Get Me Some Cream Frenchie

Posted: Thursday, November 05, 2009 | Posted by Jaba |

Nothing is more obnoxious than being at a McDonald’s or any other fast-food joint and having to stand behind the Hot Fry Guy. You know who I’m talking about. You probably have friends like him, or perhaps you are one yourself. It’s the guy who insists on being served only the fries that have just come out of the fryer, like he’s some kind of damn French fry connoisseur whose taste buds would be tarnished if they’re touched by stale fries. If he’s served fries that have spent any time at all outside of the fryer, he’ll refuse them and ask the poor counter guy to go back and schlep him the batch fresh from the fryer, as if the two minutes spent under the hot lamp are going to screw up the fries to the point that it ruins his exquisite $3.99 culinary experience. You’re at a McD’s jackass. Your meal including drink costs less than the starter salad at a sit-down restaurant. The guy serving you your meal wears a paper hat and makes minimum wage. Life sucks for him enough. He doesn’t have to put up with your shenanigans about the fries.


If you’re at a sit-down restaurant, with an actual waiter, and the price per meal is more than a lap-dance, I say that you are entitled to some basic level of quality and service. And this bar is raised even further when your meal starts going above a lap dance or two, and starts approaching Champagne Room prices. Last night, a few of us took out our friend who was visiting from Alabama. We decided to take her to a rustic French restaurant called Bleu Boheme located in this hip part of San Diego called Kensington Park. We’ve been to this restaurant a few times and have always enjoyed the food and ambiance. Knowing that we were going to have this dinner last night, my mind (and belly) was fixated on their mussels in wine and cream sauce. It’s absolutely divine (hmmm…I believe man rule states that I can’t describe something as “divine”…oh well).

We were seated at our reservation time of 8PM and immediately ordered a couple boards of cheeses and meats (Les Planches) and a bottle of red wine. We were in a great mood. The food and wine were delicious, the conversation was great. The waitress returns to take our order.

“I’m sorry, but I just want to let you know that the kitchen has run out of cream.”

Run out of cream? What the fuck??? You’re a French restaurant. How the hell do you run out of cream? Isn’t cream the base for many of your sauces? And most importantly, how the fucking hell are you now going to make my mussels with wine and cream sauce?

“I’m sorry sir, but we can only serve you the mussel dishes without the cream.”

The blood pressure starts rising. I cannot believe I am going to get screwed out of my dish, the one I’ve been craving for all week. I try to keep calm. Our friend is a sweet, lovely Southern Belle and I don’t want to act like a total jackarse in front of her. So I bite my tongue and order the mussels without the cream.

Minutes pass. I do a poor job hiding my seething anger. My friends try changing the topic but I can’t help thinking about the ridiculousness of a French restaurant running out of cream. It’s like a hamburger joint running out of ketchup or a Vietnamese restaurant running out of fish sauce. It doesn’t make any sense.

The food arrives. I take a sip of the broth. It sucks. There’s too much white wine flavor which, without the cream, overpowers the sauce. I refuse to have anymore. I call the waitress over to take away the food. A few minutes later, the manager comes to our table:

“Is there something wrong with the mussels?”

“Yeah, I don’t like it. I wanted to mussels with the wine and cream sauce but apparently you ran out of cream.”

She then proceeded to rattle off a laundry list of reasons why they ran out of cream: it was a busy night, one of the waitresses called in sick so they were short-staffed and couldn’t send anyone to go buy cream, and (most absurdly) the supermarket is closed.

Let’s break down each of these lame excuses one by one:

It was a busy night. You’re always fucking busy. There’s never a time when your restaurant is not packed. You serve French food. How do you not have crates and crates of cream in your fridge???

They were short-staffed so no one could go buy cream.
Let me get this straight, you’re telling me you couldn’t send the busboy who was over at our table every couple of minutes filling up our water glasses down to the supermarket to buy some cream? I suspect your guests would have been just fine going 20 minutes without a water refill.

The supermarket is closed.
We don’t live in fucking Utah. The supermarket will be open at 9PM.

Needless to say I was pissed. I told the manager Ill give someone $40 to go run and buy some damn cream. That didn’t work. She apologized and ask if there’s anything else they can provide on the house. Rather than calming me down, her offer pissed me even more. Look bitch, I can buy my own damn food. I don’t need no fucking comp’d meal. I want my fucking mussels with wine and cream sauce and I’m willing to pay your shithead employee triple the list price to make it properly.

Here’s my problem with what happened last night: It’s not like I was asking for something absurd like Python blood and became indignant when they tell me that don’t have any in stock. I was asking for something that they have on their menu, made with an ingredient that is a basic staple in their type of cuisine. And even if you run out, we live in a fucking major city in fucking America, not in some starving village in North Korea…go out and buy some more and make your customer happy you dipshit!!!

And yes, I’ll likely be boycotting Bleu Boheme after last night’s incident. But unfortunately, this type of bewildering customer service isn’t limited to French bistros. In fact, it happens quite frequently, even at nice restaurants. Once we were dining at the luxurious Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui and I tried ordering surf and turf, specifically steak and lobster, and more specifically ribeye steak and lobster. You figure this request would be easily accommodated at a fine establishment like the Kea Lani, especially considering they offer all the components of the requested dish on their menu. Well my friends, you would figure wrong. Apparently the surf and turf can only be served with the filet (real men don’t eat filet) and cannot be replaced with the ribeye. Again, they have the ribeye there. That’s not the issue. They just cant serve a ribeye as part of the surf and turf. I told our waiter that money is no object. Just charge me more for the ribeye. Again, he says it’s not possible. I finally told him:

“Look, I'll order the ribeye AND the surf and turf with the filet. Have the cook throw away the filet and replace it with the ribeye.”

His response?

“I’ll see if the chef can do that.”

I almost killed a man that night.