Not ordering everything at once
My parents have a habit, at restaurants they go to often, of not ordering everything at the beginning when the server asks. For example, they love a particular Chinese restaurant and go there at least once a month. They will order their drinks and appetizer/soup, and then after they have finished the soup they will order their entree.
This makes sense at this particular restaurant because Chinese food is prepared very quickly, and we know from experience that if we order everythign at once, they will deliver it all at once.
They do this at other restaurants, too, when they've learned from experience that the food is delivered too quickly.
Granted, this is the fault of the restaurant. Food should not be brought out until the previous course is finished, unless only one person isn't finished and they're taking way too long. But rather than stop going to a place they love when the staff doesn't seem to want to change, my parents change THEIR habits. It does come off as pretty rude sometimes, though.
Does anyone else do this?
I don't see anything wrong with it and I can't really think of any time I've done it that it seemed to faze or bother anyone on staff.
If I'm with a group at a good Chinese place, we'll often order two or three things at a time. It keeps the pace a little leisurely and I think it lets us better enjoy each dish if we're not filling a plate with little mounds of five or six things at once.
But we don't just do it in situations like that or at tapas/izakaya/small-plates places where it's very common. To me, it's good service when a servers and kitchen staff keep tabs on diners and time courses accordingly, but at the same time, I certainly don't expect it unless it's fine dining or I'm sitting at a stool at a counter.
My SO and I and our friends figure we have a choice: we can shrug in resignation when the neighborhood Salvadorean place brings the entrees out and they get cold while we're still working on the apps.. or we can order the entrees after the apps come out and leave afterward talking about how yummy and enjoyable everything was.
Anyway, I have a hunch that parties that order in stages drink more alcohol and/or are more likely to stay for dessert and coffee.
You're right about parties ordering in stages tending to drink more.
Where I work, we vastly prefer people to order everything at the same time so that the waiter can pace the meal. A couple of entrees take upwards of 40 minutes to cook, and if you order everything at the same time, we can have your roast chicken or pork chops merrily cooking away while you're eating your appetizers.
But unless you're doing a Chinese banquet with separate courses, it is certainly expected that you get all your food out at once. (except dessert, and idealy you want a full table of food). It's probably worse if you just got one dish at a time in sequence.
Now, if you're going to a style of restaurant where the etiquette is to bring apps then mains and then so on, then certainly you should not expect everything to be brought out at once, though I admit I've never consciously decided to order something later because I knew they'd serve everything at once.
After repeated attempts at various restaurants to sit and enjoy our evening without being rushed out the door, my husband and I have adopted the same policy, no matter what kind of restaurant we're dining in.
We usually order a cocktail or wine. We'll order the appetizer and enjoy it with our beverage while we decide on the salad and entree. Even then, we ask that the entree be ordered in the kitchen only after we have finished our salads.
I completely understand the reasoning behind it, and it is not rude! Why is it rude to want to enjoy your dinner without being rushed out the door? I hate having to push my salad plate to the side or have it removed without asking when the entree is brought too soon - now that is rude!
My DH & I did this for the first time recently. While we wouldn't do it everywhere, the restaurant where we did do it has wonderful food---but truly awful service! I wouldn't worry about appearing "rude"---they're paying for the meal. They are paying for both the food AND the service (even before the tip), so if the restaurant won't properly train its staff, why not take control of the situation? I know we'll continue to do this at this particular restaurant.