O Chamé
by Kia Simon

1830 4th Street @ Hearst
Berkeley, CA
phone: 510-841-8783
hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-3pm, Mon-Thurs 5:30-9pm, Fri-Sat 5:30-9:30pm
Japanese

It should be called O Shame.

The food was good. But be ready to spend the rest of your life waiting for it. We stopped in for a quick lunch, a pair of appetizers and a main dish for the two of us. The first appetizer (Corn and Green Onion Pancakes) took about 15 minutes to arrive. It was good, but we thought it might be better in conjunction with our other appetizer, (seared tuna) unfortunately it was another half hour before that came out. I had ordered a cup of rice tea to go with lunch, but after I finished it, I was never asked if I would like another or something else to drink. They took away our appetizer plates quickly -we had wolfed it down - and we settled in to wait for our entrée (medium rare strip steak with portabello mushrooms, spinach, and edamame).

At least half an hour later, I was starting to get pretty testy, frequently looking over at our waitress. She was avoiding eye contact, which is never a good sign. When she stopped by to fill our water, I mentioned that we'd been waiting quite a while for our entrée and asked how much longer it would be. It'll be out really soon, she promised. With our ire already raised, it would've been a good time to offer us a little something, a free glass of wine, tea, whatever. Or even ask us if we'd like more tea, perhaps.

Unfortunately, our entrée was not on its way out. Ten minutes passed, and though our waitress did seem to be actively waiting by the service window, the steak was a no show. Realizing, that there was no way we were going to enjoy the steak in our heightened state of irritation, I approached the waitress. The woman I took to be the manager was standing nearby. "If it's ready now," I said "I'll take it to go, otherwise I'm not waiting any longer. The service was very slow and we're not willing to wait any longer." This was another opportunity to make this experience right. The appropriate response, I think, would have been. "I'm so sorry, our stove has been acting up. Can I buy your appetizer?"

I'm not really that hard to please. A simple stop by to say that the dish was taking longer than expected would have been helpful. When we were obviously getting impatient, a effort to make our wait more pleasurable would have been great: some tea, a glass of wine, or something comped. The restaurant was not very crowded, and seemed to be adequately staffed, but we were not the only customers who seemed dissatisfied with the pace of service.

As it is, they ended up with very unhappy customers, a small scene in the restaurant, and a tip of 50 cents. The manager never said any words to me at all. Once away from the restaurant and in the comfort of home, we quite enjoyed our steak.

Reservations:
Suggested
Food: B
Service: F

About Kia Simon: Not only is Kia a woman with a strong opinion and an eloquent voice, but she's also a crazy talented, ambitious, creative and courageous filmmaker whose work is as beautiful as it is unnerving. Learn more about it her movie-making mastery at sneakylittlesister.com.

Reviewed: Sept 2005



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