We did make it out for lunch and it was so much fun! We went to a small local très chic cafe. When I say small, I mean their seating permit is for 34. Cozy. Very tastefully decorated. Lots of black toile and good art. It was crowded - we had to wait 25 minutes for our late lunch. That's always a good sign - the food is really fresh and good. It's also expensive, which is why this was such a treat. The best part is that, thanks to my generous friend Mrs. M, I had a gift card to use.
We were seated by the kitchen door - not our preference, but we are pretty easy about that kind of thing. Now, if it were a rare romantic evening out with my Historian, a quieter, private table would be in order, but for lunch for us girls, it was just fine.
Apparently there is a regular clientèle to this little cafe - and we aren't a part of it. We weren't greeted by name, we didn't request 'our' table, and we didn't order 'our' usual. We didn't frown when they were out of our favorites, and we didn't call over the owner to complain about anything. Not once. Still, we were treated kindly, served promptly, and I even overheard some lovely remarks about the 'super polite mother/daughter duo at table 2'' through the kitchen door. Manners training is really paying off - at last! I was beginning to wonder if this day would ever come.
Lunch was delicious, fresh and wholesome. Beautiful presentation, appropriate portions and a lovely blending of flavors. Nothing we couldn't enjoy at home, but sometimes it just tastes better when some one else makes it for you. We both ate slowly and savored both the food and the atmosphere of the cafe. It is very hard not to hear snippets of conversation in a cafe so small and crowded. Some things we heard made us smile and give one another 'the look'. It's fun to be the Mommy of a ten year old girl!
One other young girl in the cafe was displaying horrid table manners, which caused our Dreamer's eyes to widen. I noticed her own table manners improved after noticing how unappealing talking with your mouth full is from the other side of the table. Our Dreamer is having a really difficult time with her latest orthodontic device, so it is quite an effort to chew and keep her mouth closed. She slips up occasionally. We all look forward to it's removal, since she is very hard to understand and speaks as though her mouth is full of cotton. She is getting very tired of repeating herself.
When it came time to pay for our meal, I gave my gift card to our server. I could hear her through the kitchen door quietly lament our use of a gift card to another server.
"Mother/daughter at table 2 is using a gift card - no tip there."
Her co-worker agreed.
"I have yet to get a tip when they use those gift cards. I wish we didn't sell them."
Our server handed my gift card back to me with a gracious smile and noted the balance remaining for me. She turned away, and I expect that she didn't hurry to pick up our bill folder after we exited.
It was quite an eye opener for me. I rarely eat out without the Historian, so I rarely pay the server or leave the tip. He takes care of all that. I suppose you all knew all about this, but it never even occurred to me that this is an issue for wait staff. When a credit card is used, a tip can be added to the total, but apparently this isn't the case with gift cards. Now, I had planned a cash tip, as is our usual practice, so it wasn't a problem. I hope that the unexpected generous tip that I enclosed in a 'Take a Tip' Gospel tract was enough to give her an incentive to actually open the little tract and read it, but I'll likely never know.
Especially since we're not going to become regulars, we're not going to ask for 'our table' next time or order 'our usual' every week. We'll save the cafe for really special occasions, and make it our girls treat. Perhaps when Grammy comes for her next visit we'll treat her to lunch at the cafe - just the three of us. We might even share an English Tea cake with her.
Maybe we'll learn some other interesting things through the kitchen door.