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When do you send food back?

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My husband and I went to a ramen restaurant today.  Great reviews and all that.  Tonkatsu broth was barely warm, the toppings were cold, the egg was fridge temp cold.  The noodles were relatively hot.  I could not eat it and had to watch wait staff throwing it away into garbage can.  The next bowl was the same except the noodles were very hot which really did not help much.  I ate it, could not have it thrown away as well.  I felt very guilty sending food back, probably did it only two or three times in my life previously.  What is other eGulleters’s experience with sending food back?. How do chefs on this forum feel about it?

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I know what might happen to returned food.  So almost never.

 

Maybe if I say "no sour cream" and its covered with it, I'll ask for a new one. But I make such an emphasis on "no SC" when ordering that they can't claim I didn't tell them.  And I'm nice about it.

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Very rarely. Although I from time to time partake in the chopped steak lunch special at Colton's, with a baked sweet potato for a side. I do NOT want brown sugar on my sweet potato; I want nothing but butter. I've occasionally sent a sweet potato back, as the kitchen seems geared to dousing on the brown sugar, and I just can't eat it that sweet.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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Very, very rarely.  Last time was a couple years ago when my prime ribs was tough and overdone.

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Very rarely also.  A couple of times it has involved steaks.  Once my steak had been seared and put in the oven to finish only the oven wasn’t on so my meat was inedible.  And more recently a way over done steak that was supposed to be medium rare.

 

The problem is it screws with the whole dinner experience for everyone at the table.

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1 hour ago, Okanagancook said:

Very rarely also.  A couple of times it has involved steaks.  Once my steak had been seared and put in the oven to finish only the oven wasn’t on so my meat was inedible.  And more recently a way over done steak that was supposed to be medium rare.

 

The problem is it screws with the whole dinner experience for everyone at the table.

Yes, screwing up other people's dinner is a big issue.  Another issue is feeling very guilty about wasted food.  And feeling guilty about complaining about other people's creation.  I think I would feel better for the rest of the day today if I ate cold soup in the first place.  

 

Two other times I sent food back was: bleeding roasted chicken (it was served whole and carved table side), they simply cooked pieces a little longer and brought it back.  There was also an incident of risotto so badly over cooked at Fort Lauderdale Ritz Carlton that it was impossible to eat.  I generally do not like most restaurants risotto preparation (it is usually overcooked) but ate it on all other occasions.  After Ritz Carlton fiasco, DH has implemented "no ordering risotto unless we are in a very good Italian restaurant that specializes in risotto" rule.

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I agree about the guilt and food waste.

 

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On 5/12/2019 at 12:07 PM, lindag said:

Very, very rarely.  Last time was a couple years ago when my prime ribs was tough and overdone.

This. I ordered medium rare prime rib and when it was served to me it was as gray as a San Francisco summer day.  ;) :laugh:

Asked for the manager and he agreed just by looking at it, it was over-cooked. Back it went to the kitchen.

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Very seldom but

 

a) When it wasn't what I ordered.

b) When it contained corn despite me telling the waiter twice that I didn't want corn on my pizza!

c) In a new Indian restaurant in London, when my starter turned up ice cold and burnt

d) In the same restaurant in London (same visit- I never went back) when the chicken curry was lamb (or vice versa - it was a long time ago.)
e) Guess where! When the advertised basmati turned up and was obviously sticky short grain rice!

Finally, the owner of the Indian place apologised and said  I need only pay for what I liked. I paid for the three gin and tonics I'd consumed while waiting over an hour for a total farce! He did not demur.

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I find it curious that there is such aversion to sending food back when it is not up to ones standards.  After all, you are spending your heard earned money and you have some level of expectation established.

 

When I send food back:

 

- It is not as advertised, essentially setting you up for disappointment!

- There are bones in my fish, sinew in my sushi, etc.  Particularly at high end restaurants. 

- Something is overcooked, improperly executed, etc.

 

I am probably on the opposite end of the spectrum as I will not hesitate to communicate my concerns and if necessary, send food back; if I believe the quality is not in line with the cost.

 

 

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It was a couple of years ago on our anniversary. Nice place in downtown Lexington. My wife ordered the special filet and asked if they could make it well done. (Yeah, yeah, I know) She will not eat steak if there is even a hint of pink or moisture left in it. We explained that very clearly to the server and said that if it's a problem, she can order something else. She offered to have it butterflied and said it would be no problem. 

 

It came out a perfect medium rare. Looked pretty good to me. Of course she couldn't eat it.  I would have swapped plates with her except I ordered fish and she won't eat that either. 

 

Server was a bit taken aback by how undercooked the steak was and took it back immediately. Meanwhile I can't eat in front of her and my fish is getting cold. Ten minutes later, same steak is again placed in front of her. This time it's medium, still quite pink in the center. Server is horrified, my wife does not want to try again and just eats the sides. The server said the manager would be right out. He never shows. She gets us a dessert on the house that we don't want and drops the bill. Steak is on it. Still no manager. We pay, and leave a nice tip because none of this is her fault, she was great). We go to get our coats that the manager had checked but he's no where to be found. Neither is the server at this point. I go back into the coat closet to find our coats and we're outta there, never to return

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That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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I used to order eggs sunnyside down, medium cooked, and they'd arrive as runny as sunnyside up eggs 50% of the time. I got tired of sending them back, so I stopped ordering them that way.

  I don't want to wait longer for food. Only twice in my life have I sent a dinner back. By the time the entree arrives, darn it, I'm hungry. Sending back a less than perfect plate of food? I'm grading on a curve that includes my subjective discomfort.

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I don't think Ive ever sent food back

 

However ....

 

when w moved to this town , there was a restaurant on the Main street

 

still there

 

I had high edxpetations

 

Italian-ish

 

fair prices

 

I had the lasagna 

 

it came in an oval dish

 

and was watery peripherally 

 

it has clearly been frozen

 

there or elsewhere made

 

and mico'd

 

no point in doing anything other than

 

eating it

 

I did

 

and just not returning

 

and there was every implications that the food was freshly made

 

but no bad reviews from me

 

( way before Facebook etc )

 

just no returns.

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I don't send food back because of the consequences.

 

Table service it totally screwed up.  

The kitchen, naturally defensive that their prep was correct usually overcompensates by sending back something wrong in the opposite direction, like raw liver when pink was ordered but well done was served.  

It's only dinner.    Regardless, I'll survive.   Why ruin everyone's evening.

 

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eGullet member #80.

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Yes, that's the thing... sending food back ruins the pace of the meal.

 

And who knows what horror they might do?

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33 minutes ago, gfweb said:

Yes, that's the thing... sending food back ruins the pace of the meal.

 

And who knows what horror they might do?

I like to think that the tales of kitchen retribution are urban myth, but...


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And then you starve to death waiting for the new dish to be served . . . which is delivered about the same time everyone else has finished eating.😟

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I remember going to lunch with an older relative.   She met me at work and we went to a nearby diner-like coffee shop.   She was wearing her full length Black Diamond mink coat.   We sat in a booth with cracked leatherette seats.   

 

She ordered the Double Hot Dog.    She was served three halves of hot dogs.   She looked at it and called the waitress back and asked where the other half was.    Her plate was removed and returned with another half.

 

I wincied, not out of embarrassment but in squeamish wonder over what had happened to the dog originally and where and how they had found it so fast.     I would have let well enough alone.   She survived so I guess it wasn't too bad...

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On 5/14/2019 at 9:42 AM, TicTac said:

I find it curious that there is such aversion to sending food back when it is not up to ones standards.  After all, you are spending your heard earned money and you have some level of expectation established.

 

When I send food back:

 

- It is not as advertised, essentially setting you up for disappointment!

- There are bones in my fish, sinew in my sushi, etc.  Particularly at high end restaurants. 

- Something is overcooked, improperly executed, etc.

 

I am probably on the opposite end of the spectrum as I will not hesitate to communicate my concerns and if necessary, send food back; if I believe the quality is not in line with the cost.

 

 

 

I am in total agreement with the above, and also agree with the below post.

14 hours ago, gfweb said:

Yes, that's the thing... sending food back ruins the pace of the meal.

 

So unless something is inedible, I will deal with it on the table, after making certain the server, manager (if there is one) and kitchen knows about the issue.

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I have only once sent a meal back. I'd ordered a steak, medium rare. The steak came out just past the still-mooing stage. I like rare meat, but that was a bit too rare, so I sent it back, asking nicely that it be cooked just a bit longer. It came back with the barest tinge of pink in the center.

 

I gave up. Never ate there again.

 

On the other hand, I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Mary Mahoney's on the Gulf in Biloxi, Miss., and ordered my usual, shrimp and crab au gratin. It was about the first day I'd eaten anything, after a week-long stomach virus, and the very rich shrimp and crab dish was just too rich. I put it aside after two bites. The waitress expressed concern, but I said no, it's my issue, I'm just getting over a stomach bug and it's too rich, but it's wonderful.

 

She took it off my bill. Which is one of the many reasons I eat at Mary Mahoney's any time I am in Biloxi, or anywhere nearby.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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Posted (edited)

Only once have I sent food back.  It was at a well known and well respected restaurant in my area.  It was handmade pasta with mushrooms.  It was sooo salty I couldn’t have more than two bites. And I love salt. My friend ordered the same dish and agreed.  The restaurant was very nice about it and we substituted something else.


Edited by Jacksoup Added (log)

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I’m interested to hear what choice of words people use when sending food back? 

 

As a typical uptight British person I can’t help but apologise to the waiter for complaining. Even then I still agonise that they hate me... 

 

I agree completely with the idea that we are paying so should expect food to be correct. Also agree that sending stuff back will ruin the meal for me and my companions. Ultimately I guess voting with ones feet in the future is probably as good a response as we can have. 

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While i really don't send food back, I often leave a large portion of something i don't like.    Rather than complain, i explain that the serving is very large.   

The only time i was crossed on this was at a horrible 1* Michelin restaurant in a French village.    I had ordered venison '3 says".    That poor deer had died in vain.   Such bad treatment for product.    I quit about a third of my way into the plate.    The head of the dining room came over and asked about my meal.   i told her that it was lovely but just too large for me.     She said, "Take your time and eat slowly and you will be able to finish your plate."    I smiled with grit teeth, not telling her that there was not time in the universe for me to finish that plate.   

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