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Thursday, December 29, 2005
Lunch at Rainforest Cafe
I'm a bit worried that my status as a Nashville blogger may be revoked when you read these next two statements. The first is, before yesterday, I'd never had a meal at the Rainforest Cafe. The other is that despite several attempts to do so, I've still not seen Walk the Line yet. (I know, I know..it's my own private shame and I'm trying to deal with it.)

Now, I've lived in the Nashville area for close to two years now and while I've been wanting to try the Rainforest Cafe for some time, I'd heard some horror stories about it from fellow Nashvillians. But my good freinds, Barry, Laura, BrainyBoy and Tink were coming through town yesterday on their way from outer Siberia to Knoxville, so we made plans to meet up at the world-famous Opry Mills for lunch at the Cafe.

Being the Nashville native and since I decided to be a slacker and take a day off work, I arrived at the Mills early--about 11 a.m. We were scheduled to meet up at 11:30 a.m. and I went and stood in line to get a reservation time. Again--why am I the only person on earth who thinks I will have this idea? I waited behind several thousand people (more like four or five, but it was hard to tell since each party had, at least 17 children) and finally got up to the reservation stand around 11:15. I put our name in the hat and found out--it'd be a little over an hour wait. I sighed but figured--hey, it'd all be worth it. Little did I know that the gang from Inn of the Last Home were members of the super-deluxe go to the front of the line, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 club. They got there, flashed the card and it was like we were some kind of royalty as we got immediate seating.

And not just any seating. We got the table between the two elephants. Which was pretty cool until I realized that where I was sitting, I am now in at least 20 or so people's pictures near the elephants. Thankfully, I was with polite company so I wasn't picking my nose or anything like that.

Anyway, we got seated and then waited. For about 20 minutes. Staring at the menus, making polite conversation and trying to look desparately thirsty enough to entice some server into our area. Apparently our area was a de-waiter-ized zone during this time while the elephants and gorillas negotiated a treaty or something. Finally, after Laura said something, our server came over, apologizing that the computer system was having issues. He took our drink orders and apparently the negotiations with the elephants and gorillas hit a snag on the monkey access rights because it took another 10 or so minutes for our drinks to show up and to take our orders.

At this point, it was mildly annoying, but you could chalk it up to one of those days and not worry. And on the good side, sitting there we got to soak in the atmosphere more and I was having lunch with some good friend who I don't get to see as much as I'd like. So, about the company and atmosphere, I have no complaints.

Finally about 25 or so minutes later, the waiter comes by. Oh yeah, did he mention that that there was some snafu putting our orders in and that they were just now being put in. He said this casually like it was some natural thing like--hey, that sky sure is blue today. Guess he hoped he's slip it in there and we'd not notice. The manager came over and apologized as well and once again brought up the computer error. Which, ya know, I am not sure how the kitchen runs there but I'm not sure the computer was that big a culprit. Seriously, I was beginning to think George W. might stop by the table and tell us the faulty intellignece on Iraq was the fault of the Rainforest Cafe's computer system malfunctions.

We did finally get out food, which mine was delicious. I enjoyed the meal and by the time we started eating, we were on our third thunder storm of the meal. Now, since Barry, Laura and company are members of the super deluxe club, they had coupons galore for Rainforest. I think this defeated the comp desert the manager was giving out to other tables for the glitch since they had a coupon for a free desert. In the end, the Inn of the Last Home crew got a 10% discount and I got to use one of their coupons on the meal. And we all got a free volcano which was pretty tasty.

But, that said, it didn't really make up for the poor service. At one point, I joked to Barry that I expected the TARDIS to fly out of the time vortex that our server got lost in every time he went near the kitchen. He'd disappear for long periods of time, never to be seen or heard from. And, when Laura spoke to the manager, it seemed as if the manager wasn't exactly too worried about doing something to make the experience right or better for us. I understand she was exasperated by the day, but it felt like, in the end, she could have done more. I mean 10% off the meal of the Inn of the Last Home crew was what they'd get anyway because they had the card. So, it's not like she want above and beyond to turn a negative into a positive for us.

In the end, I walked out of the Rainforest Cafe, with a lunch that took just over two hours and with the feeling of great atmosphere, great company, good food, poor, close to pitiful service.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/29/2005 08:02:00 AM | |
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