Contemporary Funny

This story contains sensitive content

Note: Contains physical violence and references to substance abuse.

I should probably start this review by saying that I wrote this from inside a police station.

My friends and I had been wanting to try Blackrock Café for a while now. The place only opened last month, but the buzz it was getting on Facebook was wild. It seemed like everyone we knew had been already, and everyone was like, “Guys, you gotta try this place; best restaurant in the city!”

Now how could anyone pass up the best restaurant in the city?

It was hell to get a reservation for the place, but eventually a friend of a friend pulled some strings and got us a table for four, Friday night at 6:30 pm.

This was going to be great. Or so we thought last night at 6:30.

We Ubered over there and saw the usual line out the door. We were prepared for that: if you believed the pictures online, it had been like that every night since it opened. The outside had a decidedly minimalist look; the whole building is basically just a big black box with big glass double doors in front and “Blackrock Café” written in small silver letters over the entrance.

I’ll never forget what my one friend Manny said when we saw that.

“Heh, sure hope they spent more on the food than they did on the building.”, he chuckled.

We confidently, almost smugly strode right past the line and up the host stand, like we owned the place.

“Good evening, ma’am,” I remember saying to the hostess, “party of 4 for 6:30?”

The hostess pursed her lips and stared down at her tablet with a serious expression on her face, which was as stiff as her crisp white shirt. We could hear the murmuring of the huge line of people behind us. Some of them were definitely shooting daggers with their eyes.

“Hmm, I’m sorry sir, but I don’t see any reservations for 6:30.”, she responded after what felt like an eternity.

“Can you check again?”, I replied. There had to be some mistake. We were supposed to have this thing locked down.

“Sir,” she answered sternly, almost as if I had offended her, “Blackrock Café does not, has never, and never will make a mistake.”

Part of me took this as a sign to leave. I should have listened to that part of me. But I had promised my buddies Blackrock Café, and I didn’t want to disappoint them.

“I’m sorry, there must have been a mix-up on our end.”, I said to the hostess, trying to be as polite as I could. “Can you squeeze us in anyway?”

“I’ll see what I can do sir. Let me check.”, she answered me. Her tone was as arrogant and snippy as ever.

The hostess left the stand and headed inside. I explained the situation to my friends. One of them, Frank, rolled his eyes, but we all agreed to wait however long we had to wait. The place HAD to be worth it.

By hour 2 of waiting, we were desperate. Our stomachs were growling like they each had a wild, mangy dog living inside of them. Manny had been through an entire pack of gum, and was mindlessly chewing the last piece as if it were the last food on Earth. Frank was slumped against the outside wall of the place, half asleep, and Pat was furiously texting his girlfriend. I know this is a lot of detail for a restaurant review, but I feel like I need to set the scene to get the point across.

Finally, FINALLY, the hostess came out and wordlessly signaled to us that a table was ready. We all came back to life again like magic. Now to experience the glory of the Blackrock Café.

Yeah, no.

We followed the hostess through the big glass double-doors and into the restaurant. The place is roughly divided into two wings, with a bar smack in the middle acting like a divider. The hostess, still sneering, pointed us to a table and then went back out to her stand outside.

The table was tiny, sandwiched in between the doors to the bathrooms. It was barely big enough to hold the four of us. Two of us sat on either side of it, and our chairs were so close that our knees and elbows touched. To make matters worse, there was a horrible sound coming from the men’s room. It’s hard to describe, but if I had to guess what an elephant being strangled sounded like, I would guess it sounded pretty close to that.

Oh, the smell. I should probably mention the smell. It was indescribable. Not in the sense that it was so amazing that I can’t put it into words, but in the sense that I legitimately have no idea what exactly it was. It smelled like as if someone had taken the entire contents of a spice rack, dumped it all out, mixed it together, and then added a healthy amount of used fry oil to the whole mess.

But whatever. It was crowded, loud, and smelly, but at least we were going to get some good food out of it.

Now we all started looking at the menus. And talk about big menus. They must have been like almost 20 pages each. Appetizers, drinks, roasts, pasta, sandwiches, seafood, desserts, this place had everything. There was a whole page just for burgers!

Pretty soon after we sat down, our waiter came over to us. I noticed his eyes were red and he was sniffing constantly, like he had a cold or something. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I do remember that he handed out some waters, then, before we could order anything, he went over to another table, sniffing all the way. I tried to tell him that we still hadn’t ordered, but he didn’t seem to hear me, or if he did, he didn’t care what I had to say.

Our waters all tasted like whatever had been in the glass before them. Mine had been a lemonade, I think. I remember Manny saying his tasted like dishwater and refusing to drink any more of it.

Anyway, after a couple of minutes, our sniffing waiter comes back. The stuffed flank steak looked good to me, and I figured I deserved a little treat after the effort we’d made just to get in here, so I decided to order it.

This part of the night I remember perfectly.

“*sniff* Sorry sir, we’re *sniff* out of the flank steak tonight.”

“OK, no problem. Let me have the grilled pork chops then.”

“*sniff* No pork chops either. *sniff* Sorry.”

“Fish and chips?”

“*sniff* Nope.”

“Chicken parm?”

“*sniff* Sorry.”

“Chef’s salad?”, I was getting desperate now.

“*sniff* Just *sniff* sold the last one.”

“OK. Why don’t you tell me what you do have then?”, I continued, now totally exasperated.

The waiter silently pointed to one thing on the menu.

“Spaghetti marinara?”

“*sniff* Correct sir. *sniff* All we have tonight I’m *sniff* afraid.”

About this point Manny butted in.

“Seriously dude? This people over there are eating fried chicken!”, he said as he pointed at a table on the other side of the room from us.

That’s when the waiter freaked out.

“Fried chicken! Who told you we *sniff* have fried chicken? It was that jerk Ken, wasn’t it? Punk’s been trying to take my job since day one I tell ya!”

Manny was going to say something else, but I elbowed him to get him to shut up. I figured the waiter was probably on something and we should interact with him as little as possible.

We all collectively caved and ordered Spaghetti marinara.

Then came more waiting. And still more waiting. By the time we actually got our food it must have been like 9:15 or even 9:30. Three hours of waiting for spaghetti. Well, at least we were going to eat.


Yeah, didn’t happen. As our sniffing waiter came over to us, he sneezed and our food flew everywhere. Most of it landed on the floor, except for Manny’s portion, which wound up all over his head. The crash of breaking plates was deafening, followed by dead silence. The whole place was staring at us, I could feel it.

Manny (who I should probably mention had had about 3 beers by this point), turned so red that I couldn’t tell where his skin ended and the tomato sauce started. He practically jumped up from his chair and started marching over to the door as fast as possible. The waiter just stood there, still sniffing, like he was in a trance and didn’t really understand what was going on.

Before any of us could go and try to calm Manny down, the hostess came through the double doors from inside and blocked him.

Now this I’ll never forget.

“Sir, you need to pay your bill first.”, she almost growled.

“F*** you!”, Manny screamed. “And f*** your piece of s*** f****** restaurant too!”

As Manny tried to push past her to leave, she went into some kind of weird karate stance.

Before we knew what was going on, we heard a “hi-ya!” scream and then saw the hostess flying kick Many clean in the chest. He hit the floor like a ton of bricks. At this point, our waiter, who in retrospect I’m like 90% sure was on cocaine, suddenly realized what was going on. He yelled something incomprehensible and, then, for some reason I’m sure made perfect sense to him but was a mystery to everyone else, tackled the hostess to the ground. While they were rolling around, the whole kitchen seemed to start emptying out as all the waiters, then the cooks and even the manager jumped into this giant ball, trying to break up the scrum. I think I saw someone get clocked with a soup ladle, and somebody else took a cream pie to the face like he was in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

We were just sitting there stunned. At this point, we just wanted to grab Manny and get the hell out of there and go home.

While we were figuring out how to do that without getting sucked into the brawl ourselves, we heard the other diners screaming and saw them diving and hiding under tables. They probably had just about as much idea of what was going on as we did. Then, we heard this piercing noise, then saw a bright flashing light on the ceiling and felt water spraying down on us. I guess someone had tried to escape out the back and had tripped the emergency alarm on the door.

To make a long story short, the fire department came, followed by the cops. It’s now 3:30 in the morning. We all had to give statements to the police, half the restaurant staff is in the holding cell, and Manny’s in the hospital with a cracked rib.

0/10. Would DEFINITELY not recommend Blackrock café.

September 29, 2023 20:49

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Charles Haynes
02:02 Oct 13, 2023

Thank you, but I think I lost my appetite! Felt uncomfortable for you! What a night!


Michael Novak
18:01 Oct 13, 2023

Thank you! Fortunately this never actually happened to me.


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08:43 Oct 11, 2023

I loved your story. I laughed until I cried. I ran out of time but had wanted to write to this prompt. I know it reads like a bit of a sitcom but I still enjoyed it. I've had a number of disappointing restaurant meals but never to the level you described in your story. Well done.


Michael Novak
18:22 Oct 11, 2023

Thank you so much!


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E.D. Human
14:32 Oct 08, 2023

This was a fun read ..and who of us hasn't for real been there ,done that and got the T-shirt to prove it! 😁


Michael Novak
19:19 Oct 08, 2023

Thank you!


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Kevin Logue
14:15 Oct 08, 2023

Great opening line to pull us in and setup some intrigue. The idea of going somewhere so "hip" gives me the shivers already, but waiting hours outside would make my blood boil. And being someone who has been stuck beside the toilets before there is nothing more infuriating. The tension was building already, then old cokey waiter and the lack of food, well, I'm on Manny's side on this one, ha. That line was great too >> turned so red that I couldn’t tell where his skin ended and the tomato sauce started. All in all, for being a review, it...


Michael Novak
19:22 Oct 08, 2023

Thank you! I actually combined some stuff that's happened to me, some stuff that's happened to my parents, and some stuff I got from my one friend who's a bartender and another who used to be a waitress, then combined it all and turned it up to 11.


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Patrick H
23:33 Oct 07, 2023

Yeah, I wouldn't go there either. One wonders how it could be so popular. Nice!


Michael Novak
19:19 Oct 08, 2023

Thank you!


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