Longtime server here, almost all of my career has been spent in fine dining within a spectrum. Some jobs have been more old-school and proper, and some more on the casual and of the spectrum. Currently I'm at a place I absolutely love, casual fine dining with a focus on local seafood. I pride myself on being professional, articulate and quick-witted. That being said, I do occasionally get what I've started to refer to as "lizard people" tables. You know the ones, the folks who are so clueless about the ins and outs of interacting with another person that it gives you the sneaking suspicion they are in fact, lizard people who crawled from their subterranean lairs to visit your restaurant. Two highlights from the past several months:
Me: "Folks, just wanted to check in, see if there were any questions concerning the menu?"
(This is roughly 5 minutes after my incredibly detailed menu spiel. I make sure to answer most common questions before they are asked, to the point that management tells new servers "yeah, you don't need to take your spiel as far as TrenchcoatFullaDogs does, he goes WAY above and beyond with details." )
Old Lady: "Nope, no questions here. (both guests order entrees) And Id like to have the crab legs!"
Now my restaurant offers a bunch of a la carte seafood items that can be ordered in one of two ways…raw bar style, or oven roasted. I spend the majority of my spiel discussing this section of the menu. Preparation styles, the quantities that an individual order consists of, the whole 9. But above all else, I make it abundantly clear that two options exist for each item: chilled or oven roasted.
Me: "Great, how would you like those to be prepared?"
Old Lady: "Oh steamed, please! With extra butter!"
Me: (has a small stroke) "Well ma'am, unfortunately we don't offer steamed crab, you can enjoy it either chilled or oven roasted with our house garlic butter."
Old Lady: "Oh?! Well nevermind then. I don't eat crab cold, and roasting it with butter would destroy the delicate flavor of the crab!"
I silently reflect on the fact that she'd just ordered the crab in a warm preparation with extra butter, only to decide in the next sentence that roasting the crab with butter would in fact destroy the flavor of the dish. I briefly consider both law school and suicide. Instead I smile (hidden behind my mask of course) and tell them their dishes will be right out. They enjoyed everything and left 20%, so…fine, but also….what?
Couple comes in about 3 pm. We don't do lunch service, but 3-5 we offer all the small plates from the dinner menu, as well as all the raw bar/oven roasted items I mentioned in the previous anecdote. After hemming and hawing and generally being upset that we weren't serving our full dinner menu 15 minutes after opening, at 3:15 on a Tuesday, they order a whole roasted lobster. Cool. I put it in, and go on about my shift. The gentleman at the table flags me down. I assume it's for a 5th sweet tea in the past 14 minutes, but I was wrong.
Guest:"Hey, my man…what kinda garlic bread come with the lobster?"
I'm very rarely at a loss for words. Like I said I pride myself on being quick witted, but that one just threw me for a loop because of what it implied.
A)This guy thinks that garlic bread and lobster is just like, a classic pairing on par with, I dunno, a Sancerre with seafood, or a Sauternes with foie gras.
B) The simple fact that he didn't ask "does garlic bread come with this" but "WHAT KIND of garlic bread comes with this" implies that this dude thinks that not only does every restaurant on earth serve garlic bread, but that there are MULTIPLE OPTIONS regarding said garlic bread. Anyhow, back to it.
Me:"Unfortunately sir, we don't have any garlic bread in house. I can offer you some toast points or crustinis?"
Gentleman: (EXTREMELY taken aback) "Actually, I think were just gonna go somewhere else. Did you put our order in already?"
I replied that I had, you know, because he's just ordered food from me. They apologize, he hands me a $10 on their way out the door, and because the kitchen had already started roasting the lobster, FoH got a free snack. Once again, perfectly pleasant people, but just ones who don't seem to have any clue what society is or how to interact in it.
As an addendum, I told the kitchen about that table while explaining the cancellation of their order…one of the boys in back brought some grocery store Texas Toast in the next day, and we all unanimously agreed that roasted lobster on garlic bread was A) absolutely fire but B) not something you should reasonably expect a restaurant to just have.
Anybody else had lizard people recently?