I am not usually one to complain when dining out. I hate to make a scene. I’ve been on the other end and I know what it’s like to deal with a customer who is upset….I don’t want to be that. I’m shy. Any number of other reasons could be listed for why I usually let things go. Last night was not one of those times.
Karl and I went out for dinner at our local Bonefish Grill, where we have always had a pleasant dining experience. We had to wait about 12 minutes for a table, even though we had reservations for 7:15 p.m. I don’t like that, but I understand that they are always very busy and really there’s not a lot I can do about it except go elsewhere. We opted not to do that. We were seated and given water pretty quickly.
Soon, a group of 4 plus a baby were seated right next to us. That was the beginning of the end for us, I believe. Our waiter knew them from serving them before. He continued to talk with them and cater to their needs, exchanging recipes for some dip/chutney, all the while we sat with our glasses empty. (He had taken our appetizer and meal order by this time but had not been checking on us very well.) We were sitting with mouths burning from our Bang Bang Shrimp and had nothing to drink….our waiter did finally notice we needed water. He was just, in general, less attentive to us than to the larger, more valuable (larger tip) group. I heard him ask them how their week had been….he never tried to converse with us. This normally wouldn’t occur to me to be that much of a problem unless he was just rude, but since I could hear everything he said to them, it made it into a glaring faux pas on his part. For whatever reason, he had apparently decided that my husband and I just weren’t worth as much effort as the other table.
While waiting for our meal to be delivered, Karl casually commented, “I guess he decided to bring out my wine with the meal….that’s okay, I guess.” He never did bring the glass of wine. Karl had left the restaurant to take a phone call when our meal was brought to the table. I let it sit for about 3 minutes, but began to eat when Karl still had not returned. He came back as I was taking my second bite. I had already decided that the plate must have sat for a while, because the cheese on our au gratin potatoes was congealed when the waiter set the plate in front of me. Karl took his first bite and immediately noticed the chicken was merely warm, not hot, as it should have been. So, when we finally saw our waiter again we told him it wasn’t hot and we couldn’t eat it. He seemed surprised, but took the plate, saying he would have the cook throw it back on the grill. When we questioned this he seemed offended. I know it is a common practice, but I also believe that if we don’t want it reheated but to have a new one instead, he should be willing to provide that, or at the very least check with management to find out if he can. He took the plate back with our agreement to let them re-heat it. We sat for a while considering this and decided we really didn’t like that option and that it was taking too long. By this time, we did not want to wait for a new one to be cooked, either. So, when our waiter came back around we asked him to just cancel the wine, which he did not even remember Karl ordering even though we both recall that he repeated it back to Karl when he ordered it. I asked him to cancel the meal as well. He tried to talk us into waiting for it, but we insisted we did not have time.
I knew the next step would be having management come see us, and that is what happened. He was very kind, asking for our ‘story’, and apologizing for the wait. He even offered to have the chef cook us something entirely new. We declined. He gave us his business card and told us to please ask for him when we return because he really wants our business and would love to know when we do come back. He took care of our entire meal for us, so we left without having to pay for anything.
I have to say, one bad experience does not negate all of the delicious meals and great service that we’ve received in the past. I’m sure we will go back. However, t will be with a higher expectation that they will serve me as well as they do any other customer. Before, that was a given. Now, I have my doubts.