29 August 2006
ATLAS ON SECOND AVE BETWEEN 4TH AND 5TH STREETS IS GRADE-A ASSHOLE MATERIAL
Atlas: The Lily Allen of Restaurants
Some people have bad days, which is fine, but other people are GRADE-A ASSHOLE MATERIAL, much like the music of Lily Allen, and Atlas on Second Avenue between 4th and 5th streets in Manhattan now finds itself in the latter category. Basically a sandwich and salad and shake shop with a vegan bent and an untastable Moroccan vibe, Atlas has a pretty steady following for its cheap eats and overuse of avocados. I've walked by there on the way to the Bank of America and people always look pretty hip eating sandwiches with too many avocados in them, and that's saying something. I had gone here for coffee once or twice and had one of their crepes before too, and the only thing that had seemed remotely bothersome was the way you have to wait forever for the food to be made, and how this wait occurs among all these people who are sitting down at tables, and how suddenly these people are annoyed at you and you're annoyed at them for being annoyed at you and finally the food comes, you go back to your cubicle, and you forget about it.
In pursuit of cheap last-minute eating, Lady J and I walked in and sat at the table nearest the display fridge at the front of the restaurant. There were crumbs on the table still but I don't want to get ahead of myself. We figured out that we wanted a goat cheese crepe, a grilled chicken salad, and a Moroccan grilled chicken salad (the difference between the two is that the MGCS has peppers in it, and maybe some avocadoes). Normally I don't order salads for dinner but I had had a pretty big lunch, and as you can imagine the striking similarity between her salad and mine caused no little distress. I don't understand why it's such a big deal if you both order the same plate, more or less, but apparently this is a big deal, and I've been looking stuff up on messageboards to find out more on the why.
I worked my way out from the table and made myself to the top of the line, to the register guy. He is wearing a hat with the brim really bent out of shape, fratdude '99 style, not in the flat-brim style of today's rap stars. I think nothing of this. My heart is like the motto at Crunch: no judgements. He asks me what I want, I tell him "I'd like a Grilled Chicken Salad, a Moroccan Grilled Chicken--" and all the sudden he picks up the telephone. As he's taking the order from someone on the telephone, he yells at me to keep giving him the order, and with a sweet hat like his, he surely looked the spot of Multitasking Don, so I doubted him not. I gave him the order again, double-checked with him after he finished with the phone call, and he triple-checked with me by charging $22.00, which is roughly the cost of two GCSs, a goat cheese crepe, and two Poland Spring water bottles. I sat back down and waited for the Atlas runner to swing out with the food. J killed a fly with a folder she brought with her. 20 minutes pass.
Kindly, since I know how pokey this place is with the food (the price of no price), I ask about our order. Sweet hat guy asks me what I ordered again. I tell him a Grilled Chicken Salad, a Moroccan Grilled Chicken Salad, and a Goat Cheese crepe. Three items, and for his benefit, since I should be clear that nobody behind the counter knows the language very well, I hold up three fingers very incidentally when I say "three items." He says something in a different language to his sidekick, who is this guy about the twice the size of him and no sweet hat that I can recollect, who brings the food out and probably assembles it all too so he's seriously the stooge in this story, and the sidekick nods to me and says the food will be right there.
"Here's your goat cheese salad, and here's your artichoke crepe," sidekick says. I tell him that's not what we ordered. He says-- and I honestly don't know what to make of this part-- "Yes, I know, that table right over there ordered it, but he told me to bring it out to you." I tell him we want the food that we ordered and paid for, and he's remarkably amenable to this idea. We go over what was ordered, and he hurries back to the counter. The dude with the hat starts yelling at him for bringing the food back, sidekick says it's not what we ordered, hat dude says something to sidekick and then wiggles his nose at me like he's
Three minutes later--record table time at Atlas, where employees can take up to ten minutes just to pull a soda bottle out of the refridgerator for you--sidekick brings over the order. All three items are stacked in a plastic bag, in aluminum takeout containers, and there are no napkins in the bag. "I'm sorry," he says.