Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What, you never got your dinner?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 10:38 AM

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Hungry? Foo you!
Anyone who has eaten in restaurants with some frequency has probably experienced the phenomenon known as "the problem dish."

The problem what? It's the appetizer you ordered that was never turned in, the dinner directions that were ignored ("Can I have the steak medium rare, please?"), the dessert never served. It's usually a communication screw-up between server and kitchen and it can happen easily on a busy weekend night when servers get flustered or the kitchen gets swamped.

One recent Sunday, at the nearly empty New China Tom's Chinese Restaurant at 2816 West 47th Street in Kansas City, Kansas, I was dining with two friends who ordered starters -- they were great -- and dinner. I ordered dinner too: a dish called Eight Treasures that the waitress had recommended. Twenty minutes later, a server brought one dinner. Ten minutes after that, the second meal arrived. The waitress not only never brought out the Eight Treasures, but we didn't see her again until she brought out the check. She seemed miffed when I requested that she deduct the cost of the Eight Treasures from the tab. "You mean no one brought it out to you?" she said, feigning surprise.

One of my companions said it was the best answer he'd heard since the day he asked a restaurant manager why he hadn't seen his waitress for the last hour and the unflappable manager told him, "Oh, she's crying in the bathroom."

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