Nothing like Bad Service to put a damper on a date.
See the tuna in the picture? That’s what my order most decidedly didn’t look like! This is My Seared Tuna, thank you very much!
The other day I and a couple ladies I was meeting to discuss a cookbook project had dinner at a restaurant in Surfside, where I was spending a week. I placed my order, at the waiter’s recommendation: Seared tuna with grilled vegetables. OK, I said, please make sure my tuna is rare. When the food arrived, I must say I was stomped at the appearance of the tuna steak. It couldn’t have been thicker than a third of an inch, and couldn’t have weighed more than 3 ounces, and it looked desiccated. Guys, I make seared tuna all the time, OK? It looks nice and thick and juicy, like in my picture above. My dinner companions looked at my plate sympathetically. Their order looked delicious: Fettuccini Alfredo, and a pasta with salmon. I asked the waiter if he could make sure he could get me a rare piece of tuna. You won’t believe what happened next.
Talk about bad service:
The waiter came back with my untouched plate and said with a touch of defiance: “I showed your plate to the chef, and he said this tuna is rare!” So where do we go from here when we are faced with poor business practice, have only a short time to eat and are meeting some lovely ladies for the first time and would like to make a good impression? I said I am sorry I can’t eat this, please give me anything else that’s easy for the chef to make quickly. He comes back and says, the chef says that maybe what you really want is black and blue, and that’s OK we can make that for you. OK then, black and blue, if that’s what you want to call it. It would have been futile to explain how we accommodated our customers in our long years of running our restaurant, Levana, this staff looked much too clueless to relate. So a new plate arrived, with the tuna steak just as ridiculously thin as the first, and black and blue looking…. medium rare. An improvement of sorts…. Yes yes yes I ate it, and it was, hmm, how can I put it politely, forgettable, save for bad service.
Two delicious desserts followed, and saved the day: A perfect creme brulee, and a perfect molten chocolate cake. I think we will go back to that restaurant….. for dessert. But we will first have dinner in Harbor Grill across the street, where we immensely enjoyed a delicious sushi, and an impressive mixed grill: Yum! And Breakfast at Cafe Vert is delighful too: The owner, “patron”, a landsman once removed (French via Tunisia) working with his lovely wife, son and daughter, put up with my requests for extra-strong extra hot decaf a good dozen times: Lots of decaf and lots of French, and a perfect everything egg white omelet, served with toasted whole grain baguette: I recommend it! Can you persuade them to make a Pan Bagna? How about adding some nice veggies in their vegetable soup to give it some more Ta’am? Not powder Heaven Forbid, but veggies? By the way Cafe Vert just opened an Asian Restaurant right across the street. Can’t wait to sample that! Bonne chance, Patron!
PS: So, what does it take to make a delicious tuna steak? Trust me, nothing with nothing. Start with a 6 ounce tuna steak, about an inch thick, super-fresh goes without saying, and sear it in a few drops olive oil in a very hot skillet, no more than a minute on each side. End of story. Slice it against the grain, and have fun with the steak just as is, or sprinkle with sea salt and coarsely ground pepper, or some wasabi, or a drizzle of sesame oil and soy sauce, or lots of fresh lemon juice. And Chef? Let me know when you get a good tuna steak, I’ll come and enjoy it with a few friends!
And how do we correct bad service?
To parody Mae West’s famous line “when I’m good I’m bad, and when I’m bad I’m even better”, the customer is always right even when he’s wrong, and when he is really right, then he is really really right!