Pete Wells vs. Super Cindy

This is a review of a review… bear with me. Last week, for whatever reason, it was brought to my attention by one co-worker that another co-worker (co-workers love to detail the lives of other co-workers in secret… trips to the bathroom, stalling around the vending machines) has a knack for writing about fine dining. The now infamous NY Times Guy Fieri review lit up the internet and food reviews were trending… as an aspiring author I was naturally interested (the other co-worker happens to be an older blonde whom I may or may not be trying to sleep with) and began to decipher her YELP.COM reviewer profile.

I stumbled upon a posting for an Argentinian BYOB-Steakhouse on the northside of Chicago… Tango Sur. Unfortunately after reading I don’t see much of a future for us anymore… at least beyond the drunken blackness of a Friday midnight and a quick get-away Saturday morning… but hopefully you enjoy this as much as I did.

Tango Sur and I are breaking up. I’ve brushed some questionable service issues off my shoulder over the years, but last night was the final straw. Just your standard case of unrequited love. I loved you Tango Sur…for nearly a decade. But you never appreciated me – I know this now.

Yes, it really started off like this, I shit you not. All of the bold is me, the rest… Cindy. Now I haven’t clocked the required hours for a Masters in Psych, but I’d venture to guess that Cindy (for namesakes) has endured a lifetime of unrequited love, perpetually under-appreciated and under-valued, looked over by the higher ups, guys valuing her only for her blonde locks and well proportioned chest… from the crib to culinary criticism, this poor girl has given everything she’s had only to be met by a cruel & inattentive world. “I know this now…” a coming of age moment, after years of abuse and insincerity… we are the lucky witnesses to this table-side epiphany.

Nearly nine years ago when I moved to Chicago (a dark day in the City’s history) Tango Sur was recommended to me by a co-worker and after experiencing their amazingly inexpensive yet divine cuisine, and adorable setting, I was head over heels in love (or as I would come to find out – blinded by love). I was so in love (guarantee she has three miniature dogs she also is ‘in love’ with… I pray they are not obfuscating her views on life with flashlights and strobes and other blindness-inducing accessories) I continued to frequent the venue for celebratory gatherings (birthdays, engagement parties, etc.) and anytime I had an out of town guest, Tango Sur was the first place I would take them. While working retail on Michigan Avenue (a fantastic qualifier statement if I’ve ever read one) I even recommended Tango Sur to tourists assuring them it would be worth the $20 cab ride to and fro. Honestly, Tango Sur should have been paying me – I was a referral/advertiser/supporter (incredible that such a talented & multi-purpose’d individual could only find employment in the retail industry) and never asked for anything back in return but average (often times less than average) service and meat – delicious, perfectly executed meat – and lots of it! (I don’t think I need to comment on the exclamation mark… get there on your own) But looking back I should have seen the warning signs. I mean, once a server argued with me when I politely informed (oxy-moron… moron?) him the empanadas he delivered to the table were cheese and spinach when we had actually ordered chicken. “No, you ordered spinach and cheese.” Um. What. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about the actions of the staff last night…. (Cindy has added another period to the ellipsis for dramatic effect… success!)

I arrived with my parents, a couple of friends, and one Tango Sur virgin at 7:55PM for our 8:00PM reservation. We were told we were the next table to be seated once a six top left so we were kindly escorted to the waiting area where we were told we could pop our wine while we waited – standard practice. We waited several minutes for glasses and when none came, I sought out the host (Cindy politely informing a server again… I can’t believe what this neglected little angel had to put up with, especially when she is the sole source of business for the boys at Tango) and asked if we could have a few glasses for our beverages. I was told they were short on glasses but that some should be available shortly. I won’t go into too much detail about what transpired over the next hour of waiting in that room but let’s just say, an hour wait when you supposedly have a reservation is made tolerable by drinking wine… (here’s an idea, Cindy… open the fucking bottle and slug it down. Puff puff pass… or do you need your vin rouge to breathe? Does it have to exhale so the tannins can take on bold lavender and blueberry hues? How wide does the rim of the glass have to be to get that just-right scent of asshole and overhang sweat as it hits your lips?) however, because over that hour no glasses were ever made available to us, we sat staring at our full bottles of wine… (again, pop the fucking bottle and put it to your lips… your with relatives Cindy!) and at each other… (if I’m the ‘Tango virgin’ and Cindy+family are eying me down, I’m bee-lining to the bathroom with a half gram of cocaine and a couple of synthetic opiates) agitation growing by the minute. I politely (a hero of decorum) checked on the status of the glasses a few times while we waited always being told they were coming. And when checking on our status in line – “you’re next.” But once the clock struck 9PM, my frustration could no longer be contained. My guests were yawning, and I was hungry. So I approached a server and asked if we could get ANY glasses – whether that be a coffee mug, water glass, just something (this is the only part of the review I find suspect… Cindy was not drinking her 2004 Malbec out of a ‘World’s Best Boss’ ceramic mug) so we could ease our frustrations of waiting an hour with some wine. His response… “PLEASE!!! (maybe she wasn’t that polite after-all… I mean she forgot the MAGIC WORD for Chrissakes… and now this non-English speaking waiter is forced to correct her shoddy upbringings) Can you have some glasses, PLEASE!! As you can see we don’t have any and NO we won’t give you ANY glass. We’ll give you WINE glasses when they are available but we don’t have any.” (capitalizations captivating the readership…)

As if the hour we had already waited for our RESERVATION wasn’t bad enough, tears welled up in my eyes from being berated in front of fellow patrons. (Cindy knows any and all patrons at Tango Sur, seeing as she is responsible for them being patrons in the first place… hence the tears… shit do histrionics turn me on) And with that, we packed up our belongings (wine bottles, clutch purses, dignity) and headed for the door. As we approached the host he pointed to our table thinking we were coming to sit (think again, bud!), but we continued on, letting him know we would be dining elsewhere (the Tango virgin has by this point come out of the bathroom, in a dazing smile, and is hell-bent on filling his dynamite-leveled consciousness with some slow roasted meat… and lots of it!). Management followed behind to find out why we were unhappy but the apology didn’t feel sincere(people who don’t trust the sincerity of an apology = want their sphincters cleansed by tongue (and I’m not talking cardiac)), nor did they make much of an attempt to convince us to stay and make things right – after all, they probably had another pissed off party of six they could seat once they wiped their hands clean of us (just a small town girl living in a lonely world… goddamn expendability turns me on). All the while I was wiping tears away, completely embarrassed as diners (aka my best friends) observed our exchange. (for clarity’s sake, who is the our? Does she really think her old man and boyfriend give a shit about her wine glass tears? The former is already texting Mistress Misty for when Cindy’s mom passes out… hopefully, once we get the wine going… and the latter is doing speedballs in the fucking bathroom!)

Honestly (adverb one), my feelings are hurt. After all this time, and so much loyalty to this business, in the end I found out I’m just another customer to them…really (adverb two) less than that. Ironically (adverb three), my server from my very first visit in 2004 (this may be the other section of her diatribe I find to be a bit, absurd… I can’t remember a single server in any dining experience in my life…but then again her first visit was more or less a religious pilgrimage… I’ll have to consult William James for how memories are stored during a conversion experience) happened to be the very same gentleman who followed us out to issue an apology. I’m sure he sees so many people in and out, he probably (adverb four) didn’t make the connection – perhaps if he had, he would have tried harder to save the relationship. (save the relationship… I really hope Tango virgin has gotten his hands on more narcotics by this point… it’s not me, it’s you baby!)

Break ups are hard. But there are plenty of fish in the sea. Or in this case, steaks in the city. And I intend to find one served with a side of customer appreciation. (Cindy… before it seemed like all you needed was a healthy portion of meat shoved into your mouth to find happiness? Now we have to be polite about it?)

There are some lessons to be learned… do not limit the drinking of wine to wine glasses, passing a bottle is good for the soul… never take dining recommendations from a retail associate… most/all blondes are insane… hyperbole is best served cold. Just remember folks, this really happened and there are real people like this walking around the world, free and with easy access to firearms… res ipsa loquitor!


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