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What bothers you most about a restaurant?


Gifted Gourmet
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What are some factors that you will neither accept, nor even tolerate, in a fine restaurant?

What are your hot button "issues"?

Possibly the table you are given? :rolleyes:

The attitude of the staff? :hmmm:

Noise levels measurable in decibels? :huh:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Dirty bathrooms. If the "public" areas look that way, I can only imagine what's out of sight. :blink:

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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There are many things, but the one I hate is to chased out of a restaurant. This doesn't happen in the finest restaurants, but in "popular" expensive ones, nonetheless (i.e., Japonica). I understand that tables need to be turned for a restaurant to be profitable, and I'm all for leaving when I'm done, but when the waiters constantly check to see if one is finished with a course, or try to take it away, (I think to push one along) I am tempted to slow down. Regardless, all the hovering of the waitstaff leaves me tense and no longer able to enjoy the meal. I eat a a moderate clip, no slower or faster than most. This happens only when a restaurant is busy. I don't mind when a check is delivered before it's requested though, I think that is a acceptable method for a busy restaurant to announce "Your meal is over, leave!"

Does anyone have an idea of what an acceptable time limit for a table is for dinner? I think two hours is about right, for several courses. If one is eating an entree only then of course, less time is required.

Edited by emmapeel (log)

Emma Peel

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What are some factors that you will neither accept, nor even tolerate, in a fine restaurant?

What are your hot button "issues"? 

My biggest one is service issues. I want to call it "stinginess", but it cuts much deeper than that.

I'm thinking of a multi-star restaurant in town which we used to go to regularly. They remodeled their dining room, and the service went to hell after that. Instead of the nice assortment of breads in a basket they used to have, now there's a server going around handing out one roll at a time. I thought it might be because this way they made sure they were warm and fresh (which they were), but it turned out that was the ONLY roll we got all night. He never came back around, even though our appetizers were delayed by at least 30 minutes. During this wait we never saw our waiter, or any other server, to ask for more bread, or have our water refilled.

There were other problems with this dinner, as well as the one before, but you get the picture.

When I'm dining at this level, this kind of stuff is not acceptable, plain and simple. (A letter to the restaurant's management sent later went unanswered.) We decided that they did not need our patronage.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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Watching staff members who are standing around in full view of the customers doing nothing.

Last night's dinner we had to wait for about 15 minutes before someone noticed us and then another 10 or so to get water. The waitress then pointed to the specials in the insert in the menu and asked what we were having for dinner. She also informed us that we had 10 minutes to order because there was a poet about to do a reading and the kitchen was closing.

Being hospitality people, we are forever watching the time it takes for service and so forth.

Another issue would be making mistakes with your order. You can't write that down ?!! and why not ?!!

Dan Walker

Chef/Owner

Weczeria Restaurant

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Big problem: you can clear the table next to us but don't spray it with windex. I will never come back. Ever.

Pet peeve: if you bring bread and butter, I appreciate it but please, fresh bread and not butter straight from the freezer. I don't like having to hack little pieces off with my knife and destroying the bread while trying to apply shards of frozen butter to it...

When you serve tea, please spend a little extra money and get some decent loose-leaf tea. I hate to see the baggies of tea substitute that you get at Costco's for $10 per 500. I am actually surprised by the amount of high end restaurants that serve you great food but then finish things off with the crappiest tea you can imagine. The last time this happened was at Morton's, $50 for a steak followed by a 5 cent tea bag in a cup of hot water...

Stefan Posthuma

Beer - Chocolate - Cheese

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1- Chefs

- Over rated restaurants thriving on the name of the Chef who is somewhere else counting the money!

- Chefs throwing a fit when a customer ask for salt or any condiment!

- Chefs failing to visit tables at the end of the evening.

- Chefs with soiled outfit and silly hats.

- Chefs PRETENDING to speak French.

- Chefs who list their work experience at 2 or 3 Michelin without specifying what their role and tenure were!

- Chefs who insist on displaying their pictures with the Pope-JLeno-Sinatra-Sophie Marceau...

- Chefs who push their latest book yet to be released as the new life alteration experience.

- Chefs who have signed up with supermarket chains and manage to rubbish their products.

- Chefs who know EVERYTHING about ALL food.

- Chefs who use testimonials from "experts" who nobody has ever heard about.

- Chefs dressed up and eating at a table next to you!!!!

2- Wine

- Wine not served at correct temperature.

- Important wine not being carrafed.

- Wine not uncorked at table.

- Cheap wine glass.

- Slow/fast wine service.

- Customers who know the drill for wine tasting but do not have a clue as to why they are doing it.

- Customers who try the wine and nod with a smile to the sommelier.

- Customers who do not have the guts to return a bottle of bad wine.

- Wine bottle upside down in chiller!

- Sommelier who is trying to push an expensive wine without having ever tried it before.

- Sommelier who goes around with a silly silver cup and never uses it.

- Sommelier who does not give each bottle of vintage wine the respect it deserves.

3- Bread

- Customers cutting bread with a knife.

- Bread basket too big for table.

- Non removal of bread plate for patrons who do not eat bread.

- Crusty bread which needs a vacuum cleaner

- Bread which is supposed to be dipped in expensive EVOO or Balsamic.

- Cut "Pain Paysan" in classy French restaurants.

4- Menu

- Items on menu finished/cancelled.

- Well worn menus.

- Small print menu.

- Menus to be read in low light and need to be lit with a flame or a cellphone!

- Very large size menus.

- Restaurant not accepting off menu orders.

- Amuse-gueules renamed Amuse-bouches

- Amuse-gueules needing a photospectrometer to find out what your eating!

- Mid meal sorbet when only a 2 or 3 meal course is ordered!

- Water in weird glass bottle with unknown label!

5- Customers

- People talking on cellphones

- Customers who cannot pronounce foreign words and insist on scorching the language.

- Customers who are clueless in front of a foreign menu and need the services of the waiter as translator.

- Men who do not stand up when a lady stands up.

- Men who do not know how to offer a chair to a lady at the table.

- Men who order Champagne before the start of the meal.

- Men who do not keep eye contact when toasting a partner.

- Men who don't know how to sit guests at a large table.

- Ladies who swirl a cocktail stick to kill the bubbles in a Champagne glass.

- Ladies who are on a diet.

- Ladies who laugh loudly.

- Ladies with heavy perfume.

- Ladies who do not know where to park their "sac a main"

- Ladies who go in pairs to powder their nose.

6- MaitreD'

- Pompous MaitreD'

- MaitreD' who acts like an usherette!

- MaitreD' dressed like a penguin.

- MaitreD' who insist in cleaning the table from bread crumbs before the dessert to show off his new silver tray and spade even if your tablecloth is clean!!

7- Waiters

- Poor students

- Smelly waiters

- Great designer outfit and they always forget the shoes!

8- L'addition SVP

- Over ornate check wallets

- Service charge and tip already on check.

- Silly PIN number machine in a first class restaurant.

- Silly mint candy offered with the check or at check out!

- Pen missing in check wallet

- Waiters grabbling with two three wallets at the same time!

9- Welcome and Goodbye

- Although restaurants welcome and table seating is now an accepted norm. Very few first class restaurants accompany the dining patrons to the door upon leaving and this is a mark of top service.

10- Rant still in process...

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Watching staff members who are standing around in full view of the customers doing nothing.

One thing that really drives me crazy is watching a few people scurry around madly working while some more are just standing around talking. Why are those people talking not pitching in?

Also, when the first person you speak to (making a phone reservation or walking in) is disorganized and/or has attitude. They're talking to someone else while they're talking to you. I've hung up the phone a few times just knowing that when we get there the reservation will not be on the books, because the person sounded so flaky.

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2- Wine

- Customers who try the wine and nod with a smile to the sommelier.

4- Menu

- Amuse-gueules renamed Amuse-bouches

5- Customers

- Customers who cannot pronounce foreign words and insist on scorching the language.

- Customers who are clueless in front of a foreign menu and need the services of the waiter as translator.

- Ladies who swirl a cocktail stick to kill the bubbles in a Champagne glass.

8- L'addition SVP

- Silly PIN number machine in a first class restaurant.

Pretty comprehensive list and I'm with you for most of it, except those listed above. When you try the wine, to check that it is as ordered and has no faults, a simple nod is all that is needed, a smile is just being polite. What else would you expect the customer to do?

If you know the difference between Amuse-gueules and Amuse-bouches you're in a very small minority, I wouldn't mind finding out what the difference is.

On foreign language menus the customer is there to eat, not display linguistic skills, the restaurant should provide a translation, or would you expect them to be at home with a menu in say Greek or Finnish?

Swirling the bubbles (to reduce, not remove them) is acceptable up to a point, even to the Champenois who used to make Cremant Champagne with a less vigorous mousse.

PIN machines (number is tautological) are probably part of the deal with the card company, if you don't like them (and I don't) use cash or check.

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I suppose the restaurant can control everything except customer behavior. There might be money to be made in educating people how to behave while dining out. Except that the people who need it most probably don't know it.

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Servers in fine dining establishments addressing my table as "you guys"

Servers responding to "thank you" with "no problem" rather than "you're welcome"

Neither of these items will cause the earth to leave its orbit, but they just get under my skin, for some reason

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1- Chefs

- Over rated restaurants thriving on the name of the Chef who is somewhere else counting the money!

- Chefs throwing a fit when a customer ask for salt or any condiment!

- Chefs failing to visit tables at the end of the evening.

- Chefs with soiled outfit and silly hats.

- Chefs PRETENDING to speak French.

- Chefs who list their work experience at 2 or 3 Michelin without specifying what their role and tenure were!

- Chefs who insist on displaying their pictures with the Pope-JLeno-Sinatra-Sophie Marceau...

- Chefs who push their latest book yet to be released as the new life alteration experience.

- Chefs who have signed up with supermarket chains and manage to rubbish their products.

- Chefs who know EVERYTHING about ALL food.

- Chefs who use testimonials from "experts" who nobody has ever heard about.

- Chefs dressed up and eating at a table next to you!!!!

2- Wine

- Wine not served at correct temperature.

- Important wine not being carrafed.

- Wine not uncorked at table.

- Cheap wine glass.

- Slow/fast wine service.

- Customers who know the drill for wine tasting but do not have a clue as to why they are doing it.

- Customers who try the wine and nod with a smile to the sommelier.

- Customers who do not have the guts to return a bottle of bad wine.

- Wine bottle upside down in chiller!

- Sommelier who is trying to push an expensive wine without having ever tried it before.

- Sommelier who goes around with a silly silver cup and never uses it.

- Sommelier who does not give each bottle of vintage wine the respect it deserves.

3- Bread

- Customers cutting bread with a knife.

- Bread basket too big for table.

- Non removal of bread plate for patrons who do not eat bread.

- Crusty bread which needs a vacuum cleaner

- Bread which is supposed to be dipped in expensive EVOO or Balsamic.

- Cut "Pain Paysan" in classy French restaurants.

4- Menu

- Items on menu finished/cancelled.

- Well worn menus.

- Small print menu.

- Menus to be read in low light and need to be lit with a flame or a cellphone!

- Very large size menus.

- Restaurant not accepting off menu orders.

- Amuse-gueules renamed Amuse-bouches

- Amuse-gueules needing a photospectrometer to find out what your eating!

- Mid meal sorbet when only a 2 or 3 meal course is ordered!

- Water in weird glass bottle with unknown label!

5- Customers

- People talking on cellphones

- Customers who cannot pronounce foreign words and insist on scorching the language.

- Customers who are clueless in front of a foreign menu and need the services of the waiter as translator.

- Men who do not stand up when a lady stands up.

- Men who do not know how to offer a chair to a lady at the table.

- Men who order Champagne before the start of the meal.

- Men who do not keep eye contact when toasting a partner.

- Men who don't know how to sit guests at a large table.

- Ladies who swirl a cocktail stick to kill the bubbles in a Champagne glass.

- Ladies who are on a diet.

- Ladies who laugh loudly.

- Ladies with heavy perfume.

- Ladies who do not know where to park their "sac a main"

- Ladies who go in pairs to powder their nose.

6- MaitreD'

- Pompous MaitreD'

- MaitreD' who acts like an usherette!

- MaitreD' dressed like a penguin.

- MaitreD' who insist in cleaning the table from bread crumbs before the dessert to show off his new silver tray and spade even if your tablecloth is clean!!

7- Waiters

- Poor students

- Smelly waiters

- Great designer outfit and they always forget the shoes!

8- L'addition SVP

- Over ornate check wallets

- Service charge and tip already on check.

- Silly PIN number machine in a first class restaurant.

- Silly mint candy offered with the check or at check out!

- Pen missing in check wallet

- Waiters grabbling with two three wallets at the same time!

9- Welcome and Goodbye

- Although restaurants welcome and table seating is now an accepted norm. Very few first class restaurants accompany the dining patrons to the door upon leaving and this is a mark of top service.

10- Rant still in process...

My hang up with in industry in general is the perverse notion that a meal is like a game of chess. There are only good and bad moves and nothing in between. That each and every person (down to the customer) has a specific role to fill and if they stray at all, they should be chasitised. The above respondant is a classic example. For godsakes! It's a freaking meal! It's an opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself and the company of others.

Ordering Champagne before a meal!? Are you kidding me? Not being multi-lingual? The chef showing the audacity of eating in his own restaurant? Are you implying that he shouldn't ever have a night off? Or are you saying that if he does, he'd better eat elsewhere?

Even if you do know everything, there's a fine line between knowing how a perfect meal should progress and identifying everthing that comes short of perfection as an atrocity.

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mpav, There is MUCH $$$ to be made in educating people on how to behave, not only when dining, but in other social events as well. My daughter recently completed a program sponsored by the National League of Junior Cotillions, where she received instruction in etiquette, dining, dancing, how to set a table, proper attire, how to pass through a receiving line, etc. She very much enjoyed the experience! In talking with the presenters, they mentioned that many of their clients are older business people, or businesses who contract the training for their senior employees who might otherwise be clueless in some social settings.

So, now that the patrons are trained, what about the wait staff? It bothers me when I visit a restaurant where the waiter is unfamiliar with what is on the menu, the daily specials, or ingredients to a particluar dish. Often, this shortcoming is expalined away by the waiter saying, "This is my first day/week..."

Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

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One of my biggest complaints is understaffing and neglectin the staff training.

When we took my aged Mom to brunch on Mother's Day the place, one of the better ones in the area, was way understaffed so service was very inefficient.

The wait people were being run ragged trying to keep up when one more waiter on the floor would habe made for a much better experience.

I have quit saying, "We're not guys", because it's a waste of energy. We're all "guys" now days regardless of gender or age. I guess we're going to have to learn to live with it. :sad:

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What the heck is wrong with ordering champagne before the meal? I happen to like champagne as an apertif. Or for breakfast. Or whenever. I don't get it... I'm being gauche?

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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PLEASE do not clear my dining partner's entree while I am still eating. Don't even ask. Don't even think about it. Rude Rude Rude.

7- Waiters

- Poor students

I will be diplomatic in assuming that this is referring to young, inexperienced waitstaff and that not showing a prejudice against the poor or students? :hmmm:

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Dirty bathrooms.  If the "public" areas look that way, I can only imagine what's out of sight.  :blink:

Bad smells or odors.

Ditto and Ditto. These are two of my biggest issues.

I also cannot stand obnoxious, pretentious staff. Take your attitudes and go home. I hate when a server makes you feel as though they think they are better than you. And I've been a server in my time - there's no need for this.

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What the heck is wrong with ordering champagne before the meal?  I happen to like champagne as an apertif.  Or for breakfast.  Or whenever.  I don't get it... I'm being gauche?

Amen to that. It's about as perfect a way to kick off a meal as I can think of. Then again, I'm not looking to keep my critical edge sharp as it appears some others are. I'm just looking to have a good time.

About the only somewhat popular time for champagne that I just can't get down with is dessert (unless it's a demi-sec of course).

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Sommeliers and waiters who assume I know nothing about wine before "assisting me with the list."

I'm sure this has to do with my age & gender--regardless it's inexcusable and a bad selling technique. I'll often gather that I actually know more than them about the wine they are selling me on, so they demonstrate not only arrogance but ignorance, which doesn't get me in the buying mood.

Drink maker, heart taker!

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My husband is a vegetarian. I am not. Yet, nine times out of ten, when the food is brought out by someone who did not take our orders, they plunk the meat in front of him and the pasta in front of me. This drives me up a wall. I used to be annoyed when a server came out with the food and said "Who had the...?" But I'd rather that than have them just assume, and get it wrong.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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My husband is a vegetarian.  I am not.  Yet, nine times out of ten, when the food is brought out by someone who did not take our orders, they plunk the meat in front of him and the pasta in front of me.  This drives me up a wall.  I used to be annoyed when a server came out with the food and said "Who had the...?"  But I'd rather that than have them just assume, and get it wrong.

This is when I trade plates right in front of the server :raz:

I agree whole heartedly on the clearing of plates as each diner finishes rather than waiting for the entire party is done. I admit to eating a bit slow but my fellow diners are accepting of sitting with their empty plate in front of them. I feel rushed knowing I am the last one with a plate in front of me. This falls as my #2 peeve.

My #1 peeve is when ordering, I like to ask the server for recommendations from the menu. When I get the reply, "Everything is great" I find that no help at all! Conversely I love it :wub::wub: when a server asks questions like, "What are you in the mood for?" or "Do you prefer spicy?" and then narrows down the selection from there. This is when I know the server is well trained, familiar with the menu and is vested in my having an enjoyable dining experience.

My #3 peeve is about NUTS. My husband does not like them in his food. We have often asked whether nuts are in a dish and been told they are not only to find that they actually are. This is soooo dangerous for those with allergies I just can't understand how in the world they could get something like this wrong!

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Pretentiousness from the staff!!

A good restaurant should treat every table with the same amount of respect and courtesy regardless of whether they look like a table of poor students who are going to drink hot water with lemon, or a bunch of high-powered bankers. I cannot stand servers who are condescending because I and my dining partner are young, and thus must be inexperienced and have no money. This happens all too often.

This is pretty much the only situation in which my tip will be stingy.

James

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