Red got me tickets for my birthday, over a month ago, to go see Billy Joel in concert at the Rose Garden in Portland today. First, let me say that the Piano Man certainly does not disappoint in his concert - a thorough mix of favorites going back to before I was born up to much more contemporary stuff, and at one point getting a member of his road crew up to do the vocals for an asskicking cover of Highway to Hell. Simply awesome.
But let's backtrack just a bit, for I have something about which I wish to rant.
Consider this. You run a restaurant which, on nights that the Rose Garden is actually doing something, represents the closest (and, for all I know, only) thing resembling an actual restaurant with real food within walking distance. As such, you are guaranteed standing-room-only attendance from people who, like me this evening, are hungry, and who, like me, want to partake of something with alcoholic content. One would think that, under such circumstances, one might make an effort to create an environment where people are interested in eating, with food people are interested in eating, and with staff capable of delivering it.
Sadly, this is not the case.
First, we came into the Rose Garden before the concourse was actually open. How we managed this, I'm not quite certain, but Red and I were chased off the "concourse" by an officious red-bejacketed harridan demanding to know what I was doing as I was walking by, as if it weren't relatively obvious that a) I was walking and b) I had no particular destination as evidenced by my inquisitive looks at all and sundry. I was told I could go into the above-mentioned restaurant, or exit the Rose Garden, but one way or another, my foray into the wild realm of Breaking The Rules was at an end. I felt like such a lawbreaker.
Anyway, so the restaurant was an option, right? I could go and get a drink, whiling away the hour and a half I had to await for the show with a beer and food. Ah, bliss!
Sadly, this was not the case. We didn't have a reservation. Lawbreaking denied, we were ushered toward the doors with all the hospitality of a dinner hostess toward a guest bearing a roadkilled possum as a door gift. Into the actually sub-freezing temperatures we went. Were there other options for food and drink, you ask? Well, no. Not so much.
25 minutes and approximately three frostbitten toes apiece later, we were permitted entry once more upon the concourse, somewhat chastened. We made our way to the restaurant, and waited in line for a table, were seated by a pleasant hostess, and then the real fun began.
Were I a waitress (and I'm not - I don't have the legs or the pleasant temperament for it), I would make an effort to learn the ways of fermented spirits; specifically, I would take the time to learn the difference between an amber ale and a cream stout porter. When asked for one, and given the wrong one by the bartender, I would not deliver it and ask with a blank gum-chewing look, "Well, that's whatcha wanted, dintcha?". No, see, amber ale is reddish/amber in color and transparent. Cream stout porter is as dark as strong coffee, and has a distinct creamy head on it.
Were I a professional cook (and I'm not, see above), I would not serve up a requested reuben sandwich with a) soggy, greasy marbled rye bread, b) enough mayonnaise that, if one were to wring it out, could be used to fry the accompanying fries in, c) a mere wisp of sauerkraut, and d) barely enough corned beef to constitute a halfhearted insult. The sandwich was vile in every describable way, and a few that can't be put in English. Not that I didn't try. Its sole redeeming feature was that it was hot, which I appreciated more than the revolting texture or cardboard-soaked-in-axle-grease taste. Were I a professional cook, I would also not serve up limp fries that had noticeably been fried in the same batch of nasty oil that had been used for deep frying fish of some unidentified kind.
The less said about Red's "Asian Salad", the better.
Were I an owner of an establishment, I would not charge $11 for the aforementioned sandwich and fries, and I would not be charging $8 for a 14-oz plastic cup of porter. The beer, at least, tasted okay, but that's probably because they had somebody from another company doing the tap cleaning and carbonation. I would have left a $.03 tip if I had had any pennies, but since I didn't, I left a note reading as follows:
"You have accomplished and served the most inedible food at the most unreasonable prices I've ever found. Congratulations on your achievement."