The last thing I ever want as a customer is be made to feel like I’m not good enough to be given good service, that they’re doing me a favor by ‘letting’ me eat at their restaurant. My first gut, likely as with most people, would be to start seething and then head off someplace else, though I’m glad to say that in this case I went against instinct. For the first time in a long while though I lost my temper.
With a fair amount of anticipation, I looked forward to lunch at another Ron Gastrobar outpost, my second after the one in Willemspark. It’s in Amstelveen, an area we rarely ventured to, in an uppity neighborhood that also has a branch of steakhouse Loetje plus several other nice-looking places, and they had an outdoor terrace by the Amstel river that was more than inviting.
It didn’t start off well as we were greeted by a humorless, ultra blond-haired millennial who looked like she couldn’t care less. She acted like we were a bother, us hoodie-wearing folk not worthy of a friendly welcome, and led us to a terrace table expecting we were okay sitting within breathing distance of another couple even though there were tons of other empty tables. As forgiving as I try to be of human nature and uncontrollable circumstances in general, and likely because of the friendly service I was lucky enough to witness in Krakow all of last weekend, I just lost it and angrily asked our sour-faced waitress if she really, seriously considered seating us elbow-to-elbow with complete strangers – and with a smile, an awkward one, she said yes. Another staffer piped in and cluelessly said “they’re nice people!” referring to the couple we were being paired with, and at that point I was ready to storm off. Luckily I insisted we stay and chose to sit inside instead, where I was able to vent off my anger – sad to say that even in supposedly better restaurants, competent Dutch service is sorely lacking – within hearing distance of everyone else there. I also wanted my temper to cool off before having a small, level-headed chat with the manager but, starting with an alcoholic cocktail and a more competent waiter, everything got much better as we went along.
Our male waiter saved the day, a humble smile and thoughtful communication all throughout the meal made the initial interaction sting less, and with the delicious meal and photogenic dishes the experience ended up being satisfactory. As we were in a rush I eschewed the chat with the manager and let it go for what it is. Brusque service is what we have to live with in this country, more reason I suppose to keep taking people to task. The hospitality struggle continues.