How To Reheat the Chocolate Molten Lava Cake from Chili’s

Because I am a waiter, I can’t help but jump at every opportunity to assist someone when it comes to matters of food and restaurant life. Serving is in my blood. Literally, my veins course with water, salt, proteins, red and white blood cells, platelets, a few ounces of tequila and some serving, so when I was reading the Chili’s Facebook page and saw that someone wanted to know how to reheat their Chocolate Molten Lava Cake, I wanted to help this woman. Never mind that Chili’s already answered her question with a half-assed answer telling her to put it in the microwave for thirty seconds. That might be an adequate way to reheat a Chocolate Molten Lava Cake, but this Chili’s customer deserves a better answer and I am here to serve. Yes, Carolyn, you could be a Basic Betty and put it in the microwave for thirty seconds, but don’t you deserve more? After all, if you are treating yourself to the luxury of a dessert from one of America’s finest restaurants, you should want it reheated to perfection. Here you go:

  1. Remove the cake from the plastic to-go container. Do this very carefully, for you do not want the cake to collapse. It is a delicate work of confectionary art and must be handled with care by the hands of a virgin. If a virgin is unavailable, plastic gloves are fine.
  2. Gently place the cake on a piece of ceramic earthenware that has never before seen the light of day. You can also use a slab of marble, solid quartz (not Silestone or some manufactured man-made quartz bullshit), Verano glass or a cedar plank made from the trees of Galilee. If none of these are available, a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil is fine.
  3. Cover the cake with a hand-blown Chihuly glass bowl so it will distribute the heat evenly. There are no substitutions for this bowl. If you don’t have one, give up now and throw the Chocolate Molten Lave Cake into the trash can, because it will basically be a piece of garbage if you skip this step.
  4. Place the cake into a wood burning pizza oven that is heated to exactly 204.444 degrees celsius. It must be placed directly into the center of the oven and not off by even a fraction of an inch. This is what will ensure an even warming so that the chocolate lava will heat up to just the right amount and spew from its warm center at the correct viscosity. If you don’t have a pizza oven, a regular conventional oven will be fine as long is it is a model from 2017 and later.
  5. Set your timer for 7 minutes. Ideally, the timer will be of the hourglass variety with white grains of sand from a secret beach in Thailand. If not that, an egg timer will be fine.
  6. While the cake is warming, you should play a recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV565.” That piece is 14 minutes long, so you will need to play it at twice its normal speed so that it will end at precisely the same time as the last grain of sand falls in the hour glass. A simple software program or app will help you play the piece at the correct speed.
  7. After seven minutes, have the virgin remove the cake from the oven and then have her remove the bowl. (If the virgin is unavailable or has lost her virginity in the last seven minutes, using an oven mitt is fine.) Throw the bowl away, for it has now peaked in usefulness and will never be worthy of anything again.
  8. Your Chocolate Molten Lava Cake is now ready. Top with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream and enjoy with a silver spoon from Marie Antoinette’s collection of French silverware. If that is unavailable, the plastic one from Chili’s is fine.

You’re welcome, Carolyn.

My Last Night at My Restaurant

Why am I crying right now? I’ve worked at Quaint for just over ten years and this week I served my last two entrees there; a medium rare hamburger with a side of mayo along with a roasted chicken with potato gratin and green beans. Over the years, I’ve served those two dishes hundreds of time, maybe even thousands, but tonight, as I carried them to Table 24, those two plates held more gravity than any of the others that came before them.

When you work someplace for a decade, it becomes more than a workplace. It becomes a little bit of you, whether you like it or not. At first you resist it, then you accept, then you cherish it. And when the time comes to say goodbye to that place, you mourn for it. Like the mold around the caps of a soda fountain, it grows on you and you get accustomed to it. Ten years ago, the “old people” who’d come in on a regular basis were caricatures that were easy to blog about and make fun of. Last week, when they sat at Table 22 for their first post-pandemic outing, they were Joe and Ellen. When I told them that my final shift was fast approaching, I could see that they cared. When my eyes teared up saying good bye to them, I knew that I cared too. “I’m gonna miss seeing you,” I said as I reached out to touch them each on their shoulders, having never made that physical connection before. I pulled back, worried that my emotion was too much, but Mrs. Mandelbaum said, “You can touch us, we’re vaccinated!”

The combination of perfect spring weather and word getting out that it was my final shift made for a very busy night at the restaurant. We actually broke a record in covers and sales and it was the busiest we’d been since before the pandemic. Consequently, I had my ass handed to me on a silver platter an old serving tray with the cork lining peeling off. The restaurant ran as it has every day for the last 14 months with just two people: Tim as the owner/chef/line cook/prep cook/dishwasher and me as the server/bartender/host/busser/to-go person. I had planned for my last night to be a leisurely affair drinking Sauvignon Blanc out of a water glass, but the opportunity never presented itself. The weeds made themselves known from the minute we opened until an hour after we closed. I hated every fucking minute of it.

And I loved every fucking minute of it.

You can’t tell, but I’m probably crying in this photo. Thanks to JR for the photo. Thanks to Ann and Jerry for being some my favorite regulars for so many years.

But things change. Global pandemics sweep across the earth and force people to alter the way they live, think, and work, apparently. Choices lead to new jobs and so it shall begin; a new adventure/work environment. As I did so many years ago when I first started this blog and this crazy ride of Bitchy Waiter, I’ll keep my new place of employment a secret. It’s just best for everyone involved, especially at the beginning. Eventually, maybe where I work will accidentally slip out like a tomato from a hamburger stacked too high, but for the most part it’ll be a secret again. Rest assured, I will continue to bitch about waiting tables and use my daily experiences from work and from my life in general to amplify what servers wish they could say. I want to be the voice for servers.

Quaint restaurant has served that purpose for the last ten years and a little piece of my heart will always remain there. My boss Tim has has known all along that Bitchy Waiter is an online personae and not the person who shows up to his restaurant each week. Its hard to imagine I’ll ever find another restaurant job so perfect for me. It being only three blocks from my apartment has allowed me to become part of the fabric of my neighborhood. The people I waited on were the same ones I saw at the grocery store and waved to as I walked my dog. I’ve watched kids grow up before my eyes over the years. Saying goodbye to one family, I looked at at the now 15 year old girl who is just as polite now as she was when she she was five and impressing me with not just her manners, but her appetite for grilled salmon and calamari. “Go on, you can hug him if you want,” her mother said. And we did hug. I wonder if this young girl will grow up and remember me in the same way I remember a particular waitress from when I was a child. The restaurant has created a lot of wonderful memories for me over the last ten years and I hope I have created a lot of wonderful memories for my customers.  I am grateful for my time at Quaint. My ten years there will alway and forever be a part of me.

No, seriously, I think there’s a splinter in my thumb from the bar.

 

The last supper. Thanks to Kendall for the photo.

The 8 Ways This 5% Tipper Annoyed Me

Despite my bitchy pen name, I honestly try to give all of my customers the best dining experience possible. Hospitality flows through my veins just as passionately as the blood and tequila do. But with some customers, that can be a challenge. Take for instance, the couple I served last week. They must have been in their early 20s. Had I carded them when they ordered their cocktails, I might have saved myself the frustration of watching them sip those libations in slow motion. Never have I have seen someone take as long as they did to get through a Blueberry Lemonade and an Orange Breeze. Those two cocktails are basically sugar water with booze, but they sipped them as if they were made of lava and the liquid was burning their esophagus with each swallow. When they ordered another round five minutes before closing time, I knew I was in for the long haul. But that’s not the only annoying thing these two did. Allow me to enumerate:

  1. When I asked him what kind of cheese he wanted on his burger, he asked what the chef recommended. Really? It’s a fucking hamburger, kid. We have cheddar, Swiss, goat, bleu, and American. You can put foreskin smegma on it for all he cares. I suggested American since it’s such “a classic.”
  2. When they finished eating their appetizer of mac and cheese, he told me how wonderful it was. “I loved that spiciness in there,” he told me. There is literally no spice in our mac and cheese; it has pasta, cheddar, gruyere, flour, salt, pepper, cream, and bacon. There is no jalapeño, Tabasco, cayenne, cajun seasoning, or ghost pepper. Still, I agreed with him. “Isn’t that just lovely?” I replied.
  3. When I placed their burgers in front of them, he extended his hands over his plate, palms upward, and said, “Well, would you look at that??” He said it the way a grandpa would reply to his 2-year old grandchild after they handed him a scribbled drawing of a horse with two heads. My reply: “Yes, it’s a cheeseburger.”
  4. When they ordered the aforementioned second cocktail after perusing the menu for far too long, he asked about the one called Fallen Leaves. “Is it juicy?” He wanted to know. I told him I would consider it more  “boozy” since it’s primarily bourbon with a splash of maple syrup and a squeeze of lemon. “Hmmm, boozy, you say. Interesting.” His hand was on his chin when he said it like he was Sherlock Holmes trying to decipher if Mrs. Peacock murdered someone using the wrench or the rope in the library or the dining room. I don’t know why this annoyed me, but it fucking did.
  5. When I poured their two cocktails from the shaker and into their glasses, he responded by clasping his hands together and then did the “would you look at that” gesture again.
  6. Forty minutes after we closed and with them being the only ones in the restaurant for at least an hour, they finally asked for the check. It was for $92. When I picked up the check, I saw he had left me $5. Five. Dollars.
  7. At this point, I had no more patience, so I began to blow out candles and turn out lights. Fuck them. As I was removing the candle from their table, he wanted to ask me a question about his martini glass. “What would you say is the proper way to hold this type of glass? This way or this way?” He alternated holding it by the stem and holding it nestled in his palm. “I would hold it by the stem so your hand doesn’t warm your drink,” I told him. He acted like I had just deciphered the Rosetta Stone. “Ahhhh,” he said as he tapped his forefinger on his temple to indicate the brilliant idea I had given him. “And would I hold my pinky out?” he wanted to know. “Yes,” I told him, but the truth is the only place I wanted his pinky to be was out of  my restaurant.
  8. As they got up to leave, he told me his girlfriend needed to go to the restroom first. She was in there for five minutes, probably wondering where the candles had gone that were there on her first trip to the restroom HOURS BEFORE. When she returned, he then explained that now he had to go. “We have two restrooms! Why didn’t you both go at the same time so you can both get the fuck out of my life?” I silently screamed and literally locked the door behind them.

God, they were annoying.

Congress is Passing a New Law to Benefit Servers

A new bill has passed thought the house and is expected to sail through the senate with bi-partisan support. Introduced by Janky Fitzsimmons (D) from Rhode Island, the measure would allow servers who work in restaurants with ten or more employees the option to slap a customer upside the head once every two months. Which customer is to be slapped is entirely up to the server and the decision lies solely upon them. Says Fitzsimmons, “I believe the morale and overall job performance will shoot through the roof once servers have this opportunity to release a little bit of steam. It will lead to better service for other customers.”

Most servers are happy that elected officials are thinking of them, but feel the new measure misses the mark. Ally Gaiter, a server for eight years at a Texas Roadhouse in Nampa, ID says, “Well, I was really hoping for paid time off or sick days or maybe even a raise, but I guess if all I get to do is slap a Karen upside the head every once in a while, I’ll take it.”

To be clear, servers will not be using their own hands for the slapping upside the heads. Each restaurant will be issued a federally mandated “slapping stick’ very similar to what is seen in children’s obstacle course where they dodge padded arms that spin in a circle. The slapping stick will be kept in the manager’s office along with an official slapping log to ensure no server slaps more heads than they are entitled to.

Kyle Rufus, a waiter at a Applebee’s in Prescott, AZ already has a plan. “Dude, I know exactly who I’m gonna slap. We have this regular named Carl who is so annoying. If I can slap him every two months, can I slap him, like on May 1 at 11:59 PM and then slap him again at 12:01 AM on May 2 and then just not do it again until July 3?”

Representative Fitzsimmons has not responded to requests to explain if Mr. Rufus’ plan is allowed under law or not.

If you work in a restaurant and want to register for your slapping stick, please click here to find out more details.

One Year Ago, Life Was Normal

One year ago today, March 8th, 2020, I had my last my meal in a restaurant. You now, like a real “sit at the bar and have cocktails and dinner” kind of experience. At that point, I had certainly heard of the coronavirus, but it wasn’t all-consuming quite yet. My diary entry for February 27th was the first mention of it: “Coronavirus. I just wanted to acknowledge it in case it becomes this huge thing that brings down our world…” On March 6th, I wrote “So, coronavirus… does it actually have me worried? Yes, a little bit it does.” On March 7th I wrote “Coronavirus is cray cray.” The next day, my husband and I went out to dinner, aware enough of this possible pandemic to make sure the bartender wiped down the bar, but not aware enough to know what was to come. We went to a restaurant in Astoria called Sugar Freak. 

It was a crowded Sunday night and I was so eager to eat all the fried foods and drink all the spicy margaritas. I remember sitting next to another couple and talking to the guy about his fried catfish and how delicious it was. He was probably only six inches away from me instead of six feet. The bartender was friendly, the food was incredible and it was a great night; one of those New York City evenings where everyone can sense that Spring is right around the corner. When I posted a photo of my cocktail onto my Instagram page, someone immediately commented “No way!!! I work there!! See you soon!!!” Within minutes, a young woman named Veronica was introducing herself to me and she bought my husband and I a round of tequila shots. I had no idea that this was our last night of normalcy, but I’m so grateful that it was so wonderful.

Five days later, Broadway shut down, leaving my husband with no place to work having worked there for 25 years. Two days after that all the restaurants in New York City were closed. Two days later, my other (non-restaurant) job laid me off. On March 16th my diary entry was very short: “Hi. Are we all gonna die?” And here we are, one year later with a lot of the same concerns. Broadway is still closed. I work part-time at my restaurant while hoping my other job will eventually find room for me to return. Its still scary, but not like it was when 1000 people a day were dying in New York.

A lot has changed since March 8, 2020. Twelve months ago, there was no immediate hope for a vaccine, but I’m happy to say that I have been fully vaccinated as of three days ago. One year ago, we thought stocking up on our groceries meant an extra loaf of bread and some canned beans, but now we can go to the grocery store, we just wear two masks while doing it. Time has given us a new perspective on what this pandemic can do to us. Over 500,000 people in our country have died of Covid since that night I had cocktails and fried food in a restaurant. It’s been a long, hard year for all of us, but for the family members of those who have been lost, it’s been way harder. Sure, I miss eating out. I hate that my glasses fog up because of my mask. I long to travel again and be able to socialize with friends like I did 365 days ago. But all of those inconveniences pale in comparison to what others have suffered through. I am incredibly grateful to be healthy and that we have had enough money to get through this last year. It may have been boring and tedious staying inside for months at a time, but I’m here.

If we look at how much has happened over the last year, imagine how much more will happen in the next twelve months. Maybe by March 8th, 2022, we will be looking at Covid as a terrible chapter that is complexly behind us and we will all be celebrating with a brand new version of he Roaring Twenties. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait all the way until 2022. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And as soon as we reach that light you will find me sitting at the bar of Sugar Freak, drinking a spicy margarita and talking to whoever happens to be sitting next to me.

Two Men Face Charges After Gun Threat at Ay Caramba Restaurant

Tensions are running high in restaurants these days thanks to the added stress of Covid, but it nearly boiled over at a restaurant called Ay Caramba in Asheville, NC earlier this week. Asheville police charged two individuals after they say threats were made during a dispute over takeout food. Yes, takeout food became such an issue that two men, George Christian Anagnostopoulos and West McCaskill Hunter, were freaking arrested because they were so upset about their Ay Caramba order.

Dudes, calm down. Was it really worth these charges:

  • Assault by pointing a gun (3 counts)
  • Going armed to the terror of the public
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Open container of alcohol in a vehicle

Both men were arrested on bond, but surely they woke up the next morning and thought, “what the fuck did we do?” While we cannot know for certain what went down in that Mexican restaurant, we can imagine it, can’t we?

(insert dreamy harp music here)

Becky: Welcome to Ay Caramba! Are you picking up food that you ordered?

George: Chorizo.

West: Schlimazel.

Both of them: Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

Becky: Okay…so are you picking up food to go then? What’s the name?

George: My name is Luka!

West: He lives on the second floor!

Becky: I don’t have time for this, boys. I’ve been wearing a mask for the last six hours and my glasses are so fogged up I can’t even see how drunk you are, but I can smell you. What’s the name on the order?

George: I like big butts…

West: …and he cannot lie.

Becky: Okay, is this your order? I have a Nacho Supreme with extra guac, jalapeño poppers, a burrito fajita, and an order of flautas.

George and West fumble around for their wallets when a gun falls from the pocket of one of their hoodies. And then another gun falls to the floor, landing in a small puddle of pico de gallo.

George: Aw, man! My gun got salsa on it!

Becky: I’m gonna ask you both to leave right now.

George: But I want my burrito!

West: He likes big burritos and he cannot lie.

Becky: Get out or I’m calling the cops.

West: Hey, look his gun is all covered with salsa and my gun isn’t covered in anything. No fair! Can I have some sour cream for mine?

West points the gun at Becky.

Becky: Sir, does this look like a Wendy’s? Put the gun away.

George and West put their guns back into their pockets.

Becky: Give me one minute to get you order together, alright? If you’ll sit over there and wait for ten minutes, I will give you a complementary order of churros, alright?

George and West: Churro! Churro! Churro!

They both do as Becky asks and they sit down to wait for free churros. Meanwhile, Becky calls the cops who show up five minutes later and drag their asses to jail.

Of course we don’t know if this is how things actually transpired, but wouldn’t it just make fucking sense?