RUSSIA FIELD REPORT: Traktir Restaurant was a terrible experience I will never subject myself to again. Two days prior to the game, I made a reservation via phone. It was taken by what sounded like a middle-aged woman, with thick accent. When I arrived, 5 minutes before kickoff, there was no podium or host/hostess; nothing organized; so I just went in and took a small table. There were plenty open. I sat at the very first table just behind the counter area in the back that houses the booze and from where the servers go back & forth fetching orders.
The game started, and other customers began to come in; it got fairly full, but never a sellout. Anyway, the 2-3 servers kept walking past me – ignoring me. I saw they started to serve other people who arrived after me. Something was very wrong. Instead of beckoning a server, I decided to just “leave it alone” and see how long Traktir’s (mis)treatment of me would go on. All the while, the staff kept waltzing back & forth a bazillion times right past me, as my table was directly adjacent to their order pick-up area.
Finally, after THIRTY-FIVE minutes (!), a server stops at my table.
I practically exploded at him. “I have been waiting here since 5 minutes before the game; yet you ignore me! You have waited on everybody else, who all got here after me!”
Little mister young server, instead of seeing the mistake and apologizing/making good, instead snapped, “You do not have a reservation. The other people do, and they are a priority.”
“Yes I DO. I made it with a lady TWO DAYS AGO.”
He ran behind the counter area, to allegedly check a reservation book. He came back claiming (lying?) that no reservation from me was in there.
I retorted, “Even if it messed up and did not get put in your log, I still should have been served. I have been sitting here right in front of you SINCE BEFORE THE GAME. There are still empty tables. There is no excuse for not serving me. After 35 minutes, no one here has even brought me a water, on a HUNDRED DEGREE DAY!!!”
He then tried to get me to order/buy an alcoholic drink – as if that would get me to, uh, simmer down. I did not order any booze nor buy into that.
He kept bickering back at me a little more, not being a man about it and taking accountability; then finally began to back down, saying, “I am sorry. I am really sorry.” A glass of ice water was finally brought to me; and a little basket of table bread, which I did not touch. While he whisked off, another server clipped up to me and practically whacked a menu down on my table; with no greeting, no eye contact, no nothing; she just plopped it down, and stomped off.
I had enthusiastically come intending to order borsch(t), dumplings, and maybe a stroganoff; spend some serious money. Not to mention, after having given a great big free plug to their restaurant all over the internet. Instead, all I ordered was a red borscht (they said they didn’t have the seasonal green kind), and did so really just to be able to fulfill this blog. By this time the 2nd half of the game had begun. I wolfed down the borscht. It was decent; a broth of flavorful beet with a couple chunks of potato, about a tablespoonful of beef shreds, and dollop of sour cream on top. Nothing that you can’t do as well at home. I cashed out the $8.70, wrote “SHAME ON YOU!” in big screaming letters on the bill, left no tip, and got the hell out.
On the way out I entered their deli area, which is in its own room, looking for the lady who took my reservation and/or a manager to gripe to. A nice gal claiming to be the co-owner manifested, and heard me out. She appeared genuinely concerned, and sorry for my bad experience. She reached into the deli’s refrigerator, and pulled out a hand-held size plastic bottle of Arrowhead Water as a make-good. Wow, my lucky day. As I left Traktir forever, never to return to this pathetic, awful establishment again, and agitatedly strode the Havenhurst Drive sidewalk to my car, a jogger in the middle of the street apparently spotted the Arrowhead and called out to me, “Hey! Please pour some of your water on my head.”
I tossed the entire unopened bottle to him and said, “Here, pour it on your own head”. I got in my car and took off. I guess the bottle of water was a cosmic gift of synchronicity for him. It was the only good thing to come out of Traktir Restaurant.