Friday, June 20, 2008

You Can't Ruin Our Night!

Sometimes, we all need adult time. Time to remember what it was like when there was no one hanging on our legs, whining or begging for something. A few moments when there is no need to referee or answer why for the five thousandth time.

Last night, I arranged for a Girls’ Night Out with some of my friends from my playgroup at the Melting Pot. On Thursdays, they do a Ladies Night special where you get cheese fondue, a salad and chocolate fondue for $18 (it used to be $15 but …). Plus there are $6 special martinis (that used to be $5).

Needless to say, I was looking forward to the evening. Especially after spending 10 ½ hours at work – and I do mean literally 10 ½ hours in the office working. That doesn’t count the hour commute.

As I pulled into the parking lot at 6:44, one of my friends called me. Apparently, they had no recollection of any such reservation for us and were making an issue of it. Fortunately, the friend who called me tends to be somewhat forceful, shall we say? When I walked in, they were about to seat us. As I walked through the restaurant to our table, I wondered why they were concerned about our reservation when there were so many empty tables. I never did figure that out.

Our waiter introduced himself and took our drink orders – yay, the first time a waiter didn’t try to take the drink menu immediately after a group of ladies ordered the first round of martinis for an evening out. Twenty five minutes later, he informed us that the bartender was still a bit backed up but that our drinks would be coming soon. Uh-huh.

He also took our cheese and salad orders. One friend asked where the tomatoes were from, as she had tomatoes on her salad. He reassured us that there were no tomatoes on the salad. So we waited. And waited.

When he came back twenty minutes later with our cheese, he dropped bread all over our table, and we felt bad for him, as he was obviously nervous. He did manage to make the cheese fairly well, however, so that was ok. Yum!

He checked on us when he brought our drinks and asked if we’d like more bread or vegetables. We requested more vegetables. They never arrived. As in he totally forgot. Hmm.

By that point, my water glass was completely empty – even the ice had melted – but I couldn’t find the waiter to even ask him to refill my water. He did finally come back to take away the cheese.

By that point, another friend had tasted her raspberry martini. She gave me a taste, too, and it was pure alcohol with no hint of raspberry; it was definitely not the same drink I’d had there before, and she didn’t like it at all. Since she’d asked the waiter’s opinion prior to ordering and explained that she didn’t like martinis in general, we expected this to be a non-issue. When he took the cheese, she explained that the drink was too strong and she didn’t care for it and requested that he take it away and just get her a Diet Coke.

Waiter: Oh, ummm. I know the manager doesn’t like us to take away drinks after they’ve been served to customers. I’ll have to ask him about that, and I don’t think I’ll be able to credit you for that. But I guess I can bring you a Diet Coke. Seriously? Seriously you have to talk to your manager and throw around some attitude when someone doesn’t like a drink that (honestly) wasn’t made properly? And you guess you can bring a paying customer a Diet Coke?

Oh, then he let us know that actually, they do have tomatoes, just as an FYI. My friend again requested the tomatoes’ background. He also reassured the other three of us that our salads had no tomatoes. When he came back, he told us the vendor they used for the tomatoes, as if that would clear it right up for us. Finally he discovered they were from California, which was a cleared state. Oh, and actually two of the three of us also had tomatoes in our salads. Needless to say, we were losing faith in him quickly.

The good news is that the four of us can gab for hours with nothing to sustain us, so the evening wasn’t ruined by any stretch. And the food totally rocked – once we got it. When he brought our salads, I looked around for the coconut crusted cashews that I’d asked for on the side instead of on the salad. The waiter saw me looking and again I can only quote him, “I have no idea why they didn’t put those on the side for you. Did you actually want them?” Uhhh, yes. That’s why I asked for them on the side rather than requesting that they just be left off, thanks.

I asked for my water refill again (I’d asked during the tomato clarification). A female who happened to walk by our table saw our empty glasses, and she voluntarily refilled them without us asking.

Dessert also took a good fifteen minutes after ordering before it finally came. And he about started his hand on fire, but by that point we just wanted to eat our chocolate. And we just about did eat the chocolate by itself, as he forgot to bring us the goodies to dip into the chocolate. Arg!

While we were eating our chocolate, he brought us our check. Fortunately, we completely ignored it while we chatted away and enjoyed our dessert. Apparently he had completely mischarged us, so he brought us an updated bill before we were ready to start heading out.

He then checked on us every five minutes to see what else we needed. We decided to pay, thinking that would give him some satisfaction and he’d let us be. It wasn’t like anyone was waiting for the table or the restaurant was about to close! Half of us had cash and the other half had credit cards. When he picked up the bill, he honestly couldn’t figure out what to do. We finally had to explain to him to take the cash off the bill then split the bill in two and charge each of the credit cards half the amount that remained. His muttered “No problem” as he skulked off didn’t inspire confidence, but he did get it right fortunately.

We continued to gossip like the magpies we are, and he continued to check in every five minutes until we gently explained that he needed to just leave us alone. After we’d been just sitting and chatting for … well, awhile, the manager – you remember, the snooty one who insisted someone must have called to cancel our reservation – walked up to our table. Internally, we all groaned.

But no, for whatever reason, he simply wanted to share with us a bottle of muscato. Maybe he realized that we’d had a rotten time or maybe he felt a tiny twinge of guilt for treating us so yuckily when we first got there. Regardless, he gave each of us a glass of lovely dessert wine for us to savor as we wound up our evening.

We finally decided it was time to go when one of the husbands called for a second time to find out where we were and what time we were going to be home. Of course, the first time he called, he wanted to know how his wife did it with the two kids at home all the time – oh yeah and to find out how to put the kids to bed. We all giggled over that one.

This group has been hanging out together now for four and a half years. Periodically, we’ll do a girls’ night like this, and every time we do, we have a ton of fun and say we need to do it again soon. And yet, I think this may have been the first one – or maybe the second – since one of our group moved to London two years ago. Oops!


Jules June 20, 2008 at 10:52 PM  

And what a lovely night out you had. Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself. Sometimes a night out is just the right medicine.

Michelle June 20, 2008 at 11:39 PM  

Jules - It was fun. And ohhhh it was good medicine :) Unfortunately, I have a chronic condition that requires regular medicine.

Feener June 21, 2008 at 7:32 AM  

i love the chocolate part of the melting pot, our's sounds like it has much better service, however i know it always seems a bit slower than the norm. at least you got the ladies can handle anything thrown at us !!!

Cookie June 21, 2008 at 11:26 AM  

That sounds like a lot of fun! Tonight I'm going out to play Bunco at a friend's house. OUr group of ladies gets to together every 6 weeks. The trick is to set the date for the next meeting before everyone leaves for the night. When everyone says, "let's do this again soon." It takes forever for "soon" to arrive ;)

Mabunny June 21, 2008 at 12:06 PM  

What a great time ( although somewhat sketchy at first ) it sounds like you had. Maybe the waiter was new and the beauty of your table flustered the poor guy a bit, lol.
I wanna come next time...

Staci June 21, 2008 at 10:14 PM  

what is it with that place, everyone i know has a weird expirence, and im not even sure we live in the same state...hmmm anyway and my other question is why do our husbands bother us when they know we are just at dinner?? I can almost gaurantee its cause they cant handle the kids like we do......ha ha, i totally hear ya on needing a break....thanks for stoppin by my site, ill be back fo sho

Michelle June 21, 2008 at 11:32 PM  

Feener - the chocolate is always good. As is the cheese. Actually, there's something wrong with me, but I'd take the cheese over the chocolate if I had to choose one. It's good to know that there is a Melting Pot with good service, as 4 times out of 5, it's definitely lacking at the one I go to. Yet I keep going. Hmmm.

Cookie - That's so cool that you do bunco. That's a game I'd love to get started, but I don't know how -- how many women, how it works, etc etc. And it's funny that you mention setting the next time when you're at the event. We planned our next playgroup date before we went home! Maybe we should have planned our next GNO, too!

MaBunny - Unfortunately, given how many times we've had some pretty bad service (and I have stopped going for a coule years at a time because of it), I doubt that it was simply because he was new. The management is sorely lacking, sadly. Hop a plane, and you can come on out!

Staci - Welcome! It's sad that your Melting Pot has the same types of issues. It's definitely no Fondue Stube (which I prefer over Geja's), but it's far more convenient. And YES they always need to call. The poor husband could hear us laughing at him over the phone. I have a post coming on my poor husband's ineptitude now that summer break has started... stay tuned!

Angie June 23, 2008 at 9:43 PM  

Wow, I'm inmpressed that you guys didn't let that horrible service ruin your night. I'm not sure I could have been so gracious. I've never eaten at that place before, but there are locations within reasonable driving distance of me. We might have to get a girls night out there soon. Thanks!

Michelle June 23, 2008 at 10:36 PM  

Angie - I wasn't thrilled with it, but the company and the chick drinks helped. The food there is fun and pretty good (again, not Fondue Stube, but...). For $18 for a GNO, it's worth it though!

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