Recently I had a staycation booked with three grade school best friends at a hotel here in NYC. As they are non-allergic girls they said, “You pick the restaurant.” As it was for a Saturday night, I picked Craftbar, a place to I’ve been many, many times, I know the menu, the management and the chef and they have even hosted Worry-Free Dinners in the past.
But in looking over the menu two days prior to our “trip” I saw the menu had radically changed; gone were some of my old fave dishes like the hanger steak and now it was a lot of fish, fish and more fish. Not good for this Allergic Girl. The hanger steak still existed though, I discovered, but now it was on the lunch menu. So I gave it a shot: that the restaurant might reserve a lunch dish for my dinner.
Creating a long-term relationship with a restaurant is for just this purpose: as a long-time loyal customer, they may make an extra special exception or in this case set aside a lunch dish for dinner.
I bet you will find yourself in a similar situation at some point (at least something close, so here is the outline of the email I sent:
Dear General Manager of Craftbar,
I hope this finds you very well! I’m coming in on Saturday with three dear friends for our combined birthdays.
The dinner dish of hanger steak with potatoes and onions is gone from the dinner menu but still on the lunch menu. The rest of dinner menu is fish heavy which I can’t do because of severe food allergies. Might it be possible to get that lunch steak dish for dinner?
Gentle reminder, my food allergies are ________.
Let me know.
And here was the response:
Chef has saved 1 hanger steak for you. These options can also be tailored to your restrictions:
Pancetta-Wrapped Guinea Hen 25.
Berkshire Pork 25.
Roasted Sweetbreads & Braised Veal Breast 23.
General Manager/Wine Director
When I got there, I checked in with the manager who said, "We are all ready for you!" And I double-checked everything with the server. He said, "We have everything all ready!" and he even had a print out of all of my restrictions. I still went over all of my food allergy needs and requested that they use a fresh pan, fresh gloves and tongs. Even if/when a restaurant knows you and your needs; even if you are a weekly or nightly regular, *it is always our responsibility to communicate, repeat, underscore and clarify our needs.*
The server said: “Don’t’ worry. This order will be like DEFCON 2 when it gets back there.”
That’s what we like to hear. The steak was perfect and dinner was lovely.
Have you created a relationship with a local chef or restaurant lately? Do tell!