Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Stay away from cacti, especially blue ones.

I live in Pogodna Street ('good weather street', cute huh?) which meets Zajączkowska Street ('rabbit street') a couple of buildings along. Where the two meet there's a garish well-known ex-pat hang out and Mexican restaurant 'Blue Cactus'.

I hate that place.

We've only been there four times in the year we've lived in good weather street, so maybe this is hatred based on vast generalisation, but each time has added to my dislike and frustration. Why do we keep going? Well, like I said, we don't go often but it's all of 50m away from our front door and despite the fluorescent tack on the outside of the building, the interior and terrace are warmly and pleasantly decorated; people always look like they're having a good time from the outside and did I mention how close it is?

The first time we went, we were sat next to an obnoxiously loud group of American buisiness men who sent back the salsa (loudly, obnoxiously, in slow English for the foreign waitress) because it wasn't authentic enough for them (you're in Poland?), the next time we had a moderately nice time with a couple of friends, bland food and beer on the terrace in the sun, the third time we were turned away because it was quarter to ten on a Sunday night (and who in their right mind wants to go for a beer at such an ungodly hour??) and the fourth and last time I ever set foot inside that place again was last Sunday (at the much more acceptable time of 8.30pm.)

As we walked in we were greeted by a grimacing hostess: 'Sorry, the kitchen is about to close'. 'Er, good evening', we replied, 'we'd just like a couple of beers, we'll only be half an hour.' She looked pained, 'but we're closing very soon'. I suggested going next door to the Iguana Bar, 'it's closed on Sundays' she admitted. Marek tried to reassure her that we really only wanted a couple of drinks, no food, and that we'd be quick. She sighed and exchanged glances with a loitering waitress as she seated us, handing us the menus with a 'bloody customers' expression and repeating herself 'drinks, ok, but the kitchen is going to close.' She turned on her heel and left.

'Woah,' I thought out loud, 'someone is having a bad day.' Apparently though she wasn't the only one.

An unsmiling waitress came to take our order and went over to the bar without a word to get our beers. The barman, who until this point had been chatting to another waitress and lazily scratching an arm, managed to drag his feet over to the tap and pour our beers. They were brought over and plonked unceremoniously in front of us. I picked a couple of brown specks off the inside of the glass and Marek scooped something out of his foam. 'Is there a problem?' the unsmiling waitress asked. 'Not anymore' I said brightly, smiling at her, trying to coax the corners of her mouth upwards just a fraction. It didn't work, she left.

We tried to ignore the group of waitresses hovering by the bar, bitching about this and that. We tried to ignore the barman who was now polishing glasses, a slight scowl on his face. We tried to have a beer and chat, dismissing the sour atmosphere that hovered around our table. It was no good though; I was well and truly pissed off.

Look, I've been on the other side, I know waiters and waitresses put up with a lot of crap on a daily basis (just look at the stuff this waiter writes about) but honestly! If you work in a service industry, serve! Be pleasant, don't let attitude get in the way and if you want to turn customers away, do so by all means but with a smile and a sorry. We're there to give you money, don't make it so difficult! I would have rather been turned away than have to deal with the condescending, sighing hostess; unfriendly, sarcastic waitress and sloppy barman.

There were plenty of other full tables finishing off meals, we weren't in anyone's way and it was before 9pm on a day preceeding a public holiday. Get your act together!

No, I didn't leave a tip (and I always tip, I was a waitress, I know what it's like) and I won't be back. Ever.

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Blogger Warsaw Crow said...

Sounds (sadly) like an average evening in a Warsaw restaurant/club to me. The only thing missing was a visit from the local mafia buddies (or did they drop in?). That always reveals the kind of service you *can* have.

I recommend Lodz - where they're really happy (read desperate) to work for your money - and the food is better+cheaper too!

3:56 pm  
Anonymous Kinuk said...

We don't mind the food at Blue Cactus, but the service is awful. I also find it offensive that they automatically add a 10% "service charge" to your bill (if you order food). If I find the "service" good, I tip. But Blue Cactus does not offer good service, so I don't see why I should be forced to pay 10% extra on top of the already exaggerated prices. Dreadful.

4:02 pm  
Blogger Gustav said...

Leave it to the bloody Americans to ruin your first impression of the place.

I never had a problem at the place - though the salsa was bland and inauthentic.

Automatic service charges stink.

6:41 pm  
Blogger Becca said...

Crow; no obvious mafia types during our visits, I'll add Lodz to the list of places I must visit in Poland...

Kinuk; maybe that's why they hate people who only want to drink - no compulsory service charge. Also explains the bad service to some extent - if the tip is inevitable, why work for it?

Gus; :-D thought you might focus on my American bashing. I thought about leaving their nationality out, but that wouldn't have been so fun...

7:05 pm  

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