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May 9, 2005 04:41 PM

30 (!!!) Verbal Specials - You've Got to be Kidding!

  • t

Had dinner Friday night at the highly recommended Omri & Boni in La Quinta, CA. Review on the California Board - we weren't all that impressed. However, menus came out on clipboards with 2 full pages of Xeroxed items. After we'd spent a great deal of time trying to decide what to order, waiter arrives & announces he has "30 additional specials, not on the menu,!" as if that's supposed to be good news. He proceeds to spout them off, obviously rushing through & we had to stop him several times to ask how a dish was done. Of course, no prices or more complete details. This really irritates me - why would a restaurant that obviously doesn't have expensively embossed menus add 30 more items to their already xeroxed menu? It's confusing, dishes came out much differently than expected & I wasn't going to make him stop & give me the price for each item we were interested in. This is my new beef - a few specials, great; a blackboard list, even better, but 30 verbally??? Drives me nuts.

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  1. 30 specials spouted off verbally is ridiculous. Any restaurant can afford a printer and print out a specials menu.

    1. 30 of anything is silly.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Tugboat

        That's my reaction as well. There's no way that the kitchen could do a good job with the regular menu plus 30 specials (which by definition are dishes the kitchen doesn't prepare regularly).

        These days I don't see any reason to have verbal specials at all -- if you don't want to print out a new menu you can always print out an insert for the regular menu with the specials.

        Actually, I do see the reason for verbal specials: that way the waiter can do a hard sell on the dishes the kitchen wants to move. But as the customer, I don't care about that!

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          There's a place in Pisa, appears to be a tourist trap but we had the best meal at the best price of any that trip...anyway, they have a multi-page printed menu listing EVERY dish they EVER have, period. If they're out, or it's not in season, they'll tell you. That seems a much better way of doing things - for one thing, you can see what you're missing, and perhaps come back another time. You also get some advance notice of what you'll pay for your wild boar or whatever.

          It also makes the menu a very interesting read!

          1. re: Will Owen
            torta basilica

            And I love an interesting menu read!!

      2. There's a well regarded medium-sized Italian restaurant on Long Island that regularly features 20 or so specials. Not only is there no printed listing of the specials, but there is also only one waiter who communicates them to diners (the other servers are all members of the supporting cast), and he proudly does so from memory, rather than by consulting any notes. He doesn't volunteer prices, and he races through his recitation (and sometimes omits items, as we've learned in various ways). Moreover, you don't receive the regular menu until the specials waiter comes to your table, but if you try to look at the printed menu, you miss much of what the specials waiter is saying. If you can't decide immediately what you want (and who can even retain a fraction of what he's just said?), he scurries off to another table, and you don't get to order until he finds time to visit you again.

        I've written the foregoing in the present tense, but I don't know if it's still the case, as we found the process described so infuriating that we just stopped going to the restaurant a few years ago. In the restaurant's defense, the specials were usually interesting and well prepared, and their prices were in line with prices on the regular menu, but a meal there felt more like an ordeal than a treat, and eventually we decided we lacked the energy for it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MDekay

          ... and the name of the place is?

        2. b
          Bride of the Juggler

          Even worse, I was at a restaurant with a big menu, about 25 verbal specials, and still only one thing I could eat (fish without shellfish). That was depressing. Thank you.

          1. I have posted about a restaurant where the server recited a dozen specials - doing a fairly good job. When I mentioned that it must be difficult to do that, he responded that it was nothing, they had the same specials every night. Clearly, specials are often not truly specials, but rather a way to suggest a more expensive entree while hiding its price. And you are right, it is difficult to concentrate on them, remember the details, etc.