If you're really smart, I bet you figured out from the title that this blog post is going to be about the food at the wedding. And it is. Subtlety is not my forte.
Chris and I went over to Girasole restaurant last night to have a meeting with the restaurant's owner, Skip, who is also owner of the catering company: A Pampered Palate. We chose to meet with him for a few reasons: (1) the restaurant is less than a mile from the home I lived in during middle and high schools, so we'd eaten there a few times, (2) I always liked the food there, (3) my brother had his rehearsal dinner there last year, and (4) they catered my mom's wedding and did a great job -- in fact, Chris and I went with my mom and her then-fiance to their food tasting and had spoken briefly with Skip about our own wedding and the possibilities, including a cutsom BBQ-style menu.
So, with all that to back it up, it wasn't difficult to decide on them as a clear front-runner and likely final decision.
Over the past several weeks, I had been trying to get a hold of them to schedule a meeting to no avail. After three or four emails and no response, I called and left a voicemail on a Saturday. Sunday afternoon, Skip called me. We scheduled our meeting for yesterday, and Skip asked me to email him to confirm the time and date, which I did. He also said that, instead of doing a tasting like he would typically do, we would need to meet first since Chris and I are asking for a custom menu.
Good on our word, Chris and I arrived at the restaurant last night at 5:30, per my agreement with Skip. The hostess seated us graciously.
Five minutes later, the hostess came back: "Skip would like to speak with one of you for a moment."
I got up and got on the phone and proceeded to have a conversation with Skip.
A conversation in which I felt as if he thought I was some foolish, irresponsible person inconveniencing him by having the gall to show up to the appointment he made with me....and on time, too! He even asked me, "why aren't we doing a tasting?" as if that were my idea. At the end of the conversation, he said he would be there in 20 minutes. This was said no later than 5:40.
The hostess returned to our table with an appetizer (delicious) and a glass of white wine for me.
I checked my phone for the time. 6:10.
Chris and I decided to leave at 6:15 if he did not show up.
Needless to say, Chris and I were extraordinarily irritated. The entire procedure was not indicating to us that this guy really wanted us to spend several thousands of dollars on his services.
He arrived at 6:13.
Nick of time.
When he sat down, he began the conversation with a lukewarm apology and a few excuses. Typically, if someone is late and apologizes for the tardiness, I will respond with "It's alright," or "Don't worry about it." Not then. Hells to the no. This was serious lateness and unprofessional behavior.
I reminded him of who I am, that we'd spoken via phone, that I had emailed him confirming the time per his request at the email address he'd given me at that moment, that we had met previously and discussed what we were looking for.
It was only after several minutes of asking questions that he seemed to understand and remember who we were and that, perhaps, we were responsible, kind, and reasonable potential customers.
Once we got rolling with our ideas about the food itself and what we were looking for, things went very well. He had some great ideas, listened to ours, made suggestions, and was overall very flexible considering that we were essentially asking for an entirely new menu. He even brought his head chef from the kitchen to consult with us about his ideas and some options (including a roasted vegetable dish with tomatoes, red onions, and cactus...yeah! cactus!).
He asked us about the beverage package we wanted...and suggested that we bring our own water, soda, beer, and wine and have his bartender serve it (at the cost of only the bartender's wages). He told us, flat-out, that he would be glad to provide whatever drink we wanted, but that we would save tons of money by bringing the drinks ourselves.
Near the end of the meeting, he wrote up a cost proposal that was very reasonable considering what we were asking for and what the package contained. We ended up with a list of brand new things to try that will be brought out at the tasting for us to make some decisions. The list of potential menu items fits with our upscale BBQ idea and we ended up very excited about the food and somewhat mollified about the whole tardiness and feelings of being unimportant.
Just before he left, he had the hostess bring out two menus and encouraged us to order off of it, which we did, taking his "I might as well feed you," as an indication that it would be complimentary.
We ordered and Skip left with more apologies all around - this time more sincere-sounding.
The food arrived, we ate it (super-duper delicious!), and the hostess informed us that all of our food (and my three glasses of wine) were "taken care of."
My thought at this? "They had damned well better be!"
This morning, I found that Skip had returned my email and confirmed the date (in early October) we had set for the tasting along with what we would be trying.
At this point, Chris and I are still most likely going to be going with this company for the catering despite the exceptionally rocky start. There will definitely be an update after the tasting, but in the meantime we are very much open to other options - particularly ones that are located closer to the actual venue.