The other day we decided to have lunch at Baja Cafe in Campbell Avenue. We’d been there for a great breakfast and wanted to see if the lunch menu items were as good as the breakfast menu choices. They were.

The All American Wildcat Burger was classic with all the usual toppings and a great, sturdy bun. The french fries were served just how french fries are supposed to be served – hot, crispy and potatoey . The duck tacos, dscn2567something you don’t see on many ‘diner’ menus, were great, as well. Well-seasoned, tender duck was topped with a great slaw of sorts, salsa and a tasty rich crema. Delectable.

And best of all, the service was top-notch. Friendly in a most sincere way; both knowledgeable and attentive. You get the feeling that the whole service team knows what is happening at every table, in the kitchen and among themselves. Baja Cafe has got service down. The food is great too and we will be back.

Good service, good hospitality if you will, is what makes people come back to a restaurant, but sadly, good service is often ignored by owners. Who knows why, but that is a fact of life.

Here are two recent examples of poor service. One was at a very new restaurant that made the big move from food truck to  a brick and mortar space; the other, is a long, established, very popular spot. Note: the quotes are not direct quotes, but damn near.

I’d heard lots of great things about Vina Baguette and knew people were very excited about the new digs. Located in a strip mall behind Home Depot on Oracle, the space itself has been home to any number of small restaurants from a themed diner to a Mexican seafood spot to a hamburger haven. All moved in and out quickly due, in my opinion, to landlord and or financial backer issues – but that is for another post.

Anyway, after much deliberation over a banh mi sandwich or pad Thai, I ordered the shrimp pad Thai at the high tech register. (Sorry for the blurry photo.)dscn2562The young girl was new, but still did a great job in spite of the fact that the machine crashed right as I was ordering. No problem, the owner came over to help and verbally took my order. She gave me my table card, “#5”.

I waited awhile,but I wasn’t in any hurry. But when the food was brought to the table what I got was beef pho. In a nice tone of voice, I told the server that this wasn’t what I had ordered. Her response was “That’s wrong, number 5 is pho.” I told her again nicely that I ordered the pho. Then told me I was wrong and then she asked see my receipt, which I showed her clearly said ‘shrimp pad Thai.’ She studied it closely and then was all set to go back to the kitchen area without resolution. No apology, no we’ll get on that right away, no nothing. I asked her to check in the back and she took the food way. She came back moments later,  blamed the cashier and said that “He’ll make the pad Thai for you.” like it was my fault for the error. (I couldn’t help but notice that there was a mix-up at another table.)

Now since Vina Baguette is so new, glitches like this are forgivable, but the server has to learn that customers come first and that it’s not wise to tell them that they are wrong. I have faith things will smooth out over time.

BTW, the pad Thai was wonderful; spicy, sweet and with plenty off shrimp. Utterly crave-able! I will go back for more and perhaps even try the banh mi.

As far as that other place goes, what I am about to tell you should never have happened, especially from a restaurant entity that has been around for a long, long time. Dare I mention the name? Let’s just say the place is on First Avenue near Grant Road. The parking lot is always filled there, so what follows is almost unimaginable.

The event happened to a friend of my husband, who had a gift certificate for $100. He made reservations for four at 7:00pm on a Saturday evening.

When he and his party arrived a woman, who seemed to be in charge, told them “Yeah, we’re real crowded tonight. Go out on the patio and we’ll call you.”

No big deal at that moment, but when they got to the patio the only place to sit was a “dirty’ bench. They sat down to wait. Nobody came by to see if they wanted a drink or a nosh. They were pretty much ignored. Five minutes went by. Ten, fifteen and finally after a half hour, they asked the woman when they could expect to be seated.

She basically then said, “I told you to WAIT on the patio. We’re very busy. Someone will get to you.”

Well, that was that. They packed up and left and ten minutes later were at Kingfisher where they were taken care of quickly, in spite of the fact that Kingfisher was “very busy”.

I’ve been thinking about the second incident a lot since I heard about it. I debated not writing about what happened, but then the restaurant reviewer in me whispered, “Imagine if you had been reviewing and this had happened? (Actually, she asks that question pops up often when I dine out). She continued, “You HAVE to say something!”

So I have.

I hope Vina Baguette can beat that jinxed space because I want to go back for more of that memorable pad Thai.

I also hope that what happened at that other restaurant was an aberration, but since I don’t plan on eating there again (ps the food is divine) I will never know.