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Restaurant/Bar Annoyances


Rosie
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annabelle - it's nice to know there are still gentlemen that will protect a lady's honor that way. I'd have cheered too. Must've been fabulous!

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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Something I posted on my website a while back...

I realize that some younger folks don't have a lot of experience in bars, and some older folks need a refresher, so here are my rules of behavior for a bar. Follow these and you'll get faster service, better drinks and have a good time.

If I ask you what you want to drink, don't say "A beer!" There are too many possibilities. Draft? Large or small? Bottle? What brand?

If I ask you what you want to drink, don't say "I don't know, what should I drink?" Unless you are a very good customer, I have no idea what your preferences are. If you insist on me picking, I'll just give you the most expensive thing we have.

If the bar is busy and your turn with the bartender comes, know what you want, or I'll pass over you and go on to the next person.

If the bar is busy, order all your drinks at once. Don't order a rum and coke, and then when I bring it to you, order a gin and tonic. That takes twice as long. I can remember ten or twelve drinks at once, so don't worry, I won't mess up your order.

If the bar is busy, have your money ready! There's nothing worse than having to wait while someone rummages in their purse/wallet for money when they had plenty of time to find it while I was making the drink. It shouldn't be a surprise that you have to pay!

Don't ask "What's the strongest thing I can get for X amount of money?" If you're just looking to get drunk for cheap, you should drink at home.

Don't EVER ask for a drink "strong" or "heavy on the booze" or any variation thereof. That's a guarantee that I'll make it weak. Our drinks are REALLY strong anyway (1/2 booze, 1/2 mixer).

Don't complain that you're drink is weak if you've taken so long to drink it that all the ice has melted. That's your own fault and I'm not obligated to top it up with booze. Our drinks are always strong to start with.

There are no discounts for speaking english or being pretty or knowing someone I met once on the street or flirting with a bartender or any other reason. If you want a discount, come during Happy Hour, when drinks are ridiculously cheap.

The bartenders will remember you and you are more likely to get served faster if you tip.

If you order a drink that takes a little while to get made (daiquiri, mojito, caipirinha, margarita), hang out at the bar until it arrives. If there are three hundred people in the bar, I don't have time to go find you if you wander off.

Don't waltz in half an hour after Happy Hour is over and ask for Happy Hour prices. Happy Hour is 3 hours long, that gives you plenty of time to get to the bar!

It's fine to request a song from the DJ. But don't send all your friends up to request the same song. We know what you're doing and it doesn't make it more likely that the song will be played.

If you do request a song from the DJ, that doesn't mean that he's obligated to play it, or that he will play it next.

If you don't drink alcohol, order a soda or a water or something. You're taking up the space of a drinker and that's costing me money.

If you don't have any money, don't go out.

Don't ask if you can run a tab. You can't.

If we're giving away free shots, don't volunteer yourself to get one. Don't worry, we know who deserves or needs a shot.

Just because you've ordered a couple of drinks over the last couple of hours does not entitle you to a free round.

When the music goes off, the lights go on, the staff is cleaning up and we're shouting for you to get out, that means we're closing. Drink up and get out!

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I mentioned this one in another thread, but the practice I seem to have only encountered in the US, of not waiting until the starters are finished before bringing mains to the table. Basically, my options are either eat from two plates, or let the main go cold while I finish the first course.

This isn't a US thing, it's just an incompetent thing (unless the restaurant warns you in advance that items will be served as soon as they are ready and are meant to be eaten that way - family style rather than in courses).

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I mentioned this one in another thread, but the practice I seem to have only encountered in the US, of not waiting until the starters are finished before bringing mains to the table. Basically, my options are either eat from two plates, or let the main go cold while I finish the first course.

This isn't a US thing, it's just an incompetent thing (unless the restaurant warns you in advance that items will be served as soon as they are ready and are meant to be eaten that way - family style rather than in courses).

I know it's obviously not a US thing. It just happened to me so often there.

James.

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I'm sure that this has been said a few hundred times, but I wanted to add my three cents anyway. I hate it when people cannot take off their hat or when someone decides to take a phone call at the table. It drives me insane!!

At the end of the day, it's all about good food!

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Whispering, I hate whispering. Don’t whisper and mumble - no one has died, it is not a library. Talk normally, laughter is allowed. Restaurants that are filled with whisperers are very boring.

Edited by MaLO (log)

Martin

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OMG. I have a friend that finds the need to send email "memos" about his latest health crises in excruciating gory hold-no-bars detail to a long list of addressees. And who wants to talk about nothing else but the most inappropriate details of whatever his latest health crisis is over the dinner table when we have the rare opportunity to enjoy an opportunity to break bread. It's so far into the Too Much Information zone I don't even know where to begin. I can only imagine what the folks at the next table are thinking. :wacko:

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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Here are my annoyances in no particular order. All I want is a reasonably tasty meal cooked and served by someone making an effort. In some towns, that is all you get (Minneapolis astonished me, everyone wanted to serve a great plate), and in others, no one cares at all (Salt Lake City, at least in my experience, excluding some of the best doughnuts I ever ate).

1. Tails on shrimp in fork dishes. If you are serving shrimp cocktail, shrimp on some sort of skewer, fried shrimp, or some other dish where you are eating the shrimp with your hands, then the tail makes perfect sense. However, in a shrimp alfredo, or some other dish that is logically eaten with a fork (or stuffed into a tortilla as the poorly named shrimp fajita would be) the tail just means that either I waste the meat in the tail (impossible for someone who grew up poor and frugal) or I put my fingers into the sauce (probably rude, but the only choice I can make).

2. Hard butter. If you are serving bread and butter, I am happy. You don't have to, but if you do, and the bread is good, then it is a treat to be enjoyed. However, if the butter is frigid, and the only way I can spread it is to rip the bread to pieces, then part of the magic is lost. Don't get me wrong, I'll keep coming back and eating it, and will tip well, but if you want to make me even happier, you'll thaw the butter just a bit.

3. Unfilled drinks when the restaurant is slow. I can cook, so when I go out, I am not just asking to have my stomach full, I want a decent experience. That said, I understand the laws of physics. If the restaurant is really busy, I know that it may take a while for me to get my next refill and so my tip decision considers that the server did the best job possible. However, if there are only a couple of tables and there are multiple waiters, I don't enjoy spending a lot of time with an empty drink. I know that when I am drinking iced tea, there can be some question of if I want it refilled in case I sweetened it (I don't, but can't expect the server to know that), but with a cola that isn't an issue. It is even worse with alcohol; if I am drinking, then that directly affects the tip, so the server should be at least asking if I want another one (assuming I am not drunk, of course).

4. Unclear procedures. I probably have some social anxiety disorder or something, but I hate walking into a place and not knowing what to do. I get over it (my local Mexican joint is a seat yourself, but looks like a wait to be seated place, but the food is so good I am learning), but it is always nice when you know what you are supposed to do. You also have to walk up to the register, they don't bring a bill to the table. I waited a good while before figurng that one out, but went back because the food was so good. A sign telling you where to wait is always welcome. Of course, there is the possibility that I am clueless (I have asked for napkins in a barbeque joint that provided a nice roll of paper towels, my friends still rib me about that one) but if the process is different than most places, a sign is nice.

5. Appetizer timing. If your restaurant isn't trying to be fancy, then this doesn't apply. However, if you list some items as starters or appetizers, then when I order one of those and something from the meal (call it what you want) menu, don't bring me the main before I have had a good chance to eat the appetizer. I understand if I eat slowly (I don't, I am usually the first one done) and I also kinda understand if you are busy and trying to get an extra seating, but if you are slow and I have a book with me, I want to sit and enjoy. If you don't give me a chance to finish each course, you are saying you don't want me to come back. I have a good number of places that do want me to come back, and so that 30-50% tip that I tend to leave will go there. I will tip this time, I just won't come back. If you were slow today, then that may happen regularly, and soon you will have no customers.

6. Food quality in relation to restaurant level. I don't mind eating an average steak at Applebee's. It isn't any kind of gourmet, but it doesn't pretend to be. They don't pretend to be other than what they are. I don't generally go there, but if that is where my friends are going, I don't feel cheated. I knew what I was in for before I showed up, and it is what I was served. However, I do mind going to a place calling itself fine dining and getting a steak tougher and less flavored than the aforementioned chain. I can grill a very good steak at home. If I had a renowned chef coming over, I'd get a few prime ribeyes from Central Market, lightly season them, charcoal grill them medium rare, serve with baked potato (with sour cream, butter, chopped chives, grated cheddar, salt, pepper, and crispy bacon), sauteed in the bacon grease asparagus and crimini mushroom and it would be as good as you can get in anything less than a top end restaurant. Now, that is an expensive meal. I'd pay 30+ dollars per person on ingredients. and expect to pay well over 80 bucks a person to eat that well in a restaurant. When I pay 10 bucks for a steak, then I expect a cheap piece of meat. If you can do something nice with it, then all the better. If I pay 25 dollars for a steak, then I want something a little better. You aren't using prime at that price, but I still expect good flavors. At one regional chain steakhouse that I'll let be anonymous, I got a gray steak, not very well seasoned. I could cook the 5 dollar a pound average grocery store steak better. At another, higher end place, I had a tenderloin that was completely unseasoned. You can get away with fewer seasonings on a ribeye if you grill it right (the crispy fat on the outside is a flavor all its own) but a medium rare tenderloin, cut super thick as is traditional, with no seasoning, says that you don't know what to do with the ingredient. Yes, an apple is a marvelous item, wonderful as is. However, if you had a restaurant that just served apples, no special techniques, no seasoning, no nothing, I don't think I'd go. I want the chef to show me something.

7. Overly salty food. I am someone that goes out to eat a lot. I occasionally eat at a place where the food is far saltier than reasonable. I can add salt, but it cannot be removed. I don't even bother complaining, I just don't go back. It is obviously how they like their food (unless they don't taste it, and if they don't, then another reason not to go back), so I'll eat at the other 2000 places in town that like salt, but don't try to preserve everything they serve.

8. Obviously un-fresh food. My 2 biggest examples are a fish that smelled fishy (I live near Austin, so as we aren't next to the ocean, it is possible but not acceptable) and dried salad. I went to a new location of a chain cajun place that I always had great experiences at in the past, and ordered the same dish I always ordered. The fish smelled and tasted like that smell Emeril said if it smells like, have the pork. In my suburb, there are a few restaurants that opened up trying to get some local business. As one was recommended by a co-worker, I took a chance. I ordered the salad as an appetizer. It was obviously from a grocery store bag, and worse, had sat out for quite a while drying out. The rest of the food was also obviously something I could buy in the grocery and make myself, and probably better. In both cases, I just didn't go back. That is my regular technique. I don't complain, because it is pointless. If they understood food, they wouldn't violate the basic rules of food. If they don't, I am not the person to educate them.

9. Preserved salsas. This only applies to Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants. There are some that serve canned, jarred or otherwise preserved salsas, often with factory made chips. I don't even notice the rest of the meal, I just leave quickly and never return.

10. Corner seats. There are some restaurants that have either booths or counters with one really bad seat. Maybe you are crammed against a fellow diner, maybe there is something under the table, but somehow, you are uncomfortable.

11. Wobbly tables/chairs. Seriously, how hard is it to have decent tables and chairs? If I go into a diner where the most expensive meal is 8 bucks, then have whatever tables you want. You likely bought everything used and are doing the best you can, I have no complaints. However, as you charge more, I expect more quality, including in your furniture. I was recently in a fancy (white linen, some entrees over 20 dollars) barbeque place that I love and had a chair that I had to swap out as it wobbled.

The worst, and root of all the items listed above is staff (anyone, servers, cooks, owners, bussers, etc.) that doesn't care about making me have a good time. I have eaten in places that have average quality across the board, but the people liked food, liked what they were doing, and wanted me to be happy, so I went back as often as I could. However, all it takes is one person not caring for a place to fail. There is a Vietnamese restaurant in town that I always loved the food, but I couldn't get an iced tea refill to save my life, (there were plenty of servers, they just seemed to deliberately avoid checking drinks) so I stopped going. I found a different one that was serve yourself on the iced tea, and that became my go to Vietnamese place. The food was the same quality, but in the one, although I had to serve myself, I saw it as I got to serve myself.

The counter is staff that love what they do. I sometimes ask about a menu item, especially if it is something I am fussy about (for example, brownies, I like them chewy, while most places seem to make them more like cake). If I can ask about an item, and find out it isn't what I like, I am far more likely to keep asking and find something I do like. However, if the server doesn't know, then I am more likely to try another restaurant for my next exploration. I remember my first time eating snow crabs. The restaurant was really slow, and I was having trouble getting the meat out (had never seen it done, I can do it fine now). My waitress cracked all my crab for me, almost feeding me. This was 20 years ago, but I still remember that dining experience and go to that restaurant often. I don't expect such treatment to happen again, but I know the staff love what they do and want me to love coming there. That is really all I need. I can tell when that is going on, and can forgive the occasional mistake when the people I see are doing their best.

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  • 1 month later...

Went to Applebee's yesterday and as soon as we sat down our server asked us why we chose to eat there. We didn't know what to say, too stunned by the question. Not a good question to ask your customer!

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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Went to Applebee's yesterday and as soon as we sat down our server asked us why we chose to eat there. We didn't know what to say, too stunned by the question. Not a good question to ask your customer!

Best. Server. Ever.

You should have given him or her a hug and a tip, and then left. Surely there's a mom-and-pop place that serves better food than can be had at Applebee's?

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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  • 7 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

My #1 bar complaint: the bar server sticks his/her fingers in the olives, plucks an olive out and then puts the olive on a toothpick. To me, the whole point of the toothpick is so that fingers don't touch the olive! I have seen this over and over again in more than one establishment. I've never had the nerve to say anything to the bartender. I just hope the alcohol sterilizes everything.

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Server who, when asked for the check, asks if I want dessert. No, damnit, I don't. I want to leave.

And be quick with damn check because if you are a slug that last experience is what will be fresh in my mind when figuring the tip.

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My #1 bar complaint: the bar server sticks his/her fingers in the olives, plucks an olive out and then puts the olive on a toothpick. To me, the whole point of the toothpick is so that fingers don't touch the olive! I have seen this over and over again in more than one establishment. I've never had the nerve to say anything to the bartender. I just hope the alcohol sterilizes everything.

I would CERTAINLY have the nerve. I would demand that the bartender open a NEW jar of olives and remove one without touching it.

Did the bartender conspiculously (and properly) wash his/her hands prior to fishing out the olive? No? Then that's just nasty. "You have been touching money, credit cards, bar rags, and every other damned dirty thing in this bar. And now you're grabbing my olive with your grubby hand? I don't think so!"

Edited by ScoopKW (log)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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My #1 bar complaint: the bar server sticks his/her fingers in the olives, plucks an olive out and then puts the olive on a toothpick. To me, the whole point of the toothpick is so that fingers don't touch the olive! I have seen this over and over again in more than one establishment. I've never had the nerve to say anything to the bartender. I just hope the alcohol sterilizes everything.

I would CERTAINLY have the nerve. I would demand that the bartender open a NEW jar of olives and remove one without touching it.

Did the bartender conspiculously (and properly) wash his/her hands prior to fishing out the olive? No? Then that's just nasty. "You have been touching money, credit cards, bar rags, and every other damned dirty thing in this bar. And now you're grabbing my olive with your grubby hand? I don't think so!"

I need you at my side! OK, at this one place I frequent, there is no jar. Sitting on the bar is a 3-part divided container, one each for olives, maraschino cherries, and lemon slices. The bartender takes a toothpick in one hand and plucks two olives out with the other hand and then stabs the olives and toothpick together. I see all this because I always sit at the bar and have a martini (or two) and then dinner. (I could sit at a table and then I wouldn't see anything LOL, but I hate sitting at tables when I'm alone.) So this is just my neighborhood place. But I've seen this -- sitting at the bar -- at many many places. And no, they don't wash their hands before plunging one hand in the olive dish. OK, maybe I will get up my nerve. If I do, I will report back. :unsure:

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I agree, its gross. But an olive plucked with perhaps dirty digits and then bathed in 40% alcohol is among the safer things we put in our mouths.

And what about the hand that squeezes the lime in my G and T. ...

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I get around the whole olive question by mostly not ordering a drink with an olive in it. On a similar vein there are bartenders, who when asked for a dirty martini, will literally pick that little tray of olives up, and use their fingers as a strainer to decant some of the olive liquid into the glass...shoot me now.

Of course, since it's summer, I have to bring up my #1 complaint about the failure to use enough air conditioning.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Most likely I ere on the side of laissez fare: but what makes anyone think those toothpicks are clean? How'd they get into the container? How did they get made into toothpicks? By what chemical process do we get beautiful, clean lookng, totally consistent toothpicks? Or those damn plastic gloves that get used and then tossed and cannot be recycled? What sort of bigger mess are they creating?

I'll take my chances with server hands. I'm assuming he or she used soap in the bathroom, and the hands have now been in and out of water as they work. And the booze calls all, including your memory of server hands in the olive container.

As far as a/c goes...somebody send me a truly descriptive, poetic, evocative, and cool summary of what it's like to be in an air conditioned bar.... I want to remember.....

Warmest regards from an over heated Italy!

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  • 2 weeks later...

My #1 bar complaint: the bar server sticks his/her fingers in the olives, plucks an olive out and then puts the olive on a toothpick. To me, the whole point of the toothpick is so that fingers don't touch the olive! I have seen this over and over again in more than one establishment. I've never had the nerve to say anything to the bartender. I just hope the alcohol sterilizes everything.

Trust me, nothing got in that fruit tray without being touched by hands besides the cherries. The large olive jar had half an arm in it a bit earlier.

Those hands are gonna squeeze your lemon and lime anyway. They were cut right after dragging a ton of stuff behind the bar, usually while eating a shift meal :)

Hands, workers and food don't bother me.

Think how many pizzas you've had made by hairy armed men ... goes with the territory.

Edited by bishop (log)
http://www.zbsharpening.com - Professional Knife Sharpening Service
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