A little nerdy backstory: I'm originally from a town (Louisville, KY) that never had an IHOP (just Waffle House), so I just had it built up in my head for 19+ years that it was an awesome place. A HOUSE OF PANCAKES?! Whoa; that sounds amazing. My friends in Lexington finally took me there for my birthday lunch one year, where we waited 45 minutes for a table, and then an additional hour and 30 minutes for our food, at which point my strawberry pancakes were soggy, but whatev. Figured I'd give them a second try one day. Flash forward to living in California, where IHOPS are abundant, and my boyfriend and I had a little inside joke about going to eat breakfast there for about 7 months. Finally, last weekend, we decided to finally treck out there for some breakfast food to cure our hangovers.
We get to the restaurant around 4 PM on a Sunday, so it's not really the busiest place on earth (maybe two other tables in the whole place), yet we still had to wait about 5 minutes for a waitress to even appear so we could get a table. Get seated, look over the menu, and order drinks (water and coffee for both of us). We get the water, he gets a mug for coffee, and she runs off before I can ask for mine. When she finally comes back, we order. Now, I'm a vegetarian and I'm allergic to onions, but I really try not to be difficult about ordering because I've been told that making changes to menu items can be frustrating sometimes. I spotted an omelette that looked great (spinach, mushrooms, and onions with some sauce that I can't remember and chopped tomatoes on top), so I just asked to order it without onions and sauce, and with egg substitute. Essentially, a simple spinach and mushroom omelette, with a side of hash browns. Oh, and I still want that mug for the coffee we ordered.
The food comes to the table a little while later; she puts the omelette and hash browns in front of me, puts down my boyfriend's food, and then quickly says to me, "Oh, by the way, we were out of mushrooms, sooo...are your hash browns too crispy?" I was a bit shocked at this point and said no, they look fine, but after she walked away I thought WTF? Wouldn't it seem customary that if the kitchen was out of one of TWO ingredients that were about to go into a meal, wouldn't you ask the customer if they wanted to replace an ingredient or order something else? That would be like ordering, I don't know, a pepperoni and onion pizza, only to have it come out with only onions: "Sorry, we were out of pepperoni, so...here you go!" The omelette ended up being pretty gross; it wasn't even made with steamed spinach, like I imagined, but with spinach leaves, and I guess they put in extra to make up for the lack of mushrooms so it tasted like a salad covered in soggy eggs. I only ate about a 1/3 of it before feeling gross. I would have said something to the waitress except she never came back to check on us, ask how the food was, refill the water (never got refilled throughout the entire meal), or give me my damned mug. She never appeared on the floor at all, actually, but seemed to be hanging out in the kitchen talking to a friend. I eventually just used my empty water class to pour the coffee into. When she came to toss the check half-hazardly onto the table, I thought she might notice that and finally remember my multiple requests for a coffee mug, but she just walked away again.
So I look at the check, thinking, "Surely there must be a discount for the lack of mushrooms..." Wishful thinking. There, on the check, full price charge for a spinach/mushroom omelette :( At least my boyfriend was sweet and offered to pay for my meal because he knew how bummed out I was about it. So we go to the front counter to pay the check and wait for someone to show up...and wait some more. After about 6 minutes of walking back and forth, looking at the maps and pictures on the wall in the lobby, our waitress finally comes up to the register to take care of us; I was so irritated by this point that I just walked outside to have a cigarette. I forgot to ask, but I really hope the boy didn't tip well; I just don't think she deserved it after basically ignoring us for our entire meal.
And ever since then, I've been wondering if I've been out of line for feeling this way, but seriously, it was just a nasty experience for the both of us. After this, I never plan on giving IHOP a third chance; even as much as Denny's has a bad reputation, I have never had anything but excellent service there, so that's where I'll be going for my late afternoon drunken breakfast next time.
* Please excuse any ramblings or misspellings; I'm a little tipsy at the moment, but was enjoying some late-night bad_service reading and wanted to add my own story to the mix.