This event happened over a year ago, but it came up recently in a conversation. I went to a well known local pub with a friend for lunch. We had been there many times before and was always impressed with the menu and service. I had been working out in the gym quite a bit at the time and was looking for a protein meal with some greens, so I thought what better thing to order at a pub than a steak sandwich with a side salad.
No such luck. As we sat down with the menus, I searched and searched but no steak sandwich was to be found. When the server came back to our table to see if we were ready to order, I told her that I would like to have a steak sandwich, but I couldn't find it on the menu. She said "we had one, but this is a new menu and we don't have steak sandwiches anymore".
A pub without a steak sandwich? I couldn't believe it. We're talking about one of the most classic meals ever associated with a pub menu. Steak sandwiches and pub food are synonymous!
"You don't have a steak sandwich?" I inquired further.
"No, we don't" she said.
"Do you have steaks?" I asked.
"Not on the menu" she replied.
"So, that means what? You have steaks but you don't put them on the menu?" I asked.
"We have steaks, but we only use them for fajitas" she replied.
"Are they cut up steaks?" I asked.
"No, we cook them first and then slice them for the beef fajitas" she replied.
"So they are pre-cooked steaks?" I asked.
"No, we cook it when an order for a beef fajita comes in, and then we slice it for the order" she said.
"Do you guys have garlic bread?" I asked.
"Yes, we do" she replied.
"Great!" I said, "I will order a steak, some garlic bread, and a side salad. If you could put the steak on the garlic bread, that would be perfect. Medium rare please." I thought I had my problem figured out.
"I'm sorry we can't do that" she replied.
"If you can't put the steak on the garlic bread, don't worry about it" I replied, "I'll have them separate."
"No" she said, "You can't order a steak. They are just for fajitas."
Ok, now I was really confused. "Hold on a second" I continued, "You said you have whole uncooked steaks, correct?"
"Yes" she said.
"Well I would like to order one of those steaks on a plate, but just don't cut it up. On another plate I would like an order of garlic bread, and on a third plate I would like an order of side salad." I said.
"I can get you the garlic bread and salad, but not the steak" she replied.
"Why not?" I asked.
"The steaks are only for fajitas" she replied. "We can't serve it to you any other way."
At this point I was thoroughly frustrated, and I should have just left - or, am I in the wrong here? From my past experience working in restaurants and hotels, they should have just come up with a price for the steak and cooked it for me. This is not about the old cliché that "the customer is always right", this is about that if you have the food that a customer wants, and food safety isn't jeopardized in the process, and you can recover your food costs while making a profit, why don't you just make it for them?
Insert sarcasm here: I know, let's have a business that makes and serves food, and we'll bring in food that a customer may want, and we won't make it for them, even if they ask for it! Sounds like a sure-fire business plan to me! - No, I didn't say that to her. She has a job to do and obviously someone above her has given her instructions to answer the way she did. She was polite with her tone of voice but the conversation was going nowhere.
Ok, besides the sarcasm, am I out of line with my way of thinking? I was polite and never raised my voice, and tried to explain my thought process in the most matter-of-fact way that I could.
Please let me know your thoughts on this.
I ended up ordering a burger with a salad instead. I meant to contact the management of the pub afterwards, but never got around to it. I guess word-of-mouth opinions will get back to them... or maybe it has? I should go back there I guess and try ordering a steak sandwich again. If I do, I will keep you posted with a blog update.
Until next time... Happy Cooking! ...and hopefully Happier Lunch Adventures!