Monday, September 7, 2009

But Bob Liked the Chili

On The Rocks, 239 N. Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach 310-379-7438

Bob, Pat, Richie and self left their condo and walked over to Captain Kidd's which was doing a roaring business; place was packed. So we walked over to the next establishment which is On The Rocks. I ignored an early warning sign -- piles of bicycles piled into the numerous bike stands and the roars of the crowd inside that was clearly enjoying a televised game.

The place is huge, sort of moat of other rooms around a big space in the center. Outdoor patio with heat lamps, another big room in front of the long bar and the central room that we ignored. The noise level was ferocious, but we found the quietest spot we could. All of the tables and chairs are wood and so are most of the walls that aren't covered with big screen TVs, each one blaring something else.

Our server, a young woman with a long blonde ponytail gave us menus and took our drink order (three beers and a glass of wine.) In the fullness of time, they appeared but our server was busy chatting it up with another server over in a corner and never came back to take our dinner orders.

We finished our drinks, still waiting to order. We agreed among ourselves to order the quickest to fix things on the menu -- two bowls of chili, a bowl of clam chowder and a shrimp cocktail.

Finally she came and we ordered. She didn't ask if we wanted another drink (we didn't anyhow) and departed. She never came back.

Finally I got up and walked over to her (still chatting merrily, but now at the bar) and asked, 'Uh, how long does it take to dish up three bowls of soup and throw some shrimp together?" "Oh," she started guiltily, "It has been a long time, hasn't it -- let me check." I went back to our table.

She approached us, apologized and said, "One of the chefs quit." Like, I'm so sorry, but unless the poor bastard was running amok in the kitchen with a cleaver and the paramedics hadn't gotten there yet, that is no excuse. Finally, she returned with our food.

Richie took a couple of bites of his clam chowder, pronounced it the worst he'd ever had and shoved it away. He was nearly incoherent with rage by now anyhow. Pat tried her chili, fanned her face with her napking, grimaced and shoved it aside. Bob, however, tore into his with gusto, made me take a bite and said, "Good, isn't it?" I said, "Well, let's see... cornstarch, salt ..." Pat shot him a look.

My shrimp cocktail consisted of five, big, fat shrimp lying on a plate with a smaller dish of cocktail sauce? It was nearly solid and had no taste at all except a vaguely ketchup-y one. My shrimp were still warm from doubtless having been yanked out of a freezer and thrown into a pot of boiling water! The other alternative -- they'd been sitting out long enough to heat up in the kitchen was equally unappealing.

Somewhere,. the manager made the mistake of coming over to the table and Richie really let loose -- "Why does it have to be SO LOUD? What's up with the terrible service? That was the worst clam chowder I ever tried to eat!" Manager slinked away.

We then waited and waited for the check. I finally walked over to our server, still chatting merrily away at the bar, and said, "look (handing her my credit card) could I just have the tab? All we want right now is out of here." She replied, "I'm trying to get the manager to take the food off of your bill .. let me go get it" and departed.

Presently, she returned, said the manager had taken off the food (and no, I sure as hell didn't ask for a box for my warm shrimp) and gave me the drinks tab which was $20. I paid it, tipped her $4 and went to the ladies room. the floor was awash with water and bits of paper towels.

We left. Walking across the parking lot, Pat dropped back to walk with me and murmured, "That's the first time I've ever seen Richie mad!" "He took a hit to his amour-propre" I said.

Bob, blissfully unaware of our conversation said, "But I liked the chili." He'll go alone if he ever wants any more of it. The rest of us agree -- we're too old for sports bars, thank you very much.

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