Tuesday, April 22, 2014

No Real Menu at Lunch – iPads Only

I took a fellow senior to lunch at the new Byerly’s Kitchen yesterday. His name is also Charlie. He’s actually more senior than I by about 12 years. We have lunch together nearly every Monday.
by Charlie Leck
Now imagine this… This new restaurant doesn’t have normal waiters and/or waitresses. They have iPads. I’m used to them. Charlie is not. He was flabbergasted, but we worked our way through the menu. I ordered a Chardonnay for Charlie and a hot-tea for me. We each ordered seared tenderloin tips with glazed vegetables. It was served with sautéed shitake mushrooms, mashed potatoes and some nice fresh vegetables – all covered in a delectable gravy sauce. Our lovely luncheon dish showed up, but not the wine or coffee. I had to get up and go to the bar to talk about the wine order. It hadn’t gone through. My tea, I was told, would be brought over by a coffee shop in another part of the building. We complained that we didn’t get a roll or piece of bread with our lovely stew. That, we were told, would have to come from the bakery in another part of the establishment. The restaurant was not allowed to compete with them. Hot, black coffee showed up instead of my tea. I was worn down by this time and didn’t complain. The elder Charlie shook his head sadly at where the world had arrived and proclaimed that we shouldn’t eat here again.
“I like a menu,” he said, “One for you and one for me! And I like a real person to wait on us, so he can ask if we’d like a roll or a piece of bread with that. And butter?”
I mentioned that one day we’d probably fly to Europe on planes with no pilots. We’ll fly in drones that would be piloted from a central airline headquarters and drinks and snacks would be brought to us by electronic tables that slid up and down the aisles; and we’d each have our own individual iPads with a selection of dozens of movies or games to keep us occupied as we flew. He looked at me quizzically.
“What happens in emergencies?”
“Won’t be any!”
Charlie shook his head and mumbled something about being glad he was as old as he was.
He called to a young lady who was clearing tables nearby.
“Can’t I get a waitress over here?”
She shrugged and shook her head at him, embarrassed.
Charlie was agitated. He shook his head.
“Right across the street, at The Muni, they’ve got waitresses and menus for God’s sake!” He was talking about the Wayzata municipal bar and restaurant just across the way.
I was okay with this fancy place, but I was irritated that I couldn’t even order a piece of bread or a roll to sop up that wonderful gravy left-over in my bowl. I looked at it longingly. Honest to God! They told me I’d have to get up and walk over to the little grocery section on the same level and buy the bread I wanted from the bakery. Now that was a little too much for me.
“Yup,” I said, “and they’ve got bread at The Muni, too. Suppose, if you order a hamburger here, you have to walk over to the bakery to order the bun?”
“Let’s not come here again,” Charlie said, shaking his head.
“Like us on Facebook,” it said on our receipt. I decided I wouldn’t. The place was busy. The bar was well occupied. People seemed to be having a good time. The big, wood-fired pizza oven was roaring. Diners wouldn’t need to tip a server. The prices were good. Yet, you couldn’t get a damned single piece of bread.
“I’m sorry,” the manager told me.
“Healthier, I guess,” I replied to the nervous young lady, “if I don’t eat bread and butter.”
“We’re not coming here again,” Charlie said to her.
“I’m sorry,” she shrugged and her expression indicated that it might be best!


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