I was on such a high after leaving The Dutchman’s Store–wandering around, getting great culinary inspiration–I really wanted an excellent meal to inspire me even more.
I did NOT find it at my next stop
Once I finally managed to escape the back roads of IA and started to stretch my legs on the interstate again, I decided it was time to get some food in me, so I picked a place that looked likely: The Country Kitchen.
Yes, they have a website. They’re a chain (which I didn’t know at the time), and I ate in this location:
It was about 3pm by the time I stopped, so they weren’t busy. The hostess led me to my table and handed me a menu. Their spécialité de la maison is apparently their calico bean soup, so I ordered a bowl of the soup, a glass of tea, and their mini-burger and fries appetizer.
This is apparently where the problems began
My waitress brought my soup a few minutes later …
… but I had to grab her and ask her about my tea the next time I saw her … which was more than 10 minutes later. Strike one.
The soup was great, a salty/juicy mixture of ham, onions, tomatoes, and several different varieties of dried beans. I counted black-eyes peas, lima beans, lentils, great northern beans, pinto beans, and others in my bowl. It was hot and tasty, and felt great on my still-sore throat …
… but there was still no sign of my mini-burgers and fries, which was a little disappointing. The waitress had spun off so fast when I ordered (without asking) that I didn’t have a chance to tell her that I’d prefer my soup with the rest of my food. I didn’t want to eat so much of the soup that I didn’t have room for the rest of what I ordered, so I lagged a bit on the soup until my waitress showed back up with the remainder of my order.
I saw the problem instantly, and asked “umm?…what about my fries?”
Her response was a deadpan, “I didn’t think you wanted them when you ordered the soup, too.”
Strike two. I said “No, I wanted them. That’s why I ordered them. And didn’t the appetizer just have two burgers … not three?”
She said “I gave you the dinner instead.”
“But I didn’t order the dinner. I ordered the appetizer, and added a soup to it, because that’s what I wanted.”
Then she had the audacity to look me right in the face and ask … after I had just said it, and the rest of my food is sitting there getting cold … “did you still want the fries?”
If I had said “yes” … it would have probably taken me another 10-15 minutes to get them, and–by that point–my grissly burgers would have been cold, so my response was “don’t bother.”
She disappears again, never comes back to refill my tea, and I have to track her down to get a go-box and my bill. That’s when I discover that she’s charged me for what she decided that I wanted to eat … not what I ordered. That confirmed for me that she’s the one who changed the order, and–needless to say–it was strike three for me.
I went looking for a manager … but apparently there wasn’t one on duty right then … just the hostess, who was also waiting a few tables, too. I told her that I wanted to see the menu, because I was very unhappy about my order being changed on me, and I wanted to see how much of a difference there was between what I was paying for, and what I’d actually asked for. Her response was to look at it for me–not show me the menu–and then to say, rather snarkily … “well, the kitchen apparently didn’t know what she was ordering … some of our menu is new … but the way she charged you (full price for the dinner, with a $1 add-on for the bowl of soup) is cheaper than the other way.”
She then closed the menu and put it away … so apparently I was not allowed to verify that statement myself.
Final score? Because of that–and my total experience there–I didn’t feel obligated to leave them a tip … or to give them any better than a D- as a final grade. Their soup was tasty, but their waitstaff is clueless, and their response to you calling them on it is to get snippy with YOU. Therefore, I won’t step foot in another Country Kitchen restaurant … ever!