I am used to paying cubierto at restaurants in Buenos Aires. I don’t even mind that much.
Cubierto is the cover/ service charge for dining at a restaurant.
You are essentially paying for the privilege of siting at a table and getting service, and you usually get a basket of bread.
In Buenos Aires, it is 3-4 pesos (75 cents to US$1.00).
I am used to this charge, and I do not have a problem with paying it when I dine out (which is not that often).
Until this experience. . .
I was at a restaurant called Pizza Mass meeting a language exchange group. I arrived about 15 minutes late, so the group already had a table and beers.
After 20 minutes sitting at the table and trying to get the attention of a server, I decided to just walk up the front counter where they took the to-go orders, got a menu, and placed an order for a slice of pizza and a glass of wine. I paid at the register and told her I was sitting at a table with friends but could come back and get my pizza when it was ready. She said that she would have someone bring it over.
When the waitress dropped off my greasy, cheesy slice of pizza, I asked her for a fork and knife. She walked away for about 10 seconds and then came back without my utensils.
She said I would have to pay cubierto.
Me: Wait… you want me to pay cubierto just to use a knife and fork?
Me: I had to serve myself by walking up to the counter to order and pay. And now you want me to pay cubierto?
Me: And I only get a fork and knife for paying cubierto? No bread?
Me: No, gracias. I will eat with my hands and use every single one of the crappy, tissue-paper napkins on this table.
What did the locals think?
The Argentines at my table also found this ridiculous and immediately pushed the container of napkins towards me and went into a diatribe about how the restaurant service in Buenos Aires sucks.