I’ve always considered myself a bit of a comedian. I’ll never forget the time in 5th grade, when a girl told me I could be the next Mork.
Note: for those of you under 30, without Mork (and Mindy), we would’ve never met Mrs. Doubtfire or Patch Adams.
I really do love making people laugh, but I have never had it in me to do it in front of an audience. I couldn’t imagine doing stand-up comedy, but I would love to write the jokes.
In comedy, there is something referred to as a callback, that’s when a joke in the standup set refers to one previously told earlier in the routine.
Well, where better than Las Vegas for me to LIVE a comedy callback.
(Insert harp music and the slow flashback dissolve.)
Wednesday night, we departed for Sin City, all five of us, to watch my 12-year old daughter perform in her national dance event. Two years ago it was in Cincinnati, last year Orlando, this year Las Vegas.
With that kind of upgrade rate, I’m thinking Bora Bora could be next.
The first night of the trip was also my son’s 11th birthday, so being in Vegas it was a great excuse to go to a restaurant that we couldn’t really afford on our unemployed budget to celebrate the occasion.
Considering my wife is as an avid viewer of The Food Network, I thought I could hit a home run by taking the family to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at Caesar’s Palace.
I had been there once before, on an expense account, so I knew what a great meal we were in for.
I figured since nobody in my family drinks, except for me, as long as I could stick with the tap water, we could get out of there at a reasonable price.
Well, reasonable for an expensive place in Vegas.
The service was fantastic. The atmosphere was terrific. My son and wife and two daughters were having a blast.
They all believed they were judges on the Iron Chef.
I actually was enjoying myself so much that I didn’t spend the ENTIRE time computing the bill in my head, just most of it.
We had an amazing appetizer, the Tiger Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Corn Tamale.
We had several rounds of the cornbread muffins and jalapeno bread.
Then it was time for the main course:
Green Chile Cioppino, a 22 oz Bone In Chipotle Glazed Rib-Eye and the “house specialty” New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin.
One bite was better than the next.
The meal was SO good that my kids actually enjoyed the Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans & Pomegranate Seeds.
Midway through the entrees, I had actually forgotten that there would be a bill coming at the end.
This mission was truly accomplished.
As everyone else started to wind down, and prepare for dessert, I felt it my obligation to make sure there was nothing left on any of the plates.
So I took my stab at the final pieces of the Pork Tenderloin.
I hope my late Jewish father is not reading this.
The flavors were jumping off my fork, truly one of the best meals of my life, until....
.... huh, what’s that?
I slowly lowered my fork, so I could use both hands to pull out a SEVEN-INCH BLONDE HAIR.
WHAT! I didn’t see that on the menu.
With every inch I pulled out of my mouth, my family got more and more disgusted.
And they were JUST the audience.
I must’ve looked like one of those circus clowns pulling a long scarf out of my mouth.
Now, when I say it was seven inches, I didn’t actually measure it, but it was the long enough to braid and long enough to make my dark-haired family gag.
We immediately called over the first waiter we saw, who took it into the kitchen to show to our waiter.
It was like watching a crime scene as they held the hair up to the light.
How ironic, considering that Bobby Flay’s wife has been on Law & Order, Special Victims Unit for the last ten years.
Considering that our waiter was, let’s just say, “follically challenged”, he was no longer a suspect, making him the happiest person there, even though he definitely didn’t show it.
My wife made it VERY clear, immediately, that it was time to go, which meant no dessert for my 11-year old’s birthday.
I asked her again, but everyone was so disgusted that we needed to go, NOW.
Now considering that we have frequented every fast food establishment in the world, I have no doubt that each of us has ended up with something much worse than a hair in our food, but that was the last thing we expected at the Mesa Grill.
After their examination in the kitchen, our waiter rushed over to apologize. Moments later his manager came to do the same.
I think “I’m sorry” was first. I think it was followed by “I hope this didn’t ruin your meal”.
It was all a daze at that point to be honest.
He asked if we wanted something for dessert.
I was thinking the hairless and flourless chocolate cake could be good, but I couldn’t get the words out before my wife said NO.
He somewhat apologized again, I think, although to be perfectly honest, I didn’t get that the feeling that he was nearly as humiliated as we were.
Then again, he didn’t actually taste the hair from the $36 tenderloin.
Somewhere, my dad is muttering something about, “that’s why WE don’t eat pork”. Thanks Dad.
The manager left and moments later, the check arrived. As you might imagine, the pork had been removed from the bill.
But that was it.
I’ve never run a restaurant, although I did deliver pizza in college, so I am not really qualified to say how the restaurant should’ve handled this.
But as a customer, I was VERY disappointed.
I was disappointed that my son didn’t get cake on his birthday.
I was disappointed that my wife didn’t LOVE her dream meal.
But I was also disappointed that they didn’t make me feel like they really cared that THERE WAS A SEVEN-INCH BLONDE HAIR IN MY PORK TENDERLOIN!
Believe it or not, to me it was no longer about the money.
We paid the bill and moved on. But with each step we walked away from the restaurant, I got more and more annoyed.
I don’t really know what they SHOULD have done, I just know what they did.
And what they did was make us tell EVERYONE we saw the next day about our meal and how it was handled.
You just can’t buy that type of publicity, right?
Now that I am home, I am going to contact their home office to make them aware of the situation. I don’t expect anything, but I just feel like they should be aware.
Who knows, maybe Bobby will come to my house for a little Throwdown.
The rest of the trip to Vegas was great. We had a blast at my daughter’s competition. She performed very well and it was really fantastic. I’ll leave my review of the event for another blog.
On our way out of town, we did what most people who used to live in the West do, stop at In N’ Out Burger.
Being that rebel that I am, I always love ordering off the “secret menu” -- that means a double-double, protein style & animal style, light sauce, with well-done fries and a neapolitan milk shake.
Six of us ate for a grand total of $32.
For those of you counting at home, that’s $4 less than the Tenderloin.
(I know what we are doing for my son’s 12th birthday.)
We ended up going at the peak lunch time, so while we were making order #66, they were delivering order #42. At one point, the line to order must’ve been 50 deep, almost out the door.
Are they serving burgers or crack?
Well, when we got our order, it was hot and correct, like every other time I had gone there, so they must be doing something right.
Midway through my burger, my daughter went outside to visit with some of her friends, leaving me to enjoy every well done fry.
In N’ Out’s slogan is, “That’s what a hamburger is all about” and they are not kidding.
This mission was truly accomplished.
As I was completing my meal, my daughter came back inside, with the lid off her cup and showed me....
... a hair in her milkshake.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
This has got to be a Vegas joke, right? Well, Don Rickles was performing at our hotel.
This had to be the ultimate Vegas comedy callback.
I took the shake up to the manager, who immediately apologized, gave us a new shake AND a voucher for a free meal the next time we are near an In N’ Out.
Perhaps she had more practice with this sort of issue than the Mesa Grill, but her apology felt sincere and was much appreciated.
Once again, I would have to go to the restaurant manager handbook to find out if she handled it the appropriate way, but I can tell you my daughter enjoyed her new shake and I enjoyed the fact that they appeared to care.
Two VERY different restaurants with two similar scenarios.
I'm ready for another double-double.
And that's no joke.