Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 Beef #1: Corking Fees

I know that it's probably bad karma for my very first post of the new year to be such a negative one. I'm gonna go ahead and apologize for the forthcoming subject matter. It's overwhelmingly whiney, but I just can't help myself.

You know that feeling when an establishment--such as a restaurant--serves up a plate of utter disappointment? I know, it hurts. Especially when it's your favorite establishment. It happened to be tonight, folks. You walk out of the restaurant with your chest pounding and your Californian cuisine rising up in your throat. It makes you want to hurl a meager tip comprised of pennies at the scroogie owner.

Today was my birthday, y'all. Yup, the big 2-5. I'm officially a quarter of a century old, which would be cool if just about all of my friends weren't touting the same accomplishment. So my hubs took me to my favorite restaurant in Petaluma, CA, which will remain nameless. I'm vengeful, but apparently not THAT vengeful.

I first noticed that something was off when a bit of a foofaraw arose behind the wine counter. The owner was rifling around to the soundtrack of fine stemware crashing. However, instead of shouting out an embarrassing albeit more adult-like four letter word, she sought the member of the wait staff that was the farthest away.

She than began to publicly, and not delicately, reprimand the server as to the proper storing and stacking of the stemware. At one point, the phrase "it's not rocket science" was heard throughout the petite restaurant. Yah. Awkward.

Restaurant Ownership Rule #1: Do not break your own stemware. Restaurant Ownership Rule #2: Do not reprimand your employees in front of your customers. It's just bad form, no? I have to say, I was more embarrassed for the accomplished head chef/owner than the poor girl, who handled the situation with infinitely more poise than her supposed superior.

But then came the real blow, which I'm substantially more miffed about because it directly impacted my pocketbook. See, I don't know if you've heard, but apparently there's an economic crisis going on. And since the hubs and I intended to celebrate said birthday with more than one glass of wine, and this particular establishment boasts a BYOW rule to the tune of a 'meager' corking fee, we decided to pick up a mid-range bottle.

Our eyes were bigger than our livers, apparently, because as the end of our meal began to draw near, the bottle was shockingly full. We only thought we were shocked by how much wine we didn't drink until the bill came. Corking fee? Pshshs. A corking fee to the tune of twenty bucks. As in 2-0. And when I gingerly questioned the sum, the owner condescendingly brought to my attention that the corking fee is normally twenty-FIVE dollars and she'd knocked off five bucks out of the goodness of her heart. I'm convinced she dreamt the figure up while preparing our meal because nowhere, repeat, nowhere, is a $25 corking fee posted on the menu or otherwise.

Maybe I'm a little naive as to the reality of the corking fee here in Northern California. It's entirely possible. But I have to say, I was stunned. I thought, corking fee...maybe ten dollars. Maybe. That's stretching it. So basically, we enjoyed a $17 bottle of wine for the price of $37.

So here's what I'm thinking of doing: we go in there, order water, share an entree, and sit there for three hours requesting infinite refills of water and bread. Maybe they'll charge us a 'tabling' fee? I wouldn't be surprised.


Elle said...

Oh no! Stupid restaurant! I hope other than that annoyance, you had a fabbity 25th birthday! :0)

michelle st lawrence said...

sorry your b-day was spoiled by rude restauranteurs(sp?) However, I can join your ranks in complaining about corking fees. there is a byob sushi place in dallas that nate and i love called OISHI that charges $15, so like u said, we end up payinf 30 bucks for a $15 bottle of wine. not a bargain.