Ever since moving here from Michigan, I've been kind of ambivalent about the practice in these parts of what I have been told is called, "New Orleans-style service."
That's when a restaurant customer walks up to a counter, orders his or her food, pays for it and then waits for it to be brought to them. I have rarely, if ever, encountered this method - which encourages the diner who pays with a credit card to leave a tip before even sitting down - before moving to Louisiana.
My first impression was to question how much to tip, especially when the service that the practice is ostensibly there to reward doesn't warrant it.
In practice, this has not been a problem at any such establishment I have patronized in Louisiana. Until now.
I generally tip 20 percent rounded up, to avoid having to do much math, since I understand that waiting tables is a hard, often thankless and rarely lucrative job.
But on a recent trip to Demitasse Cafe in Houma, I had cause to question the practice.
As I have dozens of times now, I went to the counter, ordered my food, got my drink and went to sit down in the empty dining room.
Soon, an employee brought me my order. When I asked for a refill of my iced tea, her reply was a curt. "You have to go to the counter" she said over her shoulder as she raced to the back of the store.
I did not see her again until another table got its food, and then never again.
The person in question was not a waitress, really, so she did what the format required. I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she had things to do in the kitchen or whatever, although she could have been a bit nicer when I asked for the refill.
But it caused me to ask myself if that one short visit was worth paying an extra 20 percent of my bill for. And I concluded that it wasn't.
Oh, the food was absolutely top-notch. I ordered the Shrimp Remoulade Panini and a cup of Crab and Corn Bisque, and both were superb.
The sandwich consisted of sauteed shrimp, Swiss cheese, avocado, cucumber and a very tasty remoulade sauce. It was grilled exactly as a panini should be, with distinct, brown grill marks that added both texture and flavor, but not enough to turn the bread to toast.
The soup was spicy but not hot, with rich crab flavor and enough corn to make it substantial.
Both the sandwich and the soup strongly suggested that they really know what they're doing at Demitasse and that the rest of their extensive menu is equally well executed. I didn't have one of the coffee drinks that provides the name of the place, but I certainly will some other time.
But, back to the service. Maybe I'm just doing it wrong and the customary tip for what almost amounts to self-serve dining is less than that for traditional table service. If you have no problem with an experience like mine, then there is no reason not to go to the Demitasse Cafe.
Meet me on our Facebook page and we'll talk about it.
Demitasse Cafe is at 6815 W. Park Ave. in Houma.
Staff Writer Scott Yoshonis can be reached at 850-1148 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Foster_Cajun.