Ben Stein's Diary

Nightmare at the Polo Lounge

Saturdays will never be the same.

By 12.23.13

Well, talk about a memorable meal.

December 21, 2013

General Manager
The Beverly Hills Hotel
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Dear Mr. Manager:

How are you, sir? I am an economist, actor, commentator, and lawyer. I live a few blocks from your hotel.

I eat at the Polo Lounge at your hotel a lot. I would certainly say close to 50 times in 2013 and I usually enjoy it. Once in a while there are problems with the service, but it’s generally passable.

Today was the worst dining experience I have ever had at any restaurant. At 1 PM I brought a party of four (including me) to the Polo Lounge. We ordered 3 Kobe Burgers — $38 each — and I went to considerable trouble explaining to the waiter that I wanted the Kobe burgers and not the regular burgers. After a medium wait, the waiter brought three very mediocre regular burgers. I have had the Kobe burgers many a time and know the difference well.

I told the waiter they had made a mistake and we wanted what we had ordered. He argued with me, told me I didn’t know what I was talking about and I had to go to a hostess to (supposedly) get it fixed. We were to get three genuine Kobe burgers.

Nothing arrived. I went to the manager and said, “All right, I give up on the Kobe burgers. Please bring us three steak frites.” By then roughly 50 minutes had passed. My main guest was celebrating her birthday. She is a super important person in my work. It was supposed to be a big day. I had told her she would have a memorable meal. She did, but not at all in a good way.

Nothing arrived. No steak frites, nothing. I pleaded with the manager. He said they would bring the steaks immediately. Nothing arrived. By then, it was roughly 2:15. I told the hostess if we didn’t get our food right away, we would leave. Nothing happened. We walked out. My friend was unhappy and I was humiliated. Just humiliated.

The ineptitude and carelessness of your people ruined my major business meal of the year. This was disgraceful behavior towards a good customer. It would have been disgraceful to anyone. How could this happen?

We did get one steak frites and two bottles of water and a diet Coke when we first ordered so I enclose a check for $100 for that. (I would have paid the manager but he disappeared.)

This really was an outrage. I am not asking for a free meal. There is not a thing you can do. And probably I will come back because the setting is so pretty and the customers are so interesting. And I usually have good waiters, not waiters who try to jam my gears. By the way, after we left, my guests had to get back to Newport Beach by way of the 405. I took them to Del Taco at Santa Monica and Sepulveda. The service was instantaneous and the food was fresh and delicious.

Best wishes, Happy New Year,

That’s the end of the letter. I might add that while we were at the Del Taco, a 95-year-old woman who was eating next to us knocked over her soda. The first person to get up with paper napkins to help her was my birthday guest, a spectacularly successful real estate woman who had not uttered one word of reproach to me for the episode at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

That is character.

However, life goes on. I came home and took a long nap and paid some of my bottomless pit of bills. Napping has become a huge part of my life. I often talk about it with my psychiatrist. Napping is what I look forward to most in the day. I used to look forward to sex and drugs, but now it’s naps with my dog, Julie.

I also bought a lot of cupcakes for my wife, who loves them. Then, wifey and I went over to Fox News to talk about why Mr. Obama will never get into the kind of trouble that RN did. (Answer: his praetorian guard in the media, which RN, as a lifelong anti-Communist, could never have.)

I appeared with Judge Piro, a super sexy talk show hostess. We got to the nonsense about Duck Dynasty. This may be the most ridiculous issue ever in media history. Why can’t Mr. Duck say what he wants? Isn’t drama about conflict? 

Probably not worth thinking about. Instead, wifey and I went to get shabu for dinner: thin strips of beef that you boil at your table and dip in some delicious sauces. Eat and enjoy. Good service, fair price, we’re getting back to normal.

Then, back to paying bills and listening to XM and rubbing Julie’s stomach.

A nap with that dog is paradise.

I will leave dealing with the wicked media to Bob Tyrrell and the Polo Lounge to itself. I just want to lie in bed with Julie.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.