A few weeks ago, Micah found a door hanger promoting a local pizzeria called Nikolas Pizza. It listed several specials, including family dinners with a large pizza and a salad or wings. We had been there once before and thought the food was good. So last week while I was shopping in the evening, I called in an order to pickup dinner and bring it home. To my surprise, the cashier did not know what promotion I was talking about when I asked for the “Large one topping pizza, large salad and four sodas for $14.95 Special.” I modified my order and brought the door hanger with me when I picked it up. I was probably 20-30 minutes early, but I waited maybe 10 minutes, and thankfully, a waitress showed the cashier how to ring in the special I wanted. I went home happy and enjoyed the best quality pizza for such a price around here. The salad was also good; it wasn’t just chopped lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers but also had peppers, onions, pepperoncini and kalamata olives. And the soda wasn’t just cans; they were from the fountain.
I’m admitting to ordering again this week, yes. I have plenty of excuses, trust me. Let’s just stay focused, though, shall we? Eh hem. Anyway, I was really excited to have another great experience at Nikolas but I was disappointed. Yet again, the cashier could not find my special. Finally, after I kept pressing the issue, the cashier asked someone in-house for help and I heard the same waitress exasperatingly tell the cashier what to do. I took a deep breath and said thank you when I completed my order. It was supposed to arrive within 30-40 minutes. After an hour, I called back and the only response I got was, “Well, it’s not here so it should be there, shortly. Sorry!” Bewildered, I hung up the phone. What was I supposed to do? I didn’t have the driver’s number. He never called me. The waitress apparently did not intend to call him, either. So I just waited another 10 minutes. Now our pizza was twice as long in getting here. It was cold. And they forgot to include salad dressing with the salad. At least it wasn’t wilted and at least our soda wasn’t flat. But when you pay for something, you don’t want to say, “At least I didn’t get screwed THAT badly.” You want what you pay for. In my case, it was a hot pizza in 40 minutes. I didn’t get it. Nor did I get a discount or coupon or any kind of compensation.
When I came to think of it, when we dined in at Nikolas over the summer, the service WAS slow, but at least the waitress was conscientious of it and apologetic and attentive to our toddler’s needs while we were waiting. Seems as though the cook and wait staff are on the ball but despite the promotion, the delivery staff just doesn’t, well, deliver. Needless to say, it will be another few months before we give Nikolas another shot. Then, I’m sorry to say, he doesn’t have another chance.
Speaking of promotions, I got another one in Valpak. It was for Sunrise Restaurant, a Vietnamese Restaurant. I thought it was new because I had never seen it promoted before (In fact, I still can’t find it in Google.), but apparently, it’s been tucked away in the back of some plaza on West Main Road for ages. Remembering a delicious dish called Beebong that a friend picked up in Providence – more like I’ve been thinking of it ever since and desirous of getting my hands on it again – I rushed to try it at Sunrise Restaurant. However, the cashier had no idea what I was talking about. “Beebon?” she said “I have no idea what that is.”
“Curious,” I thought. “It IS a Vietnamese dish. This IS a Vietnamese restaurant.” And got the Pho instead, along with some fried rice.
My husband had heard from co-workers that the soup from Sunrise Restaurant was really good. But I found it to be just okay; it was better than the fried rice anyway. But everything had a bad, smoky, oily, fishy taste to it. I had had the same experience with Bankok City on Valley Road. Normally, I love Thai and have since found some good local Thai, but I couldn’t get over the pervasive sense that what I was eating had been cooked with seafood, old seafood – maybe octopus – and that I was going to smell like it for days. Gross. Just gross. Sure, my soup only had a tinge of this disgusting flavor, but, again, you just don’t want to say, “It’s not as bad as it could be” when you’re trying to eat something.
I won’t be going back to Sunrise Restaurant ever. But I really want some Beebong, so if you know of a restaurant in my area or of a recipe, please send your recommendation along!
As a general rule, I like to support local businesses. And as a general rule, they are better: they offer more unique wares, more variety (arguably as a by-product of being more unique but it’s still to be noted) and better quality, as more care goes into the selection and preparation of goodes. But I hate to say it, rarely is the service better, which is why I cling to local businesses that also provide good service like Empire Tea and Coffee. Yes, cling is the right word. It’s a kind of security, an anchor in the chaotic marketplace, knowing what to expect each time you walk in someplace. Am I the only one that finds many local business owners have a soup Nazi attitude? Don’t get me wrong; I’m surprised to find good service anywhere. Chains at least have corporate standards but I still expect the “What’s it to me whether you’re happy or not; you’re paying, anyway, sucker!” treatment.
Which is why I was really shocked at the amazing – what should be normal – treatment we’ve been receiving at Ruby Tuesday lately. One time, my husband and I both ordered the salad bar and soup, but as the restaurant was out of our soup of choice, we weren’t sure which to order. We explained that the chicken chili was too salty the last time we had had it, so our waitress said, without hesitation and matter-of-factly, “Try it this time and if you don’t like it, I’ll take it off the bill.” So we did, and it WAS too salty, and it was not only taken off the bill, but the restaurant manager came over to get our opinions. Here is a place where the company really does care about improvement like it says and the management backs up it’s employees so they can say, with confidence, that they will do such-and-such to make you happy. Wow.
We returned and had no problems with our meal, but was most pleasantly surprised with the service from our most recent waiter. He was so polite, welcoming us back, and attentive, bringing extra napkins for our son. He even made sure to tell us that the drinks and biscuits were free refills. Micah and I both looked at each other in shock each time he left the table. “Is it just me,” he said, “Or do you feel like service this good is almost patronizing?” “Yeah,” I agreed, “But there’s no attitude. It’s definitely not condescending. I just feel like I am an adult and can get my own damn meal, thankyouverymuch.” Then we had a good laugh because that’s just how you cope with the horrible service here in New England.
I still don’t know if I can quite come to terms with it, but if I ever feel like being pampered again (They do everything but put the napkin in your lap, the service really is a first class, fine dining experience.) I WILL be returning to Ruby Tuesday.