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Fine dining experiences

Over the years, I have had some unique restaurant experiences of the fine dining caliber. There was my first experience with a waiter who did not write your order down. He stood with hands clasped and a smug look as our party of four recited their orders. Impressive. He bowed and exited, to return later with every order wrong. The other end of this spectrum was the old railroad dining car where you wrote your order on a pre-printed order slip and handed it to the waiter. The food left something to be desired, but they did get the orders right.Then there was the place that advertised a waterfront view: the view was of a boatyard with a lot of nautica in white shrink wrap. You had to stand up to get a glimpse of the Hudson River. The tables were a little tight. Every time the busboy came down the single aisle with his tub cart, I took a hit to the elbow. The appetizers and salads arrived simultaneously. The waiter hovered. What was the problem? It seems the entrées were also ready. They did not recommend that we have them held until we were ready. It seems this would let them get cold.There was the Great Bread Incident. On one of my jobs I had to take the director and staff of one of the SUNY libraries to lunch. I chose a pretty snappy looking location with perpetual torches burning at the entrance. As with better establishments, we were inundated with servers. It seemed like everybody had a specialty. There was the water person, the butter person, the salad person, the alcohol serve, and the entree delivery. Maybe I just imagined this. Possibly all of the waiters from the various tables were just rotating duties to stimulate the tip. They brought out the bread trolley, a dome-covered cart on wheels and parked it next to me. Fortunately, I took a close look at the bread before passing it out. There were little crawly things among the loaves. When I brought this to the bread waiter’s attention, he confirmed my observation and immediately whisked the offending cart away, never to be seen again. No bread for us.Back in the 1960s I had to meet some business associates for lunch. It seems that I could not be seated without a jacket. I mean, they had a sign and everything. They were prepared for this emergency. I was given a waiter’s jacket, which I had to wear during the meal. I was OK with this. Since I was dressed for it, I pocketed the tip. Check!Bill Abrams resides, and often even dines, in Pine Plains.

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