I have so many funny stories to share with you since we opened the restaurant. Some funny in a comical way, some funny in a ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ kind of way. My story today is the latter.
We were crazy packed one evening with several large Christmas parties interspersed with smaller groups and couples all wanting to dine some time near seven o’clock. Everything was ticking along smoothly when I could feel that something had gone off the rails in the dining room. Eventually, things got sorted, the dining room closed and I was able to speak to the servers to see what had happened. I marvel at any server being able to manage and anticipate the needs of the guests they are serving. Not to mention the incredible strength it takes to carry multiple plates and dishes of significant weight without dumping anything on the table. Then there’s cocktail and wine service, refilling of water glasses, offering grated parmesan, freshly ground pepper and whatever else is needed to ensure a perfect evening. Imagine balancing all of this for a full section and now it’s time to take the bill to your party of sixteen, knowing all of your other tables are waiting for their bills. You drop the bill, inform your table that you’ll be right back when one of the guests says,
“We want separate bills. I’m splitting the bottle of white wine with her and her,” as she pointed across the table to two of her friends.
“Split my dessert with him”, said another.
Ours is together but put one of his beers [pointing down the table to another guest] on our bill. He can pay for the rest himself.
And so it went, until thirteen different invoices were figured out for a party of sixteen. Our server patiently worked it out without showing any sign of stress. She didn’t want to upset anybody. Understandably, several of the other tables waiting for their bills were frustrated. She handled the situation with grace and hoped her guests would understand.
Before owning a restaurant, it would never have occurred to me to be mindful of the pressure put upon servers with the simple request of, ‘could you split the bill?’ Who knew?
After New Years, Ralph and I flew to Calgary to visit our daughter and her family. I took the opportunity to test a cookie recipe for my favourite cookie monster.
MAKES ABOUT 12 SERVINGS
These traditional almond cookies from Siena, Tuscany are my drop dead fav; the outside is crunchy and the inside is chewy.
- 1¼ cups slivered almonds
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- ½ cup icing sugar, divided, plus more for dusting
- 1 large egg white
- Pinch of kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract