Friday, November 20, 2009

A Wild Night at a Buffet

There was no full moon out, but there should have been. It was just wild on this particular night at the buffet. I am not going to say what buffet. The restaurant, itself, had nothing to do with what was going on. It was the customers.

This was a night that I wished I had the "Rules" written out and could just hand them around. It started at the beginning of dinner with a woman walking around the buffet servers putting food in her plate and then as she walked around from server to server was eating with a fork from her plate as if she was at a cocktail party. This went on for a while. I thought to myself to go over to her and say, "Excuse me, madame, but didn't you get a table. You know they have tables here to sit at while you eat." Deciding not to get into a fracas, I just shook my head and went back to my table - watching her as she continued this until she has put all that she wanted on her plate and went off.

A little latter a group of six came in - two men, three older teen boys and a teen girl. At first they were going to squeeze around a table for four until one of them decided that they actually could put two tables together and fit. Ok. This is fine. It happens all of the time and putting two tables together when possible is always the better alternative. What happened later was the problem. This was an entire table of people who did not know or did not care that you need to take a new plate each time you go up. They would just pick up their plates with sides still on them and walk back to the buffet servers to refill, with serving spoons from the trays plunking down into their dirty dishes.

I had figured I had seen it all for the night, but no these were only the beginning. Over at the carving station a man decides not to wait for the woman who was carving and serving and sticks his own fork into a piece of meat and takes it. The serving fork was right there - but no, he had a fork in his hand and he was going to use it - not to mention that there were others waiting in a line for the woman to come over to carve and serve.

Looking back over toward the buffet servers from our table, now there were several people walking around with forks and plates of food eating from their plates - also as if they were at a party. Strolling and eating. I couldn't believe I had seen one earlier. Now there was a group - and seemingly having nothing to do with the first one.

So what more - well, there were two ladies who had to be having the take out buffet - though they had three styrofoam bowls rather than the usual styrofoam clam-shell box that is usually given out for take out here. I wondered if these were bowls given for the salad bar take out. They had filled each to the brim - and not with salad but with food from the buffet servers. The lid of the last bowl would not go down. This woman kept pushing and compressing, but the bowl was simply just two full. The second woman - perhaps her daughter came over. I though that she was going to try - but no, she picked up the bowl and went with it back to the buffet server. She took several servings of salmon and plopped them on the top of the bowl that already would not close. She put the bowl back down on the counter where the other woman was standing and then they together squeezed everything inside beyond recognition to force the cover on. Off they went out the door with their meal. I actually was surprised that they did not go over to the dessert bar to spoon on some cake or pudding over their dinner.

That was not too different from another woman who continued to spoon items one on top of the other on her plate. What I could see - but there was more underneath was a mound of cabbage, spoonful after spoonful of macaroni and cheese mounded next to that. At this point the plate was filled over six inches high. And just when you would think this was enough until the next trip up, she went over to the serving tray of pot roast. She spooned a mound of pot roast and gravy on top of what was already on her plate. But now the worst part. This plate was so overfull with wet items that when she hovered the plate over the pot roast serving tray, she spilled a large quantity of liquid from the bottom of her plate into the pot roast's serving tray and all over the pot roast. This was her cue to go back to her table - without saying anything ab0ut her spill into the food to anyone.

What a night! At last there had to be one more - this one not so bad. This one was a dangler. He served himself spaghetti from the serving tray and there were two long strands of spaghetti hanging down from his plate - maybe eight or nine inches down. We watched to see if he noticed. He actually did scoop up one of the strands, but for some reason left the other to dangle, as he continued his way around the buffet server.

So there you have it - mostly for your amusement - all true. As I have said before you could not make this stuff up and have anyone find it plausible. My wife said to me that I really should have cards to leave on tables that would direct people to this site and the rules. For the most part, I hope, that those who read this site have the common sense and the manners that would not require "Rules of the Buffet". But oh, there are so many other that need them desperately.


SkippyMom said...

I enjoy your enthusiasm for your restaurant type of choice, but I am curious, do you ever talk to management about some of your peeves? Especially something like the juice from the plate falling back into the pot roast pan? Or do you just avoid the pot roast for the rest of the night?

If so many people break the rules why do you continue to eat at buffets? I discontinue patronizing restaurants that have aspects I dislike, so that is the reason I ask.

Take care and happy eating.

Robert A said...

I just observe, I don't get involved. We may contact corporate as a concerned customer - but pretty much OCB corporate does not respond with any real result. As a side note - Cici's corporate read my articles on this site - did respond to some of the criticisms by email to me through the site and there was result.

I avoid that tray and warn my wife.

I continue to eat at buffets because I like the variety (not for the quantity). I know people who have worked in restaurants (not buffets) and you don't want to know what goes on in the kitchens and behind the scenes. At least at a buffet you can see what you want to avoid. It is probably all similarly going on in the kitchen as it is in other restaurants, but if we all worried about that no one would ever go out to eat.

Thanks for reading! Take care!

mario said...

Hi Robert, this article says it all why some people avoid the "pig stall" atmosphere at some buffets, you didn't mention the buffet, but living on long island like yourself, i'm pretty sure which one you're talking about, and i did complain a while back when i noticed a elderly couple prepared with bags all lined up on the chairs opened, and putting all sorts of food even fruits,i approched a manager, and he thanked me but when i pointed them outm he said"oh, they're here all the time" huh? and with that he walked away. regards, Mario