Ugh. What a disappointment.
Last December, I signed AO up for a sausage-making class in Chicago scheduled for the Saturday of Fathers’ Day weekend. I had thought we’d all make a weekend of it, but that was before we moved into the house that’s needed a lot of money spent on it, before the GAOOG generation set the date for her wedding and before we adopted a crazy dog. So, AO went it alone and trekked solo back & forth to Chicago on Saturday to make sausage. Of course Sunday, not Saturday, was Fathers’ Day, so I still felt we needed to do something to mark the occasion, but we’ve both been spent and overwhelmed by the house, the dog & the 2-year old, so I knew we weren’t up for much. Neighborhood brunch seemed doable and pleasant and something we’d been meaning to do for awhile. We decided on Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace, which is just a few blocks away. Neither of us had been in years and while we both remembered the food being kinda meh, we decided to give it a go. Boy, were we wrong.
The food, once I got some, was fairly delicious. The service and organization? Just shy of a fiasco. When we walked in, we were greeted rather indifferently by a hostess who put us at a table with menus and crayons. Crayons are always a nice touch, so despite the laissez faire attitude, I was optimistic. But then we were left to ourselves for a significant amount of time. Tick, tock. No water, no coffee, no server. People around us were served, coffees were refilled, food was delivered, people were asked if everything was going ok. We were not spoken to. Tick. Tock. I decided I needed to go ask the indifferent hostess what was going on. I was so thirsty and needed coffee! While the place had lots of other patrons, there were also many empty tables so I didn’t feel like it was a “Argh, we’re overwhelmed, please be patient” situation. It felt like we were in no man’s land server-wise. It started to feel very weird. And with a 2-year old, I always feel like we’re on borrowed time, so I decided action needed to be taken. So, I went back up to the front and asked the indifferent hostess. She asked me where we were sitting. I told her we were in the other room, along the back wall. She needed me to be more specific. Honestly, it’s not that big of a place and everyone else in the room had a server. I wanted to say, “At the table with no food, water or a server,” but instead told her it was the middle table. A short time later, a very nice woman with red hair brought us two waters (sorry, Molly) and told us our server would be with us shortly. After that, our server came by – without explanation or apology – and asked us if we wanted anything to drink. We did. We also ordered breakfast. Huevos rancheros for AO, migas sans sour cream for me & an egg in a slice of Madison Sourdough toast with a slice of bacon for Bear. All three dishes are served with breakfast potatoes.
And then we waited. It took awhile to get our coffees because, apparently, the pot ran out and they needed to brew more. Ok, I thought, at least they explained themselves. But odd. I mean, they serve breakfast starting at 8. It was 10ish. Seemed like things should be well-oiled by that time. Anyway, we keep waiting. Eventually, a third server brought AO’s huevos rancheros, but with rice & beans instead of potatoes (no explanation given) and Bear’s egg in toast with a small bowl of potatoes and no bacon (no explanation given). The server asked me if I had ordered anything. I told her, why yes, I had. “Oh, the migas!” she said. She then left us and we never saw her again. I asked AO & Molly to start eating. Why wait? It’ll be here soon. Uh, no. More than five minutes go by when I realized no one is coming back. Our server isn’t the least bit interested in us and neither is anyone else. I trudge back to the front (again) and ask if I’m going to be served. I almost started to cry because this was getting so embarrassing and felt like it was deliberate. I’d recently heard a This American Life episode in which David Sedaris tells Ira that he observes people being treated badly or ignored in restaurants and then makes fun of them in his stories (he was talking about how it took him a very long time to go out to eat alone because he feared he’d be ignored and end up the subject of a David Sedaris-esque story in someone else’s life). I worried this was happening to me. I ask the redhead and the hostess – who were together – about my meal and Bear’s bacon. The hostess pretty much immediately left to go into the kitchen. The kind redhead asked what I ordered and after I tell her, says, strangely, “Well, this is embarrassing, but we ran out of breakfast potatoes. Would you like sweet potato fries?” What? Aside from the fact that I never want sweet potato fries, what does this have to do with my migas? At that point, I didn’t even remember potatoes were supposed to come with the migas. I. Just. Want. Eggs. And Molly’s bacon. She asked if rice & beans would be ok instead. Sure. I stumbled back to the table, confused. After I relayed the perplexing explanation to AO, he said, “So, for the huevos rancheros, they just automatically subbed out the potatoes for the rice and beans I got, but they were totally stumped on how to handle the migas?” Argh. A short time later, the nice redhead came over to tell me that they would comp the cost of the migas. Which still hadn’t arrived. We ask for more coffee, though at this point I notice the bottom of my cup is full of coffee grounds. This request, too, is a production because the coffee mugs apparently have to be taken elsewhere to be refilled. There’s no portable pot to bring around. Coffee is then returned to us.
And still we wait. Molly is done with her breakfast, and AO is pushing things around his plate so I will still have someone to eat with if those eggs ever do come. Eventually, they arrive. And a sour creamy thing is in abundance on my plate. AO swiftly grabs my plate to remove the offending white stuff. The eggs, though, they’re tasty, but I’m feeling rushed because we’ve been there over an hour and we have a two-year old with us. Thankfully, Molly’s bacon also arrived (and then some – three strips instead of one), which bought us a little more time out of her.
All in all, the food was great, but the service ruined the whole thing. You see, I’m pretty forgiving. Especially when it comes to service mix ups. All I need is a sincere apology. And maybe an explanation. I’ve waited tables. At a Food Fight restaurant, no less! And I made mistakes. And I apologized and did my best to make up for it. I make mistakes every day: at work, with Molly, with AO, with the dog, with strangers, with the universe. Heck, I’m probably making a mistake right now. I don’t think I ask too much. Yesterday, though, Tex Tubb’s asked too much of me. And it didn’t feel good.