Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Legend of "Cheap and Surly"
There's an Indian resturant nearby that my dear friend, Naveena, introduced me to. In spite of the numerous times I've been there I cannot, for the life of me, tell you the real name of this place. Since my first visit I have always referred to it as "Cheap and Surly."

To begin with, let me tell you that yes, the food is very good. And yes, it is inexpensive. But the one and only waitress that we've ever seen there is the most unwelcoming, inattentive, careless waitress in the history of served food. No, really, she is.

She never says hello. Never welcomes you. Barely looks at you. You come in, the place is always empty, and you seat yourself (because she shows no sign of pointing you to a table). Eventually, she'll put menus on your table. Eventually, you order. Eventually, food comes. Eventually, she'll bring you a plate, a napkin, and maybe a spoon, maybe a spoon and a fork (score!).

Today I took my husband there for lunch, as he'd been hearing about C & S ever since my first visit. I lived up to its reputation, as far as he's concerned.

The world's most unwelcoming waitress (WMUW, for short) did all of the above. When time came for cutlery, it arrived in a pile, sort of thrown on the table after our food had arrived. It was up to us to sort it out. A few minutes later, after I'd already used my spoon to take a helping of one of the dishes, she shows up again and thrusts a serving spoon into the bowl -- like she was poking a turkey to see if it was done.

Mind you, the place was empty. WMUW was most emphatically not being run off her feet. We were the only table. There were two men who were leaving as we came in, and their table remained un-bused the entire time we were there.

One other guy came in and asked about an order to go. When told it would take 30 minutes he agreed and then almost immediately changed his mind....too late...WMUW had already disappeared into the dark recesses of the apparently soundproof kitchen. After about 6 or 7 tries of "Miss?" "Miss?" WMUW finally moseyed on out to the counter where the poor guy cancelled his order.

Mind you, all this with a Bollywood soundtrack CD blaring from the speakers. Music which she immediately switched off (not turned down, which would allow your customers to still enjoy the cool music, but turned off) when the phone rang so that she could then shout into the phone for several minutes. So much for a nice ambience. More chicken tikka, dear?

One of the more endearing features of C & S is the complete absence of a check. In all the many times I've got there, WMUW has never once actually brought a check to the table. When you're done, you walk over to the counter and ring the bell, hoping that luck is with you and the tiny ding will penetrate into the soundproof kitchen (where the big ding likes to hide in-between snarls). Of course, I should count my blessings. The bell is a relatively new used to have to stand there and just shout towards the kitchen.

Today it only took two rings before WMUW roused herself from her overworked stupor and condescended to take our money. "Good thing we're honest," my husband said, as we could easily have walked out without paying while WMUW was hidden behind the curtain of safety in the kitchen area....away from us nasty customers.

We speculated that she got roped into this against her will. That she had no desire to open a resturant but her father or husband or someone bought it and her form of protest is to make the dining experience so completely miserable that there will be no repeat customers. Unfortunately for her, the food is really good. And as long as I always go in expecting to be ignored and treated with a complete lack of hospitality, I guess I'm OK with that.


Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that each time WMUW goes inside, you can hear what sounds like a raging argument between her and the cook(s).

Anonymous said...

Always empty? Surly waitstaff (of one)? Food takes 30 minutes?

Can you say "Drug Front"? The 30 minutes is her leaving out the back door, driving to the take-out buffet place 3 blocks away, sub-contracting out your lunch, stealing their silverware, and returning with some food, dumping it out of the take-out boxes onto some plates, and slopping it down on your table.

The arguments in the back room aren't actually with the cook, they are with the addicts dropping by for a fix and not having correct change for a dime-bag.

don't go int he kitchen, it's under surveilence by the DEA.