Late noon on Sunday, my friend N and I decided to go hiking in the Half Moon Bay area. Half Moon Bay has a delightful collection of beaches and hiking trails. After a surprisingly traffic-filled drive, we arrived at the beach. It looked sooo inviting (I simply love being anywhere near a beach. Maybe its got to with my Chennai genes - not sure) that we decided to do our "hiking" on the shore, near the water itself.
After about an hour of walking down the beach, both N and I were beginning to feel chilly. I really think they should have some law making it illegal for a beach to be cold when the sun is shining. It would make life (and dressing) a lot simpler.
Anyways, we decided that hot coffee would be a most welcome diversion. Now where to find a coffee place? This being the USA, when we climbed back up from the beach, sure enough, there was a restaurant. In our casual jeans and shirts, we both trooped into the restaurant. For 5.00p in the evening, the restaurant was already filled with people having dinner (!?!). The restaurant had a stunning view of the ocean and the hostess asked us if we had a reservation. That should have been a clue. However we ignored it and said that we did not have one.
In any case we were shown to a table and were handed the menus. The ambience was lovely and there was lovely piano music. N later said that he had noticed that a live person was sitting at the piano, playing it (I hadn't and was wondering why the rest of the people applauded whenever a tune finished).
So we checked and found that there was no mention of coffee anywhere on the menu. I doubtfully told N that it looked like a proper restaurant and that we probably wouldn't be able to order just coffee. Even as N was confidently saying that if we just wanted coffee (and it made sense - come on, it was freakin' five O' clock in the evening - it was just too early for supper), we should not have qualms about ordering just coffee, the waitress arrived with the bread basket. Well, well! Then she asked us if we wanted something to drink. N and I gave relieved smiles and said, "Just coffee". She gave us a weird look and off she went.
A short time later, the waitress returned with the coffee. After setting it on the table, she stood all poised and ready to take our orders. Then N bravely ventured, "Actually, that will be all. We just wanted coffee." The waitress gave us a frosty stare and said, "There is a $15.00 per person minimum charge." Then seeing at our dismayed looks, she softened up a little and said that she would give us some more time to choose something to eat.
As soon as she turned, N and I looked at each other, stunned. Then burst into laughter. It was just past five in the evening and we had the prospect of choosing supper before us. We both carefully studied the menu. N is vegetarian and this was a seafood place. Needless to say, other than salads, there were absolutely no veggie options available. However, this time round, I did spot the fine print on the menu which had the $15 (actually $14.95) per person clause.
We both SO did not feel hungry. But finally, N chose a Caesar salad and I chose a spinach salad. N also asked for a side of the tropical fruit salsa which came with one of the entree specials of the day. And thus, there N and I sat, delicately sipping our coffees, while munching on our respective salads (fyi, this combo does not taste as bad as it sounds). In between breaking into laughter at our own funny plight, we did get to see a wonderful view of the the sun setting into the sea - actually it set into the clouds but whatever, it was close enough!
Lesson of the day? Do not enter expensive looking restaurants if you are planning to order coffee only. Unless you want supper also thrown in.
p.s. If you thought the moral is an obvious one, oh well, what can I say!