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sending food back

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  • n Mar 16, 2006 07:38 PM
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Went to a neighborhood place last night. Normally they do a great job. I ordered the special - lamb chops with a marsala/mushroom sauce ($26.00). The waitress (maybe owner), asked how I wanted the chops cooked. I said 'pink to red in the middle', to which she replied 'you want medium'. The chops came almost done, just barely pink in the center.

I was completely disappointed. She offered to make them again, but my companions already had their dishes, and I knew remaking the order would take another 15 mins. So I just kept the side of ravioli, and called that dinner. Plus I'm really leary of sending anything back to the kitchen for adjustment or remaking.

Short of it all, the waitress/owner came back to the table later and said 'those chops were great, I had them & in the future, FYI, order medium rare not medium.' I though she was so out of line and rude. I wanted to remind her that SHE was the one who INFORMED me that what I described was medium.

I didn't want to cause a scene, so I didn't say anything, but toyed with the idea of speaking to her out of everyone elses' ear shot.

How would any of you have handled the situation? And what's your threshold for excepting less that expected, or down right disappointing dishes?

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  1. s
    Seth Chadwick

    In the most recent edition of Phoenix Magazine, the local restaurant reviewer told of a similar incident where she ordered some scallops. When she got them, they were on the verge of being bad and didn't taste good at all. She sent them back to the kitchen.

    The waiter returned with the plate and said to the food critic that the chef said the scallops just arrived this morning so they must be fresh. The waiter then returned the plate back to the guest.

    Perhaps I am just more sensitive to such things, but I have heard more and more of this happening where the server/chef/owner has gone out of their way to make some unnecessary comment to a guest because a dish has been sent back. What is the purpose of that anyway?

    If you send a dish back and it is corrected or an apology is made and the item removed from the bill, I would be apt to strike it up as a bad night for the restaurant and try again some other time. (Every restaurant has a bad night or a faux pas in the kitchen from time to time.)

    But if a comment like that was ever made to me, that restaurant would be on my list of "never agains" and I would certain to let my friends and family know what happened.

    As for your situation, it was probably best not to have words with her, even out of earshot. Simply reflect it in the tip (if it was a server) or simply never return to the restaurant again.

    Link: http://phoenixfeast.blogspot.com

    8 Replies
    1. re: Seth Chadwick

      The customer may not always be right, but he is ALWAYS THE CUSTOMER. This needs to be carved into the consciousness of every waiter, maitre d' and chef. If the customer doesn't like it and doesn't eat it, it's either replaced or off the bill. Period.

      Them's the rules.

      1. re: Will Owen

        "If the customer doesn't like it and doesn't eat it, it's either replaced or off the bill."

        I have to disagree with that statement. If someone orders something and it's served to them as it should be and as it was described, then why is it the restaurants fault that they didn't like it? It might be a nice gesture on the part of the restaurant to replace it or remove it from the bill, but I don't think that they owe it to the customer for a bad choice on the customer's part.

        1. re: valerie

          You're right - I misspoke there. If I get exactly what I'm supposed to get and it's properly prepared, and I find that I don't like it, then it's MY problem. I should have said that if I don't get what I asked for, or what I have a clear right to expect, then it is up to the restaurant to admit the error and either correct it or take the item off my bill.

          However, I prefer to give MY clients the benefit of every doubt, and if I were a restaurateur I probably would accommodate a diner who simply did not like what he'd asked for...once. But if he made a habit of it, I would invite him to patronize an establishment more to his liking.

        2. re: Will Owen

          Thats completely incorrect. If its cooked poorly or the food has been spoiled, then you should by all means send it back and either get a new dish or have it removed from your bill. If you merely don't like the dish, you have no right and the restaurant has no reason to take the dish back and replace it or take it off the bill.

          Same thing with wine. When you taste a wine you ordered, if its corked then you should get a replacement. If you don't like the taste of it, but its otherwise a nonspoiled bottle, tough luck..thems the breaks...

          1. re: Evan

            I agree with you totally.

            1. re: Evan

              >> If you merely don't like the dish, you have no right and the restaurant has no reason to take the dish back and replace it or take it off the bill.<<

              With all due respect if my husband followed this line of thinking he would have gone out of business a long time ago.

              If your customer doesn't like the dish, whether it was a poor choice on the customers fault or not, they are going to leave unhappy. They will tell 20 people the food is crappy at that restaurant.

              Find out how you can fix the situation and fix the situation. It doesn't matter who is at fault. You'll get the same end result: a bad review.

              A happy patron will tell two people, an unhappy one will tell 20 people.

              1. re: BlueHerons

                Dealing with customer complaints goes with the territory if you work in the industry. Especially these days. Everyone is a self-proclaimed culinary expert because they have seen a few episodes of Iron Chef.
                I also own a restaurant. If I acquiesed every time a guest complained about the food, then I would be out of business. Some people think that a particular dish would work better if it had a little more of this and a little less of that. Or it wasn't what they expected. Or it has a scallion garnish and they HATE scallions.
                There are a million different reasons why people don't like their food. Likewise with wine. If the wine is corked, of course I will take it off the bill. But am I supposed to eat the cost because the Dolcetto tasted more like raspberries than blueberries? Are we, as restaurant owners, supposed to give in every time and take items off the bill or give them a gift certificate for seemingly minor gripes? I've never subscribed to that philosophy and I've been in business, quite sucessfully, for 15 years. If it were my restaurant, I would have offered to re-fire the chops. If the guest refused to send it back, I might have sent them some dessert on the house but I would have charged them for the lamb. At the end of the day, this is still a business...not a venue to let people walk all over us.

          2. re: Seth Chadwick

            You're probably right, but one time I was with someone who sent back ribs because they "smelled rancid" according to my companion. He wanted them replaced. I might add he had absolutely no credibility with me because he sent back food all the time, but not at this restaurant oddly enough.

            Anyway, the waiter summoned the manager who approached my friend and politely told him that he (the manager) wasn't able to comply with his request because the ribs all came from the same place, and furthermore they weren't rancid. So there. He then asked my friend if he'd like to accompany him to the kitchen to smell them for himself, which my friend did. Two minutes later my friend came back, quite sheepish, and said he was mistaken. He then happily ate his ribs.

            Bravo to that manager for not capitulating, not to mention giving me a well needed laugh that night.

          3. I would call the owner, let him/her know that you had explained in detail to your waitress the color you wanted the inside of the lamb to look like and you were offended that the waitress told you to order them rare next time.

            The fault lies with the waitress because SHE should have known to order them rare for you because that is what you asked for.

            What happened to you was rude.

            You were treated like you were too stupid to know what you wanted and the big, smart restaurant people had to come out and explain things to the silly little patron.

            Unless they do some serious ass kissing, I'd never step foot inside that restaurant again.

            Very very few things in my book are inexcusable by a restaurant and this is one of them.

            2 Replies
            1. re: BlueHerons

              I'm sorry, but calling the owner because your chops were overcooked is completely ridiculous. Am I the only one who thinks that this is a really over-the-top reaction to a dish that is cooked med. well instead of medium? The owner might be some agro maniac (as many restaurant owners are) who will fire the server over something so trite. Besides, how do you know it wasn't the cook's fault as opposed to the server?
              Very often, the floor staff is blamed for mistakes of the kitchen. Regardless, this should be a non-issue at this point. Either get over the overcooked lamb or never go back there again.

              1. re: Oscar

                >>I'm sorry, but calling the owner because your chops were overcooked is completely ridiculous<<

                If you reread my post you'll find that I did not say to call the owner because the lamb was overcooked but because of the condescending treatment by the waitress.

            2. I keep trying to tell my friends and family this: If your food is no good, SEND IT BACK.

              Even when I was a cook, I never begrudged a customer asking for me to fix my own mistakes. I am terribly sorry your server suggested that pink-red translates to Medium, not medium rare, but if the chops were barely pink when they got to the table, they weren't what you asked for.

              Other than having to wait for your food, there are not really any consequences for you, the diner, in these circumstances- as long as the restaurant is pretty decent (serving lamb seems like a pretty good indicator) the cooks are probably pretty passionate about their work and would be agahst that they overcooked so fine an angredient. At Bennigans (or the like), the microwave jockeys might be tempted to *ahem* doctor your order before it goes back out, but not at a real place.

              Sure, the Kitchen will have to make up for the mistake somehow- but as Will says below, you are the customer.

              Your server was definitely wrong to tell you how good your order tasted, on top of being insensitive and impolite, it's rather unsanitary (sure, cooks do eat their own food, but taking it off of someones plate? blech! Even when I was on the line, rejected orders usually wound up in the trash or covertly nibbled well away from the line and certainly far away from customers.)

              As in so many of the discussions on this board, I suggest writing a letter to the owner and explaining the situation- It sounds like you had to pay full price for a meal you never ate. It also sounds like you like this place and arent trying to bilk them out of their life savings. Maybe just clean up your above post and send it to the owner.

              1. She screwed up (slightly, methinks), offered to replace the dish (I assume more or less pleasantly since you don't say otherwise) but instead you chose to be a martyr, and now you're pissed at her and the restaurant? I don't get it. I don't know why you're leary about returning food - especially when they're being gracious - but it seems to me that's your "issue," not the restaurant's, isn't it?

                As for eating the food, it's unprofessional to have told you about it, but I get the impression this was a fairly casual sort of place and she was maybe a little bit chattier than the ideal server might be? OK, annoying, but hardly the end of the world and in the final analysis, she offered to replace, and you refused. She didn't tell you you were wrong - that the meat was rare and delicious and you didn't know what you were talking about - she probably thought she was being helpful when she told you what "order" would produce food as you wanted it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: MikeG

                  I usually roll with that kind of discrepancy, but if she tried to make you think it was your mistake after she told you how to order, that's stupid and irritating. Do not be telling people they are wrong when they're not, just to cover your own a**.

                  We stopped going to a place with just OK service after a server was reluctant a dish of steamed mussels that one of our party could tell was bad by smell before it reached the table. She screwed up her face like, "You've got to be kidding" and when she was halfway across the dining room she called out to someone in the kitchen, "These people say the mussels are bad." Never went back.

                2. You need to get over yourself. I can"t understand why you couldn't just eat the lambchops. Sure they were a little more done than you anticipated, but you were not going to die if you ate them. The chef tried to make it up to you. I really do not understand this thinking.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: oldone

                    When you hire somebody to paint your house blue, and instead they paint it brown, how would you respond to someone who told you to get over yourself, and asks you why you cant just live with a brown house?

                    It doesnt matter whether you ar talking about pink-to-red-in-the-middle lamb chops or a blue house, you should get what you ask for.

                    1. re: Fydeaux

                      Really not an appropriate analogy, but not going to get into a contest. I just think you need some perspecitve, and this is just lamb chops a little more done than anticipated. No need for martyrdom. MAybe the waitress was over strident, but she did try to make things better. If you do not want to make a scene, you just eat the lamb chops, and get over yourself.

                      1. re: oldone

                        Possibly not the best anology, but the best I could come up with on the spur of the moment. Regardless, her dish was not prepeared, not simply not the way she expected it, but not the way she requested it, and not the way she was told it would be prepared.

                        And also, the notion of eating something prepared in an unsatisfactory manner simply because 'it wouldnt kill you to eat it' does not sound to me like a good way to enjoy a meal.

                        1. re: Fydeaux

                          The server was also very badly out of her place. There's a huge difference between informing or advising a customer and arguing with her, and that gratuitous, smirking remark at the end would have gotten any employee of mine canned on the spot, even aside from the issue of eating from a customer's plate.

                        2. re: oldone

                          That's twice you've told the OP 'get over yourself' and once you called the OP a martyr.

                          Why?

                          1. re: BlueHerons

                            He called himself a martyr to begin with, I was just repeating. I just think that occasionally we all get something a little more done than anticipated and you do not have to make a fuss and think you are too good to eat something just a little more done. It was not burnt, it was not bad, it was just one shade too well done. Certainly has been an amusing exchange.

                            1. re: oldone

                              "think you are too good to eat somthing just a little more done"

                              What a funny turn of phrase.

                              In a restaurant where you are paying for a particular item, you have a right to expect that item to be prepared as you asked. That's not someone being "snobby", as you are implying, it's someone who likes meat a certain way, is paying for it to be prepared a certain way, and has a right to expect it prepared it that way, and be unhappy if it's not prepared that way.

                              If I didn't care how my meat was done I could eat at cheap fast food places all the time, but a restaurant that serves lamb ought to have staff trained to understand what the customer is asking for, and place the order with the kitchen accordingly, and not make the customer feel crappy if they didn't like it.

                        3. re: Fydeaux

                          I still think the issue goes back to ordering the lamb chops pink to red in the middle rather than initially saying medium rare. As soon as the waitress mentioned "Medium" that would've meant to me something that would be slightly pink. I think the fault lies with both the waitress and the original poster. Going back to your house painting analogy, its like asking for a house to be painted in a light blue color and the painter saying oh you mean "navy", and then when you come back and your house is painted navy getting upset that it isn't light blue.

                          That being said, they offered to replace it but you said no, so I'm not sure why you are upset now.

                          1. re: Evan

                            The way the OP ordered is not uncommon. Different people have different interpretations of rare, medium, etc. but when you describe the color you want the final product to come there is a better chance of getting what you want.

                            1. re: Homer J

                              Agreed- the poster ordered exactly how she should have. Although "medium rare" should be a commonly understood term, in my expereince, some chefs (in lower end places, usually) don't seem to manage to execute it properly. So ordering the meat the way you want it to look when it's served to you makes a lot more sense.

                              1. re: Chris VR

                                Yep, just going to say the same thing. I most often specify the color, and then ask them to confirm the corresponding doneness just for a little better idea. Nothing wrong with having this little discourse go for a few minutes - your return on the investment will be worth it. Especially if it's a $60 Kobe. Although I'll still do it for that $5 burger.

                                Having said all that, some places are just so incompetent to consistently get the requested level of doneness. Just something to consider in all these discussions.

                            2. re: Evan

                              Excellent analogy.

                              I hate to blame the victim here, but I knew what to call the temperature of meat I wanted when I was 10 years old. The poster should have said "no, I don't want medium".

                            3. re: Fydeaux

                              What you are describing, the difference between blue and brown, would be like the difference between very rare and very well done, that was not the case here. I believe the poster that told the OP to get over themselves is correct. It seems to me there are people out there that try to act like the most finiky Connoisseur to impress those around them. I have heard of cases where food is sent back and the cook knows it was not that far off and "accidently" coughs something into the food. The OP could have easily enjoyed the slightly pink chops.

                              1. re: malibumike

                                "The OP could have easily enjoyed the slightly pink chops."

                                How on earth could you know that the OP could have easily ENJOYED the overcooked chops? Sure, he/she could have eaten them. But that has nothing to do with enjoying the meal and that's what the OP paid for.

                                "I have heard of cases where food is sent back and the cook knows it was not that far off and "accidently" coughs something into the food."

                                Maybe all the chefs I've ever worked with are pros, but I never saw one "cough" in the food or even joke about it. Sure, they got MAD when I brought food back into the kitchen but a chef who would pull a stunt like that doesn't deserve the title of chef. There are a lot of people like you who have "heard" of these cases but that doesn't mean it happens often, and not at higher end restaurants. I'm not saying it never happens but I don't think it happens anywhere near as often as people are afraid it will.

                          2. "I wanted to remind her that SHE was the one who INFORMED me that what I described was medium."

                            i would have done just that because you told her how you wanted them and they came out not that way so it was her fault. i also would have asked her if she often eats off of customer's plates and let's them know about it. that's just gross. i worked with a chef that would fire you on the spot if he ever found out a server ate off of a guest's plate whether "they barely touched it" or not.

                            i can let many things slide when i go out to eat. the one thing i can't let slide is if my steak or meat is overdone. i would have sent it back.

                            i also suggest that you talk to the manager about what she said to you. that's ridiculous.

                            1. >>How would any of you have handled the situation? And what's your threshold for excepting less that expected, or down right disappointing dishes?>>

                              You know, at those prices, if I really found it inedible, I would let them redo the dish. What's 15 minutes? I think what the waitress did at the end was stupid; it was her mistake and if you were content she should have just left it alone. That would be my last visit to that place.

                              The get over yourself and eat it suggestion, I don't understand. Degree of doneness can be very important with some foods. At the price you're paying, and it being their mistake, let them redo it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bibi rose

                                It was in refernece to the blue paint/brown paint analogy, which is extremely flawed. You will live have to live with the paint for years or decades to come...the lamb is ONE MEAL. so, eat it or send it back and get one with it.

                              2. They made a mistake...they offered to rectify the mistake...you refused. End of story.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Oscar

                                  The "story" does not "end" there. It begins there. Next line, "Short of it all, the waitress/owner came back to the table later and said ...in the future, FYI, order medium rare not medium.'" The "story" is about a rude mouthy table server. The issue is, what would you do when your hungry and the person who was supposed to bring your food is instead asking you for a Knuckle sandwich? The answer is, Stay focused on what you went there for -- take care of your own hunger first.

                                  1. re: Like-GoEat?

                                    Actually, yes, the "story" does "end" there. Mistakes happen all the time in restaurants--one of the best ways to determine whether a restaurant is any good is how they respond to mistakes and the steps they take to rectify a bad situation.
                                    They offered to re-cook the lamb. The OP refused this offer. The server mentioned that next time the OP orders the lamb, he/she should ask for it Med. instead of Med. Rare. This is because every restaurant (and most individuals) have their own definition of what a particular meat temp. should be. It would be great if there were a universal definition, but there's not.
                                    Finally, if the server stated that she ate the lamb and it was delicious, then clearly that is a very inexperienced move on her part. However, it is never clearly stated whether or not the server ate the OP's lamb or just happened to have it as a staff meal. Either way, it's not the worst thing in the world and definitely not an unforgiveable offense. It's been my experience that people who usually feel that a server is being rude or offensive tend to have very thin skin and are easily rattled. This is after all, the SERVICE industry--meaning that it behooves servers to be courteous, polite and well-mannered. After all, their livelihood depends on it. Are there rude servers? Absolutely. But more often than not, I find that people simply misinterpret, or have odd expectations of what good service is. Either way, this is not that big of a deal. Get over it and get on with it.
                                    End of story.

                                    1. re: Oscar

                                      Ignoratio elenchi!

                                      1. re: Like-Go-Eat?

                                        Yeah, I dropped out of my logic class...couldn't stand the people. I opened a restaurant instead.

                                2. I suppose getting an overcooked steak or chop has happened to everybody but here's my take on this. For $26.00 for lamb chops, you should have sent back the dish and had the kitchen prepare you another order. The waitress offered but unfortunately you were kind of passive-aggressive about this and only ate the ravioli that came with the dish. It's also quite possible the marsala-mushroom sauce kept cooking the chop so that it wasn't pink anymore but that's just my guess.

                                  Additionally, when the waitress said 'those chops were great, I had them & in the future, FYI, order medium rare not medium' did she actually mean she ate the actual plate of chops you returned or prepared another plate? If she ate your plate I would have insisted on not paying for them and just paid for the ravioli.

                                  I find that as long as restaurants offer to prepare a new steak or chop or burger to my liking then I can't really complain. However, if a restaurant won't take blame for bad mussels or fish, that's another story because they're covering themselves for possible food poisoning complaints.

                                  You did say you liked this restaurant and it was a local place so maybe give it another chance and if something is not to your liking, do send it back and have them prepare another dish that you will enjoy.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Flynn

                                    It's not passive aggressive to choose not to have the kitchen recook your food.

                                    If I am dining with companions, I don't want to sit there with no food while they awkwardly eat theirs. And I don't want to have them sit there for another 15 minutes when I finally get my food. It throws off the entire pacing of the meal.

                                    "I find that as long as restaurants offer to prepare a new steak or chop or burger to my liking then I can't really complain."

                                    Sure you can complain. You expected your meal with your companions to be an experience where you are dining together. Because of the server's bad recommendation regarding the terminology, that experience was either going to be ruined for you (having to eat only ravioli) or for everyone at the table (if you sent it back.) Any way you look at it, it's not what you expected and is worthy of complaint.

                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                      But people make mistakes. You can't really have it both ways. If you are an exacting sort and want your food to be prepared precisely to your specifications, then you send it back when it isn't and have them make it again. If you don't want to rock the boat or value the experience of eating concurrently with your friends more than the well-doneness of your meat, then you eat the less-than-ideally prepared food and go on with life.

                                      To me, it is a bit passive aggressive to complain, but then give the restaurant no opportunity to make the situation right. Of course in this situation the waitress clearly could have handled things better once the train went off the tracks, but I have the feeling there could be more to her side of the story...

                                      1. re: butterfly

                                        There's more than one way to make the situation right, and a complaint is what alerts the server/management that they need to find the solution that's best for the customer. Perhaps it is re-preparing the dish, but taking the dish off the bill would be appropriate if the customer refused that option, or comping a dessert, or a round of drinks, whatever. It doesn't sound like any of those options were pursued, although I'm not sure, as the OP doesn't say if the dish was on the bill.

                                        It's not passive aggressive to complain and then not accept a solution that isn't right for you. And it's also not the customer's job to go through all the other options, it's the restaurant's job.

                                        Sure, there's more than one side of the story but from what the OP has told us about the waitress's coments, my guess is that the waitress just thought the patron was too "picky", as many of you seem to think, and that justified her attitude.

                                        A good waitress should have been able to convey to the kitchen how the patron wanted her meat done, and that she wanted the sauce on the side. When the patron was unhappy, the waitress should have taken the initiative to figure out what things she could do to remedy the situation, without making the patron feel put out. And for heaven's sake, a good waitress would NEVER tell the patron that she'd eaten the food and it tasted fine to her! There's simply NO "side of the story" that makes that kind of behavior acceptable.

                                        1. re: butterfly

                                          Oh some people definitely want it both ways. I took a friend out last week who was unhappy with some undercooked potatoes, called the server, loudly and descriptively lambasted the chef for the decrepit quality of the food. He was snide and ungracious when he accepted the replacement (comped) meal, and still vented about it for the rest of the night. I was mortified and made a quiet apology to the server and the rest of my dinner companions.

                                          Mistakes happen, and there's no call for ruining an evening with obnoxious behaviour when the restaurant is trying to make things right.

                                    2. OP here. Interesting responses. I left out part of the story.

                                      Flynn added ...It's also quite possible the marsala-mushroom sauce kept cooking the chops so that it wasn't pink anymore but that's just my guess.

                                      I think Flynn is right, the marsala-mushroom sauce probably over cooked the chops. I requested the marsala-mushroom sauce on the side to avoid that very problem. The dish came napped in the marsala-mushroom sauce anyway. The waitress said 'oops, the kitchen screwed up'. Then she kind of smirked and added 'what's the matter, you don't like mushrooms.' When I didn't laugh, she said 'I can take it in the back and take the mushrooms off.' It was just one bad turn after another.

                                      As for sending the dish back - between the waitresse's attitude, and the kitchen screw up - why bother. What happens if they mess up the remake? Send that back too?

                                      Whoever used the house painting anology hit the nail on the head & I also agreed with Will's comments.

                                      Lastly, Oldone - respectfully, I never said I was a martyr. If you care to you can recheck my original post.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: n

                                        Based on what you've said of this waitress, she was probably just blaming the kitchen when she forgot to tell them to keep the sauce on the side. And for her to make that comment about the sauce, on top of the comment about the meat?! She sounds like the type of person who ought to get out of the service industry. You ought to write a letter of complaint- the owner ought to know about her attitude issues.

                                        1. re: Chris VR

                                          >>I think Flynn is right, the marsala-mushroom sauce probably over cooked the chops. I requested the marsala-mushroom sauce on the side to avoid that very problem. The dish came napped in the marsala-mushroom sauce anyway. The waitress said 'oops, the kitchen screwed up'. Then she kind of smirked and added 'what's the matter, you don't like mushrooms.' When I didn't laugh, she said 'I can take it in the back and take the mushrooms off.' It was just one bad turn after another. >>

                                          Now I understand better why you were reluctant to return the stuff. At a certain point, you want to cut your losses and avoid any more weird interactions.

                                          I would write a letter to the manager; you'd be doing him or her a favor.

                                        2. re: n

                                          much to do about nothing!

                                          1. re: n

                                            I agree with the suggestion to call the manager. The waitress could be causing all kinds of problems for customers and the kitchen with her bad communication between the two.

                                            1. re: n

                                              I don't really blame you for not sending it back. Sometimes you just get that weird vibe that if you complain and send something back, they'll do nasty things to your food before it comes back out. I'm sure the vast majority of times nothing nefarious would actually take place, but sometimes you just don't trust the people in the restaurant. Sucks when that happens.

                                              -Nick

                                            2. I would have sent them back. The best way to handle it is to be nice but direct. Don't make a scene, but let them know you're not satisfied and ask them to prepare it the way you want. Shouldn't be a problem.

                                              1. I've read through almost all the replies and I was taken aback by those that said, it was nothing, get over it. It wasn't nothing. You were hurt enough to post to this board, as any normal person would be. I suspect it wasn't the overcooked lamb that hurt the most, it was the server's sneaky and gratuitous abuse. You don't need that in your life.

                                                1. This has been the best thread since "priceless menus." You specifically described the doneness of your lamb chops and the waitress characterized it incorrectly and probably communicated "medium" to the kitchen. Once delivered and what is described is not a slight variation in my opinion, but significant, and I would have sent it back immediately (there is no way it can go from med-rare to med-well because of the sauce, come on please). Yes there are times when all but one at the table eat and then the kitchen's second try shows up. If you think the kitchen will "cough" as others describe, why are you eating there. If the table are friends it gives more time to shmooz while you work your way through the correct dish. The second part of her returning and telling you she enjoyed your dinner is so far beyond the line it is frightening. What I have done in the past is (1) ask the waitress to remove the dish from the bill, (2) leave a tip equal to the service (nothing) and (3) while the others are outside saying goodbyes or waiting for cars, quietly approach the manager and explain what occurred. If you receive no reaction from him I would never return to this place.

                                                  1. I can't believe this thread has gone on this long. Talk about getting bogged down in semantics. We're still talking about protein cooked on a grill for a minute longer than it should have been, a novice server, and a customer who, despite having such powerful feelings about overcooked lamb, refused to send it back. Please let this be the last comment about this. This is utterly ridiculous.

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: Yasir

                                                      NO!. I hate the word “semantics.” It is most often used by pompous people who have nothing to say but will not admit it so they attack everyone else who has something meaningful to say.

                                                      The OP called this dump for what it is. She did not make a big deal about being screwed because that only would have ruin the night for the others at her table. She even stayed cool when the game playing nut of a server attacked her the only way she could – with words. That again proves the OP made the right call when not allowing that nut to bring her another dish of food. That only would have allowed the nut a chance to attack through doing something to the food.

                                                      IMO it is not prudent to trust strangers. People who do not follow your simple clearly stated request the first time and start playing word games once you let them know they screwed-up are about as strange as strangers can be. I never send food back. I just refuse to pay and ask them to remove the dish because it is, “Not what I ordered!” I then cancel my order because I no longer have time to wait for the dish I wanted .

                                                      As for how would I have handled this problem that got bigger with the word game. I know how because I have done so many times. When the server gets wacky I tell them, “You get the hell away from MY table and send the manager back here NOW! I then calmly explain the "Game" the server was playing using the exact words the server used (chances are the manager heard the words or attitude before and then knows I am telling the truth). Most often the manager picks up the bill for the table and ask that we all return. If not – well then I know whether the whole place stinks or just the one server.

                                                      Finally, I really do not think this server is the owner. No owner plays word games and stays in business.

                                                      1. re: Like-Go-Eat?

                                                        The fact is that we don't know the original details from the original poster - did the server actually eat off of their plate (ok, I know some servers who do this to leftovers, but only a total idiot would admit it - even in front of anyone else behind the kitchen!)??? I understand why they didn't want to have to sit by themselves and send it back, but maybe the server made a mistake in suggesting "medium", maybe they weren't paying attention and just forgot what they suggested at the end of the meal? If something is cooked to a temperature, I pretty much always side on at least medium rare, and sometimes rare - it seems a lot of places think medium rare means no redness and just pink in the center... From the story told, it seems the service was crappy, but the offer to send it back wasn't taken.

                                                        In my experience, honestly, depending on my fellow diners, I might have done the same thing. If they were good friends and it was a favorite restaurant, I'd chalk it up to a simple mistake; if they were less-close-of-friends and this was a restaurant I didn't dine in regularly (which seemed to be the case here), I'd be sure to express my disappoint a little better... But the server's attitude wasn't quite clear from the original post.

                                                        If there was an offer to have it taken back though, there's just not much you can do, except chalk it up to a kitchen mistake, despite the disappointment. I had to roll my eyes when I had a friend send her steak back to the kitchen once - apparently a little pink, I think she got hers medium wells instead of well-done like she wanted it. Ordering medium to me means maybe at most some pink in the center... But, if the server suggested it, they should be corrected at the time... Maybe the server wasn't listening -- maybe the typical customers in this restaurant typically liked their lamb chops well-done -- we just don't know.

                                                        I can't criticize the original poster at all. All I can do is just say if this was the experience I've had before, based on the interpretations of other posters, chalk it up to a server's stupid mistake and then my own subsequent stupid mistake...

                                                        1. re: Like-Go-Eat?

                                                          Like-Go-Eat, if you've repeatedly been so dissastisfied with your meal to the point that you refuse to pay for it, and have had many "word game" problems with servers to the extent that you're verbally abusive, something tells me the issue lies within you. How come I don't encounter these problems?

                                                          Interesting that you "calmly" explain to the manager, while you don't show any respect toward the server. If you think management picks up the check because they think you're right, you're deluding yourself.

                                                          1. re: mw

                                                            “Something tells me”.... This thread is not about Crystal ball readings about me or all those Big Red Herrings served up below by the Food Server Lobby below (“but, but we offered to try again”) while refusing to face, accept and respond to the issue presented by the OP – That the Server tried to blame the OP for not ordering properly. The OP requested, “pink to red in the middle. The Server wrote, “medium” and the chef delivered chops almost done (IOW, “medium” for this Chef). For the Server to next say, “in the future, FYI, order medium rare not medium'” is to say the OP should be expected to experiment to get to know what this chef’s definition of what a particular meat temp is. That is the Servers job!

                                                            When the Server continued to offer “advice” for how to order meat the line was crossed which prompted this thread. At that point I would push the line back. No more “lending” respect to someone who clearly does not “pay” respect earned by the paying customer. I give a warning, “Get the hell away from me.” I do not go out to dinner to play childish games of being blamed for a mistake not my own.

                                                            Finally, All this crap about “just send is back” is nonsense for several reasons.

                                                            1, It is not prudent to ignore what they might do to the food. True, very few would do something bad but all it takes is one and you are sick or worst. Not worth the risk! I know first hand -- it happened!

                                                            2, People who spend $25 for a meal deserve the respect that their time is valuable and they do not have time to allow multiple attempts to get it right – especially after using multiple descriptive words to place the order. The server was to lazy to write those several words and looked for an easy out – “Duh, medium?”

                                                            3, People who come as a group clearly intend to break bread together. A remedy that they not do that is not a remedy.

                                                            4, People sometimes loose their appetite knowing food will be wasted so they, “Eat It” so to speak. I have many times.

                                                            That dubious / suspect “advice” from the Server was an attempt to drag a big Red Herring. She was getting ready for a confrontation over screwing up the night for a group that simply went out for some Food as they like it and served without distraction – "Dinner." What a worm!

                                                            1. re: Like-Go-Eat?

                                                              As I said, I've never once been tempted to tell a server "get the hell away from me." Why not, I wonder. Oh, maybe it's because I believe in treating people with respect even if they did make a mistake.

                                                              Furthermore, how the hell do you know what was in the server's head? How do you know she was too lazy to write anything down? How do you know she was gearing up for a confrontation? You said yourself this thread isn't about crystal ball readings yet that's exactly what you're doing by attributing behavior to someone when you weren't even there.

                                                              Your posts reek of condescension and disdain for servers, something my crystal ball says you would vehemently deny but snotty remarks like the "food server lobby" tell me otherwise.

                                                              Good day.

                                                              1. re: mw

                                                                Argumentum ad hominem. You sidestepped the "about me" part. Once again, “This thread is not about Crystal ball readings about “ME.” IOW, Please direct all impressions based on real world experiences, opinions or Crystal ball readings (what ever the hell you want to call them) toward the fact pattern presented by the OP. Specifically, comments about the “situation” of the “out of line and rude” Server (i.e., Hey hungry fool, I just ate your chow – yum yum) or that hat full of recommendations on how to order and re-order would be on topic. Nobody is interested in spin-off readings about ME.

                                                                My Crystal ball readings of what is going on out there (Reality) is based on my real world experiences of eating out 10 to 15 times a week for almost forty years, working with the public all my life, and dealing with some of the worst criminals in L.A. Yet all that experience is not needed here. My having raised six adolescents is more than enough ”hands-on” to form an impression, based on the facts presented, of what this Server was doing – Brake it, make a lame attempt to fix it, try to cover it up and then act like it never happen.... Imputing our sense of “Reality” on the facts in the OP is what this thread is about. Hell, that is what our "reality" is about. "Life is a state of mind" Rent, "Being There."

                                                                As for those big whopping Red Herrings served up below by the Food Server Lobby. They are at least imputing their sense of reality on some facts in the OP. The Red Herring is they all sidestepped the “situation” of the “out of line and rude” Server. They might as well have discussed the price of the nights “Special.” (i.e., “lamb chops with a marsala/mushroom sauce for only $26.00. What the hell do you have to complain about? In MY restaurant bla bla bla”). Why is it so hard to admit that this ONE Server is not the typical ombudsmen that almost every other Server is? No big! To conclude that this non-representative / insufficient sample (Da Lobby) reflects the opinion of all restaurant workers would be a reasoning fallacy just the same as concluding that my words about this ONE Server and the Lobby is sufficient evidence to conclude that I somehow dislike all persons who Serve food.

                                                                If you want to know what I think of the majority of people who work in restaurants look me up on the L.A. board. I make many recs for how people can spend money and enjoy themselves and they are at good places to eat with great service by good “real” people.

                                                                1. re: Like-Go-Eat?

                                                                  OK folks, things are getting a bit too inflamed and we're entering personal attack territory here. Let's all take a deep breath, go eat something good, and put this topic to bed. Thanks.

                                                        2. re: Yasir

                                                          This is a food discussion site. If you think discussion about food isn't worth having, then maybe you're in the wrong place?

                                                        3. I've been on two sides of this three-sided situation (chef and customer, but never waitstaff). Given my experiences, I would probably not have sent the chops back - nor would I have been too terribly upset that they were a little overdone, because I understand that people do make mistakes. I would have simply made a mental note for the next visit that the restaurant overcooked the chops last time. (Then again, I'm not sure how I could adjust my ordering...I mean, you DID specify a color of doneness, so how much clearer can you make it?)

                                                          OTOH, I would definitely let the owner/manager know that the server RECOMMENDED a degree of doneness based on my very specific request (and it sounds like she misinterpreted it completely), then later BLAMED me for not asking for what I wanted.

                                                          1. I'm afraid that I must have missed something.

                                                            Excerpts from the original post:
                                                            "The waitress... asked how I wanted the chops cooked. I said 'pink to red in the middle'... The chops came almost done, just barely pink in the center."

                                                            What I get from this is the poster wanted pink in the middle (another word for center), and the chops came pink in the center.

                                                            I agree that the server's comments were completely out of line, but as far as the chops, put me in the "send them back or get over yourself" category.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: SuzyInChains

                                                              I guess it's like asking for a number between 1 and 10, being given 1, then being upset that you didn't get 5.

                                                              1. re: SuzyInChains

                                                                What we have here is a failure to communicate. The way I translate it,is this: The customer ordered the chops medium rare and got them medium well. The language of meat has many dialects, which is why I am perfectly clear about what I think rare should be.I always warn the server, that if rare is not possible, the meat goes back.

                                                                While dining in a pricey Santa Fe place I did my, "what rare meams to me" speech before ordering. "No problem", the waiter assured. The steak came out medium to medium well and I sent it back. After a considerable wait a new steak arrived, ice cold raw, (more like tartare, than black and blue). I declined another attempt at rare and wound up eating seafood, while everyone else was eating their dessert. I have never gone back.

                                                                1. re: Scottso

                                                                  Ya gotta love a cook (not a chef) that thinks he knows more than he does and then gets offended when called on it. I had a new cook that served up several steaks one shift well cremated. When almost every one of the steaks were returned (with complaints), I asked him what he thought he was doing. His reply was, "They don't know anything and I do."

                                                                  "Really? Why do you think I'm back here and you're gone?"

                                                                  (That was a very long shift indeed.)

                                                                  1. re: The Ranger

                                                                    Been there, done that one too and It does always make for a very long shift when your slammed and short. I had a line guy once tell me, "Just turn the meat over and put some jus on it, the a**holes won't know the difference". Indeed!