Monday, 14 April 2008

Guest Blogger - Belfast Plate Carrier....

It's not all about me

okay it is

but not today.

Fellow waiter (different restaurant), Belfast Plate Carrier, sent me this story of
bad hair, bad manners,
and coffee (f)art....


So there I was.

I had a good feeling about this shift.

I wasn't hungover,

the sun was shining and I was on the floor for what seemed like the first Saturday in ages, (yes I have worked as a barman but it's the floor where I truly shake my stuff) It was all going swimmingly, what with the tidy little pre- theatre crowd and half the bookings out of the way by half seven. And then I came to my second table four. It's funny but you can spot police officers (off duty or not) a mile off. Yes, the standard issue RUC mustache is slowly fading out of view, decommissioned if you will, but there's still a distrust of the police that I think is pretty unique to Northern Ireland - the wages are still inflated, bringing them into a so called 'middle class' income band, yet they are viewed with distain (at best) by their professional 'peers'. Not that that phases me (aside from my usual comments about not ordering pork because that would amount to cannibalism) - as a rule they are generally uncomplicated and friendly customers.

Pity about their wives. The first alarm bell rang when one of them,(sporting a dye job that would have shamed Tina Turner's Aunty Entity in Beyond the Thunderdome) asked if this was the only menu.

You see we don't serve steak. And what a lot of people want is a cooked slab of meat the size of their plate. And we don't do that.

And people can't deal with it. Yes, there's the aforementioned Pork dish (which I have to point out is bloody lovely), and a rather safe Lamb (served pink) with potatoes, carrots and jus. But she wanted Fillet Steak.

Well Done (ahem) or Chicken.

So despite the fact that it's eight on a Saturday night I wander into the circle of hell that is a busy kitchen in the middle of service to see what the possibilities were. After the inevitable temper tantrum Chef lowered himself to offering a chicken dish,

"And I'll even put it in a fucking basket for her too…" was one of the more repeatable comments.

"No" she sighed "I'll just have the lamb, well done (!), but if I had have seen the menu beforehand I wouldn't have come here - every other restaurant in town has steak".

I was wishing she had and was currently in any other restaurant but the one I have the pleasure of being on the payroll for. So I took 'approach B'- adopt the sickliest smile I could muster and kill with kindness. Then came the starter - Minestrone soup. It was untouched. I asked what the matter was - it was allegedly undercooked. I brought it into the kitchen for a postmortem.

"WELL OF COURSE IT'S GOING TO BE DIFFERENT FROM THE STUFF THAT COMES IN A FUCKING CAN" snarled Chef and I concurred.

Then she poked (!!) me (when I was dealing with another table(!!!)) when her food was (again allegedly) 'late'. I composed myself.

"Let me have a word with Chef" I declared and spent a decent amount of time away from the table. Enough to create the illusion that I had been in the kitchen long enough to pose the inane question to a now hyperventilating Sous.

Up to table. Deep breath.

"Chef says that he will happily serve your lamb now but it is not well done yet. If you are happy to have it as it is he will be happy to serve it." Sniggers from the rest of her party.

Hasty retraction of comment from Ms. Bleached Blonde. Boom, three minutes later their meals arrive - one ruined piece of lamb and three perfectly cooked fish dishes. Everyone (bar her majesty) happy with the meal they received. No desserts but a few cappuccinos. By now the whole of the crew front and back are aware of the debacle on table 4 so our very talented barista has made her a special coffee - with the shape of an arse in the foam 'an Arse for an arse' he smirks and I mentally high-five him.

Then the leaving. "I have to say your chef is crap" she blurts out, the effects of a bottle of our finest house overriding any decorum.

I ask her to elaborate . "He's too scared to serve beef" (!!!! and a ? for good measure) "I won't be recommending this place."

"And how as your meal?" I smarmed to her dining companions

"Great, thanks for all you've done, you've been very patient" the host gushed, pressing the damage into my hands. My waiter senses tell me this includes a healthy tip. I smile my most winning smile.

"So you'll be back?"

" Yeah but we wont take her with us - we'll drop her off at Kentucky Fried Chicken first"

"Yeah" added his wife

"Three out of four ain't bad"

I turned to the other lady - "Tonight we did a 106 covers. I'd say 105 out of 106 isn't bad at all. Thank you."

I get to the till and settle the bill, taking a delicious schadenfreude in the death gaze that Ms. Bleached Blonde is delivering me - it was worthy of a wronged waiter.

15% tip.

Sometimes life is sweet.

Belfast Plate Carrier

12 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Anonymous Boxer said...

Do you often feel you are the Goodwill Ambassador for the Chef AND the Customer?

Medbh said...

Shit, some people are never happy.
Fuck them.

Manuel, I really like the idea of a guest post. It opens your blog up and reflects well upon you.
Cheers!

daisyfae said...

"Arse Coffee"? is that like "ice coffee" for shitheads?

oh, and help a sister in the states out - is 15% a great tip? i consider it bare minimum here...

Old Knudsen said...

Bloody funny I love the guerilla tactics as long as its not directed at me and it had my favourite French word schadenfreude which as we all know "to shit in the shadows" you were quite generous opening up yer blog when you couldn't think of anything to write. The moustache decommissioned was class . The peelers have a difficult job to do especially now as they'll even let people from BallyMurphy and Poleglass join. I miss the old days of a Masonic handshake and you'd be let off as you run away shouting ACAB!
Then there were the dopey young uns in the fast food places who would ask two nervous heavily armed policepigs in full uniform if they were sitting in or taking out.

savannah said...

some people should never go out, sugar! cool post, belfast plate carrier ;-)

sheepworrier said...

Nice post BPC - I've noticed the RUC moustache is being phased out, only to be replaced with the barcode bumfluff of the new recruits from Lurgan... f**king legally armed spides!

ellie said...

I love it. Thanks BPC.

Is this going to be a regular feature Manuel?

MJ said...

Nice one.

Next guest blogger suggestion: Old Knudsen.

Anonymous said...

Coming out of Lurkerdom for this one. Have had the pleasure of waiting tables in the UK and the US. And just wanted to say to daisyfae that yes the sad reality is that 15% is OK here, better than sweet fanny adamns! Although on Nantucket you would be spitting fire!

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

I bet if she could have had prawns in Thousand Island on top of iceberg lettuce in a martini glass she would have. Or melon balls.

Manuel said...

boxer: rock an a hard place.......all the time....

medbh: I hope so.....less work for me to do......I have a few other ideas at the mo too.....

daisyfae: 155 is spot on here.....we get paid more, not that wages make much of a difference........

old k: and uhum who you taking about there then.....

savannah: settle he's just here for the day.....

sheepo: it's nat on.....

ellie: probably....hope so.....

mj: NEVER!

anonymous: lurker eh...welcome. 15% is spot on, I'd have no problem with that.....

sam: bwahahahaha.......

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