Revenge of the mint

By Mir
May 12, 2008

Wow, do you people have strong feelings about planting mint. SHEESH. Maybe I REALLY REALLY LIKE mint. Maybe the mint is in containers in the planter. Maybe it is hilarious to me that I am all “Hooray! I made an herb garden finally!” and you all commence freaking out because ZOMG! MIIIIINT!

Yesterday I planted jalapeños and two kinds of tomatoes. Would you like to yell at me about that, too? Because I am pretty sure that the tomatoes said to bury 80% of the plant for best results, see, and I may have only managed to get them down into the soil up to about 76%. I’m sorry.

Yesterday was also BOTH Mother’s Day and Otto’s and my first anniversary, and I need to tell you all about both of those things at some point, but today is going to be slightly abbreviated.

In keeping with my fine tradition of getting sick for any and all major life happenings, I seem to have come down with a big nasty cold, and so any sap about yesterday is going to have to wait until I have less snot. You know, so that it’s less messy. (You’re welcome!)

What I have to tell you about, though, was my VERY FIRST Mother’s Day brunch!

There’s a little restaurant one town over that Otto and I have come to love. It’s tucked into a strip mall area and doesn’t appear to be much, from the outside, but inside the owner remembers you and the food is AMAZING. It’s not exactly cheap, but it is completely worth it, and so we’ve been there a few times for special occasions (without the kids). A few weeks ago we went there for brunch and they had this eclectic buffet spread that was just everything you could possibly want. We had a nice meal and then thought HEY! We should totally come here with the kids for Mother’s Day.

I tasked Otto with the reservation and he got us in for 1:30. That’s a little late for brunch, sure, but they were already fairly booked up and that would mean no rushing around after church, so, fine.

We arrived at about 1:20, and there were people waiting around outside. Huh. Every time we’ve been there, the restaurant’s been about half full. Well, it’s a holiday, after all. We went in to tell them we were there, and the place was PACKED. I mean we were barely able to get in the door. Wow. We let them know we were there and said we’d wait outside, and once back out there we got to listen to a lot of people standing around and complaining about how they should’ve been seated by now, blah blah blah.

Otto and I were not particularly perturbed. For one thing, we were early, and for another, I can’t get too worked up this sort of thing. We love this restaurant, and the fact that they’re packed only increases the chances that it will continue to thrive, right? We sat and waiting and tried to keep the kids entertained.

We waited. And waited. And people came and went. And eventually enough time had gone by that I suggested to Otto that he go back in, just to check, because maybe they forgot we were there…? He went inside and after a while came out to get us, and we were seated.

We waited for a waitress to come by and take our drink order, but everyone was scurrying around and none seemed forthcoming. Eventually the owner came and asked what we needed, and then we were free to hit the buffet.

Let me tell you about the first time we went to the buffet at this place. There was an omelet station, a belgian waffle station, a hunk o’ roast beast station (I don’t know, but they appeared to have an entire side of… SOMETHING… there), and a gigantic table laden with both breakfast-y things and this place’s signature fare. Oh, and a dessert table. That time, Otto and I ate incredibly well—I had some sort of eggs benedict variation, he had some spicy chicken things, I think—remarking on how we’d just never had anything that wasn’t fabulous whenever we’d come there.

This time, we happened to be seated right next to the waffle station, which was good, because the kids wanted waffles and it looked to be a precarious trek to anywhere else in the restaurant. We waited for the waffle girl to finish the orders she was making, then the kids ordered, and I had them go sit back down to wait while Otto and i went to get ourselves some food.

The meat station was… empty. The big table was full of… empty chafing dishes. The gigantic dish of cheese grits (normally fabulous at this place, mind you) was nearly untouched, and later when I got some I found out why—the sterno was out and they were cold and congealed. The dessert station was covered with plates of crumbs. And as Otto and I realized we could choose from a couple of things that were left (some salad, a little bit of chicken, some shrimp that still had the legs on), we were met with another issue: They were out of plates.

We stood around with several other families, wondering what to do, sure that more food and PLATES would be forthcoming, and yet everyone darted around, busy and unstopping, while NOTHING WAS BROUGHT OUT.

Eventually a busboy brought out a stack of about four plates. Otto went to get some food at the big table. I decided to take my chances with the omelet guy.

I watched him whip up a complicated scramble and roll it in a warmed tortilla, then pour a cheese sauce over the top. Hmmm. He asked me what I wanted and I asked him what he’d just made. “Breakfast burrito!” he bellowed, clearly perturbed that I was so stupid.

“Oh, um, well, that looked good. Could I get one of those?” He nodded and instead of reaching into the bins of veggies and such in FRONT of him, turned around and pulled out a plate from BEHIND him. Which had a burrito on it (already made). He then grabbed one of his two frying pans and poured in some cream and tossed in some cheese hunks. While it began to sizzle, he asked the next person in line what he wanted, and as they discussed it, the chef swirled around the contents of the frying pan and poured the mixture over the burrito plate and handed it to me. I looked down to see the burrito now swimming in cream, and dotted with half-melted hunks of cheese. “Thanks…?” I said.

I went back to the table. The kids were still waiting on their waffles. Otto was apparently still busy picking the half-cup of viable food out of the carnage that was the main buffet table. Our drinks had arrived—orange juice for Chickadee and Otto, no problems there. My glass of tea was only about half-full, which was just plain weird. Monkey’s milk had arrived in one of those tall glass coffee mugs, which was fine, but half the rim of the cup was covered with a dusting of coffee grounds.

The waffle lady rotated the waffle irons and I pointed her out to the kids, then while they watched her I quickly wiped down Monkey’s glass and fished a few floating grounds out of the milk.

Otto returned, and a minute later the waffles were done. They were delivered with a single cup of syrup, which we split between the two of them before anyone could complain, because we strongly suspected that they were either out of syrup or the little blue ramekins it comes in.

My burrito was actually not bad, if you were willing to overlook the fact that it was cold, covered in congealed cheese bits, and filled with what appeared to be the “ends” of several other scrambles. On the first bite I said to Otto, “Oh, hey! There’s lobster in here!” but by the third bite, there wasn’t, so I just don’t know. I don’t want to think about it too much, frankly.

Otto said his food was good. The kids enjoyed their waffles. We tried to do a second round and again rain into no plates, no food. Chickadee got some eggs. Monkey and Otto managed to hover around the dessert table long enough to snap up some tiny slivers of a chocolate pie of some sort. By the time Chickadee was done with her eggs (and I had pushed some cold grits around my plate a few times), there was a plate of what might’ve been bread pudding out at the dessert table. We took some to share and it didn’t take long to conclude that—having run out of their traditional dessert offerings—they had sliced up some bread and thrown it in the oven with some canned fruit and nuts. Ooooookay.

I wasn’t and am not more than mildly annoyed by the whole thing; this is the first time this restaurant attempted a Mother’s Day brunch and mostly I felt really badly for them. They were completely overwhelmed. And a lot of people there were truly angry, which is a shame.

Me, I prefer to view it as one of those “Hey, everyone’s got stuff to deal with” sorts of things, and I’m just hoping that this doesn’t impact their business negatively.

Besides, clearly what happened was that the mint I put in my herb box grew roots to the next town over and infiltrated the restaurant, strangling all of their cooks and dishwashers. I dunno, maybe I should call and apologize…?


  1. prophet

    yep. clearly the mint’s fault. It must have ‘cross-pollinated’ or something.

    Probably it’s mad at all the bad press it got from your readers.

    I’d go out and apologize to the mint if I were you! before it’s too late. . . .

  2. Caution

    I think you’re being way nice here. So nice, in fact, that I won’t say a thing about the mint…

  3. susie

    Hey, yesterday was mother’s day and MY wedding anniversary, too! Congrats!

  4. Em

    I’m with Caution. I think I would have left about the time he pulled the breakfast burrito from behind him and certainly when my kid’s milk was served in a dirty cup. You are nicer than I am.

  5. Beth

    Happy Mother’s Day! And also, HAPPY 1st ANNIVERSARY! WOOHOO!

  6. All Adither

    The question is…will you go there again next year?

  7. Paula

    Never ever go out to eat on Mother’s Day. It’s bad all over. Everyone wants to take Mom out to give her a break from cooking. Restaurants falter under massive crowds. Go the week before. Go the week after.

    This also applies to Valentine’s Day. Do not EVER go out to eat on Valentine’s Day.

  8. Mama Bear

    Wow, first I can’t believe how many people have such very strong opinions on mint. I never knew! Use the mint, it’s totally your decision and let know one lead you astray. Also, you are being way too kind to this restaurant. Me, I am not that patient, and 3rd Happy Anniversary!

  9. Lucinda

    Wow, you are way nicer than I am. I would have requested AT LEAST a partial refund given that it really wasn’t a buffet by the time you arrived.

  10. Zuska

    I’ve only ever gone out to eat on Mother’s Day ONCE – that was all it took for me to realize that it isn’t a fun thing to do! That, and the fact that all of my friends shared similar stories of disappointment, limited menu choices and poor service.

    But hey – Happy Anniversary! And Happy Mother’s Day!!

  11. cindy

    I experienced a very similar situation at a buffet for Easter. Only it was at a supposedly 4 star and well known hotel, and the price was $ 28 per person, not including beverages! Well, actually, a glass of soda or water was free, but if you wanted a pitcher for the table it was $ 7.50 plus tax. Still can’t figure that one out. Anyway, I think it comes down to staffing issues and poor management. We ended up walking out in disgust, but we didn’t let it ruin our day. It was, after all, Easter!

  12. Dawn @ Coming to a Nursery Near You

    Ok, that just sucks. Sorry about the buffet – and I’m sure, the BILL for the buffet. Hopefully, it’s just because they were caught by surprise by the rush of people? Maybe?

  13. Meg

    Fresh mint rocks in tabouli salad!

  14. Astrogirl426

    I’m with some of the other posters here – you are WAY nicer than me! Of course, outwardly I would have done exactly what you did, plus apologized right and left for…I don’t know what, but that’s because I have pathologically low self esteem and would have just felt amazingly guilty. Like I said, pathological. But yeh, that was a disaster.

    And Happy Anniversary too!

    Oh and didn’t I tell you mint was evil? But it does make evil-good mojitos…

    Your post made me realize we were all kind of harsh on you yesterday – poor Mir, you were all, “Look! I planted stuff! I’m so proud of me! Aren’t you proud of me?” (and rightly so), and we were all “YOU DID IT WRONG NOW GO RIP IT OUT ROOAAARRR BAD MIR”.

    So – Yay for your garden! Your herbs are going to be awesome in a little while when they start to take off – and think of all the yummy things you can make with them (like….umm…Mojitos! Woohoo! Notice a trend? :) )

  15. Jenny

    I had no idea people were so exercised about mint. A neighbor of ours growing up had let it kind of … take over as a ground cover around their deck and it was always a hallmark of summer to run around in their back yard, smelling the crushed mint!

    And also: mojitos. (Now, I mean, not when we were kids…)

    I think I’m with you — knowing how nice the restaurant normally is, and how nuts the Mother’s Day Brunch Scene is from attempts at Mother’s Day Brunches Past, and having worked in a restaurant myself once upon a time, I don’t think I’d have been more than vaguely disappointed at the experience and chalked it up to “whoops, won’t do that again” and gone out for ice cream afterwards or something.

  16. Aimee

    Agreed about Mother’s Day brunches — it seems like, even if the restaurants are reservation-only, they always get overwhelmed. A few years ago, my husband and I took our moms out the weekend before, and it was great.

    Anyway, on to the more important things — Happy First Anniversary!!!

  17. jennielynn

    I am cracking up about the mint. I had planned to put it in my herb garden bed and changed my mind after reading all of the alarmed posts. I actually made Mr. Clairol dig out an old, unused planter and replace the dirt, so I could plant mint there.

    I’m sorry the Mother’s Day brunch was sort of a bust, but I really admire you for keeping your cool. It does no good to get mad and your ability to feel compassion for the poor owners and staff says good things about you! We never go out to eat on Mother’s Day. In fact, this year, we cruised out to my parents and had pizza. And you know what? It was great.

    Happy anniversary!

  18. Heather

    LOL definitely the mint! Happy Anniversary Mir and Otto!

  19. julie

    Yikes on the buffet. We hosted a brunch at our house to avoid any chaos (not much relaxing for me, but nice over all), but I would understand going to a relatively unknown favorite expecting it to work out. Better luck next time.

  20. Andrea

    I also had a similiar situation but on New Year Eve. We went to a 4 star restaurant and I totally think they had their B team working. It was horrible and this was our “go to” special occasion restaurant. We had talked it up to our friends as being such a great restaurant. We brought them there with us. I was so embarrased.

    Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Anniversary!!

  21. paige


    I like mint. I like it so much that I on purpose seeded it in my lawn. Now when we mow, the whole area smells heavenly. And minty.

    Other than that, I have no opinion on mint that doesn’t belong to me.

    Uh, go mint!?

  22. Ukey

    Mojitos. Mint julep. Mint tea. And we had a barbeque on Mothers Day, where the boys do everything anyways, very inexpensive and very relaxing….Happy anniversary!

  23. elizabeth

    Happy Anniversary!

    what a very sad brunch. but I would have had to make them do something with the milk. sorry, I can’t scoop stuff out of a drink, it has to go back so I don’t see them scooping and returning it.

  24. Megan

    Swimmy creamy cold congealed breakfast burrito? Not quite sure what else would say happy mother’s day quite like that…

  25. Beth

    Seriously, though, how is that buffet different than what an earnest but clueless kid might make for mom? Sounds a lot like what I tried to do for my mom one Mother’s Day :-)

  26. DBN

    I skipped the Mothers Day brunch at our favorite place for this very reason– they can not handle the holiday success. It makes me crazy and I just want to give them some easy pointers for efficiency, but I now just stay away. I have a similar attitude to you– it is what it is, but I hate the negative word of mouth they get from one bad day.

  27. Tammy

    Happy Anniversary Mir! I agree with Jenny about the buffet experience…glad to know that it wont stop you from giving them your business on another less-crazy-busy day!

  28. Mother Chaos

    Oh, man! Sounds like they just got WAY overwhelmed!!

    I wonder if they’ll remember you as the Lady Who Didn’t Lose Her Cool Like Everybody Else next time…? One time I had a really bad experience (busload of tourists involved) at a favorite eatery and managed to keep my cool AND sense of humor, and the next time I poked my nose through the door (cautiously, keeping a wary eye out for busloads of Europeans…!), the hostess said, “OH! I’m so glad to see you! Guys, the Nice Lady came back!!” I about died laughing. (And I got a free glass of wine. That didn’t suck, either.)

    Happy anniversary, you crazy kids!

  29. Sue

    Happy Anniversary! You might need to change the name of your blog to Faster Than Mint. :-) I think next year, you need breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day.

  30. Mom101

    Buffets are rarely a good idea, unless served in your own home.

  31. Jennifer H

    This sounds like a good time to write a firm, charming letter to the management along the lines of WTH?

    Sounds like they got more business than they expected. No plates? Seriously?

  32. suburbancorrespondent

    It is always obvious to me which people never had the privilege of working in the food service industry in order to put themselves through college. Because those of us that have done so know better than to ever go out to Mother’s Day Brunch, Valentine’s Day Dinner, or anything else of that ilk. Crappy food, crappy service, overworked waitstaff with really bad attitudes…

  33. Daisy

    I was thinking the same thing as Suburban Correspondent; I worked in food service during and immediately after college. On Mother’s Day we stay home. But I do like your overgrowing mint theory…

  34. Flea

    About halfway through I thought, “I’ll bet this is their first Mother’s Day brunch.” What’s really sad is that their business will probably drop because they weren’t prepared. Sounds like a great place otherwise.

  35. SoMo

    If it is one thing New Orleanians know how to do is Sunday Brunch (well, food in general). This would not have gone over well.

    You should come on over have a few mimosas or Bloody Marys then you won’t care what the food taste like. However, the food would be fantastic especially if it is swimming in crabmeat. Damn, I am hungry, again.

  36. Deb

    Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Anniversary!

    I tend to not go out yo eat on major holidays, too stressful and places around me tend to not handle crowds nicely.

    SoMo is soooo correct!! New Orleans does the BEST Sunday Brunches ever. Once you have a few down there, you can’t go anywhere else.

    Sorry your brunch didn’t go well!!

  37. Kay T

    I was going to jump on the anti-mint campaign, but I did not want to rain on your parade. And you will be very glad you planted mint when everything else dies (rain much?). Because not even you (probably) can kill the mint. It will live on into the farthest reaches of time. Chickie’s and Monkey’s children’s children will say, as they look at the large hill of mint that has taken over the woods – remember when great grandma planted the mint in that planter on the deck? And it still lives! Such a legacy.

  38. sb

    Mother’s Day brunch buffets suck. And you still have to be a gracious Mom. Never ever, ever go again. Ever.

  39. HRH

    Mint hysteria strikes again. If you want to freak out your entire neighborhood plant BAMBOO next to the mint. I would like to see who wins that fight.

  40. Ukey

    Uh yeah, Bamboo. Forgot ’bout that. Brilliant!

  41. JennyM

    Oh, and around your lovely mint/bamboo plot, you can start a border of those pretty, yellow dandelions. :)

    Forsooth, o ye mint naysayers!

    Hope you had a great Anniversary…

  42. Sheila

    I always pop over to read your blog after reading Karen Wise’s Verbatim blog and it was so funny-she had just written about a terrible restaurant experience! I guess it makes sense-the whole holiday-overwhelmed-unprepared theory, but I hadn’t really thought of it before.

    I let my kids pick the restaurant yesterday and they chose P.F. Changs and I am happy (or almost embarrassed, I guess, after reading about your chunky burrito…) to report that it was terrific as usual.

    In spite of it all, hope you had a happy Mother’s day!

  43. Lindsay

    I used to work at restaurant and Valentines day and Mothers day were up for there for their highest gross revenue days of the year. Total hell for any employee. I am afraid to even set foot in a restaurant on Mothers’ Day as a result. Good for you for being tolerant of the gong show.

    I was looking for the Today show clip forever and finally found it on your work it mom blog. I thought you all looked great and came across as very intelligent, which is a great segue to interesting. I don’t care if your comment was taken out of context, the fact that your perpetual love letter to your kids lead to something that pays some bills is hella cool. Say it loud, say it proud.

    I am not a mom, but I am a total girl power, man loving type so I love that you blog about overcoming adversity, how much you love Otto, and that you are an entrepreneur. It’s really quite inspiring.

  44. Brigitte

    Like Andrea, it seems whenever we talk up a restaurant and finally convince some friends to go with us, it’s suddenly HORRIBLE. You’d think we’d learn our lesson and stop talking up any good restaurants we find around here, because they are few and far between, but every few years we accidentally do it again. AAargh!

  45. mammafor2

    OMG! I am not one to sit quiet and let those that are there to serve, serve me/or my family in such an unacceptable way! But, that is just me, I am a snotty bitch when it comes to doing things the right way. New restaurant or not, these people needed to “think” before they started to serve on Mother’s Day. Come on, they new what lay a head of them! I give them NO mercy for this horrid display of BAD SERVICE!

    Now, sorry your meal was less than satisfactory on your special Mothers Day.
    ** I swear, when I started reading this I was fine… Now, instead of a new home I am wanting to open up a quaint restaurant where you can get FABULOUS service and we NEVER over book!!

  46. mammafor2

    AWW crap! I spelled “KNEW” new… see, I am turning into OCD!

  47. RubiaLala

    Wow, that sucks but it’s nice of you to realize why it happened. I hope their business doesn’t suffer because of this.

  48. Anna

    I went to buy my plants today the home improvement store and couldn’t bring myself to buy the mint after reading all these horrible, world-ending mint tales! Oh well…gave me more room for the basil plants, anyhow! ;-)

  49. Sue

    What the – literally TODAY I said to my friend on the phone “Hey can you give me one or two of your mint plants so i can grow my own?” (for Mojitos, obviously). Girlfriend, I have bamboo. Ain’t no wussy mint stories gonna stop ME.

  50. Shannon

    Er, yikes! It’s too bad that your brunch kind of sucked. We try to avoid restaurants on any major holidays to avoid crowds. But it sounds like your experience went beyond that.

  51. Meri

    Mir, you are pretty awesome.

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