“HOW IS YOUR meal?” I asked with a rehearsed smile on my face, tensing my routine muscle group. Much of the food had disappeared.
Four of them sat there, stuffing their mouths, three men and a woman, possibly all related on account of their manners. The restaurant was winding down for the night they were the second table still to leave. I had a tenner bet with Douglas the KP that they wouldn’t tip.
Part of my mind froze at this beginning to a sentence, it never ended well.
“..my steak was a little overdone and her soup wasn’t hot enough. Other than that…” A lingering note of sarcasm resonated from his blue cheese doused lips and wet chin.
“I do apologise. May I take them back and replace them? Or you can order something else?” My pad and pencil were ready, my memory wasn’t to be trusted.
The elder gent surveyed the table and his possibly maybe neice/ daughter before responding. “No, but I would like to have some sort of reduction on the bill. I won’t pay for poorly cooked food, it’s expensive as it is.” His ensemble looked at him then down at the table in mutual embarrassment.
“Certainly. I’ll speak to the manager.” My manager had left early for the night.
I explained to the chef what happened and he said he recognised the moaner from another joint he works at part-time. Guy always comes in complaining about the food, eats it all then asks for a reduction. To quote Ally, head chef, “He’s a fucking chancer. Give him a complimentary pudding.”
I whirled back to the table and offered a free desert as well as 20% off the bill.
“20%?” said blue cheese face in disgust, outraged eyes searching for something around me. “Try fifty! Two meals spoilt out of four, fifty seems fair to me. Doesn’t it?” he said wiping his face with napkin, eyeballing me. The rest looked at me apologetically, sorry for the company they kept, but not sorry enough to say anything.
“Of course sir! I’ll just clear your plates.”
“And don’t forget the desert!” he said as I left with my arms laden.
I returned to take their orders for the pudding. Two of them professed to be very full already, but this idea of a revolt, of not taking a free pudding would not stand at table 16.
I gave Ally the check and went to grab a drink while I could. Cold water felt like ecstasy after eight hours of non-stop running.
Before I took the puddings out Ally specifically pointed out that the one on the right, a crème brulee was for “the fucking chancer” and him only.
I served the deserts which were wolfed down within a minute.
Only once they’d left (without tipping, but leaving me £10 richer) did I question why the brulee on the right was for the moany bastard. I asked Ally what he’d done as he stood outside the kitchen door smoking. His lips curled up in a cheeky smile. “I can’t say. But it’s worth losing 50% of the bill over.”