Hello, and welcome back to Off The Menu, where we explore the craziest stories about food from my email inbox. This week, we’ve got more tales of terror from restaurant customers who should not in any way have eaten that. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
I worked at a chain BBQ joint in Jacksonville, FL during my senior year and the following summer before heading off to college. I started as cashier but found it boring, so I pushed to be a cook, which finally happened when one of them quit without notice. It was pretty basic stuff — one pit for cooking and one pit for heating and serving.
One all you can eat rib night, I noticed a couple slabs of ribs on the top shelf of the cook pit that the day shift guy had missed and were burnt to a crisp — literally crispy. They were not even good enough for our bit bucket that we made sloppy joe’s out of, because there was no moisture left in them (don’t ever eat sloppy joe’s at a BBQ joint). So I had put them to the side to ask the manager what he wanted me to do with them, and then a waitress put a ticket on the line and told me the customers liked their ribs well done. I gave them some of the end pieces from the heating pit and kept cutting food for other orders. Then the waitress came back and told me the customers were looking for some really well-done ribs.
It was like a dare, so I cut up those charcoal briquettes with rib bones in them, threw them on a plate, and gave them to the waitress. A minute later, the waitress came up and pointed to the table they were sitting at, and with ribs in hand, the customers gave me a “job well done” salute with smiles from ear to ear. I told the waitress to tell them there were more where that came from, and when they were done, I gave them the rest of them in a to-go box, because what else was I going to do with them?
Working at TGI Fridays in the early to mid-90s, we had a spinach salad served with a hot bacon dressing. This amazing concoction consisted of bacon, bacon fat, mayo, plenty of sugar, and honey mustard. It was heated up to make it that much more appealing. To make it even better, they served this dressing in a soup cup, because a ramekin was just not enough.
An older lady had ordered this salad from me, and when she went to pay she informed me that she didn’t order the soup, but just ate it anyway because I never came back with dressing for her salad. Eight ounces of sugary, bacony, salty, fatty goodness right down the hatch.
I was hired the summer before my senior year of high school to work at a Quiznos. There were only six employees, including the two owners. The other 4 employees were two 20 year old guys and my best friend. If we were lucky, my best friend and I would be left to close the store at night by ourselves (really, who in their right minds leaves two teenage girls in charge of a Quiznos with no adult supervision?).
Our store was not very busy — it is actually closed now which came as a surprise to no one. We had a couple of regular customers, who we often would recognize before they even made it to the door and start making their order. Except for one. He was a regular, and a close friend of the other two guys we worked with. Usually when it was just me and my BFF working he would show instant disappointment upon walking in, since he knew he would not get the royal Quiznos treatment he received from his two bros.
We knew his order. We weren’t stupid. He was probably one of five customers who actually came in on a weekly basis and ordered the exact same thing. But we liked to play dumb and move at an incredibly slow pace, sometimes asking him the same question two or three times “just to be sure” we had his order correct [insert sweet innocent smile here].
It has been several years but I still remember his order — it was a prime rib sub with extra…EXTRA au jus on the side. Our au jus was served in soup bowls, and whenever we reached for the small soup bowl he would wag his finger and point towards the largest bowl. He never ate his sub in the restaurant so we weren’t exactly sure what he needed all the au jus for. Except for the one time he did…and we sat there and watched in disgust as he drank the remaining contents of the LARGE soup bowl full of au jus after finishing his sub.
I worked at a coffee cart in a concert hall for about a year. When I say coffee cart, I mean a 3’x3’x3′ metal and plastic box with two canisters for coffee beans and a tiny refrigerator compartment for milk, sitting on a little cart. You would just fill everything up and push different buttons for lattes, steamed milk, espressos, etc.
One time, we had a series of Russian-themed concerts/shows. On the first night, this group of four guys with very thick Russian accents walked up to the cart.
First guy: “Can I haff three duuble espreeso?”
Me: “So, six total espressos? Do you want them all in one cup?”
First guy: “Pleese.”
I made it and gave it to him. He paid and downed all of them in a single gulp as I tried to keep my eyes from bugging out of my head. The next three guys all wanted the same thing — six espressos in one cup — and they all gulped them like shots. They came back to every single concert in the series and did the same thing.
I don’t know how they were all still alive at the end of the series.
Papa Odie, my mom’s stepfather, liked to drive down and visit us a lot when I was a kid. He’d stay at my aunt’s house and we’d all have brunch the next day.
We’d all go out to eat, and when the waitress asked for our drink orders, he always asked for buttermilk. Depending on experience, he’d get asked if he wanted whole milk, or buttermilk pancakes, but nope, he wanted a tall glass of buttermilk.
When our drinks arrived, Papa Odie would always chug that buttermilk down while the waitress politely tried not to gag, smack his lips, and sigh dramatically before asking for a refill. His refill was almost always delivered quickly, without waiting around to watch him drink it.
If you’ve never been in the same room as the beige fermented acidic dairy product, it can look and smell rather disgusting. Personally, watching the waitress’ face change colors while trying to keep up a polite smile was the only thing keeping me from throwing up.
Do you have any food-related stories you’d like to see included in Off The Menu?Feel free to submit them to WilyUbertrout@gmail.com. New submissions are always welcome! (Seriously, you don’t need to ask if I want you to send them in, the answer is always yes). If you’d like to stay up to date with OTM news, my Twitter handle is @EyePatchGuy.