Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bruised Fruit


     I had the oddest breakfast dining experience while on vacation in Monterey. Well I actually didn't get to eat at this place, though I tried to, twice.

     Because I think I might write an email to the owner, until I hear back I will call this locale The Disheveled Pluot. I always look for these type of organic caf√©s when I travel, places where smiling hippies serve flavorful, energy-packed pancakes loaded with blueberries, mochas served in big old-lady mugs with fresh-made whipped cream, and sides of nitrate-free (thus slightly less guilty) applewood-smoked bacon. If I'm going to get up at 8 am for once, this is how I roll.

     On first attempt, we crammed into The Pluot's tiny entryway area, behind two groups of three waiting for a table. We could barely see past them to survey the scene, but finally grasped that of the ten or so tables packed into the small space, not much was happening. No one looked about to leave and no one bothered to take our name down on a wait list. Shrug. So we went down the road and found something quick and tasty; the cappuccino at this other spot was on the bitter side but it was small sacrifice to avoid waiting list purgatory.

     The following day we showed up, the restaurant was still full but we were first in line, with a three-top stepping in behind us. Was I was finally on my way to mocha heaven? Nope; as we stood there with full view of the restaurant, we noticed that the sleepy, still air pervaded yet again. In front of us a man at a four-top was literally twirling around a check presenter with a credit card in the air, trying to get someone's attentionnot a good sign. His wife was trying to keep their baby from going ballistic, and she eventually had to escort the little one away, while he continued to flash his plastic. After several minutes a server finally appeared to take the card, and she at least said "hi" to us in passing. She didn't return with the credit card for several more minutes, and she didn't have anything else in her hands. I could have run around the block several times in the amount of time it took her to run the charge.

     Meanwhile, we watched the rest of the serverswe counted fouroccasionally dart out from behind the bakery counter to take an order or drop food then disappear again. There were long stretches of time where there was not a single server in sight, and tables clearly needed things. The only thing we could think was, maybe they were cooking the food? Why else would they disappear for so long? Two tables opened up and we waited, waited, for anyone to clear them. When that finally happened, and a server gestured for us to take a seat, no one reappeared to wipe the table, set it, or bring menus. We waited five more minutes before leaving. Since no one was on the floor, they didn't even see us leave.

     When we later checked Yelp, sure enough, people had split reviews: 4 or 5 stars for food, 1 or 2 for service. Almost every complaint was speed related. Two reviews were written while the customers were waiting for their food (oh the beauty of smart phones). An average time to have breakfast was an hour and a half. Clearly this owner just does not give a fuck, not one flying fuck about service. I will be curious to see if they even bother to respond to an email.

     Denied yummy organic goodness on this second go, we instead went for a tried-and-true diner that advertises "Good Eats and Crazy Waitresses." The slogan made me cringe but you know what? That crazy chick showed up at our table with a smile and had coffee, menus, and food out in short order. We left her a 30% tip.
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