Wednesday, March 14, 2007

And finally, the truth is known...

Warning: Potentially offensive material included.

Okay, well not really, but it helps set the mood. For today's foray into the blogosphere includes the sordid details of last weekend's entry into the "POSITIVELY WORST DINING EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE" category.

**An aside. I really think I should have my own set of dining awards for the best/worst restaurants I've ever visited. I'd call them The Nappies (short for Napkins, for the good places, the bad places would get a soiled diaper; ah, the joy of double entendre!)

I digress. It actually started at Christmastime. B and I received a gift card for a restaurant in Woodbury that the givers are very fond of. They had raved about this place, telling us we "had to go" check it out. They loved the "homemade" food, the atmosphere, and the little country store in the waiting area, full of unique country-themed gifts. So when we received the gift card last Dec25, it was a not-so-subtle hint we should stop by there the next time we're in the Cities.

As our trips as a couple to the MSP/SP area are few and far between, B and I knew that this weekend's trip was one of our only opportunities to use the GC. So, rather gamely, we decided our final meal (read: LAST SUPPER :)! ) of the trip would be lunch as we were headed back out of town. [For those of you keeping track and reading back through this post trying to find the name of the restaurant, I haven't mentioned it yet, nor will I, other than it rhymes with Sachine Mhed] It was approximately 1PM when we reached the place, and we were seated almost immediately by a young lady who was dressed like she belonged in the entry to an Abercrombie store, apart from the fact that she wore an old-fashioned, homemade looking vest made out of tractor fabric over the top of the ensemble. This should have been my first clue: how could I have been so blind! Farmer Barbie led us to our booth, which was large enough for six people, and seemed to be at the end of about 3 miles of hallways. She told us our server would be along shortly, and walked away.

So B and I are left sitting in our cavernous booth with no menus and nothing to drink, not that we had anything from which to drink anyway. We sat next to two families: Corner Table family was five in number, while Round Table family was about 10. Both were loud, with Corner Table's dad constantly yelling at his kids: "Timmy, scoot over so Robby has some room." "Robby, quit picking on Timmy.", and so on. Round Table family's grandma was delusional: she kept exclaiming, in a rather loud voice, "Oh, Joey, you are the funniest boy!" "Oh, Joey, you are the cutest boy!" when it was perfectly obvious that he was neither. He was a three-year-old demon that kept crawling from his booster seat onto the table, yelling "Look at me, Grandma!" Yeah, cute and funny.

And in such a milieu we waited for the waitstaff. And waited. And waited a bit more. Finally a younger woman made her way over to our table. "Sorry about the wait. They filled up my section pretty fast, so I'm running a little behind. I'll be back to get your order in a few minutes." She drops the menus on our table, and takes off. I look at B, and wonder if we've entered the twilight zone.

Since we've got the time, B and I peruse the menus. The food is hearty fare, and not for your vegan/vegetarian crowd. There are herds of animals being slaughtered for this place. B decides on a 1lb burger, extra bacon/no tomato (he's a huge eater) with fries and a cup of French onion soup, and I opt for (from their "Lighter Fare" category) a turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy. Ours is not an order anyone should be able to screw up. Oh, we were so wrong.

Our waitress finally comes back, again apologizing for the tardiness. She asks us what we'd like to drink. After taking that order, she says "Great! I'll be right back." And she walks away. Again. When she finally comes back, she does bring drinks, and only then does take our order, even though we've nearly memorized the menus waiting for her. However, in the interest of time, I'll skip the painful parts about how long we wait until our food comes, the crazy lady from another table that keeps staring at B and I, the continuing obnoxious behavior of our neighboring tables, and the fact that we each had three (very small) refills of soda before our food came.

When the food finally does materialize, B is missing his soup, his burger is missing the bacon but has the tomato, the waitress doesn't bring ketchup for his fries, and my sandwich is plopped down in front of me with roughly 2 inches of gravy. Over the top of EVERYTHING. It takes a couple of stabs before I even locate the potatoes. It was not a sandwich and side dish. It was a gravy lake with unidentifiable lumpy objects. B caught the panicked look in my eyes when I finally looked up. "You don't even really like gravy, do you?" he asked. Affirmative on that one.

The waitress caught us off guard with the mismatched conglomeration of our order, so we weren't able to catch her for refills on our sodas. Nor did she feel the need to check back in with us later in the meal. So we choked down the majority of our meal with no liquids. Quite a feat, let me tell you. Only as we were finishing (or rather B was finishing - I ate about ten bites of turkey rescued from the gravy flood, and that was about it) did she materialize again. But miracle of miracles, she brought B's soup. As she set it down she apologized for the third time during our meal: "Sorry it was kinda late. The cook burnt the first bowl." With that stunning insight into the culinary preparedness of the kitchen, B and I realized we had walked into a disaster zone.

As soon as she set down our bill, I had the GC at ready and presented it to her. She looked at me and said, "Wow, you guys really want to get out of here, don't you?" I couldn't believe she'd said it, but I wasn't about to disagree with her. She left to run the card, and when she came back, she said, "You've still got quite a bit left on here. You'll have to come back and see us again." Yeah, sweetheart, I was thinking, when hell freezes over.

By mutual agreement, B and I purchased the least offensive "country-themed gift" from the gift shop, a Yankee Candle, effectively using up the remainder of the GC. As we all but ran to the car, we were both laughing about the fact that there was nothing during the meal that went RIGHT! We also agreed to never come back, and B informed the party that gifted us with the card in the first place that they should donate the money to charity next year, rather than subject us to that misery again.

So what did I learn from this whole experience? Never give a gift (or GC) simply because YOU like something or somewhere. It's less painful for everyone involved! :)

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