While our little Montana town might
be deemed provincial by some, we
actually have several fine dining
establishments. In general the food
ranges from edible to elegant. Our
best venue consistently serves quality
cuisine that is perfectly cooked and
properly served. While quite reliable,
frequent dining from the same menu
can get tiresome. Hence wanderlust.
Try, try again
Eager for something new, we opted
to reserve a table at our community
hostelry for New Years Eve. Several
years ago we enjoyed the best rack
of lamb I've ever eaten there. Sadly
changes in ownership, staff, menu,
and attitude had ultimately caused
us to dine elsewhere. Still skeptical
we decided to turn the other fork
and give the place another chance
to redeem itself. After all it was a
new year and I'll admit too late to
book a table at our favorite joint.
Upon arrival we were seated in
the back of the bus. This meant
our elderly hosts had to slowly
trudge through the dining room.
One should have taken that as an
indication that kindness was not
on the menu. The Formica sheen
versus pristine table linens added
to my consternation. Somehow
it was an omen of things to come.
A stranger in paradise
As usual I ordered a Manhattan on the
rocks. Fifteen minutes later a brown
concoction arrived sporting OLIVES.
Somewhat of an expert, I know my
Manhattans and have never added a
tidbit beyond the requisite cherry or
errant slice of orange. Upon clearly
garnishing my outrage, the libation
quickly returned sporting two red orbs.
However, looks can be deceiving. One
sip confirmed that bourbon, vermouth,
olive, and maraschino juice don't mix.
Soon after a new virgin mix arrived.
Snap to it
Our waiter suggested we order as
the kitchen was apparently "busy".
We each picked our poison from
five entrees daintily displayed on
a laminated card affixed within an
acrylic holder situated in the center
of our table. Distracted by the bevy
of succulent options, I hesitated as
our waiter queried my choice. In a
moment he SNAPPED his fingers in
order to get my attention. All I can
saw is that fortunately for that boy,
MURDER was not on the menu.
Shortly thereafter we were sent to self
serve ourselves at the soup and salad
bar. Now I'm sure you can all imagine
how much I relish the idea of dipping
in a stagnant mound of chilly crudites.
After patiently waiting we discovered
an array of empty containers sitting in
the crushed ice. The horde before left
nothing but a few wilted vestiges of
icebergs past. More important, there
was no sign of replenishment on the
horizon. By my mediocre meal's end,
I started to fantasize about SIZZLER.
When dinner finally arrived, it
was mediocre at best. Frank's
nephew "J" summed up our
tepid repast saying that it all
must have sat in the warmer
for hours prior. Overall it was
apparent that nobody cared
nor was committed to delivering
a great experience. Instead the
young and inexperienced staff
was harried, flustered, and at
times overwhelmed. Who was
in charge and where were they?
Whoever wasn't in charge is to be
blamed for our sordid supper not
our sorry server. After Frank's folks
paid the tab, his sister-in-law spoke
to a gentleman connected with the
hotel. After recapping the snapping,
olive, and other sordid events, "S"
suggested that with proper training,
our pathetic purveyor might prosper.
His response? "I doubt that he's
trainable." Rather than teach, lead,
or fire obviously inferior staff, they
opted to place them at our service.
Same time, next year
While we may live in the middle of
nowhere, we have options. Recent
events have ensured that I will next
dine at one of my favorite haunts.
There I'll be waited upon by skilled
professionals who take pride in what
they do and how they do it. It's also
doubtful that I'll be dining at the
scene of the crime any time soon.
Two words... NEVER AGAIN!