Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Night on the Town

"Hey," Ray said, about a week ago, "my friend Jim's band is having a CD Release Party next Saturday night. I think we oughta go." Sounded like fun. We'd get there about an hour early, have dinner, then listen to the band, support Jim and come home with their new CD. Jim's a nice guy and the music is good. You can hear a little of it and learn about the band here. It isn't their fault that this evening turned out to be a fiasco.

The party was being held at a club, The Blue Monk, on SE Belmont Street in Portland. It's a great old neighborhood that has become recently hip, and on a Saturday night it was hoppin'. No place to park, except to drive into the adjacent residential neighborhood and walk a few blocks, which we did. The bars were packed and the sidewalks were full of young folks. It was a scene. The Blue Monk is a small club, with a bar and tables on the main floor and a smaller bar, tables and stage in the basement, which is where the release party was being held. We thought we had gotten there plenty early, but the place was packed and there was not a table to be had, and very little standing room. We still had more than an hour until the band was scheduled to start, so we went upstairs to get a little dinner.

It took quite awhile to even get a waiter to the table, though the upstairs area wasn't crowded, but we finally each ordered the ravioli special and Ray also ordered a salad. We still had plenty of time. We enjoyed our drinks while we waited. People around us were being served. It smelled great. It looked promising. After 45 minutes we were getting restless and the waiter came by and said because of the party downstairs they were pretty busy, but our food would be out soon. So we waited. And waited. When an hour and a half had gone by we decided we were leaving. Just as we were preparing to get up, the waiter arrived. He was sweating and nervous. I could tell he was dreading a confrontation. He apologized and said he'd like to comp us another drink and our food would be right out!  By now my head was pounding and I was starving. The drinks came and we waited some more.

Have you ever been in this situation? It is almost 9:30 at night. You are starving. Your second drink is going down like acid. You are angry and your head is pounding. What you want to do is leave. No wait—what you really want to do is eat. But no, there's no food in sight. You just want to get out of there. But then you still have the problem of getting something to eat, and dammit! you came to hear Jim's band.  You want to yell at the waiter, but you know it really isn't his fault. Apparently there is one guy cooking tonight. One. Then, before you can really decide, though you've been seething for more than an hour and a half, suddenly—finally— two plates of lukewarm ravioli show up at the table, accompanied by more apologies and excuses, and you cram that sh*t in as fast as you can make a fork spin. You all but lick the plate, while waving for the waiter to bring the bill. He brings—a salad. Yes, salad. At the end of the meal. "Would you like to take the salad to go?" "NO!!" "OK, sorry, again..."

Will this never end??

It did end. We finally got the bill (with salad and drinks subtracted from the total, thank you) and hurried downstairs to see if we could catch a little of Jim's band. We got down there, wriggled our way into the throng and heard the last 30 seconds of their last song. "THANKS EVERYBODY!! THANKS FOR COMING OUT TONIGHT!!" and they picked up their instruments and left the stage to wild applause.

We were a little glum as we walked through the dark residential streets toward our car. We remarked on what a balmy, pleasant evening it was, and then what a weird adventure our first CD Release Party had been. It had sounded like such a cool thing to do! By the time we got to the car we were laughing and my headache was beginning to subside. A totally grim and maddening dining experience and then we pretty much missed the party, and we vowed never again to set foot in the Blue Monk, but, hey, we're OK. And we got a CD.


  1. no matter the occasion, my New Yorker was bristling and loud at the 30 minute mark. No fireworks display necessary..we just got up, left and crossed the joint off the list. *hit happens, but never twice.

  2. They didn't comp the meal? This is where Urban Spoon and Yelp can be the death of an establishment. Glad you got to hear at least some of the music, though I do think the upstairs could have handled it better.

  3. Feel for you for sure. Something similar happened to us at a highly touted restaurant here. We went in for lunch one day not long after we got here. The service was horrid, obviously the folks at table near us and us were not of the upper ilk. While two other tables of higher social elite women of the area were doted on, we waited and waited. Needless to say we have not been back and have not intention of ever going back.

  4. We once went to a little restaurant in Flagstaff, where one lady did everything. It was supposed to be a quaint little place where food was dished up. When I asked about ingredients on one dish, she surly replied: "I don't know. It's on the box!" Never again did we go there! Authentic cuisine a la freezer case. Interesting concept.

  5. my husband and i went to a new restaurant in the next town over during it's first week open. we waited about as long as you did for our food, which never did show up! finally we just left, but not before i calmly, in front of the throng of people waiting to get seated because they were messing that up too, explained in a slightly louder tone than normal, our entire experience of the evening to the hostess. we were so hungry when we left we went thru the drive thru at arby's! ugh. but after waiting that long for food, we weren't about to go sit at another restaurant and wait again. there's only so much a person can take. the restaurant closed with in 6 months, by the way.

  6. oh, bummer! We had a similar experience at the Blue Monk. We went for a small theater company preview party, which was downstairs, and when we saw how slim the advertised hors d'oeuvres were, we went upstairs to order something more substantial. Our dinner never arrived. It's as if our interaction with the waitstaff had occured in a different dimension. I'll never say "never again," because I wish them well, but they don't seem to multitask very well.

    The irony is, there are plenty of really good, casual restaurants along that stretch of Belmont. If we'd only known. Too bad you ended up missing your friend's set. :-(

  7. Oh, that really stinks.

    I am always amazed that any food place that treats people like that survives at all. There are so many good places to eat in the metro area.