Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Faux Pas Tu Café

Eye Candy, For you Daaaahhhling....


CAVEAT: The names of the innocent have been protected. If they’re reading this, they know whom they are. Through my freedom of expression, I invoke my 1st amendment rights under the US Constitution Bill of Rights.


If there’s one thing that can get my undies in a bunch is RUDENESS without cause.

It was supposed to celebrate SS’s 40th birthday, She’s a really good friend of my sister, LJ. SS is also my friend, but I didn’t get an invitation. Still waiting for it in the mail. Yeah … right.

The invite stated the usual suspects; Who,What, Where and When. Yet, there was a twist. It included a request of $55 per person (Faux Pas #1). Upon receiving the invite, my sister, LJ, phoned me to ask, “Is this common? Is this a new trend?” I donned on my Holmes helmet to ask, “Is there special entertainment? Is it at a restaurant? Private home perhaps? Formal attire?” Frankly, when an event is being hosted by someone (a relative, dear friend, parents, etc…) the financial aspect is covered. There are no requests for monies…..Alas, with a great deal of apprehension; my sister submitted the $55 bucks. BTW, it was “Girls Only”. SS’s poor Dad wasn’t invited either. Good grief, it’s a birthday celebration, the 40th anniversary of the day of birth, an occasion, surely Dad was partly responsible for, right? (Faux Pas #2)

Since LJ, a couple of mutual friends and SS’s mother, Mrs. SS, lived an hour and a half away from the selected venue, they arranged to carpool together. The four members of the guest list traveled with excitement and eagerness for a night of celebration.

The majority of the guests met at SS’s little cottage on the Island and proceeded to stroll up the street to the café. The evening continued with customary fare one would expect from a Mediterranean spread; hummus, pita, dolmades, etc. Bottled water was provided at each table. Wine and cocktails were being ordered left and right. Laughter ensued and the celebration of SS’s 40th with 50 of her female friend revealed how much she was appreciated, admired and very well liked. After all, they forked out $55 each to attend this gathering. That comes to $2,750 the hostess collected to be able to put together this affair. (Pay attention to my emphasis here. It will play an important part in upcoming section.)

The fabulous four guests, (LJ, L, C and Mrs. SS) would partake in their pre-selected dinner entrée. There was a choice of either Rack-o-Lamb or Halibut with suitable side dishes. There was quite a bit of confusion as to who ordered what, with which side, etc. An order of rice pilaf was to accompany the Halibut, but instead, the flatfish was placed on top of mashed potatoes, leaving a monochromatic display for the perplexed guest. The servers were flit floating about with such flurry, the Party’s Hostess resorted to pulling out her Excel spreadsheet detailing the guest preferences to resolve some of the disorder. Once the muddled mess was handled, the festivities carried on. More wine and cocktails were ordered. LJ, L, C and Mrs. SS did not imbibe, but rather sipped on the modest water, tea or coffee. Dessert was presented and consumed. I would assert there was a chorus of “Happy Birthday” belted out, naturally, it’s a birthday, after all. Birthday gifts opened and marveled at. The evening comes to a close and the guests prepare to depart. As SS bids farewell to her guests at the front section of the café, the fabulous four remain in the eating area with the party’s hostess to gather opened birthday presents as they prepare to return to the little cottage on the Island. They are approached by the Co-owner of the café and immediately prevented from leaving. They are barred from their exit due to the unpaid “bar bill”. More confusion arises. The party’s hostess explains everything was already arranged and that beverages were included in the prepaid arrangements. The Co-owner plays ignorant and he arrogantly states, “no one is to leave until payment is made”. (Faux pas #3) THREE STRIKES!!!This should have been handled quietly, professionally and with consideration. After all, $2,750 and then “sum” was rendered for the night. Rather than make an ugly scene worse, the Fabulous Four are obligated to help. Out came the wallets and the “FANTASTIC FOUR” comes through and shells out the extortion money. They are allowed to pass and go home. There is no acknowledgement from the party’s hostess. HOW RUDE!

The frustrating fuss did not get passed the scrutiny of the guest-of-honor. SS curiously asks about the bizarre exchange between the “Fantastic Four” and the Co-Owner. Mrs. SS steps up to the plate and tells her daughter “in-your-face” head-on what happened. For the shame…SS is truly embarrassed and is quite contrite. What a way to make a memory of a moment…

In my humble, yet self-righteous opinion, this is the ultimate Faus Pas a hostess can make. SHE failed as “hostess with the mostest” that night. She should have handled the dreadful incident solely with the café personnel. Does she plan to make reparation to the Fantastic Four? I doubt it. It’s been three weeks and no sign of concession has been offered. Not even flowers as a gesture or token of thanks. (Faux Pas #4. At this point, who's counting?)

My sister declared that in “our family and circle of friends” there is never a demand for an entrance fee to celebrate our festivities. And believe me, when we throw a party, you’ll want to see that invitation in the mail. We lay out a full banquet, that’s for sure!

One thing I am certain, the café has lost a customer in me and hopefully, through this forum any future potential customers. This clamor call is to WARN any and all who plan to venture out to this establishment. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. Make sure you know that customer satisfaction is not part of their practice. Clearly, the Co-owner only had the intent to fill his pocket with margin. The name of the café translates to “Not You”. Hmmm…Go figure.

What is the lesson here? What is common practice in restaurant business? Do we chalk this up to one of life’s experiences and let it go? What would you do? This subject has become heavy on the hearts of the friends that only wanted to celebrate a friendship and recognize a milestone.

DON’T BOTHER:

Pas.tu Café
Mediterranean cuisine
216-1/2 Marine Avenue
Balboa Island, CA 92662

Overall Rating: VERY POOR


Here’s one for LJ.




Tanta’s Tart

Ingredients:

¾ cup butter, softened
½ cup confectioners' sugar
1 ½ cups flour
(10 ounce) package white chocolate chips or vanilla chips
¼ cup whipping cream
(8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
assorted fruit - raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, etc.

Method:

Heat oven to 300°F. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in flour.
Press the mixture onto the bottom and up the side of a fluted tart pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just lightly brown. Cool completely.

Carefully melt the vanilla or white chocolate chips and the cream either carefully on the stove on very low, stirring constantly. Beat in the cream cheese.

When crust is cool, pour on the melted chocolate/cheese mixture, spreading evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve--at least 3 hours. Slice the fruit of your choice and place on the tart in an attractive manner.

This is best eaten the same day it's made.

Happy Belated 40th Birthday, SS! Welcome "over the hill". It's cruisin' from here.

I love you, Tanta! Have a slice of life’s banquet.

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