This routine happened to us at a restaurant last night. It’s becoming a common occurrence. This is one of those steak and chop houses where a strip steak is $39 and a rib-eye is $42 and everything else is a la carte.

We’re seated at the table. One waiter brings water and says, “You’re waiter will be here in a moment.” So the official waiter waiterand-wine.jpg comes, says hello, my name is whatever and I’ll be taking care of you tonight — taking care of us? — hands each of us a menu and puts the wine list on the table.

“May I start you off with a cocktail or a glass of wine?” he asks.

I say, “No, we’ll look at the wine list and the menu.”

So he ambles off and we look at the menu, compare ideas about what we might order and what kind of wine we’re in the mood for. Usually LL and I order either fish or red meat so one bottle of white or red wine will do. So we’re mulling these things over, and I’m looking at the wine list, and the moments flee by, and LL says, “We haven’t gotten any bread.” Indeed, we have not. And she adds, “I wonder if there are any specials we should know about.” Indeed, we have not been told about any specials.

The waiter shows up finally and asks, “Have you had a chance to select your wine?”

I say, “Well, yes, but could we have some bread?”

He looks amazed. “Well,” he says, “don’t you want to order the wine first?”

And I say, “No, the wine is to go with dinner, and when the wine comes we’ll want some bread to go with it.” So off he goes to bring us some bread.

Which he does, and then we order the wine, and then he has to go get the wine and then he opens the wine and goes through all the folderol and THEN we get around to the matter of reciting the specials and ordering dinner.

By now, a time zone has slipped away to the east. Friends, life is too short to sit in restaurants where the preferred method of business is to get the cocktails and wine on the table as fast as possible and get patrons good and oiled before allowing them to decide what they want to eat or even bringing them some bread with which to buffer their stomachs.

It’s not — to be fair — the waiter’s fault. He was only doing what management tells him to do. But, lord love a duck, isn’t it enough that we’re paying $60 or so each for dinner? Must we be led down the path of inebriation too?

Waiter image from images.inmagine.com.