I was telling my pal Ella who lives in Jersey, how completely off the rails expensive it is to eat out in Manhattan.
The other day I went to lunch at a place I’ve been going to for years. When first opened they were a sister restaurant to a fancier one dubbed a bistro with prices quite reasonable.
Well not anymore.
My palette, that’s been on strike for a week now, urged me to please have something other than oatmeal, avocados and beans, so I went there.
Scanning the menu for something more or less healthy, I hurried past the fried zucchini and various types of pasta to their fresh canard menu, as it’s called. What would you expect otherwise, chickens past their prime?
Skipping over the braised duck I couldn’t eat with an Uzi to my head, I decided upon a good old fashioned Cornish hen, like mama used to make. Of course mama never bathed her hen in unidentifiable sauce surrounded by limp broccoli rabe, something I hate, so my palette, tapping its foot, suggested I get creative.
The waiter, who I’ve known through several boyfriends, gave me an exasperated look when I asked if it could be plainly broiled.
“You mean just broiled…no sauce?” “That’s right, plainly broiled, no sauce.” You would have thought I asked if the Chef would cook it nude singing show tunes.
“I can’t ask him that,” he said indignantly, “I’d insult him.”
“Excuse me?” Why anyone at 2 in the afternoon would be insulted over a little poultry without much fuss or muss mystified me, but I let that part go.
“What if I asked him,” I said, thinking this little guy was afraid of the big guy in the kitchen. But of course now he seemed insulted.
“No, I will ask,” he said, more than a little annoyed. I mean really, did one have to offer sex to get something broiled around here?
“I’ll toss it in the oven myself, how bout that?” I was getting pissed. He rolled his eyes before leaving in a huff. “Oh, and I only want steamed broccoli please, no potatoes.” He didn’t even turn around.
Finally, after forty minutes my hen arrived broiled and sectioned just the way I like it. I’m not a fan of anything in its entirety since a head or God forbid, a feather could put me right over the edge.
It smelled good, but after three bites left me and my palette cold. What it really needed was two pieces of Italian bread and a pint of Hellmans, but if I had indulged, my ears would have been playing Taps (salt increases Tinnitus).
After eating all the broccoli and practically drinking the olive oil on the table, I asked for the check. The bill made my hands shake. My Cornish hen must have gone to Yale it was so expensive. I could have bought a whole hen house for what it cost. How come I hadn’t noticed it was the Dover sole of poultry? My little waiter, who had more personalities than Zelig, failed to tell me there was an extra charge for special orders.
“You tossed it in the oven…that’s a special order?” He didn’t answer, but did offer me a glass of port on the house. “Yes, I’d like that, so I can pour it over your head.”
It’s a wonder he didn’t bring it.
I rarely not tip, doesn’t matter now bad the service is, but he made me so mad. I figured out the extra charge and left him ten percent of that scribbling a message on the back of the check.
Next time, if there even is a next time, I will just be having dessert, so make a note Spanky…
or is there an extra charge for that?