Thursday, May 03, 2007

odd restaurant behavior

Yesterday I went to Sergio's, a Brazilian-ish restaurant in University Circle, with a friend. This isn't a restaurant review, but I will say that we both had the Carioca Burger, with 2 sauces (one a kind of salsa, the other intensely green and pesto-like), and crispy fries which came with an amazing spiced ketchup for dipping. And we shared pistachio gelato for dessert, fighting politely over the crunchy nuts. Everything was very good (I guess that was a review, a mini one anyway).
But the odd thing that happened at the next table is still on my mind. We were seated on a banquette with several small tables spaced out along its length, and 2 women were at the next 2-table. I can't describe them (and probably shouldn't) because I didn't want to inspect them--it's hard to observe someone minutely and covertly who is only an arm's length away from you. With good restaurant etiquette, you are supposed, usually, to pretend that they are invisible, and that you can't hear their conversation.
But in fact, although I observe this convention of invisibility, I always eavesdrop if I can (I consider it my duty as a writer), and in the interstices of my own interesting conversation with Plan B (writing, MFAs, our bookish childhoods, etc.) I heard snips and bits of the talk at the next table--nothing startling, just 2 friends out for lunch.
But at one point, I heard one say to the other "isn't this good?" and I glanced over to see what they were talking about, for in restaurants, don't we all want to know what they're eating at the other tables? don't we all feel that we might have missed the best thing on the menu?
So I slid my eyes sideways: they were eating biscotti, and I began to lose interest, since I don't like biscotti (too hard, often flavorless). But then I remembered that there was no biscotti on the dessert menu (we had just looked at it). And when I looked back, I noticed that they seemed to have taken it out of a bag.
Our pistachio gelato arrived just then, and under the cover of our waiter's setting it on the table (marvelously pale green, in a martini glasses, the 2 spoons with their handles pointing in opposite directions, ready to be grasped by our opposing right hands), I saw that yes, it was a bag, partially hidden under a napkin. I could see but not read the printing on the bag, a small transparent bakery sort of a bag. They were eating at one of the best restaurants in town and had brought in their own food!
I wanted so much to say to Plan B--look at what they're doing! But our tables were so close (I could have broken off a piece of the biscotti without even straightening my arm all the way), that I refrained. And then I forgot about it in the flurry of our departure, both away to our respective offices.
But how odd. And why? Sergio's has other magnificent desserts besides gelato--their coconut cake is amazing, for instance. And isn't this a variety of high incivility? I've been in places (Arabica coffee houses) that have signs prohibiting people from bringing in and eating their own food, but I guess Sergio's didn't think they'd have to go this far.


Maureen McHugh said...

Maybe this was a shopping followed by lunch expedition, and they found the biscotti and (being lavish biscotti fans, which, like you, I am not) they couldn't stand to wait any longer the way I am sometimes with French Fries in a take out dinner?

But it does seem...silly. Especially if coconut cake is an option.

Brian Kornell said...

I noticed them as well. I really wanted to talk about them, but like you said they were too close. I heard them tell the waiter that they had brought the food from Whole Foods. One of them said that they heard how good the desserts were there and had to try them.

C'mon, with gelato and coconut cake on the menu, the Whole Foods taste test could have waited.

Maureen McHugh said...

The deserts at Whole Foods are Not Bad. Some of them are even Quite Good.

But they are not Great.

kitchen hand said...

Yes, that is unacceptable bahaviour in a restaurant. But I see it all the time. The waiters just kind of give up.

Anonymous said...

And did these twits also walk in with barely covered, grimy feet? I would have expected that sort of behaviour from, say, a young child or a teenager, but not a grown woman.

Well, unless your name is Britney Spears, that is. ;-)


Kristin Ohlson said...

Maybe they thought Sergio's didn't have a dessert permit-- you know, like people bring wine into restaurants without a permit to serve alcohol?

Just kidding, of course. I love Sergio's deep-fried spinach more than anything else on the menu.