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Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Waitress from Hell, "If you're not happy, clear off!"

You have to wonder sometimes about Internet guides on the best places to eat out and comments made by those who've apparently dined at a particular restaurant.

After all, who's not to say that the "positive" reviews are in fact being written by Net-savvy restaurant owners keen to counterbalance anything negative that might have been said about them.

The key word surely has to be "caution".

And if you read of one person's unbound enthusiasm for a place among several less-than-glowing reviews, then perhaps you've only got yourself to blame if you don't take heed of what would appear to be the reality of what's going on.

Such is the case of a seemingly charming restaurant in a side street of the centre of the old city of Albi in southwestern France.

Albi was designated a Unesco World heritage site last year, and it's easy to understand why.

It's rich in history, culture, architecture, nature, sport.

Sainte Cécile cathedral, Albi

In fact it's got the lot, including a waitress who makes the Wicked Witch of the West look like Mary Poppins.

She works at a restaurant in rue de la Piale, where you'll find several places serving food more-or-less typical to the region.

None of them is swanky. Instead their menus consist of simple, decent, wholesome dishes, and eating there should be a delight.

Rue de la Piale, Albi

"Should" being the operative word.

Because where the Waitress from Hell works, you're far from being guaranteed a warm welcome.

The restaurant proudly displays a recommendation from the 2010 edition of the influential French restaurant guide Gault et Millau on a beam of the timber-framed facade, just next to the main entrance.

This year though, it doesn't feature among those chosen by the critics.

Perhaps it has something to do with the reception clients receive from that woman.

A review from one person who encountered her, described the service at "deplorable".

But the thing is, you don't actually need to eat there to "enjoy" the ambience and quality of hospitality provided by a dragon in a pinny.

A hot summer's evening in August, and while savouring a meal at a neighbouring restaurant, diners were treated to a display of French arrogance at its glorious best.

The "Waitress from Hell" was evidently upset with a couple of customers, and she didn't care who knew about it.

While it wasn't clear to anyone unfortunate enough to be within screaming distance as to what the poor clients had actually done, it was all too obvious that they were IN THE WRONG.

Their first bawling out lasted several minutes with the woman, whose job it was (remember) to serve and ensure the clientele was happy, making it loudly known that, "She had done her best but there was just no pleasing some people and they (the customers) should stop complaining."

The clink of cutlery and the chink of glasses and hubbub of conversation from diners at other restaurants stopped as everyone turned to watch and listen.

They weren't to be disappointed as the ogress continued her tirade.

Somehow though she seem to rediscover her composure and needing time to breathe became aware that perhaps she had gone just a tad too far (let's be generous).

There followed a calm, a half-hearted apology and a return to some level of dignity.

But you knew it was just too good to last and several minutes later the harridan was in full flow once again, raising the decibel level up several notches just in case someone, somewhere in the vicinity hadn't heard first time around.

It was the same bad-mannered tone ending with an aggressive flourish to the couple that if, "Things weren't to their liking, then perhaps they should go somewhere else."

Wisely they did.

Customer service with a difference - guaranteed - at the restaurant with the Waitress from Hell

Conclusion, if you want to be insulted, then this is the place to go.

If you want to watch customers being humiliated, then choose one of the neighbouring restaurants and wait for the shrew's show to begin.

Bon appetit.

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