Well, despite warnings about the service, we went to Pete's after a long downtown shopping trip. First, everyone reviewing Pete's on other boards always mentions the sketchy neighborhood. During a 1 hour lunch, we saw one arrest, four cop cars drive by and a drug deal. However, we never felt uncomfortable or threatened. (we were more worried about getting a parking ticket as the meters are 1-hour maximum and we were too cheap to park in the $6 lot across the street after a long and expensive journey through Chinatown and down to Broadway)
We walked in the main entrance and the place looked like a ghost town. Two or three people at the bar/counter and a few seated at tables. No host, or even any staff at all, were within sight. After a minute or so, a man came and seated us inside, but with a view of the street. An ideal situation on a hot day.
The waiter demanded our drink orders as we were sitting down, halfway poised between standing and sitting. Efficient, I thought ... but a bit annoying as well.
Our drinks arrived quickly, delivered by a runner. Our waiter did not appear again for some time. When he did, he was curt -- and seemed almost disapproving of my non-food-ordering companion. (who was well on his way to a second beer)
A cold beer and a Hellman burger were the perfect end to an adventurous day. The burger was perfectly well cooked to specifications and was juicy and flavorful. Fries were good but the burger took center stage. My companion wasn't hungry (and was set for a liquid lunch) but ate most of the fries. Go figure.
The waiter reappeared briefly to ask "iseverythingallright" -- and I mean that when I elimiate the spaces. By the time my mouth opened for a reply, he was gone.
The runner expertly refilled our water and removed empty beer glasses. I felt bad that this was leading to a bad tip, as I would have given him 20% and the waiter maybe 5% at this point. But the waiter, I am sure, would have to split the crappy tip with the excellent busser/runner.
After my fries were pilfered and my burger dispatched of, and with a few beers happily dancing in my tummy, the waiter appeared again. I informed him we would like the check and he turned to go get it, but not before he took my companion's 1/4 still-filled beer off the table! My stunned companion called out to him and he returned it sheepishly, but we were surprised to say the least.
Next time, I think I'll sit outside to get more of a view of the LA Downtown underworld (the best part was when the person selling the drugs and the buyer seemed to be in a crafty negotiation of price) but I'll resign myself to rude and inexperienced service.
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