Today I met my parents for lunch. It is their wedding anniversary, they have been married for 48 years! They are staying at a hotel near me and it seems very nice, beautiful grounds, pretty fountains, quiet location, nice rooms etc etc.
Last night they had dinner in the restaurant and it was wonderful. Helpful knowledgeable staff, delicious food, lovely wine...
So they were a tad surprised at the Fawlty Tower's style lunch we had today.
Perhaps we should have been warned when after asking for 'carbonated water' my mother was told by the (very young) waiter - "we don't have any carbonated water I'm afraid, we only have sparkling or still"
But we weren't.
We ordered our drinks, sat for a while in the nice lounge and perused the menu. Having chosen, (Fish and chips for me, Risotto for my father, Lamb for my mother) we were told that the vegetables on the menu had changed. Some debate finally led to the waiter agreeing that broccoli could be substituted for celeriac. We moved into the restaurant.
The starters arrived and they were all very nice, we were asked several times if we wanted to order wine, we replied (each time) that no we did not. Again we should have realised that communication between the waiters was not going well.
The main courses arrived. They looked beautful. My chunk of battered fish sat atop 'pureed peas' (not mushy as I had hoped but squashed frozen garden peas in a heap) The chips were large and chunky but arranged jenga style - there were 6. The risotto was nice. My mothers lamb arrived ten minutes after the rest of the food, the waiter said "the cutlet is very small so the chef is cooking you another one, it will be along in a minute" ... "along with the brocolli?" asked my mother. The waiter looked confused but said yes.
I cut into the fish. It was pink. I tasted the fish. It was salmon. Now I know lots of people like salmon, I know salmon is expensive and posh but it's the ONE fish in the world I dislike. I can eat squid, octopus, mussels, pollack, herring you name it but I really dislike salmon and who in their right mind puts 'Fish and Chips' on a menu without mentioning it's salmon? Especially as my dad had the fish and chips the night before and it was white fish!
So we called the waiter and complained. "I didn't tell you what the fish was because you didn't ask" he sullenly told us. Ah.
I didn't ask if it was on a plate either but I'd have been surprised if he'd tipped it into my lap!
The food was taken away. Ten minutes passed an a waiter returned, "would you like to choose another dish?" I chose pan fried pork but of course now I had to wait while my mother and father ate.
We could now hear the maitre d' shouting at the staff in the kitchen. The words were indistinct although 'salmon' was mentioned.
On the table behind us a group of people were asking if there was any cheese in place of dessert. "No" said the waiter "I asked the chef there is none" "No cheese?" responded the startled diner "surely every kitchen has cheese, I do not require an entire cheese board just some cheese, there must be some in the fridge?" "No, there isn't, don't blame me, it's just what the chef told me, there is no cheese"
They ordered coffees.
My pork arrived and it was delicious. Mum and dad had long finished. The maitre d' came over to apologise about the meal, he assured us it would be free.
We ordered dessert and coffee. We had now been in the restaurant 3 hours. The dessert came, it was very nice. The coffee did not come, but a waiter arrived to ask if we would like coffee. We politely replied that we would and that was why we had ordered it. He went away. We finished the desserts.
The table behind us was pointing out to a waiter that a cappuchino and a latte are different and they wanted 2 cappuchinos and one latte not 3 lattes. He seemed confused.
A waiter came to ask us if we wanted coffee. We pointed out that we had now ordered it twice. He responded with "oh yes, of course" and went away.
A waiter arrived to ask if we wanted coffee. My mother said not to bother unless it was made already "oh it is!" the waiter assured us "I'll bring it now" "If it's not on the table in 2 minutes we are leaving!" said my exasperated mother. Behind us a waiter took the lattes away.
Our coffee arrived. It was nearly cold.
Oh how we laughed.