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Least Favorite Restaurant Distractions


Ellen Shapiro
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Oh yes, I completely agree with the "live music" as a deterrent. I feel the same way about karokee, although this is more relevant to drinking threads.

One exception is one of my old favorite mexican places here in Chicago, where they occasionally have the lonely old man playing a guitar.

Did you see "A Cook's Tour" last night in which bourdain discussed the elements which make a good bar. He was pretty on target. I am reminded of this because Karokee and singles scenes were no-nos in his book.

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Ditto music.

Large, droopy plants on dividers between tables. They invariably end up tickling the back of my neck.

Other items horticultural: flower arrangements within smelling distance of the table. I don't mind displays at the entrance, à la Chanterelle; in fact, I rather like them. But I do not want to smell them when I am eating.

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Loud music. Generally loud room. (Why do some places do that? I hate screaming at my dinner companion.)

Waiters reciting the specials of the day. I am there to have a nice relaxing dinner, NOT take a memory quiz.

Children. Leave the larvae at home.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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People wearing strong perfume.

Loud music, unless I'm there to hear the band.

Recited specials. Write it down, for Pete's sake.

Children, including my own. :biggrin: Although how are kids supposed to learn how to behave in restaurants unless they are taken to them?

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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My own personal larvae learned their manners at home. There was no such thing as "company" or "restaurant" manners. Manners were manners. I started by taking them to "family" restaurants. Then starting at about age 6 they graduated to NICE restaurants. They knew how to behave and were generally a delight. I was careful not to dally as long as I would have if they weren't there. I will never forget the look of horror on their little faces the first time we encountered unruly children. ("Mother... What is WRONG with those people?")

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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My own personal larvae learned their manners at home.

As did we. My parents would not allow us to behave in any way other than that considered acceptable in "young ladies" (it was another era). I remember eating fried chicken with a knife and fork at a little friend's birthday party; later, the girl's mother called mine to heap praise upon her for teaching me such good manners.

I now eat fried chicken with my fingers, particularly when it's cold right out of the fridge . . .

As to restaurant distractions, ditto loud music/loud rooms. Oh, and add egregious cell phone usage to the list.

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music

smokers

ill-mannered children (here's a tip - NEVER sit close to the ubiquitous fish tank in Chinese restaurants - they are brat magnets)

adjacent diners hollering into cell phones

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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Okay, I'm now going to win.

Are you ready for the absolute worst distraction?

Can you see it coming?

I guarantee you nobody is going to top this one.

Dinner theater.

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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Bah. At least you sign up voluntarily for the dinner theater. And I can top that.

An impromptu belching contest at the next table in a (normally) quiet and romantic restaurant.

Oh, how I loathe prom season...

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Not just any music. The scourge of the earth.

MARIACHIS

But I LIKE mariachis. :huh:

See how you feel after working in a restaurant for a few months. Muahaha. :wacko:

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Okay, I'm now going to win.

Are you ready for the absolute worst distraction?

Can you see it coming?

I guarantee you nobody is going to top this one.

Dinner theater.

Whadya mean? I love dinner theater. I don't go with any expectation that it could possibly be--you know--good. It's like watching The Brady Bunch reruns. What make's it bad is what makes it good. Dinner theater is corny, cheesy crap. It's bad, and that's good. I'm never disappointed, so I'm always happy. That's the entertaining hook that always makes it an OK thing to do with my aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

It's always the same...the aging, washed up, Broadway star still resting on the laurels of a once popular role that has long been forgotten...they really ham it up as they sing their signature song. When they get the much needed applause from the audience, they mouth "thank you" between phrases...the soggy salad arrives. Like clockwork, Aunties says, "I just love these rolls, their always so fresh and hot. I really should ask them for the recipe..." On it goes. Without fail, I'm usually the youngest person in the audience. It's all teased white hair, walkers, comfortable shoes, bifocals, the occasional oxygen bottle, Auntie and me. What is there to hate? I love it.

For me, the worst distraction has to be the icy couple that clearly hates one another and fights throughout their meal. Of course, they sit in the middle the room and act as if no one can see them. They suck the life right out of the room.

Edited by Aurora (log)
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For me, the worst distraction has to be the icy couple that clearly hates one another and fights throughout their meal.  Of course, they sit in the middle the room and act as if no one can see them.  They suck the life right out of the room.

Gah.

You win.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Overattentive/talkative waiters. I subscribe to the discrete/efficient school of food service. My impression is that US restaurants are particularly susceptible to this malaise. It's like every waiter wants to be recognized as a unique individual and almost demands attention.

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