Friday, October 15, 2010

Restaurants to which we will not return: Ariake in Reston

I never intended to post bad reviews here. This was supposed to be a place of love and sharing of food. But it is actually because of a food love affair gone sour that I am posting this today. 

Ariake is a sushi restaurant in Reston, on Colt's Neck Road and Glade Drive. We started going there when it opened. This was well before Micah was born, and in fact, it was there that I went for my hush-hush pregnancy sushi. We have been going there for so long that we remember the things that used to be on the menu, that are not anymore, and that the waitresses will always bring for us because they remember us. Our children have always been welcome. We have always been welcome. Until tonight. 

Here's a hint to restaurant owners out there: If you don't want children in your restaurant, don't provide high chairs. If a restaurant provides a high chair, I always make the assumption that we are welcome with our kids. In fact, when we entered today, there were two other tables with small children. 

We ordered our food: a sushi/sashimi platter for two for Adam and me, another special roll, a cucumber roll for Micah, and agedashi tofu for Lillian. Drinks (beer for the adults and lemonade for Micah) were also ordered. We had, in fact, had a pretty rough week and wanted a nice dinner and a beer to try to make up for it.

Everything was generally fine. Lillian ate through most of her tofu and was working on some sushi. Micah was doing his dawdling thing that he does. Adam and I were gushing over the wonderfulness of the sushi. Lillian didn't get everything to her mouth; she's 14 months old. Too old to be feeding baby food (which we never did anyway), too old to be spoon or fork feeding her (which we also never did). She's a voracious eater who does, in fact, sometimes drop food on the floor. Just about all kids do. In most restaurants, we make an apology and leave a big tip. I usually try to do some cleaning up before we go.

Tonight, she was getting antsy, so I picked her up out of the high chair, and the owner's son came over to our table. As soon as I had her out of the chair, he moved the chair out of the way and started cleaning the dropped food. If that had been the end of it, I would have just assumed he was trying to be nice so I didn't step in tofu. Instead, he said, "I'm going to clean this up because it's grossing out the other customers."

"Excuse me?" I said

"It's grossing out the customers to see food on the floor."

"I see. Which customers are grossed out?" I said. "Is there a specific customer or do you mean to say that you are grossed out?

"um, um"

"I see. So you're grossed out because a BABY dropped food on the floor. And you couldn't keep it to yourself."

"It's gross to have food on the floor."

Then I turned to Adam and told him I was going to take Lillian for a walk outside. When I came back in he had brought the check to the table (we were no where near done with either the food or the drinks). I said that I wanted to talk to him and he told me that he didn't want to discuss it with me. We went back and forth a couple of times and he said we should go. He also, somewhere in there, commented that it was a family place. I'm sure. 

One of our favorite waitresses was visibly upset. I commented to her that there are a lot of sushi restaurants in Reston and Herndon, and before I got to finish my statement (that we had been coming here for years now), he overheard and said "well you can go to them then."

I walked out. Adam did pay the bill (I wish he had not) and got a to go box to take the rest of the sushi home. I got in the car with Lillian and pulled up to the front door, then got out to help with Micah. Apparently the manager was also very upset (he knows us as well) because he followed Adam out, and was very insistent that the guy had no say in anything and was just the owner's son.

I said, "Yes but if he were a waiter who treated us that way, he would be fired. You do not use the words "grossed out" in front of people who are eating, especially when referring to their child."

The manager said, "yes"

I said, "But you can't fire him because he's the owner's son. And because he's the owner's son, he does speak for the business whether you say he does or not."

So, we're done with Ariake. DONE. We won't be returning there, except perhaps to drop a copy of this off to the owner. 

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