Opinion: And that’ll be $6 for ambience

Commentary by Dick Wolfsie

We spent this past week in New Orleans with our friends John and Jane Murphy. If you have any plans to visit the Crescent City, I submit the following warnings regarding the French Quarter, the hub of all tourist activity.

During our first evening’s dinner, a three-piece combo played jazz. The restaurant tacked on a $6 cover charge per person for the music. “Wait a second,” I said to the server, “we came here to eat and talk. We didn’t even know about the music.”

“You were in the same room as the music,” the waiter said, impatiently.

“I’m also in the same room as a $700 bottle of Lafite Rothschild at the next table.  But I’m just paying for my Diet Pepsi,” I replied.

The next night, we went to a popular spot that served awesome rolls. I mentioned to the waiter we were missing our bread plates.

“We don’t provide those,” he informed us. “We encourage you to enjoy the bread. We’ll tidy up your mess.”

“Are you saying this because you know we’re from Indiana?” I asked sarcastically.

“Don’t feel bad,” the couple next to us said. “We’re from Kentucky, and we didn’t even get utensils.”

Mary Ellen is a stickler for table manners, watching me like a hawk to prevent any transgressions. She was clearly uncomfortable as I tore into the warm rolls, leaving evidence of my sloppiness all over the table and floor. I quickly hid the butter knife before she could insert it into my thigh.

In busy restaurants, there is no check-splitting allowed. “No exceptions!” the hostess said. John and I wanted to outwit the system. I stated to our server that even though we were sharing a table, we had just met this other couple out on the sidewalk, and therefore we required separate checks. She didn’t fall for it. Now, John and I were even more determined to circumvent this bizarre policy.

The next night, our food at Café Amelie was outstanding, and this time the Wolfsies got our own check.

“Well, I must admit, your plan worked,” Mary Ellen said, sarcastically. “But I wonder where the Murphys are having dinner?”