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Jan 10, 2007 05:02 PM

Pepper grinding by the wait staff

My husband and I went to the new California Pizza Kitchen in town on a recent date and it was what I had hoped for, pretty much: mostly good pizza (bizarre, but good: a pizza with pears, cheese, caramelized onions, and hazelnuts, topped with salad with blue cheese dressing). I told the waiter to tell the kitchen their hazelnuts were rancid, unfortunately, but got no offers to make it better. But I was willing to live with that.

My sweetie had something he liked and I liked it too when we traded slices. Everything came quickly and we left a good 30-40 minutes before our movie was scheduled to start, as we had hoped to do when we arrived.

But in the end I was irritated by something about the experience, and I finally realized what it was. A mental image of that waiter appeared, gripping the 20-inch-tall pepper grinder, and smarmily asking if I would like some.

And I sighed and went through the routine. "Yes, please," I told him, "lots."

Mr. Waiter ground until he felt I had enough and stopped. I said, "A little more, please," which he did, cursorily, and went on to offer my husband the pepper, which he accepted.

I don't know about you, but I find I bristle a little at not being trusted with the fresh pepper. I felt it so condescending. Does that bother you?

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  1. No it don't bother me. It's a showy thing for the waiter.

    I would be much more bothered by the rancid hazelnuts.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PeterL

      Ditto. Although I would much prefer that they put pepper mills on each table, but it's not like CPK is the only restaurant guilty of that show.

      I would have talked to the manager about the rancid hazelnuts. Not acceptable.

      1. re: notmartha

        It would be nice to have pepper mills at the table, but places that try it find they disappear at an alarming rate.

        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

          Yep, and some are worth from $75 to $150 if they are the fancy Mahogany ones.

    2. I don't really mind the peppermill thing, I'm just grateful to get fresh pepper! But on the other hand I never really thought about it, before, I certainly would prefer access to my own when I want it.

      1. Only thing that bothers me about that is when the wait staff asks me if I want fresh pepper BEFORE I've even tasted the food.

        How am I suppose to know if it needs pepper at that point?

        3 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Well, somethings for me always require fresh pepper - salad, soup, grilled meat.

          Plus they probably assume it's not the first time the diner ordered the dish and would know if they want pepper with it.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I am a pepper junkie..not salt..just fresh pepper. I wouldn't want it on the table for the same reason I don't like using any condiments on the table. Everyone's hands have been on them..and I don't like that. [I once saw a child putting the salt and pepper shakers in his mouth, along with everything else he could get his hands on]

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I don't mind the waiter doing it as theft of peppermills is an unfortunate fact of life, even at upscale restaurants. But I wish they would wait until I actually taste the food before offering the pepper. If the food is properly seasoned to begin with, I often don't need it. Salads are generally the exception.

            2. That's why I keep a small disposable pepper mill in my purse (Mc cormicks)

              2 Replies
                1. re: kitchenhag

                  I do the same thing - and a sea salt grinder.

                2. I do like the idea of a fresh pepper mill at every table and so does everyone else. I worked at a restaurant where we opened one night with 30 pepper mills. At the end of the night there were only 12. I have seen so many people steal things from restaurant tables it would surprise you.