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Restaurant/Bar Annoyances


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when you're ordering and the server suddenly loses attention and focuses on something else.  

this happened to me at Daniel (NYC).  in the middle of my order, a second server came over and said something to my server.  my server turned his head to respond to the other fellow, leaving me halfway through my order (this was as i was talking, mid-word, mind you).

all-in-all i wasn't very impressed with the service.  i've had better, and more attentive, server at much lesser restaurants.  and i won't be returning for that fact alone.

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Another pet peeve might be restauranteurs who do not educate their waiters as well as Danny Meyer does. (Hes the owner of GT as well as a few other successful restaurant in NYC, for those who don't know that.) It's not just a matter of training, but of keeping staff aware of changes in the menu and new wines as well as understanding that satisfied diners are a greater assest than short term profits. Traditionally when a waiter recommends something, it more often than not, means it's not selling, over stocked, or about to go bad.

The one thing that's been overlooked in this thread, although Rosie allued to it in her opening post, is that some preferences vary from region to region and from diner to diner in the same place. Iv'e heard people complain that the waiter cleared a plate before all of the diners were finished with a course, and I've heard the opposite complaint that the waiter left a dirty plate in front of me while I waited for every one else to finish.

I am adamently on the side of those who believe no plate should be removed from the table until all the diners have finished the course. It is the correct fashion in France and in NYC, at least according to every food writer who has made a comment on the subject, but it doesn't seem to be the custom all over the country.

Yet another pet peeve is when a young uneducated food writer inadvertanely misunderstands a waiter's cover up for her gaffe at the dining table and reports it all as correct for others to follow. This may account for a growing lack of manners in restaurants and for a less than successful partnership between the waiter and the diner as he must guess the intentions of cusotmer who sends confusing signals. Table etiquette is often more like the rules of the game, than a way for snobs to be snobbish.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 1 month later...
Quote: from 861728 on 9:02 pm on Aug. 18, 2001

Please, do not refer to another human being as a 'tron' it's insulting. If you wish to be gender neutral please use the term 'Server'

Funny, even in the 80s, when the term "waitron" first seemed to surface, I thought it was kind of funny and sad at the same time. Are servicepeople really uniformly offended by this? I don't think I'd be offended by it any more than other restaurant jokes; for instance, at Yaffa Cafe several years ago, my waitress was wearing a T-shirt that said, "Born To Serve".

I haven't met too many waitresses who aren't just marking time waiting tables while they wait for their big break. For instance, there's a waitress at Dojo's right now who is trying to get a job as a systems administrator - which is what she was doing before the dotcoms went bust. Admittedly, there are some waitresses who make a career of it, sometimes by default, but I don't know how often this is the pick of picks. (I understand some career waitresses at the Catskills who had to carry heavy trays would often end up with permanent scoliosis from having to lean to the side so long and often. Where's OSHA when you need them?)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can relate to most of the pet peeves that have been posted. My number one complaint is when the restaurant tries to seat my friends and I at a lousy table: near the bathroom, the busboy station with dirty dishes, near the smoky bar, in 'Siberia' or at a cramped table for two when there are three or four in our party.  I've listed this peeve before on another food site but would be interested in your comments.

A restaurant manager once told me that they try to stagger the tables so all their servers get an equal number of diners. I don't quite buy this reason when in many instances I've seen 'choice' tables open and people seated at rotten ones.

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"Reciting Specials without the prices." Do  you go into a store and buy a suit and then when you get to the cash register wait to be told how much the suit is? It's the same when buying food. People DO want to know the prices. Some restaurateurs tell their waitstaff NOT to recite the prices of specials because the specials are much higher than the highest entree.

"Waiter's who say excellent."  If I want the waiter's opinion I will ASK him about the dish and/or what he recommends. I don't need his approval.

"Bad Coffee" Restaurants could serve a good cup of coffee if they choose to at a reasonable price. Cheap coffee--bigger profits. Ū is not alot for coffee but it is alot for bad coffee.

Waiters have a very  hard job. And when you are dealing with the public it can be very demanding. Every personality will eventually find their way to your table.

Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"


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Whenever a front-of-the-room employee says to me something such as "Your tabel will be ready in five minutes; the people are about to leave", I ask, "Is that real time or restaurant time"? Whether someone tells me that the occupants are just finishing their coffee, waiting for the bill, or paying their bill, the proverbial five minutes always turns into 15 or 20.  Nothing in a restaurant gets me more riled up than that except when the kitchen loses your order. The last time that happened to me was two years ago at SF's Hay Street Grill. But then the woman partner there gave the two of us the meal on the house.

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Every time I open this forum I laugh a lot.  Pet peeves allow comic relief, we must have all experienced the same ones, and one tale of woe so often triggers another one.

More and more frequently, somebody recites specials at a high rate of speed, and with or without prices, my little brain cannot remember anything so I cannot choose.  Occasionally, I'll say: "and what was that dish you mentioned early on, you said something or other about cilantro?"  So the detective game begins, on the server's or my part... On other occasions, I catch on to a dish which sounds scrumptious, so I make a mental effort to remember what it is, not paying attention to the rest of the recitation.  I laugh to myself, but I resent the process at the same time; couldn't the chef decide on the specials, print them out and offer the list, with prices to diners?

On another subject: a million years ago, dining at Lassere in Paris (in the 3-star days, when I was impressionable), I requested a bottle of Montrose.  I had discovered the wine through American friends who pronounced the T, and never gave it another thought and asked for Montrose pronouncing the T; the sommelier pointedly, or so it seemed at the time, repeated saying "mon...rose": how vexing!  But what else could he do?  Mispronounce to spare my young ego?

There is a story about Louis XIV, the Sun King, to illustrate how exquisitely courteous he was.  He could greet the Versailles maids by name, and ask about their families.  One day, a foreign ambassador was dining with him and the affair was rather formal; after each dish, all the guests would dip their fingers into the rince-doigt (finger bowl???) in front of them.  The foreign ambassador, at the end of the meal, picked up the bowl and drank the lemony water; the king's guests started giggling and whispering.  The king picked up his own bowl and drank its contents: I think this shows a great deal of class!  The story is true, it may even have been Madame de Sevigne who told it in her letters... I am not sure though and I am too lazy to reread all her letters, as delightful as they are.

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  • 8 months later...

The August 2002 edition of Food & Wine lists the results of a survey on diners' pet peeves with respect to service:

Waiters who disappear 23%

Vain or snotty waitstaff 13%

Cold food 12

Patrons on cell phones 10

Renegade smokers 8

Cramped tables 6

Waiters who hover 5

Long waits between courses 5

Noise 5

Overprice menus 4

Getting seated in an uncool part of the restaurant 3

Waiters who tell you the specials without the price 2

Overpriced wine lists 1

Waiters who foget who gets waht 1

People who moan while eating something delicious 1

Poorly designed bathrooms 1%

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I'm so sick and tired of people bringing their whiny, overcharged children into restaurants. No, I don't think that their running around the dining room is cute. No, I don't want to "bond" with your children. If I wanted children I would have chosen to procreate.

I spend as much money on my meal as their inconsiderate, mealy mouthed parents and I'd like to enjoy my lunch/dinner in peace.

That is one of my biggest pet peeves. The other is loud boorish people screaming into their cell phones. Give me a break!!

Iris :angry:



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I'm so sick and tired of people bringing their whiny, overcharged children into restaurants.  No, I don't think that their running around the dining room is cute.  No, I don't want to "bond" with your children.  If I wanted children I would have chosen to procreate

I think you made a wise decision, Iris

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Parents need to realise that the restaurant is a place of business and are putting their children at risk. One child would always sneak behind the bar when we were three deep. I took a step back and plowed into him. When I told his mother he shouldn't be behind the bar (because he could get hurt) she responded that since they were such great friends of the owners, her son could do whatever he wanted. She had the nerve to say she practically owned the place, she'd been coming there so long. The Darwin Award goes to...

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  • 6 months later...

One of my pet peeves is to order a baked potato in a restaurant and then receive a foil wrapped one which is not really baked at all. It is STEAMED. It comes steamed and is often soggy with a wet, soft skin. My ideal baked potato is baked in its own uncovered an unadorned skin with perhaps some kosher salt or the like rubbed into the skin. I would just as soon have even the skin without salt. It should have a dry, somewhat firm skin and the product within should be mealy abnd not mushy.


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One of my pet peeves is to order a baked potato in a restaurant and then receive a foil wrapped one which is not really baked at all. It is STEAMED.

Hmmmmm. I always serve BAKED potatoes in foil. I bake them without the foil (so that they're baked) and then wrap them up in foil before serving just so they'll stay warm on the plate. I wonder if restaurants do this too.

There's a restaurant called Houston's here in Austin that serves outstanding BAKED potatoes. They taste baked rather than steamed and they come served in foil.

Frankly, I would be annoyed if a restaurant brought me a baked potato that was not wrapped in foil. But that's just me ;).

My pet peeve is when the waiter brings the bread WITH The meal rather than before. I hate having to ask for the bread.

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Specials recited without the prices.

Fake crabmeat. Restaurants list crabmeat when it is sometimes fake crabmeat.

Aren't U.S. restaurants required to use the spelling "Krab" if the meat is falsified? If not, why would they do so to begin with?

Rice pie is nice.

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I have many "pet peeves" when it comes to a resturant, first of all I hate a dirty restroom, it doesn't say much for a place if they can't keep their restroom clean. Yuk!!

I also hate to see a dirty dining room, my wife and I eat out often and we cannot stand to be seated at a table with food and trash under the table and on the seats. We find ourselves kicking food, napkins and even utensils out from down under. I hate being seated at a table that hasn't been bussed as well. Not a pleasent experience.

Then comes the waitstaff, there is nothing worse than having a person that offers more infomation about their personal life than needed while your selecting how you want your steak cooked. My wife has been known to run off waitstaff by threatening to leave due to their appreance, to her, there is nothing worse than a waitron with a tounge ring and dirty hands taking your order. And I thought I was anal.

The one other thing that gets my blood going is when they refill my iced tea just after I got it tasting the way I like it. Well I could go on and on but I think you all will agree that it's hard to theses day to find the perfect dining experience. But when you do it's well worth it.



Is a Member of PETA..."People Eating Tasty Animals"

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Ice cold butter. I guess the health dept takes it upon themselves to insist that the butter be refrigerated if not downright frozen thinking that there is such a risk of illness. Don't you love tearing up a piece of bread while attempting to spread a little butter on it?

Ill conceived bar design. I often eat at the bar when dining by myself. It seems that even at bars that encourage food consumption (i.e. Tapas bars), the design of the bar makes it awkward to eat. Often there is this thick curved piece of trim at the front edge that gets in the way of getting the plate anywhere near you and the panel underneath the bar is so close to the bar top edge that you can't move your seat close enough to eat without leaning way over to get near the plate.

Huge menus. Why do so many restaurants have menus the size of a highway speed limit sign? I can't even see over it to talk with my dinner companions, and I can't put it down on the table without risk of knocking over drinks or starting a fire over a candle. Two menus can equal an entire table top in sqaure yardage.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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