”Before we decide, I want to hear about the specials,” our friend JP said.
He and his wife, Caroline, had been to this Brooklyn restaurant before and had wanted to come back, with us. Mostly because they liked it, but partly because JP felt ripped off that no one had mentioned any specials, and then he saw nearby tables getting these big, sliced ribeye steaks that weren’t on the menu.
I was with him. I wanted to hear about a ribeye. I love a ribeye.
The waitress came over and clicked her pen.
“What are we thinking?” she asked.
“Wait,” I said. “Are there any specials?”
“No, no specials. Just what’s on the menu.”
JP made the “drat” face.
I wasn’t giving up so quickly.
“Oh,” I said. “That’s funny…” I tilted my head toward the group next to us at the long communal table. “We heard them talking about which steak they were going to get. It sounded like there was more than one.”
The waitress nodded. “Right. They were talking about the Market Steak that’s there at the bottom of the menu. It’s actually two different steaks.”
“One is a short rib, very rich and flavorful, and the other is more lean, a flank steak.”
And she was going to tell us this when?
“Anything else?” one of us asked. Because who knew what else she was holding back.
“Well, yes. There’s a ribeye. Depending what’s still available, it comes in several different cuts. It’s served sliced, with the bone in. And it comes with a panzanella salad. I’d have to check with the kitchen and let you know what we have.”
I’m sorry. Didn’t someone say, “No specials, just what’s on the menu”?
UM, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A SPECIAL.
We got the ribeye. We also ordered a bluefish tonnato appetizer — sorry, I mean “small plate” — with which the waitress recommended getting an order of bread. (In case you don’t go out a lot in Brooklyn, bread is now a course you order.)
“The tonnato is one of those dishes you’ll want to get every last bit of, it’s good to scoop it up with the bread.” She mimed the scooping, as if we weren’t born scooping food up with bread. I asked for a side of bread with my mom’s breast milk, FFS.
I’m still thinking about this meal.
Not because it was so amazing. It was good, not incredible, and the restaurant was a whole new level of loud.
It’s on my mind because it’s bizarre that while the waitress was so keen to upsell us on bread, she didn’t want to tell us anything about the steaks. Especially the special ribeye that was Not a Special.
- Did she not feel like checking with the kitchen?
- Was the restaurant trying to save the ribeyes for high-level people, like your parents used to with the fancy nuts? “Don’t open those cashews, they’re for company.”
- Did she have a different definition of “special”? Like, she thought it had to be subjectively special to be mentioned as a special? “Ribeye? That’s not so special. Fresh guacamole served to you on the beach at sunset with your lover — now, that’s special.”
- Or…did a slab of beef once do something very bad to her?
Show me on the doll where the filet mignon touched you.
Whatever the reason, she really didn’t want to tell us about it.
We had an ongoing schtick after she walked away.
“….And other than that, no specials. But yes, the raw oysters can also be ordered as spaghetti carbonara.”
“Oh, actually, I do have one other thing — a cure for cancer. Would you like me to see if there’s any available?”
Steven said it was like when you ask, “Is anyone holding?” and all your friends say no. But then you point out that one of them’s totally high and he suddenly remembers, “Oh yeah, I do have an 8-ball of coke.”
I never hung out with those people. To me, it’s like when no one admits they have any gum.
But why would the waitress hold out on us?
Why would anyone be so cagey about a steak?
It’s not like it came from a personal stash of beef in her purse. A ribeye just boosts the check total by 80 bucks, which boosts her tip by almost $20.
You’re shaking your head at that silly server, but guess what:
If you don’t make it clear what you offer and do whatever you can to let the world know about it, you’re holding out on everyone, too.
You’re the cagey waitress.
And in that spirit, if you want help with your copy, I have a few things you may or may not have seen on the menu.
Do you have a secret steak you’ve been holding out from us? I mean that figuratively, unless you actually sell steak.
Why do you think the waitress and this restaurant is so weird about the specials? Please help me solve the mystery.
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.