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incredible inedibles

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  • pat hammond Aug 23, 1999 03:28 PM
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When I read about Josh getting food poisoning and
recall other posts of being served food that is too
greasy, or too dry, or just plain crappy food, I am
wondering if anyone ever says, "Look, I'm not eating
this or paying for it."? What would happen if one did?
Just checking. pat

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  1. j
    Josh Mittleman

    I expect expensive restaurants to replace a dish if it
    is not to my taste, and on the few occasions when I've
    asked, they have obliged. I would be less sanguine of
    getting that service the further down the price scale I
    went, so I'd lower the bar accordingly and only
    complain to that degree if the food were truly
    inedible.

    The problem with food poisoning, of course, is that you
    can usually neither see it nor taste it. Happily, last
    night's episode only meant a few hours of discomfort
    and a very spartan breakfast this morning.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Josh Mittleman

      I'm curious what you mean, Josh, about "to your taste"
      - other people have used this expression on the
      boards. I would myself use this expression refer to my
      personal liking (a subjective standard) rather than to
      any (objective) deficiency in preparation.

      In terms of whether a dish should be sent back, its
      really a question of a proper allocation of risk - I
      would normally not send something back if I simply
      didn't like it - or the way it is fixed; if the dish
      was correctly described, that's my risk not the
      chef's, since I chose the dish and the restaurant.
      sometimes people in, say, French restaurants make
      mistakes in ordering because they are too nervous to
      ask what a dish is. thats part of the learning
      experience - its not fair to make the restauranteur
      finance the diner's learning curve, so you learn to
      ask. Likewise, a person who orders a perfectly sound
      bottle of fancy Chablis and finds it too tart and dry
      (not to his taste), shouldn't send it back, but should
      chalk it up to education, and give the wine a chance
      to taste pleasing with the food.

      However, if a dish is not cooked in the way
      specifically requested or described, a serious mistake
      has been made in preparation, or the food is "off"
      that should be the restaurant's problem, not the
      diner's.

      1. re: jen kalb
        j
        Josh Mittleman

        At a top-quality restaurant, I do expect to
        enjoy whatever I order. If a dish is simply
        unpleasant, then I will talk to the waiter about it,
        and I would expect the waiter to offer to bring me
        something else. It is not the customer's
        responsibility to finance the chef's experimentation.

        1. re: Josh Mittleman

          ok - lets say you don't enjoy the food because you
          turn out not to abide kidneys, brains, skate, caviar,
          pheasant, etc.- because of your own miscalculation,
          rather than a mistake in judgement by the chef. Should
          that really be at the restaurant's risk?
          On the other hand, if the cook whips up some
          monstrosity (its hard to imagine any combo that hasn't
          been tried at this point) and it flops utterly,I would
          agree that we as customers ought to reject the
          "creation".

          1. re: jen kalb
            j
            Josh Mittleman

            I guess it would depend what sort of restaurant it was
            how I was feeling that day, whether or not the waiter
            had recommended the dish, just how expensive it was,
            and how clearly it had been described on the menu. If
            a dish is especially weird, I would expect the waiter
            to warn me. If I then ordered it anyway and ended up
            disliking it, I'd probably accept my mistake.

            At a certain point, though, I really do feel that the
            restaurant has a responsibility to please me, not just
            to serve me what I've ordered. And it's important to
            point out that, in my experience, high-end restaurants
            and a good number of medium-priced restaurants seem to
            feel that way, too. I have had waiters offer to bring
            me a replacement far more often than I've asked for one
            on my own.

            1. re: Josh Mittleman

              Sometimes friends, you gotta speak up.
              If something isn't right, a polite word to the waiter
              can bring needed attention to something imminently
              fixable.

              Just today I wandered into Market Cafe (9th Ave &
              about 38th St) for one of their grilled pizza's.
              I've had them before - nothing terribly special about
              them except that I was in the mood for something light
              and crackly with a good hit of garlic and fresh tomato.

              The version that arrived today was a gloppy mess of
              thick cheese that weighed down and soddened the usual
              crisp crust I've come to expect. Since I was due back
              for an afternoon meeting, I just made the best out of
              it, scraping off what I could, eating mostly the
              edges, but really disappointed in the preparation.

              As I was paying the check, I (politely curious) asked
              the server if the kitchen had any recent changes to
              the staff. She looked a little warily and asked
              "why". After expressing my the reasons for my
              disappointment she confided that the usual lunch chef
              was taking a (no doubt richly deserved) vacation that
              week and that the kitchen was making do in his absence.

              My polite inquiry resulted in an explanation, a
              withdrawn bill (I left an appropriate tip anyway - the
              serving staff didn't work any less), and an indication
              that the kitchen staff would receive a bit more
              instruction in prep skills.

              Silence is the voice of complicity.

              Ciao,
              Len