“Let’s do Restaurant Week this year,” I said to Jon a few weeks ago. “With the special three-course, prix-fixe menu, we’ll be able to try any restaurant on the list.”
He agreed to go, not because he loves to eat out (that’s me), but because he loves me. We chose 801 Chophouse in Leawood, with its upscale steak-and-seafood menu, and made a reservation for Saturday evening. I felt a thrill of excitement at the fact that we had a place to go and a reason to be there.
On Tuesday I tuned in to Facebook, and found a ‘hilarious’ blog post about Restaurant Week posted on the Kansas City Eats forum. I read it, and felt instantly deflated. The blogger (a superior being, who dines out far more often than I) had several beefs with Restaurant Week. The customers, he said uproariously, were too cheap to tip well, and would never become regulars. The restaurants (again, in his witty opinion) would be overcrowded, the servers overworked, and the food subpar compared to the regular menu.
My excitement turned to embarrassment. I felt like part of a problem instead of a city-wide event.
I arrived at the restaurant in that frame of mind. The host placed my menu in front of me, and I enjoyed reading every bit of it—but I knew we could only afford the Restaurant Week choices. That’s when someone stepped in to save my day.
Erin, our waitress, was tall and cheerful, with two blond pigtails and an easy smile. She didn’t bat an eyelash when we said we were here for Restaurant Week. She did not look like a server who had just seen her tip fly out the window. The food was top-notch, but her expert service made our meal twice as enjoyable.
When she brought dessert, she stopped to chat a moment. She told us she loves her job because it gives her a break from her two preschoolers. “Come back on Sunday evenings,” she said. “I’m always here. We serve a prix-fixe menu then, too. Or you can always order a dinner of side dishes. There are so many to choose from.”
Erin and 801 became instant classics in our books.
A few days later I went back to the Kansas City Eats forum to see what others thought about the ‘funny’ blog post. Most of the commenters enjoyed it, so maybe I’m not as sophisticated as I think. No, not sophisticated. Jaded. Um, that’s not it either. Cynical? Bitter. Something like that.
Restaurant Week, I thank you.