Standard is the New Black


A few days ago I went to a restaurant to celebrate a friend’s birthday. This restaurant is one I’ve frequented many times and has resulted in mostly ordering take out. This restaurant is noted for it’s fancy cocktails and honestly great food. Perhaps they think the attractive, handpicked servers make up for the lack of bar professionalism that I’ve encountered on several occasions. Why are my panties all in a bunch for this particular experience? Mostly because I’m exhausted from every establishment denoting a high-end experience with lackluster service.

I’ve attended the bar here on four separate outtings. Every time, I’ve left with visions of wanting to plant an open-faced slap to the cheek of my bartender. I feel this is the scenario which resembles that of an ugly baby. Nobody wants to tell someone their baby is less than adorably cute. NOT ALL BABIES are cute and NOT ALL RESTAURANTS live up to their sparkling reviews in Style Magazine. I’ve read reviews of establishments that, to be quite honest, are overrated. Yes, I find it exciting and mouth watering that RVA is on the map for foodietown, but I also disagree that restaurants should get props where they are unworthy of such accolades and mediocrities, nor do I want to pay for such an experience.

I feel every time I go out these days, whether it’s a burger joint or the new Southern fusion installation, I’m paying high dollar for mediocre service and food. I had one server recently not know what’s in a Manhattan and could not tell me one single whiskey they had. I had another bartender serve me whiskey on the rocks when I asked for it neat. I witnessed a bartender describe Blue Moon as a Pale Ale. I went to the “Best Crabcakes in town” restaurant and got a mouthful of shell. I have had a lot of awful service experiences in the past year and honestly I’ve grown quite annoyed to the point where I don’t want to visit these places again. If you are going to pay $20+ for an entree or $10 for a cocktail, you had better provide the same standard of service. If your restaurant is getting rave reviews and all this air is being blown up your yin-yang, then you better not ignore me when I need a refill or just an acknowledgement that I’ve stepped up to the bar.

On this particular early evening at initially mentioned restaurant, I had to move twice just to get the bartender’s attention. I understand busy. I work in a very busy restaurant, but I never ignore a customer once eye contact is made. I understand muddling fruit and making tropical inspired libations is time consuming, but I also expect you to handle your business. I ordered a vodka and soda. Quite simple really. The sweat ladened man behind the bar asked if I wanted to start a tab in which I responded with a “yes” and after taking my card for several minutes, I vacated the bar area. A friend greeted me ten minutes later with my card in his hand. So, this guy just decided to give my card to some random person I may or may not have known. I thought he was keeping it for the tab since he never came back to me. I had the one drink. I went to pay my tab and I was greeted with a close to $8 tab. 

I’ve paid $8-12 for craft beer before. I’m no stranger to paying high dollar for delicious morsels. My problem with all this is, you’re serving me a standard drink and making me pay above and beyond for vodka that costs $20 a bottle and with a very crude disposition. If you had served me that drink with a smile on your face or a willingness to earn the $2 tip I left, it might not have gotten to me that much, but you didn’t. So, the next time I want a standard vodka for half the price I’ll go somewhere where I know my patronage is appreciated…thank you Bamboo. If I want to pay $12 bucks for a fancy cocktail with amazing service I’ll go over to Max’s or Roosevelt where I know I’m not just paying for a drink, but I’m paying to feel like I’m worthy of sitting at the bar. You may have all these “adventurists” fooled, but it takes more than some muddled fruit and tattoos to ignore your apathy.