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How much is too much?


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So when you go to a restaurant and the owner asks for your opinion on the food/service, how much feedback is too much feedback?

I went to a brand new restaurant on the second day of operation. Food and service were excellent, good portion size and quality but the plates were cold and the food could have been hotter. When the owner came to the table and specifically asked, I told her that and she seemed to appreciate the feedback and immediately offered to have the food redone, which I declined because it was hot enough to eat. I refrained from mentioning things like the desserts on the menu were not exactly in tune with the theme and the lack of a bar menu or wine list because hey, it's day two and they have to have a chance to get going.

Went back for lunch two days later. Disaster. Bartender dude came to the table and was clearly annoyed when we didn't order liquor. I ordered a Shrimp Po' Boy. Po' indeed. 4 inch baguette with a skiff of tartar sauce, a few shreds of slightly brown iceberg and some red onion that had been sliced up a few days before. And the shrimp. Perfect. Fresh, beautifully breaded and freshly fried. All four of them. Four. 26/30 count. Four. On a Po' Boy. Sides were a tablespoon of slaw made with Savoy, which in and of itself isn't bad, but the dressing was so vinegary that the cabbage was wilty. There was also about a 1/2 cup of yesterday's roasted potatoes, cut up, crisped in the oven, left to sit and reheated in a dry sautee pan. Might have been okay if they weren't so dried out and cold. Because the plate was ice freaking cold. Again this delightful woman came to the table and asked my opinion. Oy. My first instinct was to give her a laundry list of offenses...but I didn't. I just said the plate was cold and so were the potatoes. She insisted on bringing me more gack worthy potatoes.

So should I have told her that I thought 4 shrimp was not a Po' Boy...that the slaw was wilty and the potatoes were not good? At what point are you being constructive and at what point it it just rude or just my opinion and not really helpful?

Just curious as to what others do in this situation.

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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As an owner, I would be very grateful of every insight you might have on my operatios. Sometimes you have little time to control a lot of things (more so during the early stages) Sometimes a server (bartender in your case) looked great on paper, and had a good interview, but just has a terrible attitude.

And sometimes you forget you're cooking for customers, and make food in a way tyhat you would like to eat it (even if nobody else would).

I would welcome the opportunity given to improve a small business. They should be grateful. It's good of them to ask. Many don't, and they end up closing down and wondering what whent wrong.

Follow me @chefcgarcia

Fábula, my restaurant in Santiago, Chile

My Blog, en Español

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Every so often I will write to a place to give my comments - good and bad. I try to be absolutely honest. I have been in the business and know what it is like.

Funny thing is -- I rarely if ever received a reply.

Go figure.


The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Well, if you don't give them the constructive feedback, I'm sure a restaurant critic will be along soon to provide them some feedback. Actually, you can't count on that happening in a timely manner, so if it's a place you think has potential, tell them the truth. Otherwise, stay away and let nature take its course.


“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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