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Comfort in restaurants


Fat Guy
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Arianne Batterberry of Food Arts magazine has a letter-from-the-editor in last month's issue where she details several of her most common complaints about comfort in restaurants: noise, temperature and inconsistent seat height chief among them. I'll also add dim lighting to the list. I thought surely the good people of this community would have some thoughts.

I don't believe the piece is online, so I can't link to it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Where's Weinoo? I'm pretty sure he has a few words to share with us.

Dimly lit rooms work when you don't have to read a menu, otherwise give me a flashlight or candelabra.

Loud music is only good if you've had a fight with your dining partner and no one wants to talk to each other.

Chairs or banquettes that are too low. I'm short. I hate feeling like I've been invited to the grown up table.

Cheap, nasty wine glasses. I love Roberta's in Bklyn, but I seriously do not want to drink my wine out of a Ball jar.

The price of a glass of wine in NYC..for cheap swill...is ridiculous. Truly fun-sucking in every way.

that's enough...I'll leave room for others. :rolleyes:

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Amanda in philly has some big tables resting on a bed of river jacks...big round stones. The 'chairs ' have no backs and tiny seats. HUGELY uncomfortable. Design wins over function

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Agree with gfweb, Amada is a tapas place where you are going to hang out for a while, by the end of my last meal I was squirming from muscular discomfort. Dim lighting recently was an issue at another Philly resto, Alma de Cuba. I had to make use of the flashlight function on my 'droid phone to be able to read the menu. I also add to comfort the concept of decent spacing between tables. I don't want to bump into people getting into my seat, and once seated I don't want to feel like I'm sharing my conversation with the adjacent tables. Where the tables are put into the room can also contribute to comfort, there was a place that tried to add some more seating by putting 2 tops essentially in an aisle when all of the other tables were backed by walls and it felt very "exposed".

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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Chairs too close to tables with no room to comfortably expand the space between the diner and the table. This is especially egregious at restaurants where you are seated at a booth. I'm probably the exception due to my rotund figure, but I swear I've been in high-end steakhouses where the staff seem to think the booths are the "choice" of sophisticated diners--only to find that there is barely enough room for a waif to slip comfortably into the booth and not have her mid-section knocking the butter plate off the table.

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Once basic standards of seating and tableware are met, my biggest problem is temperature, especially in a meal that runs towards 3 hours. If it's too hot, sitting in the one place for too long can leave me seriously uncomfortable. I don't often have a problem with lighting, unless it's seriously bright, and I wouldn't eat in a restaurant with loud music, so that doesn't apply.

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I haven't been in a restaurant yet where the seats are high enough (I'm quite tall).

In most restaurants, I feel like I'm squatting the whole meal. After an hour, I have to stand up and walk around because I lose circulation. I get it that average-size adults don't want to sit down for a meal and not have their feet touch the floor. But how about one or two tables designed for those of us who can dunk a basketball?

Although, it will probably end up like bulkhead seating in airplanes. I have to break my legs with a sledgehammer in order to fit into my seat in 34b. Meanwhile, a row of munchkins is up front, swinging their feet in the air with all that legroom that should be MINE.

Average-sized people will demand the "tall table" because, well, I don't know why they do it.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I don't care for big, heavy silverware. There's a tapas place near me and the forks and spoons are so big that it's cumbersome to eat the small dishes that are served. Admittedly, I'm sensitive to the heft and size of silverware, likewise glasses. Huge wine glasses turn me off. They are uncomfortable for me to use.

 ... Shel


 

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Rocking tables. With all the amazing progress this past century you'd think someone would come up with a better way to steady tables than a sugar packet, matchbook or layers of napkins.

Booths that lack ample room for a person of girth. Similarly booths where the tables are fixed to the floor.

Similarly, again, a dining room where the tables and chairs are squeezed in tighter than seats in the coach section of a commuter airplane.

Holly Moore

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Similarly, again, a dining room where the tables and chairs are squeezed in tighter than seats in the coach section of a commuter airplane.

That's my biggest beef. If I'm at a little gastropub or tapas bar I expect a certain degree of crowding, and I certainly understand that restaurants need to maximize the revenue generated in each square foot of space. Still, when I'm eating at a nice restaurant I should be able to back away from the table without bumping into an adjacent diner.

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Noise! I can't bear loud music especially when I'm eating, one of my problems with many sushi places. So many of them make it impossible to carry on a conversation.

Seems like many places in San Francisco are very noisy.

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Rocking tables. With all the amazing progress this past century you'd think someone would come up with a better way to steady tables than a sugar packet, matchbook or layers of napkins.

There is a solution to that, and they are called "Table shox" It's a little spring loaded foot that you screw on to the legs, if a table is moved on an un-even floor the little springs get itno action and level off the table. They cost about 3 bucks a piece--12 bucks a table. I've done it with all of mine, I hate wiggly tables and cleaning up wadded up napkins under my tables.

Edited by heidih
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Rocking tables. With all the amazing progress this past century you'd think someone would come up with a better way to steady tables than a sugar packet, matchbook or layers of napkins.

Oh yes, how could I have forgotten that one? Of course, if this problem were fixed forever, I'd have no further use for the business cards in my wallet. I've left business cards folded in 3 on the floor of many a fine establishment.

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I have no complaints... :wink: .

Do noise, shitty air conditioning, crappy seating, staff that reaches across your face, aggresive wait staff, poorly seasoned food, food served too hot, food served too cold, policies that make you order your whole meal all at once, or a million other things count?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Noise, absurd levels of crowding, and seats that are way too low. I mean, great, my feet touch the floor, but so what, the table top is at about armpit level... I'd rather have to climb onto my seat (it's interesting that the low seats seem to accommodate no one; why them do they make them at this height?).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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All of the above but noise is probably the most frequent culprit these days. I like to have a conversation when I'm dining out, but facilitating conversation seems to be a low priority in a lot of restaurants these days.

Cheers,

Anne

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It also depends on where I'm dining. Our favorit hole in the wall Indian restaurant is a mix of odd chairs and tables, disposable dishes, etc and we are okay with it. But if we are at a fine dining restaurant, this would be unacceptable.

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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