Ok, So last night Ruth and I decided to go out for dinner.  This is not a particularly odd thing for us, especially on a day off right after a show closes.  Sometimes you just want to not have to cook.  usually on Sunday nights we go to her parent’s house for dinner, but since I had to go in to work to strike the show, I didn’t have time.

So, nothing super fancy, we decided to go to the Macaroni Grill in downtown Salt Lake.  We should have been aware that it was going to be an interesting dinner from the moment the host started talking to us.  Granted, it is Sunday night in Salt Lake City, business is generally slow so the restaurants probably don’t have a huge staff on, but, here is how things went down.  We arrived at about 5PM and the place coulod not have been more than 40% full if that.  There were empty tables in abundance.  The host (who we had to wait for) told us that there would be a 5 minute wait to get a table and that we were third on the list.

“Ummm hello! Empty tables!”

At this point I think we both kinda looked at the host like he had three heads and half empty restaurant.  So, he goes on to explain that the Olive Garden (around the corner) was closed tonight due to problems with their air conditioning, and therefore they were swamped with diners.

“Ummm hello! Empty tables!”

The least this guy could have done was sit us at a table, pour a couple glasses of water and give us a loaf of bread.  I mean really?! No, we sat in the waiting nook next to a whole bunch of other people who looked to be in the same mood that we were now in.

True to his word, in about 5 minutes we were shown to one of the many empty tables and so began the next interesting part of the evening.  The host seats us and hands us menus, explaining that there have been a few changes and additions and also making a recommendation for some dish that I forget.  As he walks away, our server shows up and just to give us some “refreshing honesty” tells us that she prefers some other dish over the one the host recommended.  I start my stopwatch.  We order drinks.

When our server returns with the drinks and bread we place our order.  Although the center of the bread is cold, at least it wasn’t still frozen.  The server does a descent job keeping up with refilling drinks.  In the mean time, two other servers try to bring us two different dinners, both for other tables in our section.  Maybe we should have just accepted them, they sounded pretty good.  But seriously, shouldn’t you know where you are taking the food when you serve it?

At about the sixteen minute mark our server returns with our food and a comment along the lines of “well the kitchen is really rocking it out today.”  That is a good thing, maybe they understand that it is not a particularly busy night back there and they have time to make our food!  We ask for a second loaf of bread and off our server goes.

Of course it was at this point that we realized that she neglected to offer us any fresh grated cheese.  So, when she finally came back with the bread we inquired to this end. “Well that will take a couple minutes, I have to go find some cheese…” was the reply we got, as if it were imposing on her to ask for cheese in an italian restaurant.  It is your job lady, bring the cheese.  When she finally does return with the cheese, we have both eaten half our dinner and she proceeds to cheese nearly half the table.  Thanks.

We finish up our meal and get the traditional question, “have you saved any room for desert?” Like we are going to let you try to serve us desert.  We ask for the check and a take home box.  When our server comes back with the box, she has to apologize for not having any more bags (to put the box in).  As if it is a terrible hardship to carry a to-go box across the street to the car.  And we really need one more plastic bag at home.  Oh, no, I won’t be able to carry this to-go box without a bag.  I should have made a big fuss.

It is unfortunate that you can’t leave a tip for the chef, the kitchen were the only people who seemed on their game.  I wonder what would happen if you left a negative tip on a charge receipt, I toyed with the idea for a minute.  I might try that next time.  Ruth still thinks that I was a generous tipper even though I left less than 10% of the bill.

Needless to say, it is a bad sign when one restaurant blames another for the shortcomings of the evening.