So I had a terrible sandwich yesterday. A Reuben sandwich, to make it worse. I'm very particular on the subject of Reuben sandwiches, having had my first at the Carnegie Deli in New York. Murph was with me. He can testify as to the nuclear powered awesomeness of that sandwich.
The pride of New York.
Yesterday's Reuben? Not so much. Whereas the Carnegie Deli's Reuben had arrived with something like a metric shit-ton of filling between two thin pieces of bread, yesterday's abomination reversed the equation; a thin sliver of meat, cheese and pickles between mattress thick slabs of burned rye. I suppose I should have taken a picture, but I wanted it in my photo stream no more than I wanted it in my tummy.
As I was paying my bill, cursing the spawn of this restaurant owner unto the seventh generation, the waitress asked that question.
"Did you enjoy your meal, sir?"
One would have thought that the gross tonnages of burned bread I had left behind on the plate might indicate that no, I had not enjoyed my fucking meal. But she had to ask, I suppose.
I shrugged and walked out. I don't always do that. Sometimes, if the food has been especially abysmal I will not just tell them why I did not enjoy the meal, I will ask to talk to the manager so that he or she might be appraised of their terrible, terrible failure. And sometimes, of course, if I'm working, if I am writing a review, I just smile and say nothing and proceed with all dispatch to contact whichever legal firm is handling defamation queries for the publication covering my tab.
I'm still not sure I did the right thing yesterday. Perhaps I should have spoken to them. But really, would it have made a damn bit of difference? I know what they were doing. They were plating up a meal with a price-to-table of about six dollars, including labour, and they were charging fifteen bucks for it. I doubt they were about to re-engineer their business model on the basis of any criticism from me.
And yet I feel bad for having said nothing. I think it's the food reviewer in me coming out. I know that others will suffer through that appalling Reuben sandwich and I feel bad for having done exactly nothing to spare them.
I would be curious to hear what you think, because I know all of you have been in the same situation, even though you are not paid reviewers.