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 stories of customers who keep using those words, and I do not think they mean what they think they mean. As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
"Once upon a time I worked at a chain steakhouse. It was a really busy night, and I get waved over by one of my tables. He was about 50 and dining with his wife. He'd ordered the porterhouse and was really confused by what it actually was.
"This is a T-bone! I ordered the porterhouse!" He exclaimed to me after the idiot manager had run his food and then disappeared.
"Sir, the porterhouse IS a T-bone," I tried to explain.
"That's not what the menu said!!"
At this point I asked him to show me on the menu what the hell he was talking about. He opened the menu, which he snidely asked me to read him out loud: "The porterhouse is 23 oz of filet mignon and new York strip on the bone, served with two sides and a salad." To which he replied: "I ordered the 23 oz filet. This has a bone."
I said, trying hard to keep my 'omgwtf' face in check, "Sir, the porterhouse is basically two steaks. A filet and a strip. On the bone. The T-bone, as it were." NOPE. DIDN'T SINK IN. He continued to push: "I ordered the 23 oz filet."
"Sir, we don't offer a 23 oz filet. The 23 oz refers to the total weight of the steak, including the filet AND strip."
"YOUR MENU SAID 23 OUNCE FILET AND THAT IS WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO SERVE ME."
I was just staring at him at this point, not knowing what else to say. After a few awkward, eternal-seeming seconds, I finally said "I'll be happy to get you a new steak, but the largest filet we offer is 9 ounces."
At this point, he began angrily shaking a bottle of ketchup, dumped it all over his once-beautiful porterhouse, and yelled "I GUESS I'LL JUST EAT IT! But your menu is DELIBERATELY misleading and I'll never come back again!"
He definitely didn't leave me any tip, and he was dining with us again within the week."
"When I was 16, I worked in a fairly nice dinner house in Washington State as a server. Since the restaurant was located near a good-sized airport, the establishment got a fair amount of "tourist" traffic, despite the small size of the town in which it was located.
One evening a couple came in to dine and the gentleman ordered the Chicken Fried Steak. When I served him his food, he seemed happy enough...until a few moments later when he called me back to the table. "I ordered Chicken Fried Steak," he exclaimed. "You've brought me beef."
I was thunderstruck. I tried to explain that Chicken Fried Steak is indeed steak fried like chicken, to no avail. The man stated that he was absolutely certain that the meal was chicken based, and that he knew it was made with chicken because he had "had it many times before in restaurants at home." He refused to eat the meal (still claiming it was prepared incorrectly) and insisted I take it back to the kitchen to have it re-done.
I complied and returned the meal to the kitchen to try to explain to the chef what had happened. After the chef and I finished laughing hysterically, the chef went out to the seating area and tried to explain to the man that Chicken Fried Steak is actually a beef dish (you'd think the word "steak" in the name would be a dead giveaway), to no avail.
After many minutes in conversation with the chef, the man finally allowed that he (and the rest of the human race) could "agree to disagree," ordered another dish, and happily consumed every scrap."
"I worked as a manager at a Greek restaurant where they would debone the broiled red snapper table-side. One day this guy comes in and starts regaling us with tales of his travels in Europe and telling the waitstaff (who were almost all from Greece and in the U.S. going to school) that they HAVE to go to Europe one day. More than one waiter told him that they had been to Europe, but to no avail.
He kept naming wines and saying that wine "tasted good" (not sure why that bugged me so much, but it did). Finally, after about an hour of trying to talk to every waiter that passed by and made eye contact (and me trying to figure out why the waiters rushed past him), he orders the red snapper.
They bring the whole fish to his table and our gourmand leaps to his feet knocking over his chair and yells,"WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!?" He sent it back and dined on a souvlaki plate. We laughed about it and nicknamed him fish sticks in every later telling of the story because we figured that was what he was expecting."
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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