Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rain and table service 19/09/09

Last night it rained a lot around 10pm and so everyone came in to sit down rather than get a drink at the bar and go outside. I really don't see the point of table services for mere drinkers and think like in an Irish pub, get your drink at the bar and then go and sit down. We don't have cover or service charge for drinks, and there is always the risk that the table will leave without paying. Plus they never take more than one drink, and often have one drink between two on average. They came piling in looking for seats. One group of 13 I had to arrange and clean the table for questioned the bill of 50€. They had a few cocktails, something to eat and bottles of water. A group like that in Ireland would have generated double, if not triple the price. I heard them and went down with la cameriera to mio suocero on the till. He said he added on €4 for the service, since they ate salads and desserts and got drinks brought up to them. Mio marito was over like a flash, and said no, we won’t charge that, and glared at me as usual in front of the waiters. I said your father put on the service charge, and I agree. Mio marito said no, again, and mio suocero said, ‘I see it in a different way,’ quite calmly, and stuck with it, so mio marito gradually moved away and la cameriera said she said to them, ‘Look it is service charge and other places charge cover charge just for sitting in the place so you could have been charged a lot more.’ Good for her – she manages to say what I would like to say, but they wouldn’t accept it from a foreigner, they’d be off complaining with my husband. Other tables assumed I was Spanish and told me where they had been in Spain and how they wanted to have Spanish lessons.

A table of 4 waited 45 minutes for their main course last night. They had the tapas to start and then two swordfish roulades and two tuna steaks, so the cook had the perfect amount of time to start them. They also requested strozzapreti (pasta twists) al pesto siciliano to be brought with the seconds, an unusual request, so I had brought it to the cook's attention when I stuck the order on the board. I had seated them at 9.30, and saw that at 10 there was still no sign of the seconds and had gone in to check – there were no other orders at the moment. Who knows what they were up to. Anyway, as they hate me checking up on them, the cuoca then sent the waiter off to ask me if I had made a mistake when I wrote the pasta was to come out with the seconds – the cuoca was trying to get some kind of school girl revenge! Today I went to speak to the two cooks when they were having coffees after dinner; can you be more collaborative? I suggested, ‘can you,’ I asked the aiuto cuoco who does the tapas and starters, ‘give her a hand if you are not doing anything?’ But she got uppity again, challenging everything, complaining she was doing it all single-handedly. She didn’t seem to understand I was actually trying to support her so things would run more smoothly next time. She disputed the time factor, but she was unlucky that I had actually noted the whole procedure since they were the only table dining at that time. The tuna steaks and the swordfish rolls take five minutes on the grill … I can’t say anything to these people – yet they wouldn't say a thing to my husband.

The lovely Rex Sicilia crew came up with a few friends and recommended heartily the Gnocchi Pachamama. The Palermitan complimented me on my green stone necklace, and asked how my trip to Spain had gone, and the girl told me she is going back to study lettere and anthropology in her office in Rome where she researches. How interesting she does something different all summer, to get out of the office. Very down to earth. Captain Maurizio caught us as we were flying past – ‘Please, come and have a drink with us, it’s not every day we are here!’ It was great to sit down for a minute because we were run off our feet. ‘You weren’t expecting all these people,’ they smiled. And I said, ‘no, but every time you lot come, it is busy: come more often!’ He declared it was the best restaurant they had gone to all summer, that we had everything right; atmosphere, service, d├ęcor, food, cocktails, everything! he said beaming, a compliment indeed as they go round all the islands and Calabria and Sardinia. How nice. Emmanuela said it was the only place he stayed on after 10.30 and they all laughed. Mio marito said every day we think of improvements, and I said, every day we ask ourselves why? Is it worth it?’ and she laughed.


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