You know how they say restaurants can have “hit or miss” days? Well, my second visit to Rialto Café turned out to be a testament to just that. Having had a pleasant first visit, I looked forward to another venture here. SS and I were going through our other options. We have a list of different places in the area that we want to try. But at the same time, sometimes, familiarity is also nice. During our last breakfast adventure, I couldn’t make up my mind, whether to pick one of the places we haven’t tried or to come back to Rialto, where we already had a great experience at. So I suggested that SS decide for us. He decided for the latter.
As with our first visit, we arrived a little bit past 8am. The occupancy of the place at the time was less than half. I was starving, hot (the weather lately has been unbearable), uncaffeinated, and sleepy. I went to bed around 1am, woke up at 5am, sat in traffic for a good hour and a half going to and from the LAX airport. So yeah, I needed coffee and food. Then I was going to go back home and take a quick nap before work.
The food did not come out until about 30 minutes later. I was starting to grow impatient and grouchy. Imagine an uncaffeinated, sleepy, starving Miss Kim waiting that long for food. Last time, it was twice as busy but the food came out at a reasonable time.
I enjoyed the breakfast burrito last time, so I ordered that again. We also wanted to try something new. We got the Smoked Salmon Scramble, a “very popular dish” according to the server. I love smoked salmon (or maybe I used to?), but it’s one of the things that I used to munch on often during my hunger phase moments at work, so it’s not something I particularly crave. It’s hard for me to enjoy it with as much gusto, being that it tastes like the feels of: pressure, stress, the pain of being hangry, and just mere FML moments. But since SS wanted to try it and it’s been a while for me, it’s what we ordered. We also ordered a single serving of Buttermilk Pancake, like last time.
After 15-20 mintues, we were still waiting for the food.
Waiting time dragged on…………….
Early stages of behgorage were starting to kick in. SS was talking, but the behgorage drowned out his words. So I don’t even remember the things he said during that suffering moment. I almost wanted to leave. But if we went somewhere else, that would mean even more waiting.
So I suffered through it some more. I weakened. I fell into depression. I was hurting. I hated everyone…had all the classic symptoms of behgorage. SS doesn’t go through behgorage. He was hungry, but remained calm and normal.
I think I was on my second cup of coffee when the food still hadn’t arrived.
The server started to run out food, with one of them resembling smoked salmon from what I could make out from my chair. My eyes widened and stomach growled. He proceeded to walk past us and bring it to the table outside, a table that seems to have been there who knows how long before us. So who knew how much longer our food was going to take?!
A few minutes after that stomach-tease, the food FINALLY arrived. The pancake arrived last.
One look at the breakfast potatoes had me raising an eyebrow. They looked barren. The skin of the potatoes didn’t have the color, crisp, or blister like last time.
SS took a bite and said to me, “Try this. It seems undercooked,”
“I don’t need to try it. I can already tell,” I told him. But I tried one anyway just to say, “ewww~”
The burrito tasted consistent and was filling like last time.
When the pancake arrived, SS cut it in half this time and poured Maple Syrup only on his half (unlike the last time when he had the entire thing drenched, whereas I only like a few droplettes on mine). He took a bite and with a WTF look on his face, he said, “Taste this. It doesn’t taste right.”
I dotted some droplettes of Maple Syrup and took a bite. “EWWW!! WTF?!” I scavenged around for another napkin to spit out into. The batter of the pancake was doughy, dry, and cooked in a very fucked up way, -just impossible to swallow. We were disappointed, especially since it was delightful last time.
SS brought up the pancake catastrophe to the server’s attention. “Would you like it taken off the bill?” the server asked. And of course, we did.
“It can’t be the same cooks as last time. The food tastes way different,” said SS.
The experience here just goes to show you why different people can have vastly different experiences at the same establishment. Someone reads all these great reviews (on Yelp, for example) on an establisment, decides to give the place a try, them bam~ they have a totally different experience than what they expected. Maybe the A team was off that day. Maybe someone quit and there’s a newbie in the kitchen. Maybe the owner decided to make some changes (including with staff). Maybe they were having an off day. Maybe someone is sick. Maybe they came in too hungover. Maybe the main cook is on vacation and the position is being temporarily taken over by the cooking impaired owner or someone from FOH. Maybe they’re going through personal shit and that’s taking a toll on their work performance. The “maybe” list can go on….I have no idea what the reason was in this case. My assumption would be different cook(s) for different days.
Our first visit was on a Friday of Labor Day weekend. This second visit was on a Wednesday (9-28-2016). The FOH was different, too. There was one young gentleman tending the front, seemingly to have been understaffed. The food was later brought out by some guy that popped out from the back that we didn’t see again.