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Excruciatingly bad buffet experience


ellencho
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Today two of us ate at an excruciatingly bad restaurant. Painfully embarrassingly bad food at a local Indian buffet. We each got one plates' worth of food, not even full plates, and after taking a couple bites, we decided to leave. I was afraid of getting into a big fight with the waiter since we actually ate some of the food, so I paid, but most of the people I have told about my experience were surprised when I said that I had paid.

What is appropriate in a situation such as this one. Hopefully I will never encounter another restaurant such as this one, but just in case it happens again what are my rights as a diner?

Edited by ellencho (log)

Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

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I think you pay. Nice if the restaurant notices your distress and comps something, but they have no obligation to do so.

You have to tip, too.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Yeah, I forgot to mention I left a tip as well. I thought it would be rude not to, especially since it wasn't the fault of the waiter that the food was so bad.

Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

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I don't think I'd tip. At a buffet restaurant where I filled my own plate, and then couldn't eat more than a couple mouthfuls because it was so wretched? Please.

I would drop the loaded plate in the bus bin myself, though, to relieve the busser of the burden.

If I did put food on a plate, I would pay the buffet charge. If I wised up before food hit plate, I would wave on my way to the door.

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Ooh, I've had pretty much this same experience several years ago. A girlfriend of mine went with me to an Indian buffet that was always packed for lunch near work, but we decided to try the dinner buffet.

Bad idea! Noone was there and the food didn't look very hot. We got our plates and took a few bites and decided we might get food poisoning so we shouldn't stay and eat, nor should we have to pay for food of that quality.

So we waved over our waiter and explained. Forget the customer is always right kind of mentality! He accused us of not having the money and taunting us with "maybe you girls don't have money. The food is not cold. Maybe you can't pay!" Of course then there was no way we'd pay LOL.

Sure enough we had, um, intestinal discomfort the next day. I only had about 2 bites so it was minor for me but my friend had 4 or 5 and she was in serious pain.

So, I say if it's "food poisoning" bad, don't pay. But if it's just prepared badly and you fill your plate and sit down, pay for it but don't return.

-Kelly

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I would mention the problem to the cashier, but would pay if they insisted.

I would never penalize the waitstaff though, unless they were rude when asked for assistance.

I'm reminded of an exchange from "Fiddler on the Roof":

Nachum (played by SB in Community Theatre): [begging] Alms for the poor! Alms for the poor!

Lazar Wolf: Her, Nachum, here's one kopeck.

Nachum: One kopeck? Last week, you gave me two kopecks!

Lazar Wolf: I had a bad week.

Nachum: So? If YOU had a bad week, why should I suffer? :laugh:

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What kind of "bad" was it? Unless it was putrid -- bad as in "after two months in the back of the fridge, it went bad" -- I don't think you've got a leg to stand on. Did you expect good food at an all-you-can-eat buffet on The Day after New Years Day?

And of course your friends think you should have refused to pay! The story would have been so much more exciting! :wink:

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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"Tip for lousy food-not on your life!"

That's the attitude of a rube. The waiter is not responsible for the food.

You tip predicated on service. That is the only factor. And remember that if your food takes forever to come out that's probably the fault of the kitchen, not the waiter (although part of really good service is alerting me to the fact that there is a delay).

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What kind of "bad" was it? Unless it was putrid -- bad as in "after two months in the back of the fridge, it went bad" -- I don't think you've got a leg to stand on. Did you expect good food at an all-you-can-eat buffet on The Day after New Years Day?

And of course your friends think you should have refused to pay! The story would have been so much more exciting! :wink:

By bad I meant a mattar paneer made with tomato soup and no other spices, rice that tasted off - it didn't have the texture of playdoh, but it tasted like playdoh smells, room temperature tandoori chicken (everything else was lukewarm). Also there were these really bizarre red bits that I later found out were chicken, but they were also really dry and tough and appeared to be "candied" because they had a shiny/sticky coating of redness around them.

And even though it was the day after NYD, we managed to find another Indian restaurant two blocks down that had excellent fresh food that was constantly being refilled, and more customers. The difference between the two restaurants was like night and day.

Edited by ellencho (log)

Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

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"Tip for lousy food-not on your life!"

That's the attitude of a rube.  The waiter is not responsible for the food.

You tip predicated on service.  That is the only factor.

Not in my country-here we tip predicated on the whole experience-if it sucks so does the tip.

Sorry to bring you up short like this but not everyone pays their waitstaff $2/hr and expects them to make the rest on the floor.

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It seems to me a point is being missed here. Not to be overly snobbish, but I think you have to lower your standards when the word buffet is involved, and quantity usually trumps quality in those instances.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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It seems to me a point is being missed here.  Not to be overly snobbish, but I think you have to lower your standards when the word buffet is involved, and quantity usually trumps quality in those instances.

As a general rule, I would agree. The very concept of a buffet is rife with potential problems.

Large amounts of food prepared well in advance and left out in the open.

Having said this, I have been to a number of really well executed buffets and interestingly they are/were mostly Indian. Let's face it, all the curries/stews are dishes that actually adapt to the steam table quite nicely.

In the end, a buffet can't cover up for poor cooking and/or ingredients of any cuisine and the added challenges a buffet presents make them a good bet to avoid altogether.

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Hey I always tip the service staff - But I also understand that the food is not their fault - now if my drink glass is empty and I need more bread etc --- then yeah I tip what I think it is worth throwing out the % crap - I have never left a penny like some I know merely to send the message - but I have left a handful of change. Buffet - still work to do - drinks, clearing old plates, incidentals - not as much as the 15-20% but still something

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QUOTE(Brad Ballinger @ Jan 15 2007, 02:41 PM)

It seems to me a point is being missed here. Not to be overly snobbish, but I think you have to lower your standards when the word buffet is involved, and quantity usually trumps quality in those instances.

I have to agree with Brad about buffets.

Aside from quality issues, there are sanitary issues to consider.

Once the food is put on the steamtable, how do you really know it's being held at the correct safe temperature? Do you see crusty, dried food that's been out for a while? Do you see food being changed out with fresh prepared food? And do you know that the food being put out is truly fresh or is it yesterday's curry or stew reheated from the day before when it may be already at the end of it's safe/sanitary life?

Despite sneezeguards and lids over some items, the food is subject to the pokings, proddings, tastings, sneezing/coughing upon and general messing about with by customers as they serve themselves with utensils that you have to touch after them. And what about those utensils? How do you know if the used ones are regularly changed out for clean, sanitary ones?

I'm not saying don't go to buffet restaurants, but buyer beware!

Take a look at the buffet before you decide to eat at that restaurant. Of course a visual inspection can't tell you everything (like if it's really yesterday's stew or if the food's at correct temperature), but can at least you can spot the obvious warning signs and politely leave.

And if the buffet restaurant won't let you check out the buffet first, well then you have to ask yourself what do they have to hide and don't eat there.

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"Not in my country-here we tip predicated on the whole experience-if it sucks so does the tip."

bullocks...I lived in Vancouver and that's absolutely not true. nice try though.

yes, the standard tip percentage is lower in Canda...because waitstaff wages are higher. (the flipside of the American system is that menu prices are lower and waitstaff are more motivated to earn tips...in theory anyway.)

but it's not kosher in Canada to not tip the waitstaff just cause the kitchen screwed up. I absolutely stand by my post.

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