Word of Mouth

I'm young and American, but I'm not dumb

Welcome to In the Weeds. Kyle will be right with you -- most likely to complain about something. Usually he is pleasant, but this is his place to blow off some steam. Don't take it personally; he just needs to vent because he's been doing this for about thirteen years. Enjoy your meal.

I didn't study the wine list and pepper the chef with questions about the food just to be met with your skepticism. I'm in my mid-twenties and look younger; I've worked in Italian and Mexican restaurants and it takes about a half a glance to realize I'm neither of those nationalities. But that doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about.

Far too many of my answers to guests' questions have been met with an expression that says, "This young punk can't possibly know anything about wine," or "Is this honky really trying to tell us about Italian food?"

I've always worked at reputable restaurants, and my bosses would never have let me on the floor if I couldn't competently answer customers' questions. Don't ask for my recommendations, then shrug them off.

If you ask, "How are you with wine?" while sporting a condescending smirk, I'm going to tell you I'm the best wine drinker on staff and you will be no closer to finding the right bottle. Just ask your specific wine question and if you aren't satisfied with the answer, then you can cop an uppity attitude. You probably don't get on the bus and ask the driver how he or she is with right turns.

Don't ask me for a more "authentic" server for a wine recommendation. The Italian waiter isn't necessarily better than his co-workers; he probably just drinks more espresso. Feel free to request that he be your server, but know that only guarantees a different accent, not good service. I've worked with several who use their birthplace as a crutch to slack off.

And don't ask me to ask the chef to pick a wine: He's wrist-deep in a branzino and I'm more than capable of choosing a wine.

I'm not going to pretend to know anything I don't. If I can't answer your question, I'll find someone who can. But if you decide the moment I approach your table that being born in this country fewer than forty years ago disqualifies me from being knowledgeable, I'll be serving a side of smart ass with everything you order.

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Kyle Garratt
Contact: Kyle Garratt