August 6, 2009

Cold by Definition

When asked how you would like your steak cooked, the obvious choices are rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, and well done. Each choice has a corresponding internal temperature, and this is how a cook can tell when the steak is cooked exactly how it's ordered.

There are, however, a few other ways to order a steak. You may not be familiar with them, as I certainly was not until I began working at the Steakhouse. One of those ways is called Pittsburgh Style, also called Blue-Rare, meaning it is so rare, that it looks almost blue inside.

I seldom, if ever have anyone order their steak this way, either because they are not familiar with it, or because it is absolutely disgusting. But, either way, if it is ordered, the cooks will make it.

The other night I had a table of two. They were unhappy throughout their entire meal. Her Rum and Coke was to strong, even though it was Malibu Rum, which is like liquid candy. His salad tasted old, even though it was the first scoop out a new bag, and the dressing and croutons were hand-made that afternoon. And their bread was cold and stale, even though it was a fresh batch right out of the oven. I got the feeling early that they just wanted to complain, so I acted interested in all of their shenanigans, and nodded my head with implied concern, but had mentally tuned them out, and was in my head enjoying a Malibu Rum and Coke of my very own.

He ordered the Prime Rib, and wanted it very rare. I let him know it would be more like Medium rare, as the Prime Roast is kept in the oven all night, and the later it gets, inevitably the more it is cooked. He was annoyed, but ordered it anyways.
When I brought out their dinner, they said everything was fine, so I left them to eat. Five to ten minutes later I stopped by to see if everything was still going well, they said it was, so again I left them to eat. Only seconds after I walked away and stopped by another table, the man half stood, and began violently flailing his arms to get my attention. I shot him a "Wait your fucking turn" look, and he sat back down. When I had a moment, I returned to his table to see what had happened in the 14 seconds since he told me things were going good.

Man: "The Prime is cold."

GH: "Of course it is, its been out here on your table for ten minutes"

Man: "No, I mean it was cold when you brought it out to me. "

GH: What I said- "Oh I'm sorry can I get you a new piece?" What I meant- "Then why the hell did you tell me twice that everything was fine?"

Man: "Yes, I want a new piece...could you make it RARE this time please. If you knew better you wouldn't mess with me"

GH: "I'll see what I can do"

Upon returning to the kitchen I was informed we were 86 Prime, as the last piece had just been sold. My manager told me to offer to heat it up, give him a Rib-Eye, or a piece of dessert on the house.

He said I would ruin the Medium Rare if I heated it up, he hated Rib-eye (even though Rib-eye IS Prime Rib) and he had no appetite for dessert. And then he just stared at me....for minutes....without saying anything. My manager saw what was going on from across the floor and came to my rescue. She finally got him to speak. He said he would take the Rib-Eye but wanted it Blue Rare, charred for only 45 seconds on each side. So that's exactly what he got.

A few minutes later, I was introducing myself to a new table when the man stood and yelled my name across the restaurant. I ignored him at first but after three consecutive yells, I looked back and said "Wait your turn Sir!"
This asshole was challenging me and I was not in the mood, so I put on my game face and went back to his table.

Man: "This Rib-eye is awful. It's colder then the Prime. Don't you guys know how to serve a properly heated steak. What the hell is wrong with you."

GH: "Well sir, before the steak was put on the grill it was in the fridge, which is somewhere around 35 degrees. We did as you asked and only grilled the steak for 45 seconds each side, and last time I checked, a minute and a half is certainly not enough time to bring up the temperature of something so cold. If you wanted a warm steak, you should have asked for Well Done, because Blue-Rare is cold by definition. Now you can enjoy this steak the way you ordered it, or I can microwave it for you. Those are your only options.

The man looked dumbfounded, as if I had just shot him in the neck with a metaphorical stun gun. Swallowing his pride, he puffed up his chest and demanded to talk to a manager. So I waved one over, and listened as he implored her to comp his entire meal. He played every card in the book, and even threatened to tell his "Gun Club" buddies how terrible he had been treated if he was not compensated somehow. She said she would not be comping any of his meal, and then she asked him to kindly Fuck off.

I was so elated. People will do anything for a free meal, and apparently my manager wasn't in the mood to be fucked with either. A few minutes later she went out for a smoke, and I followed her to thank her for not letting him get away with such tomfoolery's. She had had it up to her ears with doucherockets for the night, and started ranting. Right at the point of "What an asshole!!I hope him and his damn gun club friends never set foot in this Restaurant again," the man walked around the corner to his car. He looked back towards her, and half joking, half serious she said,

"Goodnight Sir, you're sure lucky we don't spit in peoples food here."


Anonymous said...

Your manager is awesome. Additionally, I've never heard of a Blue Rare steak before, but I wish I hadn't.

Ex-Restaurant Manager said...

Of the dozens and dozens of managers that I've worked with, I can count on one hand the number who had the balls your manager has. Most will just comp it because that's what the head office wants anyway, as if they never trusted our judgement. Buy that woman a drink on me!

JumpIt said...

I've never heard of Blue rare, but I have heard of Pittsburgh Style. People are ridiculous anymore. Kudos to both you and your manager for not taking any shit.

Mr. Ninja said...

Hey G.H I love the blog, but I feel like as an ex-restaurant worker/customer I had a few things to add.

When I come into your restaurant please don't assume just because I have children that they are hooligan monkey children who need to be seated as close to the bathroom or fire exit as possible.

As amusing as it may be, please don't drop a single napkin in the middle of a table of 5 and run back gleefully laughing at the carnage that just erupted.

If you bring my food to my table cold, or missing something and when asked I complain politely please don't be a thunder douche, and walk off all snotty with my plate.

For the love of god keep your fucking thumb out of my fucking drink! If you can't carry 5 glasses at once make 2 trips, or get a damn tray. The next server that dips his hand in my drink is getting stabbed in the neck with one of those shitty little childrens' crayons.

If I order a corona with no fruit, and you don't know what it means just ask. the next time you bring it to me stuffed with a fucking lime, I am going to stab you with the above mentioned crayon.

Having worked in a restaurant I know that sometimes you come upon a customer with his mouth full of food, please.....walk away.....Do not stand there watching me eat, I don't like. NO ONE likes it. Run along and come back later, or make polite conversation with my wife, please!

We just met, I don't want to know how unexpected your last menstrual cycle was, I do not care that you and your girlfriend broke up when I you caught her fucking the plumber, I don't want to hear that you have the worst manager/chef/owner etc on the planet. Seriously, stop raping my ears!

Man I could go on for days and days, but please wait staff of the Universe realize that for every shitty, arrogant, obnoxious guest there is a shitty, incompetent, lazy server.

Cheers and have a great day!

G.H. said...

Ninja- The thumb in the drink drives me CRAZY to!! Its so filthy and germy..I have been known to ask for a new one if it is brought out this way..

As for the cold food, he did not complain politely. Twice he said things were great, and later yelled at me across the restaurant to complain it was terrible..I honestly have no problem fixing a mistake, I want the guest to be happy. Not only is it my job, but it will also reflect on my tip percentage. But this gentleman was beyond rude throughout the meal, and violently demanded a freebie, so my manager told him to stick it...And I was quite happy she did!

Thanks for the comment.

Mr. Ninja said...

Oh god that guy was a dick I was referring to something totally different. It seems like every time my order gets messed up, the server asks if its ok. When I say its not ok they get all pissy. My theory is don't ask if you don't want to know.

G.H. said...

Ninja- That really is a shame you have had such terrible service..
If a guest at one of my tables is not happy I will do everything in my power to change there situation... even if I have to go above the managers head, and sneak them a free piece of cheesecake..

Anonymous said...

Servers/ex-servers are the harshest critics. (Myself included).

Sorry that customer was such an asshole! I can't imagine being spoken to that way. Ridiculous.

The Veteran Server said...

I hate tables like these, they walk in determined to find something to complain about, and these people are experts at obtaining the free meal. My managers are super accomodating- to a point. If a customer acted the way that one did, my managers would probably react the same way, perhaps minus colorful expletives! :) Glad your manager had your back. God bless!

Mrs. Lazaro said...

Wow, your manager is awesome!

There was this one time I ordered grilled skewered shrimp and a baked sweet potato, and the server came over TWO SECONDS after she dropped off the food--before I had even touched it--and asked if everything looked okay.

I, of course, said "yes." It looked fab.

Three minutes later, she did her second check with us, and I was still working on my sweet potato. I hadn't touched my shrimp.

"Is everything OK?"

Only after that did I take a bite of shrimp and realize it was stone cold and raw; totally disgusting! I had a hell of a time getting her back to our table after that... by the time she walked by again and I could get her attention, it was too late to cook the shrimp as all the people I was eating with were done. And she was a total snot about it.

So while this guy was a total asshole, I, too, have been the customer who says everything is OK twice only to complain after. I think sometimes servers rush the whole "checking in" process. Give me time to take a bite first!

Great post. :]

G.H. said...

Mrs Lazaro- That really in unfortunate about your shrimp. And as a waitress I think I am very attentive, if I see someone at my table so much as grimace at the taste/temp, I will head right over and do everything to fix it.
I should have mentioned in the post that when the man called me over to say the Prime was cold, he had already eaten half. In fact, he already had three or four bites the second time he told me things we great! He was either seriously confused, or decided mid-dinner he didn't want to pay.

Thanks for the comment.

redgirl said...

LOL....I guess this post means you're back from LA....
Welcome :P

G.H. said...

Redgirl- Yes! And thank God!! Its sad when you get home from vacation, and you feel so stressed that you need another vacation...
Family can really do that to you!!

purplegirl said...

I love your manager. All the managers I've had are terrified of offending a guest to the point of ridiculousness.

Cheryl said...

One of my dad's uncle used to be a short order cook. One of the more memorable customers ordered a grilled cheese. Okay, fine, simple enough. Out it goes, and back it comes a minute or two later for a reason I forget. Uncle puts it back on the grill for a little bit of time on each side, sends it back out. It comes back again for the same reason. Uncle grills it a bit more, sends it back out. It comes back for a third time, same reason. Uncle's rather Irritated at this point, so he throws it on the floor, kicks it across the kitchen, goes over and picks it up, flips it over, drops it and kicks it back across the kitchen, puts it on the grill just long enough to warm it back up, puts it on the plate, out it goes. The waiter comes back a few minutes later to let the cook know the customer had enjoyed the grilled cheese.

Anonymous said...

Technically, Pittsburgh can also be ordered medium rare if desired. Pittsburgh basically means that it's been charred on the outside. I get the occasional order for Pittsburgh medium rare, but it's rare (pardon the pun).

We call "blue-rare" "black and blue". Of course, you can call it "Pittsburgh rare" as well.

Temps drive me crazy because there are so many different thoughts about what the temps mean, especially these days with the USDA getting invloved. I discussed this in a post at my blog not so long ago.

Sometimes you have to go with what actually hits the table in your restaurant. For instance, in my restaurant, medium is technically defined as "warm pink". But, in my experience, our mediums come out still somewhat red. so, that's why I don't use the terminology that I'm trained to use. Of course, I do that at my own risk, but saying "red starting to go pink" hedges my bets. I've only come to saying that after observing many steaks hit the table.

"So You Want To Be A Waiter" blog

J. said...

It's a shame that some clients try to mess with restaurant staffs without any good reason...
However, I am French and blue rare steaks are commonly served in France (we call it "bleu"). For angry vampire-clients who want such a "cooking" for their steaks (if we can use this word...), why don't you warm them up (the steaks :p) before the cooking ? The external temperature would be quite the same and the meat would not be cooked more than desired, while the center would be at room temperature. I don't eat any blue-rare or rare meat, but I think this could be more tasty.

Anonymous said...

I have a posh seafood soup in my menu. Was substituting my sick chef when the waitress brings back half eaten order - all the expensive stuff, schrimps, scallops, shellfish eaten up,some more prosaic vegs and the broth - half eaten, and the customer says the soup was not good hinting that he expects us to comp it! Portion of this particular soup is very large at our restaurant, people usually order it for 2 - he was probably fullalready by the time he diceided to complain

Anonymous said...

I hate those people. I used to be a waiter, and I got quite a few of those people. Also, I am a HUGE fan of Blue Rare steak. Disgusting as it sounds, it's one of the most flavorful pieces of meat you'll ever eat, especially if it's a Porterhouse. That guy obviously doesn't eat blue rare too often or he'd realize that the inside is supposed to be only slightly warm.