Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The High Cost of Pickles And Onions

I’m kind of hesitant to do this post because I know a lot of you are going to think I’m just being incredibly cheap, or just being a whiny little bitch, or that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.  I anticipate that.  But it’s the principle of the thing.  I shouldn’t let stupid shit like this upset me, but this was just so absurd I couldn’t help it.  Now, I won’t exaggerate for comedic effect and say that this incident ruined my trip or anything like that.  It was just another in a series of bad beats I took this trip.  And this one had nothing to do with poker.

The main story took place immediately after the session I wrote about last time (see here), at Planet Hollywood. When I left PH, it was around dinner time and I was trying to figure out where to eat.  I had pretty much decided that my post-dinner poker session was going to be at Bally’s, so I tried to think of a place I could eat that would be convenient.  And it didn’t take me long to think of Le Burger Brasserie, a favorite of poker bloggers since….well, since I started blogging, at least. It is located in the connector between Bally’s and Paris and is technically considered to be part of Paris (hence the French name) but I believe it’s actually closer to the Bally’s casino than to the Paris casino.  I’ve posted about a few dinners at this place with various blogger buddies (starting with this one, here), and had always enjoyed the meal (and the atmosphere). See, I was kind of bummed out from the previous poker session and for that matter, pretty much every poker session I’d had this trip.  So why not try to cheer myself with some comfort food while looking at hot chicks in lingerie. Burgers and cleavage….just what the doctor ordered!

So I went over there and they told me they could seat me right away.  As it happened, they had a little promo going on for March Madness.  They had a basketball hoop set up, and if you could make 2 out of 3 baskets you would get 10% off your meal.  It was a non-regulation hoop and ball to be sure.  I was of course out of practice, not having played basketball since peach baskets were replaced with nets.  Nevertheless, I did my best to try to channel my inner Steph Curry. Of course, I tossed up three total bricks.  No discount for me.

I was seated and had my first bad beat when the waitress came by.  I guess there’s no way to say this without sounding like a sexist pig, sorry.  It wasn’t my idea to staff this restaurant with (allegedly) hot girls wearing lingerie. I’m not opposed to that of course; I’m just saying it wasn’t my idea.  If you check out my previous posts about this place, you will see that I always refer to this place as “The Bra Burger” joint.  That is both a play on the French word “brasserie” (almost the same word as “brassiere”) and the fact that the outfits kind of expose the girl’s bras. As such, I always joke that the burgers should be served on bras, Or perhaps you could eat the burgers right off the waitress’s bras.

Anyway, the waitress I got was….how can I say this…well, she didn’t stand out in a particular area of the female anatomy that one might expect a girl hired for this restaurant to stand out.  Although her bustier was low cut, it didn’t reveal much because the girl just didn’t have very much to reveal.  Or to put it another way….to look good in that bustier, she needed to be bustier. Again, sorry for coming across like a pig here but it just seems to me the guys going to such a place to eat might be expecting the girls wearing these outfits to fill them out a little better.  Just saying.

 
My waitress looked nothing like this
Or like these ladies, for that matter
Well, to be honest, there was something the girl was showing, and it was something I didn’t really want to see.  She had an unsightly (to me) tattoo above the top of her bustier—you know, where her cleavage was supposed to be.  Sigh. I have to admit that I really am not a fan of tattoos on women. Call me old-fashioned, but I just find it a turn off.  Oh well, typical of my luck during this trip, another bad beat.  But you know, I saw some of the other waitresses and really none of them looked all that attractive to me.  The others were either similar to my waitress, or perhaps, shall we say, a little too thick around the middle to be wearing the outfit.  Again, sorry for the sexist remark, but this is what they are selling.  If the concept is that guys are going to be coming into your joint to ogle hot girls wearing minimal clothing, shouldn’t the girls look really good in the minimal clothing? I didn’t see a girl who looked anywhere near as hot as the average club-going girl I see on a club night.

As an aside:  Most of the party pit dealers I saw at PH before this didn’t really look all that special either.  Is there actually a shortage of hot looking girls in Vegas?

The girl was at least pleasant, personality wise, when she came by to take my order.  Now, you may find this hard to believe, but I am rather fussy when it comes to my burgers.  Shocking, I know.  And just as I prefer women without ink, I prefer burgers without a lot of the extra crap that is so popular these days. I am a burger purist. First of all, I don’t like cheeseburgers.  Now I like cheese fine—I’ve eaten plenty of pizza to be sure—but I find that cheese not only adds nothing to the taste of the burger, it actually detracts from it.  Try going into a place that sells burgers as its main dish and see if you can find a hamburger without cheese on the menu.

Except for the fast food joints, all these burger places these days have a menu full of what I call frous-frous burgers.  You know, there’s a Hawaiian Burger, a Guacamole Burger, an Avocado Burger….crap like that.  No thanks.  A plain burger for this dull guy.  I’ve long since given up trying to find a plain burger on the menu to order.  So, I really don’t order off the menu in a place like this.  As usual, I took a quick glance at the menu and gave up almost instantly trying to find what I wanted….I was sure it wasn’t there.   But I did notice the first thing appeared to be a reasonably plain cheeseburger, which I noted was priced at $14.  So I figured my burger would cost that much—no I didn’t expect to get a rebate for asking them to hold the cheese (and I didn’t even do my Jack Nicholson impression by suggesting she hold it between her knees).  They do sometimes take a few dimes off the price of my burger in a fast food joint for not having cheese, but I’ve never seen it in a real restaurant.


So in a place like this, I don’t really order off the menu.  I always ask the waitress if I can get what I want and let them put the order in the way that makes sense (like, maybe it’s a Burrito Burger—hold the burrito).  Thus far, and I’m crossing my fingers, I’ve never been told I couldn’t get what I wanted.  Thus, I said to the waitress, “Can I get a plain hamburger, no cheese, and all I want on it is pickles and onions.  And could I get extra pickles and onions?” There was a bottle of ketchup on the table, lest you think I’m one of those weird folks who eats a burger without ketchup.  She said no problem, and then asked if I wanted any fries or onion rings to go with it.

I asked what it came with.  And she said nothing.  Just the burger.  Well that explains the $14.  Originally I thought that was a pretty good price for a burger on the Vegas strip.  Last time I ate a burger at the sports bar next to the MGM poker room, I think it cost $18 or $19.  But at least with that burger, it comes with either fries or onion rings—and a pretty generous portion of either, too.  Here, it was $7 for fries, or $8 for onion rings.  Thus the comparable meal would be more than the MGM sports bar.  I assume the premium is because I get to look at girls wearing skimpy outfits (but just not wearing them well).

I opted to be a good boy and forgo the fries or the rings, just the burger then, please.  The burger came fairly promptly, was cooked to my specifications, and did indeed have enough pickles and onions to satisfy me.  It was extremely adequate, but nothing special. 

When I got the check, I was surprised to see that I was charged $17 for the burger, not $14.  What the heck?  I managed to get the girl’s attention and ask her why I was charged $17 when I noticed that the cheeseburger was only $14.

I wish I had recorded her response, because over the next few minutes, she said various things.  But I swear the first thing she said was that it was due to the fact that I ordered pickles and onions, and the cheeseburger doesn’t come with that.  And then she implied that since I ordered extra pickles and onions, she could have charged me even more than $17.

When I asked, incredulously, “You charged me $3 for pickles and onions?  Are you kidding me?” she didn’t dispute it.  But then she told me I didn’t order the cheeseburger without cheese, as I had thought.  I had ordered the “build-a-burger” (I thought that’s what she said) and that if she had entered the order as the cheeseburger without cheese, she would have had to have charged me more than $17 because of the extra pickles and onions.  Seriously, that’s what she said. 

I was flabbergasted and probably repeated “You’ve got to be kidding,” a few times. It wasn’t like I was asking for any kind of exotic topping.  Pickles and onions are pretty standard for burgers, right?  I mean every damn fast food burger I ever had has those as standard with the regular burger. The idea of paying three bucks for them is beyond insane. Anyway, she said to me, in a rather snotty tone I thought, “Welcome to Vegas.” Hey, sweetie, this isn’t my first trip to Vegas.  And I’ve had a thousand burgers in town and never encountered anything like this.  I thought about asking for the manager but decided it wasn’t worth it.  I was paying with my Total Reward comps anyway, but it was the principle of the thing.  Now I would have to play an extra three hours in one of their poker rooms to earn my next incredibly overpriced burger.

Some of you may have noticed that I did tweet about this.  I tweeted directly to Paris’s twitter feed.  I got a response from their social media person saying they would forward it on to management, but I never heard anything further.  And speaking of twitter, some of you may have noticed some tweets I sent during my trip expressing my increasing displeasure with Las Vegas during this visit.  Well, this type of crap, charging for burger toppings for an already overpriced burger, is an example of what’s happened to Vegas.  They are just nickel and diming you to death.

One thing is important to note.  Never in any of the times I’d eaten there had I ever paid for the meal.  Whatever blogger pal I was with (be it grrouchie or Lightning) always had plenty of CET (Total Rewards) comps to cover the meal.  And of course, I always returned the favor by taking them to dinner on my comps at MGM.  So I have no idea if my buddies ever paid extra for my exotic burger toppings of pickles and onions in the past.

When I got back to my room hours later, I checked the menu online to see if I could make any sense of it.  You can find the menu here and I guess you could say the problem was that I did not specifically order off the menu  But I’ve already explained why that’s generally a waste of my time.  By requesting two toppings, she billed me for the “Your Burger” which is $17.  Well, except for that fact that even that comes with cheese, which I didn’t get, and also a choice of “spreads” which I didn’t get either.  Thank god they aren’t yet charging for plain ol’ Heinz Ketchup.

Except that if you look at the description of the $14 Cheese Burger it says it comes with “gus’s pickles,” whoever the hell Gus is.  I assume it might be the pickles I got with my burger.  So she could have charged me for the cheeseburger and all I would have had to add was the onions.  And would they really charge me three bucks for friggin’ onions?  On a hamburger, for crissakes?

But wait.  You say I ordered “extra” pickles and onions.  Well first of all, I almost always do that and never, ever have I been charged for ordering extra.  Not even at In-N-Out Burger, where the burger is a lot more reasonably priced.  Certainly never in a sit down restaurant.  And further, if they did insist on charging me for “extra” she should have told me that when I ordered and given me the option of just taking the standard amount of each for one low price.

The only justification I can think of for charging me for the $17 burger instead of the $14 burger would be if the $17 burger was bigger than the $14 one.  But she never said that.  There’s no indication on the menu that the two are of different size.  So I’m going to go to my grave thinking the friggin’ Le Burger Brasserie ripped me off by charging three bucks for two of the most standard burger toppings on the planet.  Next time, I do expect them to charge for the ketchup.  Perhaps there will be a silverware rental fee.  And it’s 50¢ per napkin, sir.

There’s an epilog. A few nights later, my last in town, I decided to eat at the Fuddrucker’s burger joint the Orleans before my last poker session.  If you don’t know, Fudd’s is sort of a hybrid of a fast food burger joint and a real restaurant.  The burgers are made to order, but it has an open toppings bar where you can put as much toppings as you like on your burger, no questions asked.  You can see why I might like this place and why I might be particularly interested in eating there after my Bra Burger experience fell flat. Usually when I eat there, I skip the fries and/or onion rings and order a side salad, which is what I did this time.  They give you a small container of dressing (1000 Island, in my case) with the salad.  I have found the single container to be just barely not enough for the salad.  I always ask for a second container.  I really only need 1-1/2 or even 1-1/4 containers, but I have to ask for an entire second container.  I’ve done this dozens of times and never had an issue.

Until this night.  So, here it was three nights after the $3 pickles & onions incident at Le Burger Cheapshit (that’s also a French word), and I pick up my burger and my salad and they give me one container of dressing.  As always, I asked for a second container.  And guess what?  The girl said, “I’d have to charge you 50¢ for another container, you only get one with the salad.”

Seriously?  I said I’d never had a problem before.  She said, “Well, you get two containers with a regular salad, but with a side salad you’re only entitled to one.”

See how bad I was running?  Who else but me could get screwed on condiments at two different burger places within three days?

However, I want to give Fudds credit.  I went on their website to complain, and they not only responded via email, but when I didn’t respond to their response, they actually called me to apologize.  They claimed it was a training error with a new cashier.  And they offered a make-good, so they sent me a gift card (good for more than the price of the meal I normally have there).  So good for Fuddruckers.

Not so good for Le Burger Brasserie.  One way or the other, they charged me three bucks for pickles and onions.  For my hamburger!  I dunno the French word for “crook,” but I know the Yiddish word.  It’s gonnif.    

26 comments:

  1. Now I understand. CET contacted me and deducted comps from my total. Based on your complaint, they checked their records and charged me for the condiments you ordered when I used my comps. You bastard!

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    1. Those filthy rotten crooks! I wouldn't put it past them.

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  2. The truckstop that I get lunch at their small deli/grill has either bbq pork or brisket once a week as a $2.99 special. What makes it special is that at the selfserve soup station the bbq pork or brisket is in a hot pot and buns are in a foil wrapper with the price sticker. When I unwrap the bun I put 4 or 5 scoops of meat on the bun and after I top the sandwich I can barely cover the constructed sandwich in the foil wrapper. Next I fill one condiment container with a dozen pickles and another with chopped onions. Then I load this all into a clear plastic bag from the donut station. My haul would likely weigh a full pound. $2.99 well spent! You got BURNED!!!

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    1. LOL....Great story and damn, it make me hungry. Thanks.

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  3. I have to agree with you about Restaurants at Vegas finding ways to nickle and dime customers. Thanks for the report. I'll definitely avoid the bra burger joint.

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    1. Thanks, Danny. It is getting ridiculous.

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  4. Five Guys burgers 10 min away, less hassle, and better price. Worth the drive.

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    1. OK.....I've actually tried 5 Guys and really don't care for them...but anyway,. not a fair comparison. There are fast food burgers and there are restaurant burgers and they're not really the same food, are they.

      Of course, I was eating there for convenience, I wasn't about to get in my car, drive somewhere, when I had to WALK right passed the Bra Burger place to get to the Bally's poker room.

      And besides, does 5 Guys have really hot waitresses in skimpy clothing to ogle. Well, as it turned out, neither did Bra Burger.

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  5. When a certain fast food joint informs me that extra nugget sauces are 10 cents a piece, my favorite thing to do is slap $100 on the counter and say, "in that case, I'll only take 1000."

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    1. Thanks, Toya? Really, they do that now? I guess it's been a long time since I ordered nuggets. So far they've never shown concern when I ask for extra packets of Ketchup.

      I think it would be better tho if slapped the $100 down and said, "That's all I have, can you make change?"

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    2. I've been charged a quarter for extra sauce from the yellow arches in the past. Totally frustrating, especially when my wife ends up not using it.

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    3. Wow, that is amazing. I had no idea. What ever happened to customer service?

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  6. Missing chicken fingers debacles, the great burger scam...... Do you guys even play poker anymore or are you just hunting for the stars of the next Gordon Ramsey reality show. "Service Nightmares" BTW McD's over here went through a phase of charging for sauce packets, which stopped as quick as it started. And we pay 5p for a plastic bag in the supermarket.

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    1. I wonder if they are charging now for extra packets of sauce here in the US....sounds like they might be based on the comment above yours. I dunno, I haven't ordered nuggets in years. I just steal Tony's.

      Here in the great state of California, the geniuses who run this place have actually OUTLAWED plastic bags. If you want a paper bag for your groceries, they are obligated BY LAW to charge your 10cents.

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  7. worse is the $1 for the cup of ice water. or when they wont put the ketchup on, and force u to do it yourself. ive offered to tip them extra to tear open the packet and do it for me. but 99% of the time they wont. if i wanted to make it myself id eat in my house.

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    1. Wow, Tony, where do they charge you a buck for ice water?

      I know those ketchup packets are annoying to deal with but I'd rather do it myself than have them do it for me (if it's from a packet, that is). They never put enough ketchup on for my tastes.

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    2. How do they force you. Gunpoint or physical aggression?

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    3. Well, they force you only if you want to add it! :)

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    4. Three drunks plus me are at a table and one of the guys could not get the effing catchup packet open. I yelled GIMME THAT and snatched it out of his hands and bit it with the corner of my mouth while squeezing the begebus out of the package and the second that package of catsup had an opening to flow through it caught me from the chin to the forehead. Three guys were laughing their asses off at that table...

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    5. GREAT story Lester, I'm surprised you didn't get that ketchup all over the cards and the table and everything else.

      Those packets are tough, I agree. Not just hard to open but then you get the condiments all over your hands. I have to use those damn packets to put the spicy brown mustard on my pastrami sandwich from Stage Deli and it's lucky if I only get it on my fingers and not my shirt.

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  8. I'm a cheapshit geezer in Vegas last week and never left the Orleans they cater to geezers I am almost done with the strip to dine......... I long for the days of the Dunes $1 for a beer and a hot dog...plus a hooker parade

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    1. Wow, geezer...you bring back fond memories. I DO remember when the Dunes had that $1 for a hot dog and beer deal. Had many a hot dog there. I think you could substitute a soft drink for a beer if you were so inclined. That was in the "Oasis" part of the casino, it was right on the corner the Strip & Flamingo. Now the casinos are all recessed, far from the Strip.

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  9. I decided to eat at the Fuddrucker’s burger joint

    When I was married, my in-laws were in town and we decided to get a quick burger at Fuddrucker's. My wife (in front of her parents) mispronounced Fuddruckers (I'll leave it to your imagination, but yes, that's what she said)!!

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    1. Heh heh. I'm sure they didn't come up with the Fuddruckers by accident, MOJO.

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    2. This is happening all over not just Las Vegas. In California one the restaurants I frequent went ahead of Jerry Brown and raised the minimum wage for all its employees. Then they revised all there prices on their menu's. Now the prices are higher which means the bills are higher which means you still have to tip higher. Its still the same old food. Get used to it. When Hilary becomes president every thing will cost more. Now if you could only win playing cards...

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    3. Thanks Ed....yes the minimum wage increase will increase the cost of eating for sure. Maybe the Bra Burger place will hire robots (sexy robots, in lingerie) to replace the girls they have now.

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