Recently, my husband and I decided to get a quick and cheap dinner in our neighborhood. We chose a restaurant that specialized in home cooking. Our decision was based on two facts: it was a new place we hadn’t tried and it had lots of side dishes on the menu. I was craving vegetables.
The food was decent and the staff was very friendly. But they were rather incompetent. First, they were out of almost all of the side dishes. They were also out of every dessert except the pumpkin drowned in sugar water – which I could not face again. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that they were incapable of telling us what they had or what they didn’t. Instead, they waited for us to order something, then they would tell us they were out of it. This painstaking ritual went on and on.
Second, they forgot to give us bread. They also forgot to give us the delicious little cookies that they serve with tea. The cookies arrived after we were finished our tea. And frankly, it would have been nice to mention the cookies when we were struggling ordering 5 desserts that they did not have, one after the other.
Finally, the servers completely forgot about us. It took a really long time for a quick simple meal, even though they had lots of staff and not that many tables to serve. I hate to say something as sexist as this, but I have noticed that most Turkish restaurants go with the French tradition of male waiters. There were at least 5 or 6 women running the show at this restaurant and they were making us (women) look bad as all they did was chat! Not to mention the 5″ heels worn to wait tables!
So when the bill finally arrived, we were in a bit of a pickle. It was only 30TL. Between us, we had a 100TL bill and a 5TL bill. In Ankara, it is typical to tip 10%, so 3TL. Normally, we would have just left that 5TL bill, but they just didn’t deserve it.
Our real concern was that we did not want to wait another 30 minutes to get our change from the 100TL bill, and then have to ask them to break one of the bills into small change and hope they return again. So we thought it would be better to put the 100TL bill in the book with the check, and then hand the waitress the 5TL and ask for change.
Mind you, we had to deal with 3 different people over the bill alone.
The third woman finally arrived at our table with the change from our bill, 70TL, and with the coins. She admitted that they were confused as all get out, which is what took so much time! Grrrrr! As we proceeded to leave the tip, we noticed that they shorted us 1TL. We left 3TL anyway, because I didn’t want to confuse them more and insult them. After all, they were super friendly, even if they didn’t understand the art of waiting tables.
Ok, so I realize these are low numbers we are dealing with and I don’t want to appear that we were just being cheap. So feel free to raise the numbers if that makes you feel better. But my question is, how does one deal with this situation other than just not leaving a tip at all? Must we really suffer with the back and forth money exchange in order to get smaller coins? (Surely, had we just given the 100TL bill, they would have returned with nothing smaller than a ten spot.) Considering my husband is a Turk, I am sure he requested the change correctly. But is there something I am missing here? Is it just another Turkish quirk? Does anyone know how to ask for small change (coins) in Turkish without leaving the server dumbfounded?!
I have to say, this is another one of those situations where I just have to laugh! A quick dinner? What was I thinking?!