Hindsight is 20/20. I don’t know what we were even thinking, going to a restaurant named SugarToad. I hate (am terrified of and disgusted by) frogs. But, while the name left me thinking of a warty toad flailing around in my sugar dish, the menu looked pretty good. And, it was about 30 minutes from our home, so we thought we’d embark on a little dining adventure.
The restaurant is located in a hotel — a pretty nice hotel — and I guess due to my experiences with hotel bars/restaurants (dp and Yono’s being two great examples), I thought this was a plus. We were pretty excited to potentially be in a hip, modern place surrounded by people our age.
We made 8:30 reservations. And, we got lost getting there. But, I called and let the hostess know we were running late, and asked if she could provide directions based on where we were. She could not. I asked her to confirm their address for me, and she had to put me on hold to find it. She asked me if I could call back if we weren’t able to find them, to let them know we wouldn’t be coming. “Absolutely”, I told her. I would hate for someone to be waiting for a table when they could have ours.
We finally get there at 8:50 to find a completely empty restaurant, aside from a table of 4 diners in their 60s/70s seated smack in the middle. The hostess greets us, without looking at us, and with a bitchy tone, asks “Did you have reservations, by any chance?”
“Yes, we did. For 8:30. I called…”
She nods silently and looks behind her, at the (empty) dining area, looks back at us, looks back at the dining area with a confused look on her face, as if she doesn’t know where to seat us amongst alllll the empty tables. This is just too much for me.
“Unsure of where to put us” my fiance asks. I mean, this is weird.
She “finds” a table for us near the window and asks if we want a drink, since she’ll also be our server. I don’t know what to do, and she’s waiting for an answer, so I did what I normally do when a server is wanting my drink order before I can even take a glance at the drink menu.
I order a glass of Riesling.
15 minutes later — my glass of wine arrives. We discuss leaving after I finish it. Despite my hesitation, because I don’t particularly like drawing attention to myself (and this would, given the quietness of the place) and creating an awkward situation by having to actually explain why we’re ditching our dinner reservation and cashing out after a drink — we tell our server we’d like the check.
“Yeah, I could kind of tell that”, she says, flatly. “Is it not ‘happening’ enough here? Did I do anything?”
“Right, yeah. No, no — just the check is fine, thank you.” She awkwardly — and slightly intimidatingly — continues to stand silently next to our table, I guess maybe because she knows she’s screwed up, and to see if we offer anything else in the way of an explanation. We don’t.
She brings our change, and as she is walking away, she says “Sorry you’re upset about something…” Ugh. I can see — and feel — the bartender and another member of the waitstaff staring in our direction. The vibe in this place is now creepy. As we stand up to make our way out, the apparent manager rushes to beat us to the door, and stands by it. I’m thinking we’re either about to be sacrificed in order to keep the SugarToad Gods happy or he wants an answer for our departure, too.
We get to the door and he sarcastically says, “Thanks, guys.”
My blood boils at this. I would have said something, but 1) we were in an unfamiliar place, and 2) we just wanted to l-e-a-v-e.
On the drive home, I wonder if what we did was “right.” We made reservations (even if we didn’t have to), we showed up late (even if it wasn’t on purpose), we allowed the hostess/server to seat us, we ordered a drink and then we said we were leaving. Was it our fault for not acting on instinct and leaving before things got past the point of a gracious exit? Were we wrong in not giving our server a detailed explanation of our unhappiness? Were we obligated to stay and eat? And, on the other hand — should we have complained to the manager about the situation/treatment?
All of those questions sloshed around my head just like the glass of wine I hurriedly guzzled.
Thank goodness TGI Fridays was able to console me at 10 p.m. with a Cosmo, warm pretzel sticks and craft beer cheese dipping sauce.