Orange Cubes and Death

One of the reasons I like to eat out, and I do like to eat out, is the near guarantee I won’t encounter something orange and squishy and cut into cubes masquerading as cheese. We put up with this square blandness at the homes of acquaintances. We accept it on trays at office gatherings. But when it comes to a restaurant where our expectations are justifiably higher, we expect something more…actually something much more. And when the restaurant bills itself as having a particular focus on fine wine, I think it’s fair for the diner to assume that the "cheese plate" on the menu probably isn’t a reference to square, orange, cubed squishiness.

So imagine my surprise when upon ordering the cheese plate at a popular LA wine bar on Saturday, said plate arrived not just with a pile of orange, square squishy cubes, but with similarly crafted and piled cubes of brownish "gouda" and and white "swiss".

Ever sent back a wine? I have. Everyone should at some point. It’s not only the right thing to do when the wine is bad or corked, but it’s the kind of empowering experience that reminds you that YOU are the client in a restaurant. I’ve done this a number of times. I no longer get that empowering thrill out of the act, but rather do so because I live constantly with a little fact rolling around my head: Life is short and I’m going to die eventually.

This very same thought was rolling around my mind when I saw the plate of cubes disguised as cheese arrive at my table.

Now, I thought I was being as nice as possible: "Excuse me sir, would you mind taking this back. I had other expectations for the ‘cheese plate’. "

Waiter: "Excuse me?"

Tom: "The cheese plate. I expected something a little more. I’d rather not have this."

Waiter: "You ordered the cheese plate."

Tom: "Yes".

Waiter: "This is is"

Tom: Yes, I can see that."

Waiter: "I don’t understand".

Tom: "It’s not the kind of cheese I was expecting."

Waiter: This is what comes with the ‘Cheese plate’"

Tom: "Yes, I can see that. I don’t want this cheese."

Waiter: "But you did order the cheese plate didn’t you, Sir?"

Tom: "(audible sigh) Yes, but I was hoping for cheese, not squishing, cubed, grocery store blandness"

Waiter: Sir, there is cheddar here (pointing to the orange stuff), Gouda (pointing to the brown stuff), and Swiss (pointing to the white things on the plate).

Tom: (picks up  a cube of orange and eats it)…"I’m sure it says ‘cheddar’ on the 10 lb bag these orange cubes come in. Still, I’m going to die one day and I don’t want any possible risk that these cubes might come to my mind for any reason during the run up to that event. But I will risk another glass of this Albarino.

Waiter: "So I should take the cheese plate away?"

Tom: (Stares at the waiter).

If for no other reason that life is short, you should not eat orange cubes masquerading as cheese if you can possibly avoid it.

Posted In: Personal


14 Responses

  1. Fredric Koeppel - June 23, 2008

    good for you! that restaurant/wine bar should be ashamed…..

  2. Tripp Fenderson - June 23, 2008

    I’m going to steal this quote from you and tuck it away in case I ever need it.
    “I’m going to die one day and I don’t want any possible risk that these [insert item here] might come to my mind for any reason during the run up to that event.”

  3. Tyler Balliet - June 23, 2008

    Kudos on the send back!
    Being born in Wisconsin and having lived in France, I can completely agree that life is WAY too short to eat bad “cheese.”

  4. Arthur - June 23, 2008

    I just returned from the Sta. Rita Hills where I gorged myself on the most amazing cheeses offered alongside the wines being poured at the AVA’s Open House Weekend.
    No orange cubes in sight (but they would have melted in the 106F heat anyway).
    Now, I just need to stay away from my internist long enough for my cholesterol and triglycerides to go down to non-life-threatening levels…

  5. Phyll - June 23, 2008

    On the opposite end of your circumstance, I had to deal with a snobby cheese fromager recently at a Michelin 1-star restaurant in LA (_ A _ I _ A). I’m not exactly a cheesehead, but I do love cheeses. I asked the Fromager if she had any Humbolt Fog cheese (CA) and was treated as if I asked for some orange squishy cubes ๐Ÿ™‚
    Nox: is that sarcasm or an honest recommendation for a cup of puerh tea? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Phyll <--- a puerh tea enthusiast, sort of.

  6. Thomas Pellechia - June 23, 2008

    Next time, Tom, also send back the light green lettuce and rock solid tomato salad with salty/sweet/starchy so-called vinaigrette on top that costs 32 cents to assemble and is priced at $7.50…

  7. Steve - June 23, 2008

    You’ve empowered me… I’ll never eat that crap again.

  8. th - June 23, 2008

    good story even if a crappy experience.
    as the great louis jorda woulda said, “that couldn’t happen to no one but me.”

  9. Agent Red - June 27, 2008


  10. Tasha Garcia Gibson - June 29, 2008

    You should note that there is a difference between a wine BAR (even a good one) and a restaurant. Big difference. Huge. Maybe you should adjust your expectations accordingly.
    And by the way…’bad’ is a very subjective term when referring to wine. It is not a restaurant’s fault if you order a wine that doesn’t suit your tastes, nor does it make the wine ‘bad’ (and no, I am not referring to ‘corked’). A restaurant should not have to eat the cost of your mistake. Come and dine out in NYC some time. I think you will find that the customer is NOT always right here. Sometimes they are in fact VERY WRONG.

  11. Lolo - July 2, 2008

    wow, is this what’s happening in LA? glad i’m in hotlanta! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. costa rica condo sales - April 18, 2010

    I have friend who works in a restaurant as head waiter, he seems to get off unusually late. I have never worked in a restaurant. Around what time would a head waiter get off if the restaurant closes at 11 pm? How many hours after close would a head waiter normally remain to close up shop?

  13. herbaltooth pastep - April 20, 2010

    an idiot. You don’t spread information and slander (cause that’s what it is) about celebrities who come to your place of business. Screw the whole Jane Adams thing – this guy is making comments about celebrities and posting his opinions. That’s fine if he sees them when he’s out eating by himself, but as he’s interacting with them in a business environment, you act professionally.

  14. herbaltooth pastep - April 20, 2010

    Just sent you my entry. Thanks and I’m looking forward to the roundup.

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