I knew this night would come. I just didn’t think it would take 22 months for it to happen.

Take an ambitious menu, combine it with a houseful of people, add in a lack of rhythm between the front of the house and the back, and you end up with that feeling in your gut that the night is not going to go as planned. We had never been this inundated. The perfect storm erupted.

I think what I hate about moments like this is that I never get another chance to make that first impression. New guests. Visitors from out of town, and who knows what food writer was here for the first time. Folks must have gotten the memo simultaneously and made plans to all come at once, and order the same thing at the same time. Anyone who has worked in a kitchen knows this feeling, when the tickets won’t seem to stop arriving, and the rail won’t hold any more. Getting a do-over is not an option at this point.

What makes it worse is that I know I can do better. Of the ninety nine times we get it right, I don’t want to be remembered by the first time guest as the place where they got slow service. And it only takes that one to stick in the mind, regardless if those other ninety nine were on the mark. Human nature seems bent this way.

I know it’s a team effort, but the buck ultimately stops with me, and before I lay blame on anyone else, I first ask myself what I can do better. My biggest fault in planning my menu tonight was veering from my strength. My food is slow and deliberate. It is slowly made to be promptly served. I put too many things on that required too many steps. I boast that I let time and natural processes do most of the work. I relied on a course of action that didn’t fit my kitchen, nor my staff, and ultimately not my customer.

So I consider it all a lesson learned. Now’s the time for my weekend to start. Gonna take some time tomorrow to brew a couple batches of ESB and IPA. Maybe I’ll get to sleep in til 6 instead of 5.

Order in

3 thoughts on “Order in

  • June 8, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    My wife and I went to a newer place in our small town the other night. They specialize in locally sourced, well prepared food with a collection of local micro-brews and wines. It was a Sunday in their final 90 minutes of service. Good food and good service. The server apologized for the slow service when she brought our check. We never noticed. She had our wine and starter to us reasonably fast so the main and dessert were not as much of a timing issue as she and the kitchen may have thought. With good food, nice atmosphere and good company at the table, a slower is service is a luxury, not a problem. I hope that your new patrons felt that way when you found your ass in the weeds.

  • June 9, 2009 at 11:15 am


    thanks for the perspective.


  • June 22, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    If the food is good, "slow" makes it better. We rush too much anyway.

    A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were eating in a little family- owned hole-in-the-wall in Dallas. We needed to spend time together and the slow pace of the dinner was perfect. No rush. Ambience make the food taste better.

    I know some people probably hate slow but it sucks to be them. Atmosphere, pace, excellent food, and a pretty woman make "slow" worth it.

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