No Mayonnaise: A short story

  As you all know, I have become a very prominent food and restaurant critic over the past 2 years. I have no one to thank for my success but my taste buds and my sharp tongue. Restaurants quiver at my name and I thrive from that fear. They get a one-week notice prior to my arrival to prepare and somehow get their shit together. In my opinion, a week is too undemanding. A restaurant as horrid as that Denny’s I reviewed last month can mask their true repugnant identity in that amount of time. I don’t have the energy to expose their countless flaws and blemishes. Restaurants should always be impeccably clean, with the most polite servers who present to me the most delectable dishes as swiftly as they possibly can. Is that too much to ask from a critic in this field? I expect excellence when it comes to the restaurant’s appearance and service. However, I require perfection when dealing with the food they are serving me. I automatically know whether or not there is too much parsley in my salad or if my soup is lacking a pinch of salt. I may be picky, but I know the difference between a good meal and a superb dish. That is why I am respected and considered the best in my profession. It is not a matter of opinion, but of facts. Now, before I start reviewing the restaurant of the month, I just need to state, I am willing to accept any and all consequences that I shall receive after this review is published. As I said, I am known for my harshness and I embrace it.

I arrived at Spill at precisely 7:40. My reservation was at eight. However, I prefer to be a tad early to give the staff a bit of a scare. The restaurant is situated in a very lively, hip area where I assume many college students “hang out.” I could tell I stuck out like a sore thumb, but there are only two categories I never managed to excel in. Likeability and adapting to my surroundings. As soon as I paid the taxi driver, (a young man, who only needed to hear the name Spill to know exactly where I wanted him to take me) I stepped out of the cab and saw in cursive letters: Spill. The last “L” funnily enough, seemed to be spilling, extending all the way down to the metal blue door of the restaurant. I climbed up the glass-looking stairs with caution and I marked down a point for being a safety hazard. The door wasn’t as heavy as it looked, so I swung it open with ease, making a loud sound, which caused the cacophony in the restaurant to cease. The place was packed, however still quite airy. I admit my skin prickled from embarrassment, because of my grand entrance, but I maintained my composure. I hope.

I went up to the hostess, who was dressed in ripped jeans and a Sex Pistols t-shirt. She had piercings all over her face and I’m sure in some other places, but I am not allowed to say where. She greeted me with a truly genuine smile and welcomed me to Spill. She didn’t seem to know who I was, which slightly confused me. Did she not get my one-week notice?

   “Alright, table for…?”

She definitely did not get my one-week notice.

   “One.”

I kept looking at her, waiting for her to realize who I was, but the realization never came. She led me to my table in the corner. There were no chairs, just booths with lots of throw pillows that didn’t match each other and seemed to be previously owned. I sat down on a pink one with small black roses embroidered on it. I lifted myself back up and moved the pillow away. The hostess waited for me to get comfortable and then said:

   “That one was mine.”

She gave me a warm smile and told me my waiter would be with me in just a moment. With that, she strolled away and I watched her go. Her shirt had risen up a bit so I was able to see her tattoo on her lower back. It was black rose.

The waiter came straight away. His name was Jeff, with a tattoo of an elephant on his face. I don’t think I was in Kansas anymore. He asked me what I wanted to drink, gave me a menu and a few minutes. I glanced at the menu and immediately chose the club sandwich. A sandwich is extremely difficult to make. Many people will disagree, but a mediocre sandwich is often mistaken for a completely decent one. So many factors that can go wrong in a sandwich. Too much tomato, not enough lettuce, meat is too dry, bread is too soggy and so on. I look around and examine the restaurant. It was a very trendy space. Artists and writers discussing music. Students arguing about the conspiracies of past history. No one seemed pretentious or pompous. There was no smell of competition in the air, whose life changing experience was the most…well, life changing. It was quaint. It was cool. Most of all, it was refreshing. And I had only marked down one point. Service was friendly, place was spotless. Lighting was comforting; the music was gentle, but audible enough to enjoy it. My sparkling water with lemon arrived in a matter of minutes and for the first time in a long time; I was content with the restaurant I was dining in.

In exactly 12 minutes, my sandwich had arrived. It looked like any other sandwich. No burnt edges, more of a golden brown. The insides were neatly packed in with a toothpick pierced through the center. I stared at the sandwich for quite a while, or until people around me got somewhat uncomfortable. I picked it up and took a huge bite right in the middle. The sandwich was delicious, an absolute pleasure. I chewed every piece slowly, so I could savor the delectable taste. But wait, something was missing. Something important. Something so significant that it could ruin a sandwich almost immediately. But I didn’t know what. I kept eating, now focusing more on what it needed, instead of what it had to offer. Then I got it. How could I not have noticed it before? It was so simple, yet so timeless. Mayonnaise. This club sandwich had no mayonnaise. Right then and there, I paid for my mayo-less sandwich, sparkling water and left immediately, slipping out of the restaurant as quietly as I wanted to enter it.

I give the restaurant two stars out of five and the reason for it, is not because there was no mayonnaise in my club sandwich, (even though that played a major part) but because the entire restaurant was a façade, a simulation, an illusion. Its so-called “trendiness” and “cool factor” clogged up my critical senses and for a second there, I actually thought it was a decent restaurant. Thank god for the lack of or should I say, the non-existence of mayonnaise, that cleared up the fog for me and truly made me see what a charade Spill is. No mayonnaise…how preposterous!  

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