Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where we take a look at the best and strangest stories from inside the food industry. Today we bring you more stories of extremely dumb customers, because apparently Kitchenette readers have an inexhaustible supply of those (not that I'm complaining). As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
"I worked at a hometown restaurant connected to an overgrown bait-shop in Southern Michigan. A guest came in and ordered the buffalo wings. When she got her 'buffalo' wings, she said, "these are not the size I am used to! What kind of buffalo did we get them from?" I tried to explain that buffalo wings are from Buffalo not from a buffalo.
She did not believe me."
"I've been working at the same place for about 10 years. My favorite story is about a one man I served. When I approached the table to take the order, this gentleman told me he was having the filet mignon: "The filet mig-non." I thought the pronunciation was a joke, so I moved on and asked how he would like his filet prepared. He scoffed at me and said "excuse me?" in an extremely condescending tone. I repeated my question, this time asking how he would like us to cook his filet.
He then proceeded to loudly scold me about how fish should ALWAYS be thoroughly cooked, and we should be ashamed of ourselves for serving food that could make people sick. At this point, I quietly asked him if he had, in fact, ordered the filet mignon. He grew angrier with me as I tried hard not to embarrass him in front of his date, and the dining room full of other guests. I explained to him that filet mignon is a steak, a very nice cut of beef. This guy actually argued with me, causing a big scene. He insisted that "filet means fish and fish should always be cooked all the way!" (Editor's Note: Wow, this guy was wrong in multiple directions at once) I apologized for the fact that our filet mignon was indeed beef and politely asked if that's what he would like. He was disgusted and told me he'd have to find something else to order because he wasn't eating beef. After a few minutes, I returned to the table. The man ordered a hamburger.
I didn't even ask him how we should prepare it, I had our cook prepare it well."
"A few years ago I was in Atlantic City for an evening of fine dining and blackjack. I spent the night in a hotel, and the next morning I decided to grab some breakfast before driving back home.
As I sat in the restaurant enjoying my meal, a couple came in and were seated a few tables away. I would say they were about 25 years old, and lucky for me the guy didn't have an indoor voice. When the waitress came to take their order, he asked for eggs. She, naturally, asked him how he would like them cooked. He responded by asking what she meant.
She recovered after a few seconds and suggested some options like poached or over easy. He still didn't understand. At this point he raised his voice and seemed angry at the entire line of questioning. "I don't know!" he shouted. "Just cook 'em up!" She brought them scrambled.
A 25-year-old man who had managed to secure himself a girlfriend and possessed the means to travel to a gambling mecca for the weekend not only didn't have a preference as to how his eggs were cooked, but was somehow entirely ignorant of the fact that there's more than one way to cook them."
"One time at a Japanese vegan place in the West Village, I watched a woman have a very hard time understanding what "vegan" meant. Apparently smitten by the vegan cocktail shrimp, she called over the waiter to ask if it had shrimp in it, as she was allergic to shellfish. The waiter smiled and informed her that the restaurant was entirely vegetarian, so there was no shrimp in the "shrimp."
"But it says cocktail 'shrimp.' I'm allergic to shrimp," she reiterated.
"Are you allergic to soy?" He asked, politely.
"Then you'll be fine."
"But is there shrimp in it? I'm allergic to shrimp and I don't want to have an allergic reaction."
"No ma'am, everything on the menu is vegetarian, so there's no meat or seafood served here." She was getting visibly frustrated with the server, who was maintaining his composure, and, I'm sure, resisting the urge to laugh in her face. Her date look embarrassed.
"Okay, well, I'm not going to risk eating the shrimp and getting sick. I'll take the vegan chicken skewers instead. Is there chicken in that?""
"I worked at a small local restaurant for years and we were pretty well known for our Friday Fish Fry. One night at work (not Friday — this will be important), a customer was looking at the menu and asked "What's a Friday?"
Bewildered, I looked at her and said "Uh, it's a day of the week..comes after Thursday..." not really sure how to continue.
"Well, it says on your menu that you only serve Fish Fry on Fridays so what exactly is a Friday?"
She thought Friday was a thing, like a plate or some fancy garnish. It took a solid 2 minutes to explain to her that Friday was a day of the week and that we only served Fish Fry on that day — like most restaurants in the state of NY. Finally, her friend chimed in and we successfully explained to her that Friday is a day of the week and today is not Friday therefore you cannot have a Fish Fry. My brain hurts all over again."
Do you have a crazy restaurant story you'd like to see appear in Behind Closed Ovens? Please e-mail WilyUbertrout@gmail.com with "Behind Closed Ovens" in the subject line (or you can find me on Twitter @EyePatchGuy). Submissions are always welcome!
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