone arriving at the end of service is usually sized up first then offered a sandwich or starter option in an effort to evade this outcome.
Over the years,Ive become pretty adept at predicting which sorts will stick to the sarnie menu anyway.
Last Tuesday we had a party arrive just after 2pm.Giving them a cursory glance(couple of seniors and slightly younger woman-most likely one course wonders) and having had a generally jolly old lunchtime with nothing notable to report other than the request for tartar sauce with the braised beef, I was feeling uncharacteristically generous and thought I'd offer them the full menu provided they order quickly, thus allowing Chef to crank up the afternoon chip production line without any undue delay.
As luck would have it, the order included a well done fillet,along with some lamb chops and a beef starter.
I'm going to cut to the chase here,the WELL DONE fillet steak was sent back due to being too WELL DONE..and INTERESTINGLY changed for a rump this time cooked MEDIUM.
There may have been some discussion in the interim overheard at the table regarding pricing and one wondered whether the price of the fillet may have been more the problem than the cooking time.However the request was fulfilled,after the meals were cleared I was informed that the three were kicking off big style.
I headed over to deal with the complaint.
Seemingly, despite plates being cleared and just a smidgeon of pink meat remnants having been pleasingly observed just close to the well chewed lamb bones,both the lamb and the steak were BURNT TO A CINDER.Moreover,displaying an astonishingly high level of knowledge of animal husbandry,the lamb chops were 'at least 4 years old'.
The only four year old lamb I've ever seen was stuffed and in a museum.
There is a good and a bad way to make a complaint and this lot were as flexible as an(my) eighteen year old's debit card on the last day(or if we're brutally honest the first day) of a 5 day *cultural*trip to Shagaluff.
To say they were going over the same old ground repeatedly would be an gross understatement,if you've ever been on the brunt of people like this you will know that no matter how many times you apologise there is no winning.They were even complaining about the price of the fillet which in fact they weren't even paying for as they'd changed the order to the cheaper rump option.
Finally,after a fifteen minute one way conversation during which I basically just apologised repeatedly that they hadn't enjoyed the meal,I agreed to knock the lamb chops off the bill.Which meant that despite a fillet, a rump,lamb chops and a beef salad starter being cooked,they only actually paid for one starter and one main course, and I was left regretting I hadn't limited the feckers to starters and sarnies only.
You would think that would be the end of it.
In addition to dealing with a complaint in person,there is now an additional sinister weapon which the disgruntled wield with increasing regularity;the assassination via the well known on line review site.
Blow up it did in spectacular form.
The thing that affronted me most was the blatant fabrication that I'd told them 'they were lucky to get a meal'..
Reader,the day that I tell someone they were 'lucky to get a meal' (despite the inner voices telling me otherwise) is the day I pack up my bibbed apron and hygiene spray and stroll off into the sunset with it tied on the end of a Dick Whittington stick.
"You see' said Chef, 'I told you there is no point in comping meals:
1.they aren't coming back anyway, so we might as well have the money... and
2.They've still complained to buggery on a public forum.'
Later that week I had occasion to indulge in a public transport experience,which is a rarity given the only bus coming through this neck of the woods is the pension express on a Wednesday at 2.30 and returning an hour later.
Anyhoo,I happened to be aboard the local Northern Rail special en route to the Toon and found myself sat opposite a couple of earth people.
Its a bit awkward in those seats isn't it,why they don't all face forward so we can all ignore each other in peace is anyones guess.
I took my phone out of my bag and feigned/had a quick spy on twitter to pass time.
The girl tutted loudly and launched into a sweeping damnation of social media with Facebook being her main bone of contention.
I was on Twitter.
I put my phone away uncomfortably and got out my iPad,thought id do a bit of reading,that couldn't possibly cause offence,yes I could try and finish off the last bit of The Goldfinch which I'd hit a brick wall with three quarters of the way through,I must be the only person alive who doesn't adore this book.
There then followed a very loud aberration of 'consumerist culture' with lots of exaggerated eye rolling and head shaking.
I fronted it out for a bit then resignedly put the bit of consumerist kit back in me cotton picking hand bag and gazed disinterestedly through the window,nostalgic views of washing lines and flapping clothes drying in the late afternoon sun.
Presently,as we pulled into the station at the very large shopping complex the annoying voice directed my way piped up again,the intonation sarcastic this time.
'OH lets all go to PRIMARK and spend all day shopping for clothes and bourgeoise accessories'
As I sat there quietly minding me own business, in me comfortable shoes, resisting the urge to blurt out that I hadn't shopped in Primark since I heard about the SOS messages sewed into the back of the labels,I had a worrying thought that I might indeed be a nut magnet.
And finally this:
'women who wear makeup undo all the hard work put in over the years by feminists..and it DOESNT EVEN LOOK NICE'
For all they knew my make up could have been PETA approved.
Whilst I would never call myself a raging feminist, even I know feminism is not about make up,technology,what colour knickers I choose to wear(or not wear) or even whether or not I sport a full chin beard and moustache .
I glanced furtively over at the pair of them chewing (loudly) and self satisfiedly on their eco friendly carob bars,blissfully unaware that feminism was actually about CHOICES.
Life is about choice.
Next week I might choose NOT to take public transport,avoid alcohol(!)…and not allow latecomers free rein on the menu...