When Bad Restaurants Happen To Good People

On Saturday afternoon, after we'd been ice-skating in Hyde Park---and then to the Authentic And Traditional German Christmas Market; please note that it was not just Authentic but also Traditional---my friends and I went looking for somewhere to eat. We dismissed cafe after cafe, pub after pub, restaurant after restaurant. Most were too crowded, some were too touristy, some were simply too closed. After half an hour of wandering around Central London, looking for somewhere to rest our weary souls (and bottoms), we spied a restaurant that was something of an anomaly in the area, in that it didn't have seventeen thousand people spilling out of its front door. "There!" we said, and crossed the road to go inside.

Well, that was our first mistake, going inside. Because once you're inside, you can't really leave again, can you? You can't leave even when you discover that the decor apparently hasn't been updated since the restaurant opened in 1973, that the waiters are all wearing TUXEDOS for god's sake, and that, aside from the octogenarian gentleman slouched in the corner, polishing off a bottle of wine by himself and making hilarious small talk with the waiters, you are, in fact, the only patrons. (Come to think of it, the dude in the corner probably hadn't moved since 1973 either. One of his choice lines, delivered in a very, very, very posh British accent, was "Stavros? Do you know what a bassoon is?" Except he drew the word "bassoon" out to make it last at least as many decades as he'd been around on earth, and we all had to look around desperately at something else in the room, just to avoid catching each others' eyes and snickering. Did he really not know what a bassoon was? Do you think it was a euphemism? Or will we never really know?)

So this restaurant, it was atrocious; but we were stuck there, the six of us, wedged into this booth, being snapped at because we hadn't decided what we wanted to order quickly enough, and then being snapped at again because too many of us were ordering the halloumi and not enough of us were ordering the chips. (They really wanted us to order the chips.) There was a random dish of butter sitting on the table, and it had been sitting there for about twenty minutes, when Josh said "Um, excuse me, do you think we might have some bread for the butter, please?" Our waiter glowered at us. "IT IS COMING!" he shouted. "THE CHEF IS VERY BUSY MAKING IT FOR YOU IN THE KITCHEN."

Oh, the food, it was awful. It was the sort of food you probably got at restaurants in the 1970s and just put up with because you didn't know any better. At least three quarters of it had just been taken out of the cardboard package and microwaved, and also, seriously, is moussaka supposed to contain peas? Because I really didn't think so. To top it all off, gross food is one thing, but gross expensive food is quite another, and I'm fairly confident this restaurant made enough from our one disgusting afternoon meal there to keep their doors open for the next six years. Be warned! We're sorry!

The one bright spot, however, was that there was plenty to laugh about, not least the waiter's attempts to take a photo of us. He did eventually get one---well, sort of; apparently I am either sucking a lemon, imitating a chipmunk, or (more likely) in mid-chew---but not before accidentally taking a movie of us NOT ONCE BUT TWICE, because he couldn't figure out what button to press.

Behold, an accidentally awesome nine seconds of footage featuring six people and their frozen smiles posing awkwardly for a photograph in a sub-par restaurant while the tuxedoed waiter gets confused by modern technology. Happy whatever holiday you celebrate. This is all you're getting from me.

The Waiter Gets Confused By My Camera from Holly on Vimeo.

Bird of Paradise
Dec 05, 2007

Hilarious! The waiter sounds frustrated here, too. I like the strange 'vines' on the ceiling. Very chic.

Dec 05, 2007

oh my goodness, where was this?! thank goodness for the waiter and having something to laugh about...

Dec 05, 2007

When in doubt, have a squint at TrustedPlaces.com in advance, especially in London. I ate at a place in NYC which sounds almost identical to this place, I'll not be returning.

Dec 05, 2007

I love that the waiter is hovering between crying and getting really angry that you're not giving him proper directions. ("I pressed and nothing happened!") The fact that he captured it all on video is nothing but perfect.

Dec 05, 2007

The way the camera shakes violently just as he presses the shutter is particularly encouraging.

Dec 05, 2007

Awesome. What the heck is moussaka? I know what a bassoon is, Stavros, but what is the moussaka? It just sounds so disturbing.

Dec 05, 2007

I cant stop laughing at his "But I pushed it and nothing happened!"

Dec 05, 2007

Oh my! You poor things. Bad food and expensive food do not go together!

Dec 05, 2007

Oh, sure you could have left. Once our family walked into a Macaroni Grill, and Ben was carrying Sam, who had a stomach ache and proceeded to barf all over his father's back and also the lobby of the restaurant. So we left. We were all like "Hi! We just stopped by to throw up on you! Seeya!"

That waiter must have been drunk. I got motion sickness watching that video.

Dec 05, 2007

The sign on the door says CLOSED!

Dec 05, 2007

best. video. ever.

Nothing But Bonfires
Dec 05, 2007

It said OPEN when we came in!

natalie 42
Dec 05, 2007

Well that was just brilliant! And I think that is the skinniest restaurant table ever!

Rachael W
Dec 05, 2007

I, too, have a camera on which the "movie" option is right next to the "photo" option. As a result, I have a series of 5-second clips of people holding still, me and a friend bouncing up and down awkwardly (our method of "dancing"), and one of me drinking a milkshake while waiting for my brother to take a photo. The videos you get out of those types of mistakes are usually (unintentionally) hilarious.

Dec 05, 2007

hehe! i love how he said, "i finished it and nothing happened?!" - did he think it was a polaroid camera?

Dec 05, 2007

That post could easily be an episode of Fawlty towers - you even have the foreign waiter ---- "But I preeeesss and narthi happen".

Nothing But Bonfires
Dec 05, 2007

Anna, yes! It was exactly like Fawlty Towers! And the waiter was our very own Manuel.

Dec 06, 2007

Hee! The very first time I traveled to the UK we made our first stop in Brighton. The food at the restaurant we unfortunately stopped at while there remains a source of conversation and revile even now, almost 12 years later.

Bad food will do that to you! Our hamburger patties tasted and looked exactly like hockey pucks. With charred edges.

Sarah Marie
Dec 06, 2007

I have a handful of 5-10 second videos of friends posing for the picture they thought I was taking, when I was actually and knowingly taking a video. They are so funny to watch later on, especially if alcohol is involved.

I know I'll get my comeuppance sooner or later--they are a rowdy bunch. Especially if alcohol is involved.

Dec 07, 2007

I have to wonder if the camera was shaking because the waiter ALREADY EATEN the food! Finding yourself trapped in a bad restaurant is so awful. You are so right about the fact that we always seem to stay even if we start to realize a restaurant is bad. Why is that? When I was about 10 years old, we were on a family vacation and we did not have much money. We went into a fancy restaurant and when my dad saw the prices he made us all get up and leave. I was so humiliated, which is why I probably never leave a restaurant now. I think my dad is smarter than me, because he was right to leave when the conditions, no matter what they were, didn't meet his requirements!

Dec 09, 2007

It was awful. It was. The thought of my vegetarian moussaka still makes my stomach turn. But it was *hilarious*. It's amazing how places like this still manage to stay open: surely the only way this is possible is that their rent was fixed in the 70s.

I'd like to clarify that the reason we had such trouble finding anywhere to eat was not that we lacked local knowledge, but rather that it was special xmas pedestrainised shopping day on Oxford street. As a result the area immediately surrounding it was absolutely *heaving* and all the restaurants full. I has to QUEUE to get into Selfridges, for goodness' sake. Where do all these people come from?

I think Beks could have got a marriage proposal out of that waiter if she'd ordered desert.

Chicago Park N Jet
Dec 11, 2007

Thanks for sharing that video, have you posted it on youtube yet.