By Calvin Palmer
I dined out this evening at Gusto! on Lord Street, Southport. I wanted to repay the kindness of the Polish waitress who served me a cup of coffee last night just as the restaurant was closing.
Earlier in the day, I checked out the menu and the fare on offer at this restaurant – pizza and pasta dishes – and discovered it was not exorbitantly priced and so set out to repay my debt.
I ordered the Margherita pizza. Yes I know it is the cheapest one on the menu but frugality is my watchword. Yesterday, I visited Boots The Chemist around 5:00 pm and picked up a packet of Tuna and Cucumber sandwiches marked down to £1. I added a portion of olives to make my pizza order seem less frugal.
The pizza was duly served and I had quite a surprise when I discovered the olives were not pitted. I also counted my blessings that I had not bitten down hard on it and broken a tooth. I think it was incumbent on the waitress to have pointed out that the olives still contained the stones. I am certain that would have occurred in the litigious United States.
I have also noticed that staff in English restaurants do not return to the table a few moments after serving the order to inquire whether everything is to the customer’s satisfaction.
There was another reason for my parsimony with regard to the choice of my main dish. I flicked through to the desserts section in the menu and caught sight of cassata/ pistachio ice-cream. Cassata is one of my all-time favourite desserts and the only time I ever got to eat it in the United States was at The Venetian Casino in Las Vegas. My last visit was several years ago and so I reckoned I was due a serving of cassata.
The dessert was served by the Polish waitress but there was no flicker of recognition from the previous night. I thought perhaps not everyone has the memory for faces that I do and it was certainly true in America that people rarely forgot me after one meeting. I used to describe myself jokingly as “Once seen, never forgotten”.
It was only when the Polish girl suggested coffee that I asked her if she remembered me. “Of course,” she replied. I was relieved to hear that I had not sunk into anonymity. The coffee, taken outside with a couple of cigarettes, rounded off an excellent meal.
I used to detest eating out by myself but necessity, and being truly by myself these days, have forced me to put such idiosyncrasies to one side.
If any of you are ever in the Southport area, I strongly recommend checking out Gusto! You will not be disappointed by the food, the ambience or the service. But watch out for the olives!