Dinner at the Misteak House

I feel like I'm running a scam. But it's perfectly legal I guess. My husband and I occasionally go to the local steakhouse chain where we never bring a coupon and never pay full price. This steakhouse chain could create a whole new marketing strategy to promote it: "When we screw-up, your dinner's on us... And we always screw up. Come in for a free meal Sunday thru Saturday, opening til closing!"

Typically we go out to dinner on a Friday or Saturday night. That place gets pretty crowded. We take our little spaceship beeper they give you when you check in at the door, go outside and wait for it to blink and vibrate while I strategically position my husband between my thick head of hair and the smokers.

My husband and I are not the pickiest of restaurant-goers. We've learned what not to do from the best: My father and my father-in-law: Opposite sides of the same passive-aggressive coin. The host at the front door of the restaurant would say: "Follow me". My father would let him/her get a few paces ahead so he could see what table they were under the impression they were going to seat us at. The rest of the family was standing behind Dad saying our silent family chant: "Please let this table not be too dark or too small or near the bathroom or near the kitchen or blocked by someone who's sitting half at their table and half in the aisle, or too close to another table or where the entire wait staff is going to have to brush past us" because we knew if any of the above was true, Jerry was going to throw his arms in the direction of the table and exclaim to the host/hostess a full ten feet away: "I'm not sitting there! You're out of your mind."

Then you have my father-in-law: The anti-Jerry. He will never send any food back under any circumstances whatsoever. He could find a human elbow in the middle of his spaghetti, his plate could be illuminated by the red ambulance lights streaming through the window, EMS workers could be storming through the restaurant, diners could be staring at the kitchen as they hear: "Keep looking, Edgar. It's gotta be here somewhere", and he still wouldn't summon the server or let anyone else do it for him. "Don't you dare say anything! It's okay. I can eat around it."

So my husband and I, like I said, have learned from the best and, mercifully, are like neither of them. But somehow, at this one steakhouse, things are always amiss. Three times ago we waited 40 minutes to get any food at all except for our nice lump of bread that's always accompanied by a dish of butter in a restaurant that doesn't seem to own any butter knives. You always have to debate whether to use the meat cleaverish knife they provide to spread on the butter or dip the bread right into the little butter dish. On a first date, the latter could be awkward but we've been married for a while so I don't mind him publicly dipping his bread into my butter dish. (Where was I?) Apparently, at that visit, our little pumpernickel loaf was meant to sustain us for 40 minutes. I felt like we were hiding in a foxhole and had to ration our last bit of food because we had no idea if or when anybody would come to rescue us.

A slew of people came over to apologize: "Oh, I'm so sorry. We're very busy tonight." And who could have predicted it would have been busy at 7:30 on a Friday night? The worst part of the apologies was that they were all delivered by empty-handed people. "I see someone coming toward us but he's not carrying anything. Oh crap, it's probably just another apology." At this point, we were determined to ignore anyone who approached without a tray in one hand and a portable luggage stand to set it down on in the other. We were just not having a g'day.

For our pain and suffering we left with a pass for a free appetizer at the next visit which came about three months later. This time we got our entrées in 20 minutes which were followed shortly thereafter by our appetizer. We said it was okay, we no longer wanted the appetizer at which time the manager graciously offered to take our free appetizer off the bill. So now it was free twice. Bloomin' great.

After a few months, we decided to take another shot just for the thrill of the adventure and to see what we might score this time without trying. This time it was the steak itself. My husband and I both ordered our steaks medium-rare. His was medium-rare. I estimate that mine was medium-rare around the time I was brushing my teeth that morning.

Oddly enough (or not) lots of other people have told us eerily similar stories about their experiences with this chain in different parts of the Country. So maybe it is us. Maybe we're all just picky pains-in-the-ass. Or maybe someone needs to get all the managers of this chain together and take them out back.