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The Devil's in the Restaurant's Details


LaurieB
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Being in the "biz", my eyes have been trained to look at stuff like this. But what do you all notice when you eat out? (I thought of this topic tonight when my husband said "Stop moving the salt and pepper around! It doesn't matter!) (But it does, to me :biggrin: )

Here are some of mine:

The salt shaker should be to the right of the pepper. And the shakers should always be completely full.

Water should be wiped up from the washroom sink counter.

I know I have others -- but what are yours?

Laurie

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I always say if the public areas like the bathrooms are dirty, what on earth must the kitchen look like? :blink: Water wiped up, trash emptied from time to time in the washrooms.

Shakers and condiments always full.

Silverware, china and glassware shiny and no spots. (That lipstick on the edge of my glass isn't my color. Gah! I hate that!)

Clean tablecloth when I sit down. Clean napkins.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I'm very big on that too, almost to the point when my regular dining partner goes out with me he will count the minutes until I make my first criticising observation. Which does happen often as he is okay with corporate chain dining, to some extent. (I've tried desperately to change this).

I notice crumbs behind the salt and pepper that weren't wiped, stained/dirty/torn menus, caked on stuff on the railing of the booth or drape of the plastic table cloth, crappy old lemon slices (Pickle Bills), unpolished wine glasses or silver (ugh, water stains), when a beer bottle comes from the swamp bottom beer-water of a beer bottle cooler (Around the Corner).... The list could go on and on! And when I worked at ClubCorp (The Club at Society Center) where details were attended to with the utmost care (we regularly polished our silver and it was real silverware), I see everything.

Some forgiving; some not.

I've been served up a shot in a rocks glass with some remaining lipstick film at Jillians. Grrrrrrrrrrr. That's truly one of my biggest peeves.

Besides those sorts of things, I also take the managerial eye and see those (and hear) servers chit chat gossip and lean instead of clean. There is always something to wipe down with degreaser or remove smudges on the brass or glass. Crap, when I worked as a server, rolling silver was a requirement to be able to "check out" and get off of work! Now that is a chore and everyone had a stash area. Death to another if they stole your rolls. It doesn't get done by elves in the night.

Excellent in the biz topic. :cool:

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Stickiness.

That's what really gets me (beyond of course, what previous posters have mentionned re:lipstick shmears etc).

A sticky menu, tabletop, condiments/S&P shakers - give me the willies. Some places seem to get a nice layer of syrup(?) on their washcloths instead of soap to wash things down. oO(achieve that 'extra-lacquered look' on the table?)

Also, upholstery that you suspect has not been cleaned since Abe went to the theatre. :hmmm:

the tall drink of water...
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In addition to the cleanliness of the things on the table when I first sit down, I notice the cleanliness of the busboy who comes to fill the water glass and of my waitor.

Waitors - no perfume or cologne, be freshly bathed, shave, comb your hair, make sure your clothes are clean and ironed, and please do not introduce yourself by saying "Hi, I'm Joe and I'll be your waitor tonight". I'm not here to be your friend or network with you.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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All of the above, and add (Joe, you'll notice this soon enough) filthy, sticky high chairs and boosters. We always clean it before and after the kids use it.

Yes, kids make a mess. And yes, some parents are pigs and never even make the attempt to clean up after their progeny. But if you are trying for family friendly dining, it helps to provide clean seating for the little ones.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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If the salt shaker is full of clumpy damp stuff (particularly at an outdoor table), I'm outta there.

Heh... You would be "out of" a lot of places in Houston. I don't think there is a way around this one. The old trick of putting rice in the shaker doesn't even work at the water front places with outdoor patios and decks that I like to frequent. I give up and have to open the shaker and dump some out in my hand.

All of the above but, the one that REALLY gets to me is yucky menus. I can put up with a lot, but a torn menu with spots really puts me off.

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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I don't get it -- if you are sitting at a two-top, the salt is going to be on the left of the pepper to one of you, right?

Thus thought meself.

"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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What the hell is the "toggle multiquote addition"?

Anyway, as for the question about when two people are seated across from each other, which side is the left or right; you put the left-handed person on the other side!

SB (works about 9% of the time anyway)

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Speaking of salt, any restaurant WORTH its salt is going to have a sanitation and/or operations checklist in place that must be used daily and/or (life is full of and/or's, isn't it....) between each shift....that should be the daily litany for all employees to read/follow and for someone (usually the manager) to inspect and sign off on.

In some states these are even required by law...at least as far as BOH goes...to assess adherence to health code when the inspectors visit.

When I see a sloppy looking place to eat it just shouts 'Bad Management'.

Won't eat there.

(Clumpy salt could be the very least of the problems there...I am imagining food deliveries sitting out not checked into walk-in boxes....and oooooh...imagining the state of those walk-in boxes themselves...! :wacko: )

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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Why were you at Jillians, beans? :raz:

Edited by agbaber (log)

Andrew Baber

True I got more fans than the average man but not enough loot to last me

to the end of the week, I live by the beat like you live check to check

If you don't move yo' feet then I don't eat, so we like neck to neck

A-T-L, Georgia, what we do for ya?

The Gentleman Gourmand

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Aw, harsh crowd.

Clumping salt is just a fact of nature. I live in an area that is very humid and it is inevitable and is no reflection upon poor or mismanagement of FOH. That is not an indication that the heavens opened up and flooded your salt shaker either. The rice can only do so much, and don't really look attractive, IMHO. But why fault the entire restaurant for what Mother Nature does?

I thought of another peeve: dirty ash trays. This is more when I'm out for cocktails and not so much so with dining as I don't sit in any smoking sections. But if I did, that would bug the heck out of me too. Clean them up! I really dislike when I watch a tender dump the ashes and cig remains, but don't wash or wipe it down!!!

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Why were you at Jillians, beans?  :raz:

Why not? It is next door. I'm friends with everyone that works there. Some I've worked with before too. (Flats, not the Heights or Akron). :cool:

Great place to hang and have one after a shift. Besides, Doug (their lead bartender/supervisor) is some lovely eye candy.... :biggrin:

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I guess I was just under the mistaken impression that it was an 18-21 drinking hole.

It it's actually a nice place to go, I'll have to swing by sometime.

Andrew Baber

True I got more fans than the average man but not enough loot to last me

to the end of the week, I live by the beat like you live check to check

If you don't move yo' feet then I don't eat, so we like neck to neck

A-T-L, Georgia, what we do for ya?

The Gentleman Gourmand

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The salt shaker should be to the right of the pepper. 

Wow. I learn something new on eGullet every day! (Actually, it's usually several things a day.) Seriously, I have never heard of this, even though some of my best friends are long-time servers in high-end restaurants. Not something that would necessarily come up in everyday conversation, though, I suppose.

I assume the perspective is from the main entrance to the dining room? Or is it something more esoteric like the kitchen door or facing north or something? You'd think I would have noticed this over the years, but I never have. Then again, I am never at a restaurant at start of dinner service, prefering to eat later. By the time I get there, those pesky patrons have moved everything everywhere!

I'm going to keep an eagle eye out on empty tables from now on, though!

Back on topic, what I look for is clean stuff: table top, tablecloth, glasses, silver, no greasy shakers, etc.

Cheers,

Squeat

Edit to add: yeah, restrooms, too. Nothing kills my appetite quicker than a dirty restaurant restroom!

Edited by Squeat Mungry (log)
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bread and butter served without a little plate (unless in a very casual place).

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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What the hell is the "toggle multiquote addition"?

Dysfunctional, as far as I can tell.

I suppose there's a forum for this sort of question.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I notice when nearby tables are wiped down after a spritz from an especially aromatic spray cleaner. :blink: How about restroom deodorizers that share their scent with the dining room every time the door opens and closes? And lastly, restroom doors that can been seen from the dining area with doors that do not close without human intervention. Yuk!

KathyM

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(Carolyn Tillie @ Sep 23 2004, 12:09 PM)

I don't get it -- if you are sitting at a two-top, the salt is going to be on the left of the pepper to one of you, right?

Thus thought meself.

Me three.

Unless you're in a quantum field. Is this restaurant in a black hole?

Edited by Stone (log)
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