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One Day in the Life of a Restaurant

Working in a restaurant can be as amusing as it gets. The circus of life comes alive with characters of every possible nature playing out his or her part for that average hour spent over a meal. One gets to observe life and its many relationships. As a restaurant manager one is a silent witness to every aspect of the human psyche that never ceases to awe and amuse me that there are in this world such diverse  characters ready to provide a moments entertainment with their natural characteristics of a dramatic nature.

Some years ago, we had this couple who were frequent week end visitors at Waldorf. Come Saturday and there would turn up without fail, both handsome in looks and would come across as a perfect couple but for one thing. They have never ever really eaten at Waldorf and why! That’s because the moment the menu was thrust into the ever so willing hands, all hell would break loose with arguments over a simple decision leading to heated furious hand waving and under the table leg bashing free for hell. Ultimately they would leave arguing, spend the next 15 minutes arguing at the side of the car and then they would drive off. Cinderella and prince charming would be dot on the spot present at the restaurant the next Saturday ready for their next bout. Could this be some sort of tribal tradition????.

Mind you, it isn’t just customers who are the sole creators of an atmosphere in a restaurant. There are its workers too. Behind that fa├žade of smiling ever to please (well actually I need to work on that in Waldorf with every waiter about to retire but always reflecting the vintage value of the restaurant as an old old place from the days of old Calcutta)…anyways behind every smiling face there is a man striving hard to please you so that he can get on with his eight hours of work hopefully richer by a few bucks that would be inevitably be saved towards meeting his own family expenses.

 There have always been certain customers who insist on staying on at the restaurant as late as possible even after closing time….have you ever wondered how far a restaurant worker could be staying? Nobody stays on park street c’mon…….some guys need to wait for an hour or so till he would get a bus or a shuttle to some point in Kolkata where he would need to wait for another ride on something back home….he may even need to walk…of course not all are that unlucky to be staying so far away..Some do stay in the nearby surrounding domestic areas of central Kol.

Most restaurant workers of Park Street are an uneducated but intelligent lot with a practical sense of character in their own right. You get good guys and you get bad guys. And then there are some perverted guys, well they aren’t perverted they wouldn’t have the guts to do anything but they definitely look perverted. We had a waiter who was cross eyed, ( one eye look straight the other looked well I still can’t figure out whether it stares right or left) this guy is about 60, totally harmless but he would always screw up a customer’s brains in my tenure at Waldorf I have got at least two complaints from a customer ‘’’hey??? Your waiter keeps staring at my wife??? C’mon dummy can’t you see he is cross eyed,, he SEEMS to be staring at your wife but in truth the poor guys staring elsewhere....this guy is classic and so was another named Sharafat who though again 60 ( my god it seems I’m running an old age home )… was the clown of the whole restaurant…I still remember the things done to him ….eggs put in his pockets by staff…a traditional restaurant ragging joke against nasty workers….this man Sharafat was such a dope, I still remember one day while I was busy at one table he insisted on presenting the menu to the next and why because there were two pretty gals sitting on that table….Sharafat did and sharafat was abused every conceivable abuse in 3 languages effiingbbbb…bannnchhh….etc etc and why ??? Because he misses his mark aiming for her hands when he actually shoved the menu into her mouth……???? Can u believe that?

The last image I have of poor old sharaft is getting stuck between the swing door of the kitchen opening into the main hall with three jugs of water in his hands all spilling and pouring over his clothes…..god rest his clumsy soul he retired soon after and died a few months later….when he retired he was given a lungi (A piece of cloth tied round the waist like a sarong for males….), a prayer cap and mat as he was a Muslim…. And a cake from Monginis. Until next time bye bye.

Here’s A Lovely Recipe with Fish.

Braised or Pan Fried Fish Fillet with Honey and Lemon Sauce.

The ingredients:
1 or 2 pcs fish fillets standard size.
Garlic and ginger paste
Shredded ginger ( a bit)
White soya sauce a dash ( a dash means a dash not half the bottle)
Sugar half a tsp
Lemon juice half a cup
1 ½ table spoon honey

I think that’s about it…if I’ve forgotten anything which I usually do then please improvise ok

Make a few cuts on the surface of the fillet and then marinate with garlic and ginger paste, salt and a bit of white soya sauce.
Heat a wok and spread evenly with oil…olive oil would be great otherwise just regular cooking oil would do, braise the fish as if you were pan frying the damn thing, but over a medium fire turning over slowly

Once you notice the fish is cooked with the surface turning a bit brown and crispy take it out and place it on your serving plate. Next cook the lemon juice, honey and ginger strips adding a bit of sugar, when it’s done just pour it over the filet leaving half the sauce over the fillet and half on the serving plate. That’s nice for presentation because it makes the filet visible and gives the dish its contrasting look of the ingredients.