Palate Pleasures – Good things come to those who wait

Comments (0) Palate Pleasures

Plenty of things in life take time. Some are worth the wait, some … well – aren’t. Fine wine cellared lovingly is usually worth it, although there is always the possibility that a much-anticipated bottle could be tainted or oxidised, or just plain disappointing …

Waiting in any sort of queue – well in my opinion, life is just too short for too much of that. And mostly the objective of the wait rarely justifies the minutes ticked away in the process.

Waiting for any type of appointment is terribly dull, but also one of life’s little banal necessities. We all need to see the dentist, the accountant or the chiropractor every now and again. Sitting in waiting rooms, staring mindlessly at daytime TV on a tiny screen, or flicking mindlessly through ancient magazines is a place we’ve all spent a reasonable portion of our lives.

Indeed, waiting is part of the human condition. It is hard wired into our psyche. Although in this age of iTunes, internet banking and Google, we have achieved a sort of instant gratification in some areas; bizarrely and conversely, we still grudgingly spend so much of our time waiting.

Funnily enough though, there are certain ‘waits’ that really make our blood boil. In such circumstances we don’t kick into our human default setting of resigned, slightly irritated acceptance. Rather, we get quite cranky – sometimes ‘enraged’ would be a more appropriate term.

The first example of this phenomenon would be having been placed on hold on the telephone. The more irritating the hold music, the quicker the rage starts to take hold. And being on hold with financial institutions or telephone companies seems to exacerbate any negative emotions here.

And then of course (you knew I would get to this didn’t you?) there’s waiting in restaurants.

Almost no other wait, apart from the sort where a life changing outcome is involved, seem to produce the stomach churning anxiety that comes with waiting for food in a restaurant.

Eyes are trained to the area where food seems to come from – “Is that ours?” Conversation is stilted, toes tap, fingers drum, other diners in the vicinity who have food in front of them are enviously regarded.

Anticipation turns to anxiety, turns to annoyance, turns to anger …

We’ve all been there. Dining out is meant to be fun, relaxing, carefree. It’s not meant to invoke rage.

In defence of the restaurant, and too, if not reassure, then to perhaps give you a simple ‘why’ there can be several reasons for a wait – some avoidable, some not.

The first and least reassuring is human error. A waiter has mucked up your order, not put it in, or lost it. It happens. Or, an error has occurred in the kitchen – one dish was forgotten, called incorrectly, or was not acceptable. We’ve all seen Masterchef et al, you know what can go wrong in a kitchen.

More likely, is that the volume of orders being received by the kitchen was too high. Put simply, a bottleneck occurs, and your table may have been on the wrong end of it.

Unfortunately, this does happen relatively easily. Especially when there are tardy arrivals, large groups and when guests simultaneously arrive at a restaurant without any consideration to their ‘actual’ booking time.

Restaurants, like any other business, work best with a steady flow. Too little, and there’s no momentum. Too much, and malfunctions kick in. There is only so much that can be processed in such a tight timeline, and waiting then becomes inevitable.

The best that one can do is to manage a customer’s expectations, to let you know that there will be a wait, and let you decide if you are willing to endure it. With large groups, we can offer a smaller selection of dishes in order to simplify things in the kitchen. Or we can split a group into two separate tables.

But at the end of the day we are only human and we hope that the experience you waited for with us was worth it, or at least somewhat more enjoyable than that trip to the dentist!

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