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Irritating Server Habits

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Nearly all my pet peeves have already been mentioned (and they are NUMEROUS!), but I'd also add the server who acts pissed because you don't order as much as he/she thinks you should.

I went out on Saturday with five friends. It was early (around 7 p.m.) so most of us didn't have a big appetite and just ordered soup, salads, apps, etc. But, we all had at least two drinks and didn't stay for an outlandish amount of time.

The small food order clearly chapped our waiter's ass and he didn't try to hide it. Despite his pissy attitude, my overly-generous friends still tipped 20%, which was quite possibly more than he would've gotten from another table of six who ordered the works.

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I could have listed ANY of the above, as I've had nearly all of them happen to me at one time.

I took the family out a couple Saturdays ago for a late lunch at a local family diner/steakhouse, and was told by the waitress as she brought our meals, "My shift is over, but that gray-haired lady over there will be taking over for my tables." Okay...fine. But the gray-haired lady never bothered to check on us, leaving me to drink from everyone else's tea glasses after my iced tea ran out just a few bites into my meal. After we were totally done, and had sat staring at our empty glasses, she brought the check and THEN asked if we needed anything. Not now, granny.

No tip was left, since waitress #1 left us in the care of Forgetful Flo, and no service was provided by waitress #2. I can forgive many of the transgressions listed above (even if my wife can't), and I'm generally an adequate tipper, but leaving me dry is a guaranteed empty tip tray.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“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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How can I forget this one??

Scraping/stacking plates rather than simply removing them. Shudder!!! :angry::wacko::angry:

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One time a friend and I went out to a truck stop after a little partying to get something to eat. He asked for french fries with chili and cheese on top. She looked at him like he was an alien. When she came back with his fries she plopped the plate down in front of him and promptly grabbed a fry, swirled it around in the chili and cheese, popped it in her mouth, and said, "That IS good!" Even though it's been over 5 years I still have trouble believing that it happened, but it's true.

Also, I can put up with just about anything from a server. I realize that it's not the world's easiest job, but please at least keep my drink filled.

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1. please do not touch the rim of my glass ..there is so much space on most glasses that there is no excuse for touching a spot where my mouth goes! It makes no sense to do this and I have seen even "upscale" servers do this with out a thought

2. fingers in my plate...same concept you touch my eating space and my meal is ruined I have actually had servers take a finger and wipe something of the side of my plate before putting  it down in front of me

3. like all of the above ..dont keep bugging me! Unobtrusive and polite is my idea of a perfect server

Thanks for the vent here!

I understand the faux pas about touching rims and plates, etc, but if it's really that big a deal how can you deal with the obvious issues of cooks and chefs touching your food (probably repeatedly) with their bare hands? Is it OK because it is out of sight/out of mind, or OK because it's their job and they are seemingly going to be more concerned with sanitation?

I mean, yeah, it's kind of gross, but really, what do you think you will "catch" if you drink from a fingered glass? I mean, you ever seen the "clean" water that comes out of the dishwasher sometimes? It's scary at some restaurants.

Not trying to pick on you, and I'm not trying to justify behavior of bad servers, just seems weird to me...

As a former (reformed) server, I can tell you that it can be very tricky sometimes. It's a hard thing to literally try and guess what patrons may/may not want you to do. Sometimes it's quite clear (more water, more drinks, clearing plates, etc), but sometimes it's not. For every person who wants a server to "shut up" and stop explaining dishes or specials, there is one who wants the server to hold their hand and explain every damn thing. Often times at the same table. Some people think that if a server asks a guest if they want a refill on a glass of wine, cocktail, etc, they are being pushy and trying to drive up the bill. Others get offended if you DON'T offer.

A lot of times you can tell or "read" the guest, other times you can't. It's just not possible.

And frankly, a lot of times it has to do with the type of establishment you are at. A waiter squats down or sits down at the table with you? At Chili's, yeah, I can see that, but at Per Se? Never. And remember, they only do it at because there are probably a LOT of people out there who respond to it (not on eGullet, but we hardly represent the masses, eh?)

It's funny to me to see the actual disparity in this post itself--checking back too much...not checking often enough. No enthusiasm ("Yeah, what can I get you?"), too much enthusiasm ("Isn't that just the yummiest (insert menu item here) that you've ever had?), incorrectly pronouncing things (awesome "nooky"), correcting guests who mispronounce things (" I'll have the kee-no-ah salad" "so you'll have the keen-wah salad"). I mean, seriously, what do you want them to do? Mispronounce it back to you? Keep the circle of mispronouncing going?

One time a friend and I went out to a truck stop after a little partying to get something to eat. He asked for french fries with chili and cheese on top. She looked at him like he was an alien. When she came back with his fries she plopped the plate down in front of him and promptly grabbed a fry, swirled it around in the chili and cheese, popped it in her mouth, and said, "That IS good!" Even though it's been over 5 years I still have trouble believing that it happened, but it's true.

I think the first 12 words or so of your post explain everything that follows...I mean, I would be happy if I could be reasonably assured that the short order guy didn't snot or ash into my fries...my truckstop waitress steals one of my fries? I got off light....:)

Now, I know that a lot of servers are laughably bad, and that a lot of behavior is inexcusable, rude, or downright awful. I'm not trying to justify that type of server. I just want to give a little perspective that it's not always as easy as some people think it is, and the full spectrum of expectations are probably all accounted for on any given night.

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ANYBODY in the FOH wearing cologne, perfume, aftershave. 

Oddly enough, I like to smell what I'm eating, not the hostess.

i seriously second that emotion. living in Europe, the servers tend to douse themselves in cologne before during, and after their shifts. our change room in the morning smells like a brothel with so many mixed scents. although somedays i wonder what they might smell like without the cologne camouflage!!

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"Have you decided what you want to order?"

I'm afraid not, because we sat down about three microseconds ago and have perused our menu for only half that time.

"Now have you decided?"

We have indeed. I think you'll find that the extra 15 minutes you gave us without so much as looking in our direction was plenty of time to reach a decision. Of course, the fact that all of us had our menus closed in front of us for 14 of those minutes might have tipped you off, had you looked.

"Anything else?"

Well yes, I've been trying to catch your eye for the last half hour to get the bill. I'd really quite like to reward the establishment for the fine meal I was provided.

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Waitstaff work so hard I hate to complain, so let's say my list applies to the style of service they're taught (or not). I prefer to file individual lapses under Nobody's Perfect.

My list: kneeling, sitting, condescending, mispronouncing, calling my friends and me "you guys," calling my mother (!) and me "you guys," parking the wine across the room and not keeping the glass filled, reaching across me to take/remove things, being invisible when I need something, generally acting as though I'm probably as new to fine dining as they are, telling me about themselves, asking me about myself, and speaking inaudibly. I read in a book that tips increase the more the servers say "for you"; but it doesn't work with me.

Also, when I was a child in NYC I knew all the ethnic everythings, but after decades in Italy, I hardly even know what lemongrass is. But I do know a lot about food. Should it irritate me that servers blithely rattle off names of ingredients that probably two years ago nobody in North America ever heard of? Would I feel condescended to if they explained on their own initiatative? Is there a happy medium?

Was it Thomas Jefferson who said people get the government they deserve? Do we get the service style we deserve? Judith (Miss Manners) Martin writes perceptively about Americans' reluctance to appear to be served. Hence the kneeling, sitting, and first names?

I've found almost all the above behaviors in a number of countries (except the "guys"), but overall I must say I love the Italian style of service, where the ideal is a sort of complicity between you and the waiter (or whoever is serving) because your dinner is important to everyone. (The thumb in the fettuccine, anywhere in the world, must be considered an individual lapse, not part of a style.) There's a familiarity, yet with boundaries. And I've found this at three-star La Pergola as well as at family trattorias. I also very much admire the Danny Meyer style of service -- smooth, competent, friendly but never over-familiar, always informed.


Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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1. please do not touch the rim of my glass ..there is so much space on most glasses that there is no excuse for touching a spot where my mouth goes! It makes no sense to do this and I have seen even "upscale" servers do this with out a thought

2. fingers in my plate...same concept you touch my eating space and my meal is ruined I have actually had servers take a finger and wipe something of the side of my plate before putting  it down in front of me

3. like all of the above ..dont keep bugging me! Unobtrusive and polite is my idea of a perfect server

Thanks for the vent here!

I understand the faux pas about touching rims and plates, etc, but if it's really that big a deal how can you deal with the obvious issues of cooks and chefs touching your food (probably repeatedly) with their bare hands? Is it OK because it is out of sight/out of mind, or OK because it's their job and they are seemingly going to be more concerned with sanitation?

I mean, yeah, it's kind of gross, but really, what do you think you will "catch" if you drink from a fingered glass? I mean, you ever seen the "clean" water that comes out of the dishwasher sometimes? It's scary at some restaurants.

Not trying to pick on you, and I'm not trying to justify behavior of bad servers, just seems weird to me...

As a former (reformed) server, I can tell you that it can be very tricky sometimes. It's a hard thing to literally try and guess what patrons may/may not want you to do. Sometimes it's quite clear (more water, more drinks, clearing plates, etc), but sometimes it's not. For every person who wants a server to "shut up" and stop explaining dishes or specials, there is one who wants the server to hold their hand and explain every damn thing. Often times at the same table. Some people think that if a server asks a guest if they want a refill on a glass of wine, cocktail, etc, they are being pushy and trying to drive up the bill. Others get offended if you DON'T offer.

A lot of times you can tell or "read" the guest, other times you can't. It's just not possible.

And frankly, a lot of times it has to do with the type of establishment you are at. A waiter squats down or sits down at the table with you? At Chili's, yeah, I can see that, but at Per Se? Never. And remember, they only do it at because there are probably a LOT of people out there who respond to it (not on eGullet, but we hardly represent the masses, eh?)

It's funny to me to see the actual disparity in this post itself--checking back too much...not checking often enough. No enthusiasm ("Yeah, what can I get you?"), too much enthusiasm ("Isn't that just the yummiest (insert menu item here) that you've ever had?), incorrectly pronouncing things (awesome "nooky"), correcting guests who mispronounce things (" I'll have the kee-no-ah salad" "so you'll have the keen-wah salad"). I mean, seriously, what do you want them to do? Mispronounce it back to you? Keep the circle of mispronouncing going?

One time a friend and I went out to a truck stop after a little partying to get something to eat. He asked for french fries with chili and cheese on top. She looked at him like he was an alien. When she came back with his fries she plopped the plate down in front of him and promptly grabbed a fry, swirled it around in the chili and cheese, popped it in her mouth, and said, "That IS good!" Even though it's been over 5 years I still have trouble believing that it happened, but it's true.

I think the first 12 words or so of your post explain everything that follows...I mean, I would be happy if I could be reasonably assured that the short order guy didn't snot or ash into my fries...my truckstop waitress steals one of my fries? I got off light....:)

Now, I know that a lot of servers are laughably bad, and that a lot of behavior is inexcusable, rude, or downright awful. I'm not trying to justify that type of server. I just want to give a little perspective that it's not always as easy as some people think it is, and the full spectrum of expectations are probably all accounted for on any given night.

I dont feel picked on at all but when a server lifts my glass by the rim with fingers it makes me nauseated ..I did also as I mentioned served for so many years (and totally loved it!!! I have no bad feelings serving food can be one of the most rewarding things to do I think!) I can not tell you from truck stops to fine dining and some how common sense told me never to touch the rim of someone glass!!! you have an entire glass to grab why put your hands on the rim where somoenes mouth is going to go? it is more than a faux paux it is gross! and as far as plates go ..yes it it is tricky and if the rim is touched I dont freak out it is when the finger is actually in the food or if the food is wiped off with a finger before setting the plate down..yes it happens in the kitchen and having done this work for ages I know what goes on in kitchens and the dishwasher also has a very hot cycle and soap that kills germs ...

when you are in the kitchen you are only in the kitchen cooking usually ..but when you are server you are touching menus and money and all kinds of things besides the food with out washing ...

yes I am neurotic and picky about somethings (dirty hands mainly..because they do make people sick!!!) ..but honestly I dont make a public fuss about fingers on the edge of my plate... I just eat around it ...the rim of the glass however that is the end of my drink I just can not get it down when someones hands are on it ...sorry ..yes that bugs me to the point that I will not put my lips on a glass when I have seen someones hands on the rim..what I dont see ..obviously has not hurt me!!!

all this goes on in my brain however and has only come out since it was asked ..in this thread...I am a very polite restaurant goer and do not bitch about the food or service until I am alone with my husband ..

we always have reveiw time in the car on the way home!


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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"Have you decided what you want to order?"

I'm afraid not, because we sat down about three microseconds ago and have perused our menu for only half that time.

"Now have you decided?"

We have indeed. I think you'll find that the extra 15 minutes you gave us without so much as looking in our direction was plenty of time to reach a decision. Of course, the fact that all of us had our menus closed in front of us for 14 of those minutes might have tipped you off, had you looked.

"Anything else?"

Well yes, I've been trying to catch your eye for the last half hour to get the bill. I'd really quite like to reward the establishment for the fine meal I was provided.

I am so with you on this one. I can't believe how often this happens to me as well.

And just because I bitched about it earlier upthread, it happens to me (almost like I predestined for it to happen) ... I went to a local mom & pop Italian place where I have eaten on several occasions and ordered a nice plate of pasta that comes with a salad. The waitress disappears. 5 minutes goes by. No salad. 10 minutes goes by. No salad. After 15 minutes, she appears with my order in full. As she's putting the salad on the table, I say to her (politely):

"You know what? Why don't you go ahead and wrap the salad up to go and I'll just eat the pasta now."

She looks at me with this quizzical look on her face.

"Well, if I take the time to eat the salad first, the pasta will be cold. And I'd really rather eat the pasta while it is hot."

Suddenly realizing that there is a REASON why the salad is served before the entree, she starts apologizing profusely. I reassure her that I will eat the salad at a later point, just not now.

I did leave a standard tip for her with the hope that not only will this not happen to me again when I eat at that establishment, but hopefully to no one else as well.


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I went to dinner with my husband and two teen sons a couple of days ago, middle of the road place, not 5 star but not a dive either. We were seated by a nice enough young lady, who turned to my husband and then sons to ask for their drink orders, srops the menus and leaves! It was an oops, I can forget that. She returns with the drinks, as I am fighting for her attention to request a tea, she turns my better half and asked if he has decided what he would like to eat. Sweet man that he is, he prompts her to get my drink order first. Upon her return, after plunking my tea in front of me spilling in the process, without the lemon I asked for, she again asked if we were ready to order, glancing at me and staring at the man. I informed her that we would like a few more minutes, but could she please bring the bread. And the lemon. She does, sets it down in front of the boys and withdraws her thumb from the butter. No lemon. Loooooooooong silence, as she just stares at us with her order pad and pen in hands. Once again, I request a few minutes, and my lemon, she tells me to take my time, and continues to stand at our side. This was, no joke, at least 5 minutes of torture! Finaly, She takes my hubbies order, then my sons, before turning to me, not asking, just staring. I could go on and on with this evenings story, but it is just more of the same. Needless to say, her tip reflected her service.

1....Allways serve the female first.

2....Never hover.

3....Clean up your mess.

4....Keep fingers and all other body parts out of the food and drinks. Especially hair!

5....Take notes if you must, never make us ask more than twice.

6....Please, do not remove my food while I am eating it, even if the others are finished. (yes, she did this also)

7....Do not assume you are to keep all the change, say thanks and walk away. Your service was Not worth the $19.95 change due.

8....Don't forget, the wife realy Does decide how much to tip. It will reflect the service given, generous or otherwise.


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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Upon her return, after plunking my tea in front of me spilling in the process, without the lemon I asked for, she again asked if we were ready to order, glancing at me and staring at the man. I informed her that we would like a few more minutes, but could she please bring the bread. And the lemon. She does, sets it down in front of the boys and withdraws her thumb from the butter. No lemon. Loooooooooong silence, as she just stares at us with her order pad and pen in hands. Once again, I request a few minutes, and my lemon, she tells me to take my time, and continues to stand at our side. This was, no joke, at least 5 minutes of torture! Finaly, She takes my hubbies order, then my sons, before turning to me, not asking, just staring. I could go on and on with this evenings story, but it is just more of the same. Needless to say, her tip reflected her service.

1....Allways serve the female first.

2....Never hover.

3....Clean up your mess.

4....Keep fingers and all other body parts out of the food and drinks. Especially hair!

5....Take notes if you must, never make us ask more than twice.

6....Please, do not remove my food while I am eating it, even if the others are finished. (yes, she did this also)

7....Do not assume you are to keep all the change, say thanks and walk away. Your service was Not worth the $19.95 change due.

8....Don't forget, the wife realy Does decide how much to tip. It will reflect the service given, generous or otherwise.

That is just SOOOO rude! I would have been fuming! :angry:

My sister and I went to Toronto years ago and we had to have the world's worst waitress (Lime Ricky's). Slow service, condescending manner, and she thought we were leaving her a tip (I ALWAYS leave a tip!). But I just couldn't this time!

I snatched the change off the table and bustled out the building!


Iris

GROWWWWWLLLLL!!

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Upon her return, after plunking my tea in front of me spilling in the process, without the lemon I asked for,  she again asked if we were ready to order, glancing at me and staring at the man.  I informed her that we would like a few more minutes, but could she please bring the bread. And the lemon. She does, sets it down in front of the boys and withdraws her thumb from the butter.  No lemon.  Loooooooooong silence, as she just stares at us with her order pad and pen in hands.  Once again, I request a few minutes, and my lemon, she tells me to take my time, and continues to stand at our side.  This was, no joke, at least 5 minutes of torture!  Finaly, She takes my hubbies order, then my sons, before turning to me, not asking, just staring.  I could go on and on with this evenings story, but it is just more of the same.  Needless to say, her tip reflected her service.

1....Allways serve the female first.

2....Never hover.

3....Clean up your mess.

4....Keep fingers and all other body parts out of the food and drinks.  Especially hair!

5....Take notes if you must, never make us ask more than twice.

6....Please, do not remove my food while I am eating it, even if the others are finished.  (yes, she did this also)

7....Do not assume you are to keep all the change, say thanks and walk away.  Your service was Not worth the $19.95 change due.

8....Don't forget, the wife realy Does decide how much to tip. It will reflect the service given, generous or otherwise.

That is just SOOOO rude!  I would have been fuming!  :angry:

My sister and I went to Toronto years ago and we had to have the world's worst waitress (Lime Ricky's).  Slow service, condescending manner, and she thought we were leaving her a tip (I ALWAYS leave a tip!).  But I just couldn't this time!

I snatched the change off the table and bustled out the building!

:wacko: Honest, it was so ridiculous that I couldn't be angry, I was too stunned and giggling at the extreem (how do I put this delicately?) density? of this girl. Not to mention too busy with the boys at teasing dad about his newest conquest and her obvious education level! :wink:


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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Waitstaff work so hard I hate to complain, so let's say my list applies to the style of service they're taught (or not). I prefer to file individual lapses under Nobody's Perfect.

Me too, exactly.

Any place I've crossed off my list because of service, it's been pretty clear that there is something wrong at the management level. One thing I hate to see is a couple of servers running their butts off while an equal number of management types stand around talking and not even looking to see how things are going. Not saying you should be rolling up your sleeves and washing dishes, but if your servers are practically in tears because they are so overloaded, you should not be seen swinging your arms back and forth and chatting loudly about baseball all night.

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While busily reliving past server incidents, mine and everyone else's, a thought popped into my brain. Is it possible to tip the KITCHEN for wonderful food, even though the service was rotten? I have had that happen a few times...indifferent or bad service, but REALLY good food. I am a very generous tipper and am happy to reward a job well done.

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I just had a flashback to a specific incident.

My wife, daughters and I were at a Coco's that since has closed. I went to use the restroom and our server was in there also using the restroom - and left without washing his hands.

I spoke to the manager. He assured me that the wait staff washed their hands somewhere else . That answer was unacceptable to me :angry:. Too the best of my memory we never went back.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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I just had a flashback to a specific incident.

My wife, daughters and I were at a Coco's that since has closed.  I went to use the restroom and our server was in there also using the restroom - and left without washing his hands.

I spoke to the manager.  He assured me that the wait staff washed their hands somewhere else .  That answer was unacceptable to me :angry:.  Too the best of my memory we never went back.

I sure hope they wash their hands AFTER leaving the restroom. Touching the doorknob is like touching the gentalia ( :biggrin: ) of every person who used that bathroom and didnt wash. Even if he did wash his hands, a person who truly cares about sanitation would rewash...


"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Even if he did wash his hands, a person who truly cares about sanitation would rewash...

I don't cook or serve for a living but I do some volunteer cooking. I wash when finished in the restroom and then re-wash when I re-enter the kitchen. I can't imagine doing anything less...


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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What this thread seems to be pointing out is that bad service is everywhere, and a lot of us are really turned off by the cutesy overly-familiar stuff that is becoming more prevalent all the time. What we really want is professional service.

My personal pet peeve is for a server to start pushing dessert before I'm done eating my entree. It's pretty much a guarantee I won't have any. (If the dessert is something that is made to order and takes a certain amount of prep time, I may forgive it.) This replaces my previous pet peeve of the giant pepper milll -- that's a trend that seems to either be going away or doesn't exist in the places I frequent any more. (Yes, I like fresh ground pepper and I'm perfectly capable of doing it myself. Just leave the pepper mill at my table.)

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\ my previous pet peeve of the giant pepper milll-

Ah, the giant pepper mill! The utter absurdity--are pepper mills so precious that each restaurant can afford only one? And the ever increasing size--I would love to draw a cartoon for the New Yorker of two waiters carrying a cannon-sized pepper mill on their shoulders, pallbearer style.

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\ my previous pet peeve of the giant pepper milll-

Ah, the giant pepper mill! The utter absurdity--are pepper mills so precious that each restaurant can afford only one? And the ever increasing size--I would love to draw a cartoon for the New Yorker of two waiters carrying a cannon-sized pepper mill on their shoulders, pallbearer style.

Any place that insists on putting condiments on my food, for me, annoys the crap out of me. We ate at a burger joint a while back, I can't remember the name, but the EXTREMELY perky waiter squoze ketchup in a goofy smily face, near my fries. I. Hate. Ketchup. In fact, I ordered my burger without the stuff. Now I gotta barricade my fries and stare at this friggin red smily face. Too much "flair". Same goes for those chain "Italian" places that grate the cheese on your food for you. I appreciate the fresh grated cheese, but I hate having to say "a little, please. A little bit more. Ok. OKAY."

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In Turkey it seems they have drilled into waiters that every empty dish or glass, must be removed from the table as soon as it is empty or even approaching empty. This is "good service." I've heard them referred to as the "last sip patrol." You have a few swallows leftof your tea and there is a waiter or busboy trying to grab your glass away from you. Four people eating and every time some plate is done, the waiter is back messing with the table. Yesterday I was out with a friend eating, I'd finihed the kebab but there was still pilaf on the plate and I had my fork in my hand; the waiter came and tried to take my plate; I hadn't even finished swallowing. Another time I was eating lahmacun (like a thin pizza you eat rolled up, burrito-style). I'd eaten half of it, it was in my hand and a bite in my mouth. the busboy came, grabbed the plate, and said "would you like anything else?" I made a "wait" sign with my finger, swallowed, and said "yes, please, I'd like my plate back!" It got a laugh.

The worst is when you are telling a story or a joke, and are just getting to the punchline and the waiter barracudas in with a "dessert? coffee? tea?"

You can tell them when you go in to let you finish but it's a losing battle because besides your waiter there are other waiters as well and they all seem to operate throughout the whole room, plus a hoarde of busboys. You'd have to make the announcement to 10 people!


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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I really, really hate having my intelligence insulted.

When a restaurant's menu was divided into 'starters' and 'main courses', when I'd eaten there a dozen times in the past and always had the starter before the main course, and when they then forget our starters, I was never going to believe it when the server sneeringly told me, "They're not starters here, they're side dishes." (Luckily, my guest didn't either - despite the server's implication that I was an uncultured idiot). It didn't help that one starter was then brought over as a side dish though we no longer really wanted it, the other never appeared on the table at all, but both were on the bill.

Sadly, if they'd just said sorry for forgetting the starters, we wouldn't have minded. After all, we all make mistakes. However, after being patronised and insulted, I never went back to that restaurant - and I obviously wasn't alone because it closed a month or two later.

Caroline

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When I sit down, here's when I know I'm in a GOOD place:

- water that's cool but not cold is served in a clear glass. I hate all that ice that numbs my taste buds and hide all the salt that the chef has used as a cheap way to flavor a dish.

- there's a separate drink menu that stays on the table. i hate trying to get the menu again or try to remember what's on it to order another drink.

- my server waits just the right amount of time to head over and ask us if we would like to start with some beverages. they wait until they have actually looked at the DRINK menu.

- my server returns with the drinks and gives us the option of ordering some starters at that time or giving us more time.

- our order is taken, and if we don't order starters, we don't get that "glance of disappointment" and make us feel bad that we're not ordering enough food. if we want to share a plate we're also not looked down upon.

- before our food arrives we're given the option of more drinks. our water glasses are full when our food arrives.

- when our food arrives, we're asked if we need anything else right at that moment(ketchup, mustard, etc.)

- we get the check-back AFTER we've sampled the food.

- our water glasses are checked partly through the meal. nothing worse than having a spicy dish and running out of water mid-way.

- dishes are cleared when everybody has stopped eating. But i hate it when the dish-clearing process is overly involved because if we're just going to leave, we don't want to sit and watch the server clear the table...they can do that on their own time. but this is just a personal pet peeve and I know my opinion is outside the norm.

- we're asked if we left room for dessert. that way if we say no there's no hard feelings.

- i really like it when ANYBODY from the staff goes out of their way to say Thank You as we leave.


Edited by sugarseattle (log)

Stephanie Crocker

Sugar Bakery + Cafe

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It may not be the insidious norm quite yet, but I feel that a little bit sure is going a long way. I sure can complain about it, but really I wish I knew how to reverse the trend.

I have a plan!

We must infiltrate Ruby Tuesday(the worst servers anywhere in my exp), Red Lobster, Applebees, Friday's & Friendly. All servers pass through these places at one time or another. Get these places to straighten up and the world will follow.

This is actually a really bright idea. For years, my once-beloved Baltimore Orioles were a consistently excellent team (before The Jerk bought them) and with a relative dearth of superstars, because their farm system was one of the best in baseball. When a rookie hit the Bigs in Baltimore, he knew how to bunt, how to hit the cutoff man, what to do with runners on first and third and one out...they weren't always brilliant, but they were relentlessly competent. My son got his first real restaurant job at a medium-sized local chain here in DC, Clyde's (I don't count the time spent at the hookah bar). It's not a great place to eat, but they do train well. And they have prestige locations within the chain, that only hire from within, so he and all the other rookies have an incentive to improve their performance and move up.

****

One thing to always remember is that servers speak of "running" their tables -- they're in charge, not you. You have to change that dynamic -- gently, politely but firmly. And if, in return you are respectful and decisive, they won't mind a bit; if you're going to be the boss, just be a good one. More than anything, good servers hate standing around not getting anything done.

****

my server waits just the right amount of time to head over and ask us if we would like to start with some beverages. they wait until they have actually looked at the menu.

I couldn't disagree more. I cannot read a menu without gin in my system. I will not open my menu before my drink arrives, so don't ask for my order. In a lot of truly elegant places, your menu won't even be brought to you until you've had a few minutes to sip away the horrors of the day and adjust to wonderfulness that now envelopes you. It's a demonstration that you can truly relax. (This caused some confusion when I worked at a formal French joint, I admit).

Similarly, I cannot chew or swallow without wine. If my course arrives before the wine does, it will go badly for you.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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