Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Who's the fairest of them all? Well, it's not Narcisse. At first reflection, the new Champagne and Tea Lounge at Scottsdale Quarter looked fab. Swanky. Quite the initial wow factor with all of the bottles of bubbly lining the entry hall, the chic furniture, the high ceiling with big bubbles falling down from the chandeliers.
But at closer inspection, the wrinkles started to show. Nobody knew what they were doing. It's like we were at a BYOB beer pong party run by a bunch of teenagers with fake IDs. The dressed-like-a-ho hostess showed us our table and plopped down tons of menus without explaining that one was for drinks, one was for Champagne, one was for other drinks, one was for food, but not appetizers, here's a big white book, here's a smaller one, here's a piece of paper with some other kind of instructions on it. There's tea. There's Champagne. There's tea-infused Champagne. As we tried not to appear too overwhelmed, every few minutes a whoosh of air hurricane-d down on those of us in the middle. Those on the ends escaped the storm, but couldn't see anything due to the glaring sun hitting their eyes. Buy some window shades, people. Things weren't going well for my gang, and this was all before the waiter even showed up. When he did, after superficial glance, I thought, perfect. A little late, but seemed fun. Then he opened his mouth. He started in with all of his woes. The hiring, training and opening of the restaurant problems. How his status as a bartender changed in just six days to Floor Manager and VIP Lounge guy and, oh great, Server, too (by the way, here, fill out these papers so you can save ten cents on Thursdays and we can inundate you with emails). He threw some waters on the table - no napkins, spotty glasses and one with the last customer's lipstick still on it. Let me take a moment here to say that I'm not a whiner. My bar is low. I'm a glass is half full, usually just ecstatic to be out and about with my friends kind of girl. But as this guy kept going, bragging about his training, but butchering everything on the menu(s), I realized that there are just some people in your life that should know what they're doing. People like your surgeon. Or your pilot. The lady that gives you a bikini wax. And your waiter. Again, I don't ask a lot. I don't expect miracles. Back in college I worked at TGI Fridays. I memorized the menu and it was huge. There was an entire page of just potato skins (hey, it paid the rent). I knew what kind of glass every kind of drink went in so I could hand it to the bartender without getting yelled at. I figured if I could handle that, some yahoo who has been working in bars for years should be able to walk away from the ESPN playing widescreen above the bar on a not even busy day and put a napkin under a Champagne glass without us having to beg, bring some silverware before the food came out, shut up about his personal problems, even if the place was falling down around him, which it was, as he showed us his bloody arm from the latest crashing glass in the back. My friends and I hung in there. We're professionals, after all.
We can have a good time wherever, whenever, but there was a tiny relief when it was finally time to go. I kept thinking about my time with Alan Arkin last night. He talked about how important Directors are. He described how you can have an amazing script, an incredible cast, everything else in place, but if you get a Director that doesn't pay attention, the movie will suck. People will walk away annoyed by that one character's accent. Or a weird haircut. Narcisse is pretty. The drinks were good. The food was great, but all I can remember were the bad parts. Get a better Director, guys. Pay attention. And oh, one more thing, check the bathroom, you're out of toilet paper.

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