I have been to several restaurants (or restrunks as Gracie pronounces it) in my lifetime that have made me feel uncomfortable. Usually, it is the less than savory places that make you wonder what their health score is, that make me feel like leaving. But, today it was a place that made me feel like I was white trash, that left me with out an appetite.
I have been drug to several places in my years that were far more upscale than I was. The most prominent one that comes to mind was Spring Break junior year when Katie Jones and I went to Wilmington, NC. Her favorite show was Dawson's Creek and she found out that the cast hung out at this restaurant. When we arrived they were serving "brunch." Not being able to figure anything on the menu out, I went for a salad. This extremely over priced small bowl of yard trimmings arrived at my place a little while later. I made Katie swear we could go to McDonald's after. We didn't see any cast members, but we were sitting behind the show's producers and writers. How do I know? I asked one of them where he got the hat he was wearing. Anyway, back to the subject at hand...the fact that I am just a plain ole country girl I guess.
When I was a kid the Red Lobster was a big fancy restaurant. Yes, I said Red Lobster. We went mabye twice growing up, and that was a HUGE deal. Clearly, we were not a family of means, and being simple folk, a place that had cloth napkins was out of our reach. Times have changed, and restaurants are more accessible and affordable to most families. Being on a very tight budget we rarely eat out, but we are making a point to go out as a family once every two weeks. But, back in the day before kids, better known as "when we had money," we ate out all the time. My waist line is proof. Garren and I were no strangers to sit down places, but I guess we frequented those places that cater to the middle of the road crowd.
I have many friends that enjoy fancy restaurants and fine wines, but that just isn't me. I guess I am some where between the French food and the family buffet. But, I had no idea that my bottom line would ever determine how comfortable I felt at a place. We weren't in a situation trying to figure out how to pay...we had gift cards that we had bought when I got groceries last week. And we weren't in a super snobby place either...we were in a Ruby Tuesday's for goodness sakes!
Anyway, we noticed right away they had made a great deal of changes since we were there last. The place was much fancier and it looked like something you would see in a much bigger and nicer city than Winchester. When we sat down with our rambunctious 4 year old, the feeling of "out of place" began to set in. We opened the menu and for me it hit even harder. I am sure many, if not all of you, have been to a Ruby Tuesday's. They're just like most other nice restaurant chains out there. They run a gamut of foods and were reasonably priced; somewhere above the Quarter Pounder meal and a Lobster dinner. Not any more. Now there menu is printed in a fancy font, and for that you pay 5-10 dollars more per plate! I couldn't find anything in the menu that justified the price, and despite the fact we had plenty on the gift cards, I opted to pay $8 for a salad bar and a so called "soup." To make matters more upscale, they brought the food on square chic plates. When I asked for ketchup when the cheese fries appetizer arrived, I was given a look, and she served it in two silver cups!!!!
I couldn't have gotten out of there faster. Poor Gracie ordered the mac and cheese, and it was served on the signature square, very classy, and extremely breakable plates. She barely ate it. I decided to give it a taste. It was whole grain pasta and some fancy cheese. It didn't taste very good--but I am sure it was super classy and organic.
Now, I am thankful to have friends from so many walks of life, but I have to wonder, how many of you would have felt comfortable sitting there with the fancy art work, and chic plates eating an $8 salad full of things you would weed-eat from your yard (seriously, there were spinach leaves, and dandelion leaves, and I think actual sweet grass!)? Is it our upbringing, our bottom line, or our class (or lack of) that makes us feel so uncomfortable? How do I make Gracie feel like she is worthy of any place she can eat? I know my very low self esteem adds to this problem, but it was a Ruby Tuesday's for goodness sakes!!!!!! What chain will go yuppy next? Will all middle America have to choose from are McDonald's and Taco Bell? I am all for cutting quantity, but cut the price too, and round plates are just fine!
PS: If I offended your favorite restaurant I am sorry. Clearly you are one who feels more comfortable in their own skin than I. And, have you ordered the soup? I had to cut the broccoli in the soup bowl in order to eat it!!! It's soup--there shouldn't be a knife involved!