Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gracious behaviors for the tasting room and the dining room, si vous plait

It seems that I have three basic states of consciousness lately:
  • Mildly dissatisfied
  • Fully peevish
  • Overly sentimental
Oh, and I guess there is one more plane of existence for me - inebriated.

Today I seem to be trending toward fully peevish, and it was all set off by what I overheard while on a lunch run yesterday. But let me start at the very beginning, that's a very good place to start. (Cue the music.)

Having heard about the newest wine bar/tasting room to open in downtown Napa I popped in to check it out. (It's Gustavo Thrace in the Oxbow District, and you will be hearing a lot about Gustavo in the next few weeks with the opening of the new movie Bottle Shock. It's a movie about the 1976 Paris tasting, and he is portrayed in it.) After my visit I went to their website and noticed they had a blog, so I clicked over to that, too. It's not a real high energy blog - the most recent post is from December 2007 - but what I read was interesting: "Things we hate about wine tastings." That caught my eye. I know what bugs me when I am in a tasting room - like being made to feel that I should be getting down on my knees and asking nicely for the tasting I am entitled to as a wine club member when I am at a winery to pick up my club shipment, such as, oh, let's say Artesa Winery, last Sunday, let's say, and the nimrod back there thinks he is God's gift to wine tasters and tries to impress the giggly young women by bandying the phrase "volatile esters" (which would be a great name for a band) and when I finally get his attention he gives me a dollop of wine that is about a third of an ounce, and there's no way I am going to progress from mildly dissatisfied to inebriated at that rate - but it's interesting to see it from the other side of the bar, too.

Somehow that awareness of the server-served relationship made me more tuned in yesterday when I was at one of my all-time favorite places, ABC Bakery, getting a to-go sandwich. As I'm leaving, I hear a server saying to a table, "Are you done or are you still picking at that?" That is in my top five most unpleasant things to hear when I'm in a restaurant. "Picking at it" is something finincky children and scavenging buzzards do. "Picking at it" is what your mom always tells you not to do when have something you really want to pick at. Bad memories of being denied the simple pleasures. At the top of my list, though, is the commonly-heard phrase from the waiter, "Are you still working on that?" It always makes me want to say, "Yes, and I think I need a chisel and a trowel, it's starting to set up," or "Yes, almost have it solved but I need to go back and check my work." I don't think of eating a nice meal as "working on it." All the same, I do not want to hear "Are you still enjoying that?" That one makes me want to say "I was enjoying it until you showed up," or "No, I stopped enjoying it awhile ago, now I'm just poking it in and chewing for the exercise." It all seems so simple to me. The acceptable phrase is "Should I take your plate?" That one never makes me fully peevish.

No comments: