Recent occurrences, so they're fresh in my mind. Went to a fairly upscale restaurant just 4 days ago. They give you a bottle of wine worth how old you are if it's your birthday. I just turned 60 yesterday. I wanted two of the $26 chilean Cabernet's but they wouldn't do it. SOmething about being able to track the wine. The $60 bottle was some 2004 Valentine something or other from Napa valley. So acidic, it ate some of the enamel off my teeth.
But we ate there about 1 month ago for the first time. EVerything was really delicious, the service was great, the manager even came by to say hello.
This time, my filet mignon was 1 or 2 degrees above room temperature, but the parmesan leek potato bed it was served on was just the right temperature for eating. I had to send it back. (I REALLY hate to send food back, never know for sure if there will be some "extras" in the food for having sent it back...I worked in a restaurant and have seen things you don't wanna know about!).
SO backing up a little, they served the bread first. THen brought the appetizer and the salad at the same time. THe waiter saw my agitation, and took the salads back to keep them "on ice" for us. One bite of the bread and I was asked how everything was! I hadn't even tasted the scallop appetizer yet.
It was ok. One big scallop and one small one. $12.95, with 2 pumpkin seeds and some crumbled walnuts and some sort of cream sauce.
Then the filet came along with my wife's tournedoes. Like I said, my filet was cold and I sent it back. Then I looked at my wife screw her face up at the first bite of the tournedo. I figured it was too pink for her. No, she says "Taste this". I refrained. But later I tried her other tournedo, and it definitely had an "off flavor". SO I mentioned it near the end of the dinner. By that time my new filet with a bunch of new potatoes (which i didn't want because I'd already ate the ones that came with the cold filet....that's how long it took the waiter to come back and ask how everything was).
SO, the manager comes over, and I tell her that my first filet was cold, and while we weren't asking for our money back or anything, I suggested the chef smell the raw tournedoes because they had that "refrigerator flavor" to them. She insisted (despite my reassurances it was ok) to replace the entire wife's meal in a doggie bag.
The next day, we heated them up, and they had the same "off flavor" again.
Whats the use of replacing bad food with more bad food. And we waited over 30 minutes for the check. So, considering my time and how valuable my free time is to me on a week day night, I paid more for that free $60 bottle of wine than if I'd ordered the two $26 chilean wines.
So, two hundred dollars spent between two visits. The only thing I came away from there was a new spinach salad idea. A red onion vinaigrette, dried red cherries, nutmeg/cinnamon sugar syrup coated walnuts, crumbled blue cheese salad. It was awesome. Probably standard fare for many of you, but I don't go out to eat much in the last 15 or so years. (For reasons just like this!).
Oh, did eat at a Middle Eastern restaurant, where I am well known by most of the staff. I said "A salaam alekim" to the checkout cashier, and she stopped dead in her tracks, eyes wide open, and said "Where did you learn this?" Did I say "said", she "demanded" to know how I knew this. She wouldn't give me my change until I answered. It was really weird. Like I was an agent or something spying on them!
Luckily my favorite waitress came by, and assured her that I was "ok" and I got my change and left bewildered by the experience.
Just to summarize, my pet peeve is having them come to me and ask how everything is when I obviously haven't even eaten anything yet.