“Sligro,” my girlfriend says out of the blue when she strokes her knife over the herb butter. It is a warm summer evening, and we are at the restaurant De Waterraaf in the marina of Nauerna, a village that connects Zaanstad with the North Sea canal. We have reserved a table outside on the terrace, with a view of water, boats, and grebes. There is no wind, and the water is a mirror. My mind wanders. In my head, sentences form a poem.
“What are you saying, honey?” I ask.
She spreads the butter on a piece of dark brown bread.
“The herb butter. It is from Sligro. A restaurant like this doesn’t get its herb butter from Sligro. You make it yourself.”
My girlfriend is self-employed in catering, so she must know. The herb butter tastes good to me. I can’t see or taste whether it’s homemade or not. Let alone can I tell by look or taste that it is from Sligro.
We enjoy the appetizer. She enjoys the thinly sliced veal with fermented red onion, and I enjoy the cod with foamy salmon mousse.
When the main course is served, it turns out something went wrong.
“Is it true that you only ordered one main course?” the food runner asks. She puts a plate of skin-fried salmon in front of me.
“Uh no, we both ordered the baked salmon.”
“Then something went wrong. I’m going to fix it right away.”
“Thank you. In the meantime, we will share this.” I slide the plate in the direction of my girlfriend.
A few moments later, our waitress comes over to apologize. When tapping the main course twice, the computer only registered one main course. Tapped a little too fast, probably. She promises to serve the second main course soon. The cook is already working on it.
While we enjoy our unintentional food sharing, the second main course is served. That is fast.
When we pay later that evening, the waitress asks if everything has been satisfactory.
“Sure,” I say. “It was delicious.”
“Well, something about the herb butter,” my girlfriend says.
“Yes?” the waitress asks friendly.
“If you serve herb butter to guests, I think you should make it yourself.”
To my ears, it sounds like a reprimand. It only lacks a “Shame!” at the end.
I am literally in between the two of them, and I feel like I am part of something I do not want to be part of.
The waitress’ face falls. I can see that she is shocked by this frank customer feedback.
She swallows and then says: “Oh, but we do make the herb butter ourselves.”
My girlfriend is surprised by this answer and searches for words. She quickly finds them, and she says: “Then it was a bit bland.”
Frans Reichardt | The Customer Listener
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