Lost Weekend; Or, Why Can't Servers Just Write Things Down?

Somewhere in between this weekend's soccer games, F1 coverage from the greatest racetrack in the world and MotoGP at Indy, I managed to fit in a few restaurant visits...um, which makes it seem like I spend half my life in front of a television.

Kinda pathetic, I guess. And it only gets worse once football season starts.

Anyway, at two different Tex-Mex joints I quite clearly asked for a margarita on the rocks with salt. In both cases, our waitress returned with clean-rimmed cocktails. It's possible the restaurants had run out of salt, of course. Because neither waitress bothered to write down our order, however, it seems more likely the detail slipped their minds.

This sort of thing happens far too often in Dallas restaurants. When I reviewed DiTerra's, for instance, a waiter blanked out on my second course--something I mentioned in the write up. My waitress at Pizza by Marco not only shuffled back to confirm my drink order (which she'd forgotten, badly), she pulled the same act on a neighboring table. There've been many other occasions. And in each 'missing dish' case, the server committed orders to memory.

So why not scribble down orders in a notepad?

I know, waiting tables involves a little theater. When you graduate from that off-campus diner and first encounter a pressed-uniform server who just bows politely and retreats from your four top with appetizers, entrees and drink orders in mind, not on paper, there's a certain 'wow' factor.

It's just my impression, but it seems as if more restaurants engage in this paperless system. The places I visited this weekend included two Tex-Mex establishments (one busy, one not), a popular neighborhood spot, an upscale hotel dining room and a tiny pizza joint. Five different servers, no notepads.

Yeah, in percentage terms, they played the memory game pretty well--far better than 50-50. But, really, I'm no longer wowed by the theater. I'd rather they jot things down and get them 100 percent right.

After all, both margaritas desperately needed salt.

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