Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bulgarian Restaurant Service

The service in Bulgarian restaurants never ceases to amaze me - both for the good and the bad. We have been to average restaurants where the service is quite professional, and fancier restaurants where the service has been poor. There doesn't seem to be any real logic in it.

Some of the things that we have experienced:

1. Some waiters bring you your drink, open the bottle, put one hand behind their back, and pour your drink for you. They will then close the bottle and leave it next to your glass. Some of them will watch your glass and refill it when needed. Sometimes it seems that this is done solely so that they can remove the bottle from your table as they walk by.

2. One of my major issues regarding service, is the order in which your courses are brought out. Many restaurants will bring out your food according to whenever it is ready, as for example:

  • Your order is ready, but your companion's is not. This leads you to either start eating so that your food won't get cold, or, to sit and stare at your food until your companion's meal arrives.

  • You are eating your first course, and before you have finished, your second course arrives and is left on the table, in order that it has plenty of time to cool off by the time you finish eating your first course.

  • Sometimes, both of the above happen before your companion has even received his first course. This leads to an exciting meal of each of you watching the other eat while waiting for your food, or else digesting your food after you finished your meal.

  • Sometimes, second courses are brought out before the first.

3. Waiters always seem to be in a hurry to clear away your dishes. Quite frequently, this has left me holding a piece of bread or pizza that I was eating, and no place to put it down, since my plate has already been cleared away. This also holds true for napkins, which leaves me taking another clean napkin, since my (perfectly good) napkin was already cleared.

A couple more things in general regarding Bulgarian restaurants:

I believe that all waiters in Bulgaria are taught to say "Here you are" ("Zapovyadeti" in Bulgarian) with each item that they bring to your table.

EVERY restaurant, no matter what type of restaurant it is (even Chinese!), will always have Shopska Salad on the menu (the national Bulgarian salad consisting of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions, with a mountain of grated white cheese on top).

Bread is generally not provided at meals. If you want bread, you will be asked how many slices you want, as you pay by the slice.

Despite, or because of, the above,we still enjoy eating out in Bulgaria. We have come to enjoy the professional service when we encounter it, and to laugh and go along with it whenever some of the more unprofessional service comes our way. If you can't beat them, join them!

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