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Tela T

Procedures for Dining

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So, I have a question - without having reviewed/researched the actual progress of dining - is it bad form for a, restaurant to serve the first course (in my case soup) prior to serving the wine (I'd ordered a bottle)? I've always thought that you'd want to have the wine opened - go through the tasting and then afterwards, have your first course served....

Thanks for your input(s)...!


Live and learn. Die and get food. That's the Southern way.

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Personally, you sit down at a restaurant, order drinks (wine) and then food. The drinks or wine come out first, and then first course. Otherwise, it feels like a rush job by the restaurant!!

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It's mostly personal preference, imo. Some diners sometimes order wine by glass, and thus the server brings it out when they(server or on the diner's note) think is appropriate. Or maybe order it to pair with the entree only, therefore bring it after the first course. Then, there are other times where they may want you to bring the bottle right after you put in the drink orders.

All up to you.

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Personally, you sit down at a restaurant, order drinks (wine) and then food. The drinks or wine come out first, and then first course. Otherwise, it feels like a rush job by the restaurant!!

I've never liked odering wine before I really know what I (or the table) will be eating.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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Seems to me like restaurants usually ask if we'd like the wine now, or with our main. If you frequent a restaurant that doesn't ask, and if you have a preference, I'd just let them know that when you order it.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Where I come from, being served food before the wine has arrived would cause genuine annoyance. Certainly the servers tip would take a dent on the back of it.

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Generally speaking, lets say high end. Your order should be taken first, and then the Sommelier should then know what you have ordered and dispense wine accordingly... Otherwise whats stopping you from doing the same.

Now it sounds like, when you got the wine after the soup, you had a slow server. Which is what happened.


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The ideal situation goes like this:-

Water: Can I get you a drink while passing round menus + wine list

If yes: Get aperitifs to table then when they look ready to order get food order and then departs. (If no sommelier the waiter should then ask if the diners wish to order wine and give advice, if they have knowledge, based on what they ordered for food).

(Waiter then informs sommelier of food ordered and send them round)

Sommelier enquires "would you like to order some wine" if yes wait's to see if a direct request or one for advice, then asks for personal preferences (ideally the customer will give a guide price here and any likes dislikes) then based on the response and the food they ordered make recommendation(s) for the table.

HOWEVER

I've seen this not work so many times for so many reasons.

1. The dinner does not trust the sommelier and makes their own choice.

2. The dinner does not give the sommelier correct guidence - price/likes/dislikes

3. The sommelier is made to up sell

Personally 9 times out of 10 if your in a reastaurant with a sommellier your parameters they will make a better choice than you (They may have wines that they've only been able to get 6 bottles of and they may not be expensive) also they may offer more expensive/cheaper wines than you can afford if they don't have an idea of your budget (It's your fault not theirs if you get a shock when you say yes).

Trust the sommelier - it's what they are good at and paid for BUT give them the information they need to work and do their job. One only one occasion have a had a sommelier get it so wrong I had to send the wine back (bunch of gold grapes and all) and it was corrected with no fuss and a one off in 10 years.

However back to should the wine be served before/with/after the soup well normally either before or at the same time the wine should arrive or if you still have full glasses of aperitifs and/or the wine was matched to the main course you should be asked would you like the wine to be served then.


Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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I've never liked odering wine before I really know what I (or the table) will be eating.

I agree. I know restaurants make more money on wine and so sometimes the waiters are instructed to ask right away if you want it, but how can you possibly know which wine you would like without deciding on food first?

My preference for the order of things is as follows:

Choose food

Look at wine list and discuss with sommelier/waiter

Choose wine

Wine is brought to the table and tasted

Food is brought to the table.

It's nice to taste the wine when the table is uncluttered.

I wonder if waiters are sometimes encouraged to try to put several of these steps together to help things go faster and thus turn the table faster. Thoughts?


purplechick

"No verse can give pleasure for long, nor last, that is written by

water drinkers." --Cratinus, 5th Century BCE, Athens

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I have worked in many restaurants and definitely think it is bad form to serve the food before the wine arrives, unless you ordered your food long before ordering the wine, sending the waiter away while deciding and then took a long time to decide what you wanted, which led the waiter to believe that the wine was an after thought. However, in most cases I think this is a poor timing issue on the part of the waiter. They probably put both orders in at once (which they shouldn't have if they know how things are running in the BOH and FOH) and the bar was backed up.


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Now it sounds like, when you got the wine after the soup, you had a slow server. Which is what happened.

I don't think it's fair to automatically assume it's the server's fault. It may have been, but consider that if the diner gave the food order and the wine order at the same time, it only makes sense for the server to ring both items at once. Most bottles of wine are kept in locked storage away from the bar, so when the order for a bottle comes in to the bar, it might not be convenient for the bartender to leave the bar right that second. Conversely, when an order for soup comes into a busy kitchen, it only takes the chef 30 seconds to ladle, garnish, and hand off to a food runner, and that's one more order gone. If both wine and food were ordered at the same time, I don't think it's such a big deal as long as the wine arrived before the soup was half gone.

My preference for the order of things is as follows:

Choose food

Look at wine list and discuss with sommelier/waiter

Choose wine

Wine is brought to the table and tasted

Food is brought to the table.

That is my preference, too, as both server and diner. Some people have different expectations, though. I find it's always a good idea (unless you're in a top-flight place or one that you've been to often and know what to expect) to make your preferences known at the outset: "Bring the wine with the main course, please". Any good server should be able to accommodate you, and this can help avoid confusion.

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If I'm at a high end restaurant, I won't even look at the menu before a cocktail is served. A lot of good places won't even bring a menu until after the first drink is on the table. And, as I recall, the French Laundry starts pouring Champagne the moment you sit down and through the amuses, which is quite an agreeable way of ensuring that your wine arrives before your first "real" course. Sadly, most places can't afford to be quite that gracious.

I often ask the waiter to hold the order until the wine is on the table -- kitchens have their own rhythm and if everything is not coordinated just so (or if the somm has to go to the cellar, or the waiter gets grabbed by another table) the wine shows late, which is one of my truly irrationally grand pet peeves in restaurants.

At one restaurant in Miami I looked askance as my lobster was served and snipped, or maybe snapped, that I had made it clear that I expected the lobster to arrive after the wine. Within seconds, however, waiters, busboys, managers and (apparently) even the kitchen were working hard to make things right and dinner was marvelous and the tip large.

Another way to go, especially in a busy, high-turnover place, is to get the orders from your guests but when the waiter arrives say "we need just another minute, but I think we've selected a wine." He or she grabs the wine, you order the food and there is no wasted motion or chance for error.

If it's something that annoys you, be polite, but firm.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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"as I recall, the French Laundry starts pouring Champagne the moment you sit down and through the amuses, which is quite an agreeable way of ensuring that your wine arrives before your first "real" course"

Well not quite but once seated,m they do ask would you like an aperitif or if you get there and it's a nice day one in the garden is nice, then you get your menus and by the time you've got through the amuse your wine is ready to go.

The one thing I love about high end restaurants is the sommelier, often these restaurants may have only 1 case or even less of some bottles of wine not necessarily expensive and they can surprise and delight you just let them know your price point. It's very rare they steer you wrong .

As an aside I did some IT work for a restaurant in the UK and (as part of a comp thank you meal) the sommelier recommended a viognier, it was great and would have been t £60, later I asked their buyer where to get it turned out there was one place in London it could be bought but I could walk in their and buy it at £5 retail! They only had manager to obtain two cases as from a small producer, further discussion reviled their policy is to charge what the wine is worth by taste not by purchase price + markup. It was a wine I never would have picked and if I was expecting £20 retail.

Back to the French Laundry, I gave the sommelier a free rein with price point about the same as the food (There were four of us) we got different wines for most courses and when the bill arrived the drinks were only half the price of the food but briliant parings with the food.

If you see the bunch of grapes - use them as they know a lot more than you especially about what is in the cellar.


Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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Hmmm, unless I'm having an aperitif, which I shall consume before the first course arrives, I can't imagine having wine with the first course. It seems odd to me somehow. Wine with soup -- yes, v. odd. Perhaps if one has a special wine pairing but otherwise? :huh:

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