What do you do? What do you say? How do you react? The following actually happened.
I had a business meeting with an old friend this week. We were meeting for breakfast, so I suggested some usual suspects around town. The place we chose (which shall remain nameless) has been around for a while, I personally visit once or twice a year, nothing dramatic. It’s breakfast, right? It’s been around for a while so they can at least scramble an egg. “See you at 9:00am” I say. “Great” she says.
We get there, and everything is pretty much as expected. No frills, at all. It’s a greasy spoon. My friend rolls down the menu and says “You know what? I’m going to have the heart attack on a plate.” and orders the chicken fried steak and eggs. I’m looking at ordering my traditional ham and cheese omelette, potatoes, rye toast when a bell goes off in my head. *ding*
“You know, I haven’t had that in years!” I said. “I think I’ll have the same.” I say. “scrambled, potato, rye” The waitress walks off.
“The last time I had that dish actually was in 2002 at Cracker Barrel in Knoxville, Tennesse” I tell my friend. “Man, I hope the portions aren’t as big as Cracker Barrel. You’ll have to wheel me out of here.”
We carry on with our conversation.
Shortly thereafter here comes the food. My friend’s plate goes down first. It looked ok. They never look either like the photo on the menu or how you envisioned in your head when you ordered it. Don’t ask me why I envisioned a light, flaky, fluffy breading and a perfectly fried steak with a rich, creamy made-from-scratch gravy. I don’t know, I just did. Hers looked good, not great. Then my plate of the same thing goes down.
“This looks good..” I say. “This gravy is………..”
(Cue sound of screeching tires, broken glass and the worst NASCAR wreck you’ve ever seen, all in one.)
“So, take a look at this!” are the next words out of my mouth, as I point at the plate. Indeed the fly in my gravy was dead. He wasn’t moving. If he had been squirming, I might have just gotten up and walked on the spot. He was not moving, but sitting on top of the gravy, not “in” it. He wasn’t swimming, more like resting on it. Dead.
My first reaction was “You have GOT to be kidding me.” My friend drops an OMG and asks what I am going to do. For the record, I HATE to complain at restaurants. I try to frequent the good ones as much as possible and typically if something isn’t right, there certainly was no malice. It was likely just an oversight that one time. That was probably the case here as well, but this wasn’t a dirty spoon.
THERE’S A DEAD DAMN FLY SITTING ON TOP OF THIS GRAVY!
I turn to find the waitress. Apparently her computer isn’t quite working because she’s staring at it, turning her head like she’s hearing dog calls and generally just not doing anything.
Tick Tick Tick…
“You go ahead and eat yours” I tell my friend. Considering she ordered the same steak with the same gravy, I don’t exactly know how considerate I was trying to be. She says “I get impatient, I am about to go over there.”
“No, no” I say. “I’ll wait.”
The waitress was still in the same spot. She hadn’t moved.
My friend had enough “I’m going to get her.” She says, as she gets up and walks over to the waitress. I turned my back, so I can’t tell you what happened, but you know those scenes in the vampire shows where the vampire is…..here…. then in less than half a second he’s here?
Yeah, that was our waitress. Saying pretty loudly actually “I’m so sorry, we’ll redo that for you!” while she whisks the plate away very quickly. Ummmmm ok. Well, I’m kinda grossed out because what if there are more flies in the gravy? I asked her when she pops back out to give me my gravy on the side.
My friend continues to eat. I ask her to keep an eye out for “extra spices in that gravy.”
A few minutes later, my new plate comes out, all brand new. I pop a potato in my mouth and actually burned myself. So it was all fresh. Anything living on this stuff died in the fryer. And by the looks of it, stayed in it too.
I start to eat. 30 seconds in, I know I am not going to Eat and Like this dish and it had nothing to do with the fly. Yes, I can very easily say my appetite took a hit during the down time. But a tasty dish can fix those types of things pretty quickly. Sadly, that didn’t happen. I left about half of it, wrapped up our meeting and made a note to myself. I cannot return there, no matter how much I’d like to six months from now. I’ve had enough.
I thought I handled it pretty well, actually. I never got upset. The waitress volunteered to comp the dish so there was no drama there. Some people might have flipped the table over and run. Maybe others would have plucked the fly and eaten it the dish. (seriously?). ha ha. Who knows.
How would you react? What would you do?
For the record, I am not revealing where this happened. I won’t do it. I cannot do it. For a great many legal reasons. I know what happened. My dining partner knows exactly what happened. How exactly it happened is something I cannot prove. Frankly, I don’t care enough to fight that fight. I just know enough about this place not to return. Chances are, you do too