How Not to Wait at Tables

There is a new restaurant in the Outpost.

It’s called the Golden Eagle.

Local competition, with not the tiniest hint of sneering sour grapes you understand, has dubbed it the Golden Cockroach.

They’re probably right. About the cockroaches.

But competition is a healthy thing. Even if cockroaches are not. Though my mother-in-law always deemed they were: they ate all the rubbish in the kitchen, she said. Helped with the housekeeping, she said.

So we went. Husband, children and I. To the Golden Eagle/Cockroach. For a Last Supper. Before the Big Ones returned to boarding school last week.

We washed our hair and put on our glad rags and went out for dinner.

First impressions weren’t encouraging: the place was almost empty. But we sallied forth: the Outpost has made us brave. And limited choices have rendered us less dismissive of what there is than we once might have been.

A waitress wandered over to take our drinks order.

Amelia – optimistically – ordered a milkshake. The waitress looked at her blankly.


Have a coke, darling, I suggested, thinking her dad had talked the place up a little too enthusiastically.

The waiter ambled up shortly afterwards shuffling a handful of scruffy A4 pages. The menu is transpired.

What do you want? He demanded as he rifled through grimy pages without sharing them with us.

Chicken, I ventured? What kind do you have (as in: Tandoori? Masala? Grilled?)


I looked blank.

The chicken is from the village, he explained. Loudly. Because he thought I was really stupid, obviously.

Have the beef, hissed husband, impatient at my rambling indulgent consideration of what to eat as if I were dining someplace like The Ivy.

At that point our table was joined by the proprietor’s seven year old daughter. She was disarmingly precocious and alarmingly loquacious.

My dad’s restaurant is very good isn’t it?

We all murmured assent. Lack of milkshakes and surfeit of village chicken aside.

The food here is very good, she added, and the bar too – and she waved her arm in the direction of a bar festooned with fairy lights.

Fabulous PR tactic, I whispered to husband, send your pretty little daughter out to charm the guests.

Hm. He grunted.

And the pool table is also very nice. I am very good at pool.

Because we had grown a little tired of the animated juvenile marketing strategy we made Hat go and have a game with her, of pool. Hat made a cross face but quietly acquiesced.

Our meal arrived – beef as ordered by husband – at the same time as Hat reappeared, looking even crosser.

She cheats, she hissed at me.

Our pint-sized hostess rejoined us too and sagely observed us whilst we ate, leaning against the table.

Then she said, ‘Meat gives you warts, you know, I can show you a picture in my Body Atlas if you like?’


18 Responses to “How Not to Wait at Tables”

  1. Mozi Esme's Mommy Says:

    Ambience to go with the great food, huh?! Wonderful!

  2. Gwen Says:

    And how was the beef?

    One of our favorite restaurants in Makassar (Indonesia) was a pit of flies. I’m sure it was dirty as all hell, but that food was good. And it did not come with any not quite charming children, either.

  3. R. Sherman Says:

    Actually, the genius of having her watch you eat is that it’s difficult to complain while a cute seven-year-old standing there. Had you tried, she probably would’ve launched into a speech about how her mother needs an expensive surgical procedure or something.


  4. Millennium Housewife Says:

    That was LOL funny! Mental pictures are brilliant, cheers! MH

  5. Kathleen Says:

    Ummm warts! Oh my! Let us know about that inquiring minds want to know!

  6. The Good Woman Says:

    Sounds a touch familiar – outpost eating is definitely an adventure.

    Loved your last post by the way. It’s great to hear stories of parents standing by the “Nothing is more important than my child’s happiness’ line. Surely the point is to raise adults, capable and trusted to make good decisions, rather than children who feel forever bound by our expectations…

  7. Roberta Says:

    Did you leave a tip? Curious minds want to know!

  8. Hadriana Says:

    I’ve heard of meat “curing” warts…you know the old wives’ tale of putting raw meat on the dreaded wart. You then go and bury it in the garden…but not the other way round! Possibly “too much information”…

  9. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Mozi: you’re right – charming ambience, world class food …

    Gwen: indiffernt, I think, the beff. Once we made our way to it past bone and gristle … but the chapatis were good as was the veg curry.

    Thanks MH. You know how some things in life are funnier at the time and so on hindsight …? think this a hindsight scenario!

  10. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Absoutely, Mr Sherman. I hadn’t thought of that: marketing and troubleshooting tactic all in one. It’s hard to eat when you’re being watched though. Heads down, muttering at each other, ”when’s she going to push off?

  11. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Kathleen, I agree, ummmmmmm warts. Though I’d go further, Yuk! Warts?!

    So lovely to ‘see’ you again Good Woman: lots of us missed you, been following your adventure to DC with avid interest. What a whirlwind. I agree: expectations can be very tough. And inhibiting. If we ”expect” our children to do stuff, how can they become our own people? x

    I did, Roberta, I did. How could I not. I was being watched, remember?!x

    Hadriana: definately, TMI as my daughter says, wrinkling her nose usually, as in: ”eeeeeugh Ma, TMI man!”

  12. Mud Says:

    Any warts so far?

    Thanks for cheering up a Monday morning!

  13. Teena Says:

    Arrggh! I’m not sure which I would have to swat first – the cockroaches or the annoying mini-hostess! t.x

  14. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thanks Mud, glad I made a difference to Monday morning. No, no warts so far …!

    I know Teena, I am inclined to agree. Made similar comment to eldest daughter who, despite dearth of milkshakes, was furiously indignant at my growling.

  15. nuttycow Says:

    Sounds a bit like the “swahili pot” down in Diani. An establishment with…er.. ambiance. And a pool table!

    Is it odd that I actually like these kind of places. Ok, so the food poisoning (and warts) isn’t that great but at least it’s a bit more of an experience that just going to a boring old normal restaurant!

  16. Mom de Plume Says:

    My favourite restaurant experience was in Malaysia where we went to a place that looked like a large open double garage with a room attached to it. The double garage part was the restaurant and the attached room was the kitchen. The ‘ladies’ was one of those Malay loos that you squat on and you had to walk through the kitchen to get to it. The kitchen was fly infested with wilted looking (it was 35deg. at night) vegetables piled up on top of each other and the cooking was done on a huge, filthy looking steel plate. My parents, who lived near there, had never suffered from any food related upsets and swore by the place. The food was possibly the best I have ever tasted and the price for eight of us was the same as you would have paid for one person’s meal out in South Africa. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you have an irritating mini-hostess watching your every move!

  17. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    I know it nutty. I know it. You’re right: often the food is excellent. And risking the trots worth it. Often. Not always though!

    Mom d P: a great story. And you’re right: often you get lucky. Occassionally you don’t though! We used to patronize an excellent little eatery in Dar. we called it the Bush Bar, beers were cold and the chicken the best in the world, smothered in garlic and ginger. I have never eaten such good ”kuku” anywhere else. Never got sick. cheap as chips. and no irksome hostesses either!

  18. Post of the Week » Blog Archive » Shortlist for week ending Friday 22nd August 2008 Says:

    […] Memsahib: How Not To Wait At Tables Nominated by Missy […]

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