What is it with servers in upscale restaurants telling patrons that everything is their’s? What is the soup today? Well, I have the red curry muttonchop pecan basil noodle with french onions. You do? Really? Did you get that mutton yourself or did you have someone do it for you? And tell me, is bread offered with the meal? Well, no. I do not offer bread. What is that? Do they want us to think that they are the ones in the back preparing the meal, like we’re having some kind of personal relationship with this person or something? We’re supposed to pretend that the kitchen doesn’t exist and assume it’s all created out of thin air by some supercillious server?
And what is up with the attitude? Are they trying to act like an ass as a means to intercept my acting like an ass? Do they think that if they treat me with a superiority complex then perhaps I won’t roll mine out? Get over yourself. You’re doing your job. I’m buying some food and perhaps enjoying some company. End of story. Stop with the attitude already.
Finally, the food. Why is chicken noodle soup a “chicken broth basted pasta with basil and onion”? Uh no. Chicken noodle soup. Call it what you want. Charge fourteen times what it’s worth if you want to, it’s still chicken noodle soup!
Status anxiety in restaurants is the most annoying kind. Customers go in and treat the wait staff like crap because they are servers. Servers treat the customers like crap because they want the customers to know how busy and important their restaurant is. Restaurants cater to customers who believe they are busy and important because of how much money they have or the job that they do. All of it is so damn annoying and obvious. It makes me want to scream.
One time, shortly after graduating from law school, I was eating at a restaurant with a law school friend. While we were there, a law school alum and acquaintance who had been hired by one of the big ten firms in town came over to say hello. He flipped his business card at us. It was so pretentious, I had to wonder what he wanted to prove. He literally flipped it, holding it in two fingers. My friend and I discovered after leaving the restaurant that the place had just that week been voted one of the “Top Eats” in town and was a place to “See and be seen.” Getting a table there was supposed to be a feat in and of itself. Oh, okay. Business card now makes sense. Unfortunately, we were not duly impressed, we were only confused and thought it was weird. How had we gotten a table? Was it because my friend had an Australian accent? Did we give off “lawyer vibe” in our jeans and sweaters and lawyers were customers the restaurant wanted? We had no idea. That’s how it is with us not on the radar types. We had gotten a table without even trying at a restaurant where getting a table was apparently a difficulty and we had zero clue. I want to stay off the radar. I want to go somewhere and eat food because it tastes good and the company I’m with is enjoyable. I don’t want to concern myself with how busy and important the restaurant is or how impressive I am.
I ate at a restaurant today that inspired this bit of restaurant philosophy. The server was friendly until she discovered we were not ordering large quantities of food, appetizers, an entree, a dessert, and wine. It felt to my friend and me like she made an assumption about us because her attitude towards us changed after we ordered small meals. She called everything hers and the food all had pretentious names. Our order wasn’t exactly as we had asked for and she appeared at our table as infrequently as she could get away with. As this occurred, I enjoyed the company of my friend and thought briefly about this experience. She doesn’t know how much money I have or who I am. What if I had an important job (as defined by American culture) and lots of money? What if I frequented restaurants on a regular basis? Whatever her reasons for treating us like we were beneath her and for giving us terrible service, I will not go back to that restaurant anytime soon and I did not tip more than ten percent.