I have a running joke with a friend of mine that restaurants simply do not want our money whenever she and I are there. This summer every time we have gone out to eat or drink something has happened that we have not had to pay. We also always get the best parking spaces in otherwise ”tough to find parking” areas.  

One time it was the cockroach on the wall of a upscale restaurant that made our meal free. Another time it was a man who paid for our drinks at a lounge because he felt bad for monopolizing our waitress with his flirtations. The list goes on and on.

Tonight it was at Cafe Deluxe. We were starving and saw a man eating Barbeque baby back ribs. It looked scrumptious. (The word “barbeque” is in bold for a reason) We both ordered it. We also ordered an appetizer and drinks.

A waitress brought our plates and set them down. The first thing I thought was, “wow, this BBQ sauce is red!”. It was red because it was ketchup. Yes, our Barbeque baby back ribs were completely slathered in ketchup. It looked like someone took a Heinz bottle and dumped it on the ribs until their arm got tired.

I scraped as much of the offensive ketchup as I could off of the meat but the damage was done. The cornbread and the cole slaw were now also slathered in ketchup. The above picture is of my friend’s plate without the scraping.

It was disgusting. It looked like someone in the kitchen said, “Damn, we are all out of BBQ sauce…I know! Ketchup! They will never know the difference!!”  

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind ketchup on a burger, on a hot dog, or on french fries. I am even one of those people who likes it on the side of eggs, with a little hot sauce. Let’s face it, most things are better with hot sauce.  However, on steak or ribs, ketchup is  just offensive. It’s like taking Japanese Kobe beef and pouring ketchup all over it. It is a crime against food. I feel like any minute Chef Gordon Ramsey should come out of nowhere and yell at you until you cry. 

We called the nearest employee over (who turned out to be the manager) and told her what happened. She actually tried to convince me that it may not be ketchup. To that we laughed. I told her, “trust me, it’s Heinz”. I know Heinz when I see it and taste it. By the way have you ever had curry ketchup? A friend of mine years ago brought it back from Amsterdam. It…is..incredible…It is by Heinz too. See? I know Heinz. No one can question my ketchup knowledge. I can even taste the difference between the organic ketchup without the food additives and the ketchup with the food additives. I buy organic. Once you go organic you can actually taste all the “extra ingredients” in the regular ketchup..But now I’ve gone off on a ketchup tangent.

Anyways, the manager went back to the kitchen and came back with barbeque sauce. She apologized but hilariously tried to cover it up by telling us that the kitchen got the “ratio wrong”. I told her there was no ratio, only ketchup. She told me they put “herbs in the ketchup”. I looked hard at the ketchup looking for the alleged “herbs”. I looked and I looked, I even tasted it again to make sure my taste buds hadn’t made a terrible error. No, alas, it was only ketchup. We felt our ketchup knowledge was insulted.

Anyways, the point is, we never asked for our meal to be free. We just wanted someone to acknowledge that it was ketchup. We needed a “it’s ketchup” validation. When what seemed like another manager came by and saw our food, he had the correct response. He was upset and told us there was no excuse for what happened.

We left the restaurant paying for our drinks and appetizers. We wondered why this keeps happening to us. It never happens to me when I am out with other friends and it never happens to her either. Only when we are together do these strange occurrences happen.

I look forward to our next outing with both a mixture of fear and excitement as to what will happen. I will have my camera ready.

What did I learn from this? There are many errors in life that can be covered up. However, a ketchup error is not one of them. I will also take this friend with me wherever I go from now on. Life is more interesting with her by my side. The food and service may not be great but the experience is rich and hilarious.

I can’t look at a ketchup bottle for a long long long long time.