Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Enough "Flair" Already. . .

A friend of mine is retiring at the end of this week, so we took her out to lunch.

She is one of those people who enrich your life because she is so one of a kind.  She is funny.  And creative.  Kind of a spaz.  She was at Woodstock -- yes the Woodstock.  She's vegetarian, and she doesn't eat gluten.  In South Texas, being a gluten-free vegetarian is difficult.  In South Texas, chicken is considered a vegetable. 

Since she is the retiree, we let her pick the restaurant. 

I thought maybe she would pick a patchouli scented cafe where we could sip soy lattes with our falafel.  I love falafel. 

She picked P.F. Chang's.

We had a lovely lunch. 

We laughed, we told stories, we listened to her plans for the future.  The food was good -- she had brown rice with garlic spinach & some cucumber dish.  I had Buddha's Feast ("feast" my ass -- it was brown rice and steamed veggies.), our dining companion had almond chicken.  (Looked much feastier than my feast.).  We drank flavored tea.   We had teeny-tiny tiramisu shots for dessert.  (Which made the whole thing worth it!)

The only problem? 

The waiter. 

I appreciate waiters.  Two of my very very favorite bloggers are The Bitchy Waiter  and FMT.   Because of these wonderful writers, I try to be a good patron.  I tip well and discipline my children.  If my discipline is ineffective, I tip even better.  I understand that waiting tables is hard, dirty work.

But this guy?

He wasn't incompetent.  He was actually very considerate, polite and charming.  He mixed special gluten-free sauces for my friend.  He kept our drinks filled, he kept us up to date on the specials, he was pretty textbook "good waiter".

The problem?

He wouldn't leave us alone.

I know that P.F. Chang's is a corporate conglomerate where they refer to customers as "guests" and have very exacting standards for their waitstaff.  If someone from Corporate was visiting, he would have gotten high marks.

But not from us.

When my friend said she needed gluten free, he grilled her about whether she had an allergy or simply a sensitivity.  I finally had to say "She doesn't eat gluten.  That's all that's important, ok?" (Now that I think about it, one of my mushrooms looked suspiciously like a loogie. . )  He interrupted our conversation three times to see if we needed more tea.  (Our glasses were 3/4 full).  He asked us several times if we had any questions on the sauces, and then did a presentation on the heat, the salt and the cooling effects of each sauce. 

Because he was relatively charming and seemed to be "just doing his job", I didn't complain.  I tipped 15%.  I smiled, said thank you and didn't leave a mess.  But P.F. Chang's?  Your corporate needs to back off on your "guest services".  And add a little soy sauce to the Buddha's Feast.

Don't be this guy. .


  1. We went to a restaurant in St Louis on Saturday we found on diner drive ins and dives. The waitress thought she was way too cool to serve our suburban family and really made a possible good night terrible.

  2. Tom that stinks. Too bad your kids are too old to misbehave in public. Sigh.

  3. Are P.F. Chang sauces really that complicated? Yeesh.


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