This obviously isn’t the sort of title you’d expect to find on The Historic Foodie’s Blog, but even I live in an ever increasingly stressful world, and some of these concepts may not be so far out that I can’t appreciate them on some level. 

Strangely enough, when I’m cooking at some historic venue, I have the patience of Job, never rushing, always nurturing and coaxing every bit of flavor possible out of my dishes while smoke from the coals rises with the pleasing fragrance of the dish, yet when I’m eating out I have little tolerance with servers who drag their feet taking my order or bringing the check when I’m finished. 

Restaurants in more modern cities than the one in which I live are going electronic in the way they take orders and have you pay for your meal.  Sorry, but you’ll still need that server to bring you the food.

In some locations, diners can text their drink or food orders directly to the kitchen if there is no one readily available to take them at the table.  The system is called Text-My-Food and allows you to text a message to the kitchen that you require additional items, refills, etc., or to request your check and speed up the process of leaving once you’ve finished your meal.  From a cell phone the customer texts directly to a touch screen in the kitchen.  For those of us who at least pretend to be watching our weight, beware, surveys indicate that parties who use this system find it so efficient, and even fun to use, that they tend to order more.

Even those with the lowest tech skills will love this one – no more heavy, bulky beepers to alert you when your table is ready.  When you sign in with the hostess you give her your cell phone number which goes into an auto-system and texts you when your table is ready.  An upgrade is already in the works for this one which will allow us to put our names on the waiting list before even leaving home to speed up the process of being seated on arrival.

Supposedly the creator of this system, called Textaurant, was stuck on site holding the beeper through an hour and a half wait for a table when taking a friend out to dinner for his birthday while the rest of the party passed the time next door in the mall.  That hour and a half was enough time to hatch the plan for this system.

Printed menus may soon be replaced with an E-tablet which is interactive and stimulates the techie’s senses while preparing the dinner to feed him physically.  E La Carte was designed by MIT students and allows customers to view the list of foods offered with nutritional values and photos of the dishes after which they can place their orders electronically and track the progress of their dinner as it is prepared in the kitchen.   If that isn’t enough, those who wish may play games on the device while waiting for their food.

Last, but not least, I think this one may top the list of what I’d most like to see offered in any restaurant I frequent.  A device called a Ziosk allows customers to pay their bill at the table, totally bypassing the wait for the check, and have a receipt emailed to them.

I’m about as low-tech as one can get and honestly I enjoy the conversation with a personable server who gives me great service, but all too often in the last few years I seem to get the droll person with no people skills, can’t get my order right, and thinks drink refills are for people sitting at other tables.  We’ve left restaurants because no one made any effort within 15 minutes to take a drink order or even greet us. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is outsourcing jobs when responsible adults are stuck in low paying boring jobs which do not cover living expenses, but as bad as I hate to admit it maybe some of these systems have merit.  Don’t expect one-on-one contact though, because some of these systems are manned in customer service facilities many, or even hundreds, of miles away.

Lagniappe refers to an extra, or a small gift apart from a service which you’ve paid for.  Consider this post such an extra.  In my next post we’ll return to a former time when service was extended in a timely manner with a smile.

Blissful Meals Yall.