Real long day yesterday, a double. Got home at 11:45 p.m. with a couple beers in me and the Lakers on tap (if you will), so I bagged the blog for the time being. Lakers dominated the Nuggets – a thoroughly enjoyable way to end my night, along with my Bombay martini which with the earlier beers ended up being a little too much. My momma raised me right: I just don’t like to waste gin.
Also, on a personal note I’d like to say a few words about the passing of a very dear friend. Two nights ago, I poured a brilliant Bombay martini into my favorite martini glass. It’s a large bowl, mosaic-like colored glass affair, built very solid. It has served me well. Being so heavy, it really holds onto a chill. Alas, it is made of glass.
There was only one lemon in the house, already partially used for twists. It was pretty desicated, but it also made it sort of like camping where you make do and enjoy it even more for the hardship. I was digging deep with the twist gouger (is there a name for this kitchen tool?) right over the glass. (Note: To those unschooled in the finer points of mixology, when you ‘twist’ a lemon rind, it emits oil from the skin, fragrancing and flavoring the drink. A good server/bartender will do this right over the drink, and then also rub the twist around the inside rim of the glass. Only an amateur will just drop the twist in the drink. Using the kitchen tool – which is uncommon in restaurants – the oil comes out in the rendering of the ‘twist,’ not when you do it with your hands. This is why I was doing it over the drink.) So, in digging deep on the dried lemon, I was using quite a bit of torque. No, I wasn’t buzzed yet – this was my only drink of the day. Well, the lemon squirted out of my hand. Trying to catch it, I toppled my beloved martini glass onto the floor, shattering it and wasting several ounces of gin.
We shared a lot, me and him. He consoled and comforted me at the end of many a long day. He celebrated with me for many Lakers victories. He chimed in on myriad toasts at cocktail parties. He kept cool even when I was losing my head. He was really a great guy.
R.I.P., Martini Glass.
At least my birthday is coming up.
Lunch at Michael’s was consistent with the straight line of the rest of the week. $110 on only four tables. Again, the people with money still have it. It’s the people who have to ‘feel’ wealthy to have lunch at an expensive steakhouse who are missing.
Had a shopping center developer VIP at Michael’s who bemoaned the economy. He said he was okay personally, as ‘we’ve been in cash for a long time,’ but the climate was making everything else difficult for business.
The merit system was at work today, also. This is where the good people get rewarded. I don’t mean me, although I do benefit other times. There’s a great dinner server, Bo, who has been working a lunch shift a week for awhile now. Because of his versatility and ‘game,’ he was awarded a banquet of 12 people (I know, usually banquets are no reward at all, but this one he did alone, and got a $135 tip from it). Further, it was just busy enough that Bo had to pick up tables on the floor. He got a great single diner regular who usually tips 100%. You read that right. His check is $50, his tip is $50. Don’t know for sure what happened but the odds were good. Later, Bo was still on the floor while the rest of us had been cut. In walked Mr. Martha, so-called because he starts his meal by ordering Heitz Cellars Martha’s Vineyard Cab – $200+ – and if there are more than two diners, he’ll order another one later. He then proceeds to order from the more expensive dinner menu. Anyhow, another $100 tip was coming Bo’s way after I left the restaurant.
I admit I was jealous, but I don’t begrudge Bo his good fortune. He earned it. That’s why I also despise servers who complain when a good server ‘gets all the good tables.’ There’s a reason why when it’s a coin flip who gets the good table, the manager will lean toward the most competent guy/gal available. The managers want to protect this valuable asset. If they can be sure someone will give their prize customers a great experience, they’ll pick that person every time. It’s just good business (and managerial job security). And it’s a deserved reward for competence.
Carney’s was busy like the holiday season was already on us. Very pleasant and energizing. Tip pool yielded $253 a person.
Had a guy who brought in his own l’aventure Optimus Cab from Paso Robles. He wouldn’t shut up about how great it was, how awesome the vintner’s wines were, how he had such a great collection of them, how he would bring in the two top-tier wines and let me taste them next time. Coincidentally, I’d tried the wine years earlier, and even remembered it. I shared my recollection with him, and I was spot-on in my evaluation at that time (so he said). Even so, having demonstrated my knowledge of the wine, it didn’t stop him from continuing to ‘educate’ me about it. He ordered the big lobster dinner for two and had a nice check. At the end he said he ‘thoroughly enjoyed’ me and my service . . . Oh-oh! Yep. 15%.
Then there was the very dicey-looking late table – an old guy with a shaky gait and his extreme-facial surgery/possible-transsexual wife. They split a dinner and a dessert, and left a 25% tip. You just never can tell.
Frank the Bartender was in peak form (no sarcasm here for a change). He was calm to start the shift and an absolute dervish slinging drinks for us. Four separate times I heard compliments on the speed of cocktail service. It is a major strength at Carney’s.
But there’s a reason, I believe, for his peak form. My theory will be tested tonight. So if you can hang on, I’ll post the results after the shift. Hint: it involves Vicodin.