I eat out a lot. This is not a boast, just a reality of being alwaysonholidays. One of the greatest highlights of travelling through a new country is exploring new foods – after all a nations dish is a window into their culture. From entering a haveli in New Delhi for dahl markhani, to sampling okonomiyaki inside an izakaya den in Osaka or immersing ones self in an Art Deco masterpiece to taste bouillabaisse in Paris, there is one common factor that can ruin any dining experience. The dumb waiter.
The dumb waiter can be found standing at the front desk, flipping through blank reservations, looking for your name when you’ve just walked in off the street.
“And just HOW many in your party?”, he will inquire with a smug of superiority.
The reply of two will be met with a deathly silence. My GF and I exchange a glance, we won’t be staying.
However, being alwaysonholidays, I’ve got time to spare. I enquirer about the picturesque table at the window, the one with the view. This is met with more silence, as the dumb waiter scribbles in his book, before finally conceding, “THAT table is for reservations only”. As I said, we won’t be staying.
The dumb waiter is also an expert at the interruption, arriving half way through your meal. He produces a personal business card, butting in on the conversation to try and sell a day trip to the local ‘must sees’. This is followed by a memorised speach on the highlights of the town, made from his summary of Lonely Planet. The speil wraps up with some pricing, and an offer of a friends discount (wink wink) for a trip with him, a tour we won’t be taking.
The dumb waiter can turn up at the end of the night, creeping around for the tip. He’s the guy you never saw, as he has been eating in the kitchen, or covertly drinking, crouched down behind the bar. Red wine on his lips, a speck of sauce on the chin, he will tell you his name writing it down on the bill, insinuating you received attentive service. He concludes with a suggestion that you mention him on Trip Advisor. It’s time to leave.
To hell with the Michelin guide, the quirky review in Lux, for the dumb waiter is the death of a dining experience.