It was exactly over three years ago today (give or take a few months) that I wrote a sublime piece about how “specials” work in restaurants. Today I’m giving out a free “upgrade,” a side serving of regurgitation. You only have to provide your own sour cream, chives and bacon. As always, I bring the butter.
In a rare and provocative behind-the-scenes glimpse of how this blog works (I’ll be brief) you should know that not all of my posts are carefully planned and storyboarded months in advance. Not all of them. Sometimes they are knee-jerk reactions to last-minute things. I really should have a category called “Oh Shit.”
Take last night for example. My wife and I went out to eat. Mainly because our kitchen was destroyed by the act of packing for the big move. As we walked into the place the “specials” board caught our eye. We paused and gave it the once over.
“Hmm,” my wife said. “They have a carrot salad for $8. That sounds good.”
Whatever, crazy person. Good for their bank account, maybe.
Once seated I was perusing the menu without much success when I heard my wife say, “Oh, shit.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked, looking up and suddenly terrified.
“It’s happening. Again.” She turned her menu to face me and pointed. “Check this shit out.”
There, in writing, the carrot salad was listed. And it was $8. Wow. Exactly the same price as always.
“What the fuck is so ‘special’ about that?” I demanded anxiously. Yes, I broke out the sarcastic and dripping-with-evil air quotes.
And thus, the fate of today’s bit of regurgitation was sealed. Like the air sucked out of one of those seal-a-meal thingies.
Tonight I’m offering a few new thoughts paired with the main dish about the Not-So-Special Special phenomenon at restaurants.
- Why would I want to do business with a restaurant that is seemingly going out of their way to deceive me? It just doesn’t make sense. What’s next? Trying to pass off some mystery meat in the Spam stir fry? I don’t think so. I refuse to settle for anything less than the real McCoy.
- We all know that restaurants hate their customers. This is a well known industry “secret.” Maybe the fake special is an inside joke. Nod, nod. Wink, wink. “You are not special,” they are telling us right to our faces. Well played!
- What about a motive? What could possibly be going on here? It’s not that difficult for my fertile imagination to make vast leaps of logical deduction scary enough for me to poop my pants. Like, perhaps these assholes are penny pinchers. (Never an appetizing thought when slaking the thirst of speculation about what might be in your food.) Perhaps it’s a way of saying, “These are our oldest and slimiest ingredients. So old, in fact, that we’re taking the extreme steps of putting them in a dish on fake special yet are still unwilling to lower the price by a single American nickel. Fuck you and thank you for choosing us for your dining this evening.”
Regurgitated, indeed. Enjoy.
Not so special dining (circa February 24, 2010)