Last week I started working at a restaurant, a small hip Italian bistro in the West Village. I’m not telling you which place. If you’re in my grad program, then you know where. Otherwise, tant pis.
As part of the training, I shadowed servers on three nights. Tonight was my first solo. I covered for another server. It was quite an experience. I haven’t worked at a restaurant since January 097. It seems some changes—for the better—have evolved since then. The kitchen and service staffs seem to get along respectfully. And patrons with attitudes went out with tall and mullet hairstyles. I think I can handle this.
It didn’t hurt that my first table of the night left me a $230 tip. Pretty cool. Though my take home was only so much more than that for the entire night. Tips are split between servers, bartender, bussers, the kitchen runner, plus $40 off the top of the pot for the dishwashers. I wondered when I would eat my words. When I met with the owner about the job, I said I didn’t mind splitting tips. This one will come back to me sometime. I’m certain of that.
The table that left the fat tip were four business casual schmucks, obviously imbibing and dining on expense account. They were cool enough. Flirty well within tolerable levels. They ordered a $500 bottle. I don’t remember if it was the 062 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo or the 082 Antinori Tignanello. They also ordered a $250 bottle, several rounds of ketel citron and sodas, Tappetto Volantes, and shared a bunch of pastas and apps. The wines were on advice of the owner, the food on mine.
The last table of the night was another story. The flirt was a bit more excitable and spilled his glass of 099 Monte del Drago Musella, I had just refilled, allover his shirt and pants. He was a good sport and showed great humility. He poured the entire glass of soda water and bowl of salt I brought allover his pants. Poor fella, I almost felt sorry for him. But seriously, the birthday girl was sweet and gorgeous. Why was he flirting with me in the first place.
Going forward, I’m not sure if I’ll tap about restaurant antics. I am going to tap about the family meals. They serve one during the daily staff meetings, just before the first seating. A second family meal is served late at night, around 1 am. I didn’t cook the family meals, obviously, so the recipes are approximations. No measurements will be given. Though I’m going to get nosy. I’ll start taking pictures too, and post them next time. The early family meal, typically a pasta dish, serves the entire staff. The late night meal is animal and vegetable, and serves the six or seven of us left.
Pasta a la familia 0507008
Boxed penne rigate
Tomato sauce base
Tilefish—leftover from prior nights’ special, still fresh enough and not fishy smelling
Other unknown herbs and seasonings
Fresh ingredients were sautéed and tossed with pasta in a large flat-bottom pot. Everyone served themselves, or perhaps another.
No eyebrows raise if someone takes a second helping. I learned why seconds are a good idea.
Late night family meal 0507008
Paprika (?) rubbed chicken
Other unknown herbs and seasonings
Again, fresh ingredients were sautéed in a large flat-bottom pot. After a while on the stove, chopped chicken was added and it all stewed while the abbreviated staff started closing the restaurant. Per cooking description, the dish was like a stew, but not soupy. I’m not sure I could determine if it was truly tasty, or if I was just chaika-famished by two am.
A salad of fine chopped romaine lettuce and avocado with lemon, olio, sel, and piper was tossed and served with toasted, seasoned bread crumbs on top. This salad was way too salty. Exhaustion and hunger will not affect my detection of this. I watched the cook toss in the salt and nearly dropped. I said nothing. I’ll wait a few weeks. But that much salt is ree-dee-cull-ous.
I noticed that family meals are prepared in such a way they are conducive to shoveling action. They are eaten quickly and quietly, especially the late family meal, though the staff sits together.
Typically I won’t note something from a feminist perspective. But I was the only female left to close. Everyone left their plate at the table when they finished eating. I picked them up and brought to the dishwasher. Otherwise, gender issues are copasetic.
Buon appetito et bon nuit..