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stuck beside the table from hell


Izabel_blue
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Hello

Just wondering if anyone else has found themselves in a similar situation to the one I found myself in on Monday night...

There is a new-ish gastropub down the road from where I live called the Britannia, where I had had a nice lunch a few weeks ago, so it seemed an ideal place to book for dinner on Monday night, with my BF, his mum, and my sister who was over from Canada (it was her last night in London). We booked for 8pm and went along...noticed on entering that the pub part of the place was quite busy with revellers but the non-smoking dining room (where we were seated) was nice and quiet....I think there was one other table occupied out of about 6 or 7 of them, though we noticed that a longer table right near ours had a 'reserved' sign on it...

Anyways, ordered the food, got some wine, everything was going perfectly allright (the food there is nothing super creative but very good gastropub fare), but then our server escorted in a group of about 8 people to sit down at the reserved table adjacent to us. They were in their early 20s for the most part and quite drunk-- and of course as soon as they sat down they ordered another huge round of drinks.

At first I thought that they would be a little bit noisy but bearable but I was soon proved wrong...they get louder and louder, whooping and yelling about something or another and ordering more and more drinks. Then they proceeded to have a very very loud coversation all about threesomes and bondage, while they were sitting basically right beside us-- me with my sister from abroad and my bf with his 64 year old mother. It was awful!

When our server came back and asked if we wanted anything else we said 'we're going to pass on puddings because it's too noisy'. He could tell that we were extremely annoyed by the other table but did nothing aside from pressing a comment card upon me, which I proceeded to fill out with a long complaint about the the other table! Considering that there were only the two groups of us in the dining room I was really irritated that they had seated us so close to this gang of twats (one of the guys was sporting both a hot pink trilby hat and a ponytail, so you can get an idea of how ghastly they were) and by the time we left I was fuming mad....what a horrible way to end the evening and my sister's last night in town :sad:

So, just wondering if any of you have any idea about how to defuse a situation like this? I didn't want to approach the table themselves because I was worried that they would be aggressive, seeming as they were very very drunk, but it didn't seem worth telling the server to shut them up either...

In my opinion it seemed like it was the pub's responsibility to either move them or to kick them out (as they were very very wasted) but it seems that they were all too eager to keep on taking the money of this most annoying party...

Or am I just getting hypersensitive in my old age?

Elizabeth, AKA Izabel_blue

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I get up from the table, ask for a mangager, and inqure as to what can be done. If it was as bad as you describe, the manager is aware as well, and will accomidate you by either moving you, them, or comping things to pacify you. She may even throw them out, who knows. When people encroach on your evening (it ways that are noticbly innapropriate to all) it is your responsibility to try to get it remedied. if you dont speak up, sometimes nobody will notice you are having a bad time :sad: and there is nothing to be done. Speak up next time, see what happens, if they do nothing, hit the establishment in their pockets where it hurts most. Never go back.

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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...(one of the guys was sporting both a hot pink trilby hat and a ponytail, so you can get an idea of how ghastly they were)...

Um, how does this make them 'ghastly'? Their behavior sounds unfortunate given your proximity, but I'm thinking that there are times when boisterous and, yes, even sexually provocative conversations, with your drunken buddies in a gastropub are NOT 'twat' behavior, but one part of human nature exhibiting itself upon the lubricating qualities of alcohol.

I'm thinking that this unhappy incident is entirely the fault of management for seating your 2 parties together, a staid and serene group and a reveling and drunken one, and in an otherwise empty dining room; now, THAT's ghastly!

I completely agree with Luckylies.

Edited by Rebecca263 (log)

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Then they proceeded to have a very very loud coversation all about threesomes and bondage

At that point, I'd have got up, asked for a manager and created one hell of a scene.

I've also been in that situation once before whilst eating out with my 90yr old Grandmother, where discussions of such sort could be overheard. I simply said - Grannie, please keep your voice down, everyone's staring at us. Works for me everytime.

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At that point, I'd have got up, asked for a manager and created one hell of a scene.

But that makes you just as bad as them.

It's a tricky one, but personally, I would have just asked to be moved if possible (you say the restaurant was empty). Or, I may have politely asked them to keep the noise down a tad - it's amazing but simple requests often work.

I have pink hair in a pony tail - I must be ghastly. :wink:

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Hello

Just wondering if anyone else has found themselves in a similar situation to the one I found myself in on Monday night...

This is a genuinely baffling philosophical question.

You obviously have a right to enjoy your evening too and I completely sympathise with your disinclination to approach the table directly.

More often than not, being loud and gregarious, I find myself sat at the other table.

If someone complains I would either (depending on how much I've drunk) be quiet and try to calm the rest of the table or get louder. Either way, the intervention puts a serious crimp in my table's enjoyment of the evening.

As far as the staff are concerned, it's usually a matter of allowing the maximum number of people to enjoy themselves without breaking things or hurting themselves. It's less of a financial decision than a Utilitarian one - greatest good for the greatest number.

There seems to be no rational solution.

The English have, however, developed a solution to this Gordian knot of social interaction.

Everyone stays exactly where they are, doesn't complain and engages in weapons-grade tutting. Sooner or later, one fierce soul will tut in such a way that other tables can hear. This forces other tables to form a judgement and take sides, tutting in favor of one or other protagonist.

In this way, discomfort spreads from table to table like a fungal infection

Within minutes the entire restaurant will be staring daggers at each other like Veronese street gangs without a word having passed anyone's lips.

Society used to be so rigidly codified that one could be sure on booking that a restaurant didn't welcome the sort of people who might discuss group sex and bondage. There were also more bohemian boites where, I'm sure, one could discuss such important matters freely, without fear of offending anyone. I'm personally glad those days are behind us. Many people, my Wife included, are of the opposite opinion.

As an aside, though I find your concern for your future Mother-in-law's moral purity entirely laudable, did you ask her if she was offended?

I have a mother in law, of similar age and from a small provincial town who, though seemingly a model of upright probity, is actually as shockingly liberal as a Buenos Aires cocktail waitress in matters of sex and intoxicants. Check in with her - you may be pleasantly surprised.

Sorry you had a rotten evening. Better luck next time.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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You have to speak to the management, to allow them to help you.In an ideal world, they would have seated you elsewhere, but when the world is not ideal,SPEAK UP!

I had a large group (which got larger) in last night, reps from the Trade Show.Anyone else booked that night were told that there was a large group of potenially noisy guests when they booked.Nips any problem in the bud before it's a problem. Same thing tonight, but this time we will be ready with the 16 individual bills and the 16 indiidual VAT invoices ,bloody reps!!! :raz:

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There's a very nice story about the maitre d' at one of San Fransisco's better restaurants offering to move a table seated next to someone wearing offensive perfume, the table refusing not to make a scene, and the maitre d' quietly upending the vase on their table, away from the patrons of course, and escorting them to a dry - and odour free - table. That's service....

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Hello

Just wondering if anyone else has found themselves in a similar situation to the one I found myself in on Monday night...

There is a new-ish gastropub down the road from where I live called the Britannia, where I had had a nice lunch a few weeks ago, so it seemed an ideal place to book for dinner on Monday night, with my BF, his mum, and my sister who was over from Canada (it was her last night in London). We booked for 8pm and went along...noticed on entering that the pub part of the place was quite busy with revellers but the non-smoking dining room (where we were seated) was nice and quiet....I think there was one other table occupied out of about 6 or 7 of them, though we noticed that a longer table right near ours had a 'reserved' sign on it...

Anyways, ordered the food, got some wine, everything was going perfectly allright (the food there is nothing super creative but very good gastropub fare), but then our server escorted in a group of about 8 people to sit down at the reserved table adjacent to us. They were in their early 20s for the most part and quite drunk-- and of course as soon as they sat down they ordered another huge round of drinks.

At first I thought that they would be a little bit noisy but bearable but I was soon proved wrong...they get louder and louder, whooping and yelling about something or another and ordering more and more drinks. Then they proceeded to have a very very loud coversation all about threesomes and bondage, while they were sitting basically right beside us-- me with my sister from abroad and my bf with his 64 year old mother. It was awful!

When our server came back and asked if we wanted anything else we said 'we're going to pass on puddings because it's too noisy'. He could tell that we were  extremely annoyed by the other table but did nothing aside from pressing a comment card upon me, which I proceeded to fill out with a long complaint about the the other table! Considering that there were only the two groups of us in the dining room I was really irritated that they had seated us so close to this gang of twats (one of the guys was sporting both a hot pink trilby hat and a ponytail, so you can get an idea of how ghastly they were) and by the time we left I was fuming mad....what a horrible way to end the evening and my sister's last night in town  :sad: 

So, just wondering if any of you have any idea about how to defuse a situation like this? I didn't want to approach the table themselves because I was worried that they would be aggressive, seeming as they were very very drunk, but it didn't seem worth telling the server to shut them up either...

In my opinion it seemed like it was the pub's responsibility to either move them or to kick them out (as they were very very wasted) but it seems that they were all too eager to keep on taking the money of this most annoying party...

Or am I just getting hypersensitive in my old age?

I agree with luckylies.

However--for future reference:

anytime i am being seated at a restaurant i quickly assess the location of the table i am being offered. in addition to noting the proximity to swinging doors, the kitchen the restrooms a sound system speaker, traffic flow, heating systems/air conditioning units etc i always note if there are tables for large parties set nearby!

(believe it or not--this all takes a few seconds)

it is IMOP-always better to avoid a bad situation than to have it remedied after the fact!

also

bad behaviour is never excusable---we do after all note "good drunks" and "bad drunks."

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Why do restaurants decide on where you are going to sit? My place is very small, but if it's layed up for example 5 tables of 2, and 3 tables of 4, we offer people a choice of tables when they arrive.Last one in gets the last table, but we do reserve particular tables for people if they ask.

I 'm trying to think of a logical reason for the restaurant to be in charge of seating?

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Define 'bad'.

A conversation about three-in-a-bed bondage sessions with a bloke in a pink trilby sounds pretty good to me

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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I 'm trying to think of a logical reason for the restaurant to be in charge of seating?

Speaking as an ex-maitre d'... Try explaining to a furious waiter why the punters are being allowed to sit in anyone's section irrespective of who's slammed.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Very simple-- give the manager the math:

"I come here x times a year and spend about y (financial units) per trip. That's (x times y) (financial units) a year. If you want to keep my business, please handle this situation. There are many other establishments who want my money and will treat me better than I'm being treated right now."

I no longer go to one of my favorite Italian establishments because they chose the customers with the screaming yard apes who were running up and down the aisles... and won't ever see another dollar from me. They also won't get my referrals (I've sent dozens of people there), and I will speak ill of them at every opportunity I get--- especially when teaching customer service, to hundreds or thousands of customers a year.

Math talks, as does money.

BS walks!

HVR

"Cogito Ergo Dim Sum; Therefore I think these are Pork Buns"

hvrobinson@sbcglobal.net

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We suffered exactly the same chain of events at the Admiral Codrington a few years back: Swilling Hoorays up on the tables etc. but attractively accessorized with low slung Sloanes.

Win-Win Counter-Intuitive Remedy: Join their party, drink their champagne, pull their birds, steal their tips and call the police on your way out, saying "Young Giles is busting up the place." Nice bonus: Place uneaten pork chops in their blazer pockets.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Everyone stays exactly where they are, doesn't complain and engages in weapons-grade tutting. Sooner or later, one fierce soul will tut in such a way that other tables can hear. This forces other tables to form a judgement and take sides, tutting in favor of one or other protagonist.

In this way, discomfort spreads from table to table like a fungal infection

Within minutes the entire restaurant will be staring daggers at each other like Veronese street gangs without a word having passed anyone's lips.

Bwahahaha! This sort of writing is exactly why I've been such a fan of Fire&Knives. Welcome to eGullet, Tim.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Wow-- thanks for all your philisophical musings everyone....I think this is one of those real 'hot button' issues in the world of eating out...

I should clarify a few things from my original post...firstly, my BF's mum is ever so slightly deaf so she didn't really manage to absorb the entire, ahem, colourful, conversation-- just registered that it was really loud. So I don't know whether she enjoyed the content or not :hmmm:

I am aware that large groups can be noisy, god only knows whenever I wind up at a works do someone is dancing on the table at some point during the evening...it was just strange to me that the mgmt put our sedate little huddle together with this group in the dining room part of the pub-- I would've had no problem with them staying in the pub part as it is pretty well-divided.

Also, I was mainly dissapointed that I felt that this group *knew* that they were pissing us off and just kept upping the ante with the noise, drinks and salty talk. It actually made me feel actively *sad* that they were so disrespectful.

I probably should've said something to our waiter (who was nice, but possibly a bit frightened by the scary table as well) but by the time that happens the evening is pretty much ruined anyways, isn't it?

Ah well. Also must mention that I have nothing against pink hats and myself own two of them (in fact, you can see a photo of me wearing one here)...I was just surprised that this guy kept his hat on during dinner!

Edited by Izabel_blue (log)

Elizabeth, AKA Izabel_blue

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We had an absolutely fantastic table from hell a da fiore in Venice.

We were at lunch and an american couple was sat behind us.

The woman in the couple verbally and loudly destroyed this guy over 90 minutes in the usually relatively sedate michelin starred restaurant.

She took him apart for what a lousy man he was, how he left his original girfriend for her making him scum, how he didn't love her, was emotionally bankrupt and went on and on. I felt so sorry for the guy that it was my wife who had to stop me from letting me advise the the guy to tell her to fuck off.

Also in the restaurant was a loudgroup of 10 french people getting boistorously leathered at one end of the room who actually came over to apologise to us for them being drunk and loud, which i thought was quite considerate but they were nothing compared to this woman

It was one of the most excruciating, entertaining, embarrassing, fascinating and amusing meals i've ever had. Food was pretty good too.

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Early last year several friends and I went to a fairly new restaurant, which was apparently aiming at the "trendy" crowd. The dining area is sectioned into several "rooms" and we were placed in a room with only one other party at a table well away from us.

Just as our entree arrived, another party of several individuals, who had apparently been in the bar for some time, were seated at the table right next to us.

There was much loud talking, cursing, very loud and offensive, suggestive remarks to the female server and generally obnoxious behaviour.

I held a whispered discussion with one of my friends and a few moments later his cell phone sounded (I had called from my cell phone, then disconnected.)

He said "yes?", then followed in a louder and somewhat angry voice with, "this is judge so and so, how did you get my private number?"

Instant silence from the table next door.

He disconnected, apologized for the interruption and we continued with our meal, with only normal conversation at the formerly noisy table.

Less you thing he was inpersonating an official, he is a dog show judge and is entitled to call himself such in conversations.

It was certainly effective.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Hello

Just wondering if anyone else has found themselves in a similar situation to the one I found myself in on Monday night...

Well now we're comparing war stories....

I was in Thailand a couple of weeks ago. We sat next to a table of rich Australian couples holidaying together, possibly the most fruitful imaginable environment for a testosterone laden pissing contest. I had no idea I was about to witness the most outrageous display of competitive ordering in history.

The first to speak was a harridan of scrotal countenance who had clearly been a trophy in a battle no-one cared to remember.

‘I’ll have the Pad Tai…'

‘No shrimp, no dried shrimp, no garlic’.

This delivered as if trying to explain Neitzche to a deaf imbecile who’d been dead for some hours.

Next up was a sun-dried voodoo-doll in a Pucci knockoff.

‘I’ll have the same…

‘With no tamarind, none of those yucky leeky things and I want my beansprouts on the side’.

The last, a walking collection of epidermal melanomae, realising she’d been entirely outmanueuvered, sparked up with a tactical…

‘I’m not fussy. I’ll have what she’s having’

We watched as the husbands ordered – quite reasonable steak orders though with escalating levels of threat to the waiter if the meat was delivered anything more than freshly slaughtered and pulsing – and assumed the third witch had retired hurt. We should have realised she was just biding her time before the mutual assured destruction of her final strike.

As the men’s starters arrived at the table and the weird sisters gummed at their breadrolls she announced in a clear, penetrating voice which froze the entire room…

“We’d like ours as starters please”.

I swear there was almost a ripple of applause in the dining room. It was like a martial arts death punch or the final move of a brilliant chess game….

‘My God. The Orlovsky Blitztodt. I haven’t seen that played since Dietrich at the Drown Derby’.

‘Didn’t they outlaw it after that business with the maitre d’ and the flaming brochettes at the Savoy Grill’.

At lunch the following day we found ourselves next to the same couples. Their conversation was entirely how far off-menu they’d managed to go in various restaurants around the world. They seemed to have no interest in the food and whenever they’d successfully managed to order some insanely complex combination it was themselves they congratulated rather than the poor bloody staff.

For some people, restaurant going is a competitive sport and a bloodsport at that.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Not as bad as noisy children, or children who run round the restaurant.

Fortunately there are special restaurants (McD) for such customers.

Then there are the couples who don't just discuss sex, they indulge in it under the table. Or the ones (sometimes the same) discussing their imminent divorce as an angry shouting match

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Its a Pub! An English Pub!

I mean what do you expect from an English Pub?

Fine dining or to partake in reveries???!?!

C'mon, there is a perfect good reason why the authorities impose a closing time of 23:00pm. There is even a special name for the customers: "LaggerLouts"

The term Gastropub simply means you can get plastered and served grub at the same time! Come to think of it, they should be called Grubopubs.

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Its a Pub! An English Pub!

I mean what do you expect from an English Pub?

Fine dining or to partake in reveries???!?!

C'mon, there is a perfect good reason why the authorities impose a closing time of 23:00pm. There is even a special name for the customers: "LaggerLouts"

The term Gastropub simply means you can get plastered and served grub at the same time! Come to think of it, they should be called Grubopubs.

24 hrs drinking now mate. :wink:

But you are right on the button with the pub issue.

I wouldn't expect rowdy behaviour in a classy restaurant, but within a pub, I almost expect it really. It's part and parcel of the atmoshere.

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