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Sending perfectly-cooked entree back just cause you don't like it

I'd never dream of it. But chow.com's etiquette expert says it's the thing to do. http://www.chow.com/stories/10496

You order an entree, it comes perfectly prepared and just as advertised. But you decide you just aren't in the mood for it. (Or maybe, though correctly described on the menu, it is not quite what you expected.) So you send it back and don't pay for it. As I said, I wouldn't dream of it. (Even if they bring the wrong order, I don't say a word so as not to get the waiter in trouble.) But I'm curious. Would anyone here consider doing it?

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  1. At the place I work, we do get those sort of requests, and although we typically accomodate (to an extent), I do not agree with the sentiment (I personally do not practice this myself either). Unlike a DVD movie or an article of clothing (which usually can't be refunded if opened), the food is going to be thrown away, which hurts the business and causes additional problems for everyone, even though it wasn't their fault..

    1. Nope. Luckily I have people around me (boyfriend, mother) who hate to waste food and will eat it for me as well as share some of what they have.

      1. I would never send back a perfectly prepared dish just because I did not like it. I believe that is wrong. I've had plenty of meals that were not exactly what I expected -- it's part of the adventure of eating.

        1. When I first looked at the post and started to read the article my reaction was OMG. But if you read the text carefully it is very professional, above board and its really not sending it back and getting another dish.

          The situation outlined was that you goofed and ordered something you did not like. It has happened to all of us. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances you push through the meal and eat it all in spite of the taste, other times you leave it in front of you or nibble. If you choose the latter, you always have the option of calling the waiter over, explaining you did not like it, offer to pay for it and order number 2. It is up to the resto to decide if #1 was charged or not. If they feel it's a long term relationship or they want to "take one for the gipper" they'll probably bring number 2 without charge. But if the bill has both, the custo needs to determine whether that's a deal breaker for future business.

          Most times number 2 will probably be as bad as number 1 and that's a no brainer for not returning. But in the event that number 2 is good, it gives ample opportunity to discuss on the way out with the host, become friends and thank them for their consideration.

          It could be the end of your going to the resto or the beginning of a great relationship. Both parties need to agree on the latter

          1. If they bring the wrong order, you should absolutely ask the server to get you the right meal. If they bring what you ordered and you don't like it, a good server will notice and ask if there is something wrong. Be honest. Often they will volunteer a replacement. But I would never demand a new meal if it was the correct order and I just chose badly.

            1. If I made a mistake in my order and I REALLY hated it, as in could not eat it, I would talk to the manager about what could be done. But that would be an extreme case for me, and I think it was also the point of the article.

              If I get a wrong order, the kitchen or waitstaff gave the wrong one, sure send it back! Get the waitstaff in trouble??? Oh please. I would be discrete about it, but back it would go. Yes, I grew up in the business, front and back of the house, mistakes happen and the house whould be given every chance to correct them, and to correct them with respect and dignity, So no yelling. :-)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Quine

                There is really only ONE way to handle a wrong dish arriving. Call the waiter over and whisper in his hear that you ordered X and they delivered Y. Let him take care of it. NEVER call the manager over unless this professional approach does not work, you are a custo, not a tattle tale.

                1. re: jfood

                  i would yes, tell the waitstaff about the wrong dish. I would talk to the manager if I made the mistake on ordering the dish, as I indicated in my reply.

              2. Good lord, no. If I couldn't eat it at all, I'd order something else and pay for both and chalk it up to my mistake.

                1. If it comes out different than described (i.e., with different ingredients), then I would indeed send it back, but that's really not what the article was referring to.

                  So, if the description sounds quite flavorful, but it comes out very bland (maybe I can barely taste the basil in the tomoato basil sauce), I would tell the waiter but not send it back.

                  To me, unless it's obvious that something is wrong with the dish, I'll eat it. You really don't know what the chef intended in terms of flavor unless you and they are sitting side-by-side tasting the entree. Maybe the sauce was supposed to be on the bland side because the chef thought it might overpower the fish? Maybe the taste works for him but not you? It's so subjective that I really couldn't say there was something wrong with it & thus warrant a return to the kitchen.

                  I can say with certainty, though, that there is something wrong with a steak that is gray with a warm pink center, but was ordered rare. I'd send that back in a second.

                  I do have a related story. When I was in college (maybe 19 yrs. old or so), I went out with 3 other people to what was supposedly an upscale place. I ordered king crab legs and they had an off taste, with an odor of ammonia (improper storage temp maybe?). Definitely something was wrong. I told the waiter & he refused to do anything about it. I asked to see the manager & then he started to argue with me! The waiter said he tasted them himself & said they were fine. Because I was on the young side, the waiter & manager tried to intimidate me (thinking that I didn't know what crab legs were really supposed to taste like). Even when I explained to him that I'd eaten crab legs many times, it didn't matter. After a long & drawn out arguement, the manager took the entree of the bill. By that time, everyone in our party was finished with their meals, so we left without my getting any entree.

                  1. If I order something, and I get it and don't like it, as far as I'm concerned, that's my problem.

                    As someone else said, sometimes the waiter/waitress will ask if there's something wrong. In the one instance this happened to me (I decided to order something I never had before, and ended up not liking it), the waitress was nice enough to ask me if I'd like something else, and did not charge for my first meal. I didn't expect it though, and I wouldn't.

                    It's most likely not the resto's fault that you didn't like something that was described correctly on the menu and was cooked perfectly. They shouldn't have to pay for it under duress.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: QueenB

                      I agree. This has happened to me only once or twice, and I fess up and say I don't like, with no disrespect to the cook. Then I usually order something that can be made quickly like a large dinner salad. Most likely they will take it off the check (one for the gipper... love that) and then you tip profusely so they don't think you're an evil diva. Just a sweet diva. Oh, Robin.

                    2. While I wouldn't hesitate to get the restaurant to correct their mistake, I would not expect them to correct mine either if I ordered the wrong thing or if I ordered a perfectly prepared dish that I didn't like.

                      1. I didn't get the impression from the linked piece that she was recommending sending back food that's well prepared? The query stated the monkfish and potatoes were bland, which to me means it wasn't well prepared at all.

                        Personally, I don't send food back unless there's something horrible going on there. In fact, other than disgusting salads with rotten lettuce, I can't recall the last time I sent something back to the kitchen.

                        1. Nope. Occasionally I've had food that I didn't like or couldn't eat (because it turned out to include ingredient/s that I couldn't/wouldn't eat...) but I've either traded with someone else at the table, or just eaten the part of the plate that was okay.
                          The only time I've ever sent a dish back was when my parents took me to a fairly fancy restaurant and I ordered seared tuna, and didn't realise it would be raw inside and only lightly seared on the outside. (I WAS only about fifteen. Nowadays I just won't order anything 'seared' because i know I won't like it.) I made them take it back and cook it until the inside was white instead of red. They were a little taken aback, but they did it, and I enjoyed my grilled tuna very much.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Kajikit

                            K kit, yours is the perfect example. You didn't know what seared tuna was--and sent it back. The OP is asking if this is kosher. I would say no; except in the rare case like yours in which the restaurant could take the seared piece back, whack the h*&& out of it in under the salamander, replate, and send it back out to you.

                            In other cases, however, the customer should order with care and responsibility.