The Blog

How to Navigate Around the Portlandish Restaurant Scene if You Just Want a Dash of Nice in Your Dish

The Indifference plague is spreading like bike lanes in our town, sprawling even out to the little charming friendly burrows. When did it become cool or even ok to lack basic manners?
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

My pals and I go out a frequent amount. We live in a much talked about town of foodies, flannels and visionaries. The thing that has struck me this past year is that it seems, of late, from our sampling tours, fewer locales on the map have nice inclusive mannered support crew. Since we have a plethora of choices to taste test, we keep on keeping on, in our pursuit of a happy, kind place to dine. Besides the menu and atmosphere, the expected not expected cool caches our town is known for, such as: the garden was planted by my grandmother who crossed the Willamette in 1984, the bacon was cured by a vegan yogi grass fed pig farmer, the steaks were massaged each morning with the hemp oil we brewed on our Leed certified double barreled barely free rooftop. We want nice. We rate nice. We aren't going back when they are too cool for their own shoes rude.

Why be rude? Ever? I do not understand the blow off, the dismissive hostess, waitress, chef. I do not get mean customers either. Maybe that is why They are not nice to Us? These folks are making our dinner and doing the dishes for fuck's sake. Say thanks! And Why are they inviting us in, if they plan to ignore Us? This rude is epidemic. On both sides. On occasion, we fall down the rabbit hole and land in an enchanting sweet world where when asked what a particular obscure hip for the moment ingredient is prominent on the menu, the waiter doesn't smirk. I love these gentle souls. I want to keep coming back because he didn't feel it was his job to give off the look of you are soo 1966 for not knowing that that spice was hand carried from farm to table just this morning and it is the elixir of goodness pumped out of a dandelion stem watered twice a day with sparkling water pump from the ground at that same sustainable farm. I don't give a shit about that pretension, I just want to know if that word is code for bacon. Bacon is in everything these days. That's all good if you like bacon, but I want to make sure that the creative license that is being taken of late with ingredient names, is it something that will spoil the dish for me? When I ask, if there is a surprise pork chop landing on my greenhouse greens, I don't want the F in mean girl look laser beamed at me.

Since few spots offer reservations (Clark Lewis does and they ask if it's a special occasion-well, yes I say I am taking Aunt Sue to lunch today and they offered us each a glass of wine on the house), getting a seat at a popular restaurant can be a challenge. That will be a 3 and a half hour wait, ma'am. Seriously? Please give me a little glimmer of hope here in the City of Roses and food cards. Maybe we put our name in at lunch time for dinner? I am getting far too cranky about cranky people in our town. The Indifference plague is spreading like bike lanes in our town, sprawling even out to the little charming friendly burrows. When did it become cool or even ok to lack basic manners? Snobbery is so unattractive. And boring. And weak. Dammit, I just want a seat and a smile, a realist one, a drink and snacks. And I will come back and bring my friends, and spread the word on social media and on the sidewalks and in passing conversation at the friendly Whole Bowl food cart on NW Glisan where charming kind smart Tim makes my lunch a few times a week. Whether it be the demanding, my dog only drinks bottled water customer or the I am too cool with my new haircut to even greet you hello wait staff, stop being rude. Customers and food peddlers alike really just need to decide to be nice.

Last month, I waited, and waited for a table at a locale on 23rd NW. The check in person didn't ask us for a name to jot down on the List, but told us there were several people ahead of us (invisible folks to the human eye). We waited as we sat at the empty bar. Our invisibility cloaks clearly were working magnificently since no one took a drink order or offered eye contact, just turned heads whiplash style away from us. Don't they want our business? I got up and asked a managerial looking dude with friendlyish enough eyes (yes he saw me), hope he works here, here goes. Uh, may we put our name down for a table and may we order a drink while we wait (I know so fucking demanding I can be). Please. Uh sure, he looks around and realizes his zombies are on autopilot and not giving a shit about seating or serving. Darn diners interfering with their twitter time. Anyway we get a seat and a drink. Eventually.

I following my new bar tender manager friend on his way to another area and asked if we could possibly get a menu and utensils. I know I know I am on demanding roll. I want food. Silly me. He Rock Paper Scissors a waitress into to helping us. She asks for our order and then walks away twirling her hair. We never see her again. Awkwardly, I ask the guy to come back for more help, he is our link to the kitchen. He brings our drinks and says he is sorry and will comp the duo Tito martinis. I love this guy. Is he single? I want to marry him for his kindnesses.

Please oh please no surprise pork chop on top, I pray.

We order. Yikes, what is that obscure ingredient. I love soup and this is a garnish I hope I can remove. Just in case it is another word for pork rinds or truffles. I feel stupid but I ask anyway. I should have Googled it, dammit the words are out of my mouth, what is a ..... Blank look. He doesn't know either. I say, as long as it isn't a new code term for lardo I would love the soup. He cracks up. I still want to marry this guy and have two more kids. He is on our team.

The soup is delicious. I finally get a spoon. Was I suppose to slurp it? Is that the New cool and I missed the memo? We are taking care of and we get a real nice humorous guy to help. Life is good.

It is sorta like the Price is Right in Portlandish Land, which door will we get: nice, rude, fantastic. It is frustrating to go into a restaurant and be treated like an unwanted in law. Yes, I know you are cool and you invented potlandia, but may I get a gosh darn fork? I don't want to have to do jumping jacks to get a napkin or roll my eyes or be rude back to your rude. What is going on here? A few of the gems of our town are the ones that are super popular and they still make you feel like they are busting ass to make sure you geta a table and a full glass of water. They truly care about your dining experience and we care about them, too.

Would you like extra hot water for your tea and a bit more honey? Elephants is Always Cheers nice to everyone. Wiping my grateful tears on a vintage hankie I found at 3 Monkeys, yes thank you for noticing. I love you. Here is a big tip and a big smile. And I will email all of my 44 friends on FaceBook and tell them to come see you.

I propose we put our all of cities on the map, for being welcoming and wonderful folks. Now wouldn't that be visionary ?