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What if you don't like the food?

n
Nalega Mar 31, 2007 08:17 AM

Went out last night (against my better judgement) to a pasta restautant (i dont really want to call it an italian restautant).

Well the pasta itself was just ok, but it was coated in very heavy oil, the eggplant in it was complete oily mush, and it was incredibly salty. I don't think it was a bad batch of the dish - I just think the restaurant wasn't very good. I picked at it a little because I didn't want to be the only person at the table not eating. When the waiter come to take the plates he asked if i was done and if i wanted it wrapped up (i certainly didnt want to take it home, even if it was practically a fully meal). He didn't flinch when i said no, he didnt ask if we enjoyed the meal. I went home and ate a sandwich.

I almost never go out to eat and dislike the food so much that I don't even eat it - usually theres something about it that i can eat around or pick out.

The question is simple - what do YOU do if you just don't like the food in a restaurant?

  1. Toshiro Mar 31, 2007 08:30 AM

    In all honesty - DON'T GO BACK! Complaining and bitching just adds to the frustration of the evening. The evening is ruined so why complicate it more - and for what? A "free dessert" - no thanks! The best statement is to not go back!

    1. j
      justagthing Mar 31, 2007 10:58 AM

      I have been in the same predicament. I will usually tell them what I disliked and then they ask if there is something else that I would like. I will then go with another alternative. Luckily, most of the time, I go with something relatively safe and then am usually happy with the other meal. This doesn't happen much, thankfully. BTW...when I did this, they were very polite and accomodating. If I remember correctly, the problem was that the food was WAYYY too salty.

      1. m
        mlgb Mar 31, 2007 11:10 AM

        If you tend to think most restaurant food is "too salty" or "too greasy" it might be a good idea to ask questions about how a dish is prepared before ordering it. And ask if there is something you can order that isn't so much salted or whatever the issue usually is.

        5 Replies
        1. re: mlgb
          j
          justagthing Mar 31, 2007 11:16 AM

          For me, it was the first time at this particular restaurant, so I usually go with how the chef prepares it first. I dont think the OP said that they thought most restaurant food was too oily or salty. The bigger problem would be that his/her server did not notice that there was dissatisfaction, didn't even ask if they were happy with the food. But OP also did not comment, where I would have.

          1. re: justagthing
            m
            mlgb Mar 31, 2007 11:28 AM

            Some people have a sensitive palate to things like salt or spice. That's all. If you've never been to a restaurant it pays to ask if you are a picky eater.

            1. re: justagthing
              l
              lucyis Mar 31, 2007 11:29 AM

              When Legal Seafood opened a big splashy resto here in White Plains a friend and I had dinner there. My food was expensive and my dish was not good and when the waiter came I told him so. He shrugged. I never went back. If the waiter had even pretended to care, if he had even said, "I'm sorry you weren't happy", I would have tried again. there are just too many restaurants to go back to a bad one.

              1. re: lucyis
                j
                justagthing Mar 31, 2007 12:06 PM

                I totally agree with you, except I would have asked for the manager.

                1. re: lucyis
                  e
                  exiledinwestchester Apr 23, 2008 06:13 PM

                  Lucyis - I have been to that same Legal Seafoods in White Plains. While neither experience was great, the second time there I was so dissatisfied that I asked the waiter to please get the manager and -- since it is a restaurant that has pictures of the dishes on the menus (maybe that should be a tipoff!) -- i pointed out that my dish neither looked like thepicture and was lacking in many of the ingredients descibed on the menu and he was very apologetic, said that of course I would not be charged for the dish and asked if there was anything else I would like. Not that you would ever go back but I think calmly asking for the manager can help.

            2. r
              rockycat Mar 31, 2007 12:43 PM

              If it's a chain restaurant I wouldn't waste my time complaining. The recpies are formulated in a central R&D facility and if you don't like it - tough. They're not going to be changing anything because someone doesn't like it. Just cross that one off your list.

              If it's an independently owned restaurant or a very small local chain I would handle it differently. I would assume that the chef would genuinelly want to know if a meal was not well received. I had this experience recently in an upper end, well reviewed restaurant. I sent back most of my dinner uneaten and the waitress didn't question my satisfaction. That surprised me due to the restaurant's reputation so I explained to her why I found the meal inedible. My meal was comped (as well it should have been) but no one seemed too concerned. I would have assumed the chef would have cared that his line cooks were sending out subpar food but I guess not. Like lucyis if the kitchen had at least seemd to care I would be willing to assume I just hit an off night. Since they didn't well, life is just too short to eat at bad restaurants.

              3 Replies
              1. re: rockycat
                Carrie 218 Mar 31, 2007 12:51 PM

                You never know about chain restaurants... I was forced to eat at a Marie Calender's because that was where the group wanted to go. The dish I had was so over-salted as to be inedible. When I mentioned it to the waiter, I was asked if I would prefer a replacement entree or a complimentary piece of pie. I went for the pie.

                1. re: rockycat
                  JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Apr 1, 2007 05:03 AM

                  Even with chains, say something. I've seen the occasional dish make it out of R&D that had no business doing so. The more people complain, the faster the dish gets fixed (and sometimes fixed means "gets pulled from the menu entirely). Likewise, if you love a dish, especially a Limited Time Only offering, tell the management how much you enjoy it. You just might see the dish on the regular menu. That's what happened with Quizno's and their Chicken Carbonara sub.

                  1. re: rockycat
                    invinotheresverde Apr 23, 2008 10:22 PM

                    Rocky, as a former waiter, I have to tell you how hard it is to gauge a guest's dissatisfaction unless he speaks up. There are so many guests on all types of crazy diets (Atkins, South Beach, gastric bypass) that it's basically impossible for a waiter to guess why you didn't eat your meal. If there was a problem, speak up; your waiter isn't there to play guessing games.

                  2. m
                    mojoeater Mar 31, 2007 03:05 PM

                    Usually, a server will stop by at the beginning of the meal to ask if everything is OK. At that point, I would comment if my meal was truly inedible. Almost every restaurant I've ever been to, chain or not, would offer a replacement meal. But if you don't say anything, they can't do anything for you.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mojoeater
                      t
                      tom porc Apr 1, 2007 01:40 AM

                      My thoughts are similar to mojoeater. When the server checks in with the table politely tell him you dislike your entree and to remove the dish from the table. And ask him how he can rectify the situation. Then let him do all the talking.

                    2. m
                      MakingSense Apr 1, 2007 10:53 AM

                      The other people at the table were eating. Could it be that the dish you ordered was the clunker on the menu?
                      You probably should have said something rather than suffer silently. Especially with eggplant which people continue to salt which modern eggplant really doesn't need and it acts like a grease sponge, too. In the hands of an inexpert cook, it can be a real loser.
                      When I find myself stuck eating at a restaurant that I would never choose in a million years of my own accord, I can generally find something safe on the menu that the kitchen is going to have the hardest time screwing up.
                      That being said, waiters and staff really should notice if your meal goes untouched. There is obviously something wrong.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: MakingSense
                        n
                        Nalega Apr 1, 2007 11:25 AM

                        I guess that thing is that I don't want to appear rude. If at some point we were asked if everything was ok, I would have been able to say something, but I feel like I would be rude if I said "excuse me waiter, my food is salty and greasy, what can you do about it". Is that proper restaurant ettiquete? If someone else at the table had done that, I would have thought they were being obnoxious,

                        1. re: Nalega
                          m
                          mojoeater Apr 1, 2007 11:33 AM

                          You can say it in a very polite way. Something like, "I'm sorry, but this dish is not what I expected. It's a little too salty for my tastes." Most times, the server will offer a replacement.

                          1. re: mojoeater
                            rockandroller1 Apr 24, 2008 08:27 AM

                            When the server comes to check how everything is, I usually motion for them to come over closer/next to me and say quietly, "I'm sorry, I really don't like this. It just wasn't what I expected." They ALWAYS respond with, "Oh, I'm sorry. Can I get you something else?" If I am so grossed out I can't eat I say no, then they take it off the bill. If I could eat something else instead (usually something safe like a salad) I'll say yeah, could I just have the grilled chicken salad instead?" I usually say I'm sorry again.

                          2. re: Nalega
                            m
                            MakingSense Apr 1, 2007 12:18 PM

                            Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I hate being with people who complain about things - especially when it seems there isn't anything really wrong. In this case there was however.
                            As you said, you went to this restaurant "against your better judgement" and you were right. I know it's not always easy these days when "chefs" are being ever-so-creative or friends want to try some ethnic place with food you just don't like. That's why I suggested trying to order something "safe" when you're stuck going to a place you might not have chosen on your own.
                            Almost every place has something where you can ask to "hold that sauce please." We found stuff for my kids when they were going through picky eater phases. Vegans, vegetarians and people with allergies manage to deal with it.

                            The best defense is a good offense as they say in football. Some self-protective ordering will allow you to socialize with your friends without getting stuck with crappy food or appearing rude.

                            1. re: MakingSense
                              m
                              mlgb Apr 1, 2007 01:13 PM

                              Yes I agree, if you anticipate that you won't like the food (which OP apparently did) ordering "offensively" is a good idea. If you just ordered something that didn't suit you (and the waiter never checked back, which is a bad sign), I would have called them over and ordered something else that could be prepared quickly. Hopefully that would have prompted the waiter to ask about your satisfaction with the first course. Even if he didn't at least you wouldn't have gone hungry. You could also have contacted the manager at some point when it wouldn't have made a scene, perhaps on the way out.

                              1. re: mlgb
                                m
                                MakingSense Apr 1, 2007 01:36 PM

                                Gee, maybe we should think up a different name for this. "Offensive Ordering" sounds pretty awful. Maybe Strategic Dining or Tactical Ordering.
                                With a good knowledge of food and what restaurants are likely to do well or poorly, we should be able to figure out a basic plan of attack.

                        2. ArikaDawn Apr 1, 2007 01:39 PM

                          I feed it to my fiancee. He'll pretty much eat anything and eat it quite happily.
                          One evening a server noticed I was not eating my food and insisted on replacing it with something else. This was nice, but not something I expect a restaurant to do.
                          The only time I ever say anything is if I am certain there is a problem with my dish in particular such as it's over-cooked, under cooked, the wrong dish entirely etc.

                          1. n
                            niki rothman Apr 2, 2007 01:30 PM

                            Frankly, I don't believe in eating food that does not taste very good. If I don't like it I say to the waiter, "I don't like this. (pointing at the unsatisfactory item) Could you bring me something else instead?" Polite but firm. It's perfectly OK to do this. Life is too short to eat food that does not taste very good. If you do, you really will not want to return to that restaurant. Will you? Or if you pay for food you did not eat. The restaurant wants you to return. The overhead on the uneaten food is worth less to them than the value of your return business.

                            1. k
                              kayonyc Apr 2, 2007 02:01 PM

                              Do not go back. Be very vocal on Chowhound, and local food blogs. They allow you to effectively communicate your experience to others and posting will really help you feel as though you're doing something to improve the situation. (It makes me feel a lot better) As an ex-restaurant manager, I can say that it's objectively difficult to help remedy the "I don't like the food" type complaints without anything more. Such complaints could be as fickle and as individual as not liking a specific seasoning, a certain texture, or smell. Maybe a comp was issued in the worst circumstances where the bad food was due to something that was the kitchen or server's fault - such as over or under cooking, oversalting, or not delivering the item hot/cold. I'm sure if you felt so strongly about not wanting to pay, you could make enough of a stink, and I'm sure you'd get the item comped.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: kayonyc
                                a
                                Alice Letseat Apr 2, 2007 02:35 PM

                                If it's a group consensus restaurant, and I think I'll never go again...I just get through it, unless it's totally inedible. Just this Saturday, in fact, I was subjected to a restaurant known - and titled by! - its desserts. I can honestly say it never occured to me that BOTH ranch dressing AND butter could be sweetened so much...Ick. So much for trying to be "safe with a salad." But everyone - and I mean everyone - around apparently felt satisfied.

                                1. re: Alice Letseat
                                  LordOfTheGrill Apr 2, 2007 05:05 PM

                                  Don't got back, but for God's sake don't send it back! I honestly can't recall ever getting anything that was inedible, but I've known a lot of people who worked in food-service, and they all said, "Never send anything back!" I'll leave 'why' to your imaginations.

                                  1. re: LordOfTheGrill
                                    n
                                    Nalega Apr 2, 2007 08:26 PM

                                    i guess thats one reason why i was hesitant to say anything!

                                    1. re: Nalega
                                      t
                                      tokyorosa Apr 8, 2007 04:32 PM

                                      In ten years in the restaurant business, as a server, cook, and manager, I never once saw or heard of anyone tampering with food just because the customer sent it back. It didn't matter if the crew knew the customer was full of s*$t.

                                      Of course, we did make fun of people all the time--but we never messed with the food or drinks. Ever. And, as a manager, I would've fired anyone who did. Period.

                                      1. re: tokyorosa
                                        t
                                        tom porc Apr 9, 2007 01:19 AM

                                        Tampering with food intentionally or not sets up the restaurant for a lawsuit so big and fast they will be forced to close. And worse the reputation and publicity will follow them wherever they go.

                                        1. re: tom porc
                                          therealbigtasty Apr 9, 2007 02:26 AM

                                          Not just that, it shows a complete lack of integrity with the staff to tamper with food.

                                          As a waiter/bartender, I've caught people talking about "doing something" and I won't have it...simply won't. I've worked at places where I've HATED some regular customers who were mean, picky, bitchy and unpleasant--people who would always send something back, get something comped, and always complain. I mean these were the kind of people where you could tell their kids hated them and thought they were unpleasant schmucks. Never once did I tamper with or let anyone else tamper with their food.

                              2. jfood Apr 2, 2007 05:14 PM

                                In the situation described I would smile thank the server, pay and go home and eat a sandwich. Sounds like it was just not to your liking. No biggie.

                                Geez, that's what you did. Nice job Nalega. And BTW add it to the do not eat list.

                                There will be restos that just do it for you. Cut your losses and do not return.

                                1. CNJFoodie Apr 8, 2007 02:16 PM

                                  Nalega,

                                  With the food problem that you had with your meal, I'm thinking that the best thing you could do is to tell us where this place is so at least those that read this board know what you thought about the place and think twice before we go there.

                                  To me, I think that would be the thing to do if you just don't like the food in a restaurant. Warn others!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: CNJFoodie
                                    n
                                    Nalega Apr 8, 2007 03:14 PM

                                    ha, i figured i wouldnt say anything unless someone asked - it was tutta pasta - which i guess is a chain, but it was the hoboken location.

                                    1. re: Nalega
                                      b
                                      bebevonbernstein Apr 8, 2007 03:28 PM

                                      I can't understand someone actually paying for something that's inedible. You don't have to be rude, cause a scene, etc., but if you explain that the dish is inedible, any restaurant worth its salt should replace it. YOU'RE the customer. I guess from reading chowhound there are those who send food back habitually in an effort to get things comped, but I'm guessing they are also the people who get really defensive, throw a hissy-fit, etc., and I'm sure restaurants can pick them out. But I'll be damned if I'm going to pay good money for something that's not edible -- why would you do that?

                                  2. c
                                    chaz Apr 23, 2008 07:37 PM

                                    I usually eat all of it then bitch and moan the whole time.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: chaz
                                      j
                                      Janet from Richmond Apr 24, 2008 08:33 AM

                                      I didn't know my husband was posting here <g>

                                    2. k
                                      k_d Apr 24, 2008 10:19 AM

                                      Some years ago, our family ate at what looked to be a fancy-pants place in San Antonio. The food was awful. Ribs (or were they riblets?) were overcooked and dry ... that shreddy dry that you can't even chew, and another dish was poorly cooked (although I can no longer remember what it was). So when I complained (NICELY, by the way), get this. They didn't replace the food. They did remove it, but they didn't replace it. They didn't comp it. THEY OFFERED ME FREE DESSERT. I looked steadily at the server and said, "I'm sorry. I just told you I thought your food was cooked badly. Why would I want MORE of your food? No thank you."

                                      Now, this was a case where no one had a problem with the dish (as in, Oh, I didn't know mushrooms were in there). This was badly cooked food! And that's what we got - an offer of a free dessert.

                                      Of course, we haven't been back. Because we haven't been back in San Antonio!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: k_d
                                        d
                                        dolores Apr 24, 2008 10:33 AM

                                        k_d, I had a similar experience, only to the opposite. A well known rib place in upstate New York, WITH the word 'ribs' in its name for pete's sake, brought my ribs to me raw. Yes, raw. No, not rare. Raw. I don't remember how they compensated me.

                                        So we went back. I got the ribs. Wait for it....yes, raw again!

                                        No, I've never been back.

                                      2. Miss Needle Apr 24, 2008 10:45 AM

                                        I generally don't do anything except not to go back. Unless it's something inedible (eg. seafood gone bad, salted to the point your mouth puckers, etc.) I find that my tastes may not necessarily coincide with the tastes of others. For example, I'm not a fan of very greasy food but I find that a lot of people are. Most eggplant dishes at restaurants are way too oily for my taste -- but other folks seem to like it fine. At home, I generally steam my eggplant before I fry it so it doesn't absorb a lot of oil. So I can't fault the restaurant because I don't like it.

                                        You mention that you almost never go out to eat. I find that most restaurants use a lot more salt and fat compared to what a lot of people do at home. So I agree with you that it was probably not a bad batch. It just isn't what you prefer.

                                        1. thew Apr 24, 2008 02:44 PM

                                          if i think something is wrong with just that dish i would send it back. if it was preparation problems i'd ask for it to be replaced with the same dish done right. (an overly simplified example - i ordered my meat rare and it comes well, or it is clearly oversalted)

                                          if not i'd ask to have something different.

                                          if i just felt the place sucked, i would still send it back. ask for nothing else, and never return

                                          1. m
                                            miss_bennet Apr 24, 2008 03:31 PM

                                            Being obsessed with language, I think that many people have missed an important designation here: the word like. 'Like' designates a reflection of personal opinion and taste. I think it is very unfair to discount a restaurant simply because one dish was not to one person's liking. Also, if a product is not to one person's taste, writing unfounded comments about how no one should consume said product is tantamount to slander.

                                            However, poorly prepared food is a completely different story. Having a restaurant serve raw or uncooked meat (like the ribs mentioned by dolores), over-salted food, or dishes that do not fit the description at all (i.e. substituting cilantro for basil) is reason enought to put them on the "do not return" list (and potentially call your lawyer).

                                            I have two examples. In my province, ground beef burgers MUST be served well done. This is a law that came into place after people died from e.coli after eating bugers in Washington state. At a popular local burger chain, my bf and I were served burgers that were rare. The server asked if we wanted them replaced. My bf was pretty happy about getting a rare burger for once, but having eaten only well-done burgers, and having taken courses on food-bourne illness, I could not get myself to eat more than half. We were charged only for our drinks. (That is one of two times I have ever had anything comped.) We had eaten there many times before, and have eaten there many times since.

                                            A couple of weeks ago, I ate at a local southern restaurant. Living in Pacific Canada, I have no experience with this style of food. I ordered hush puppies, which were labelled as "corn fritters." I hated them! I expected kernels of corn to be glued together with some sort of starch, but they were in fact made from corn flour. They were also heavily flavoured with thyme, which I apparently don't like. So, both the texture and flavour were misses for me. The waitress asked if we liked them, and I simply said "I really wanted to, but they're just not to my taste!" She smiled, and removed them. Did I expect them to be removed from the bill? No! Even if she had just shrugged, I ordered them, they were well prepared, I didn't like them, it's MY problem. The restaurant served me the food in good faith, I will pay in good faith. And I will put the DISH on the 'do not re-order' list.

                                            Not *liking* a restaurant's food does not give people the right to condemn it. *Poorly prepared food* does.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: miss_bennet
                                              m
                                              moh Apr 25, 2008 06:51 AM

                                              Miss Bennet, I like your distinction between "not liking" and "poorly prepared" and I think your handling of the hush puppies situation to be reasonable and appropriate. I would agree that I don't expect to be comped if I don't like something, or if it comes covered in green onions.

                                              But please consider giving the hush puppies another chance if you make it down to the South! The thyme flavouring seems like a frou-frou touch. A regular well-made hush puppy is a thing of joy... Dang I miss them. I gotta get me back...

                                              1. re: moh
                                                hill food Apr 25, 2008 07:01 AM

                                                corn fritter was a misleading description, and thyme is superfluous/unnecessary.

                                                but being Pacific NW maybe one shouldn't expect a proper hush puppie...

                                                actually Miss B, I like your take on (expectation of) one.

                                              2. re: miss_bennet
                                                jgg13 Apr 28, 2008 06:08 PM

                                                re: oversalting and the personal opinion thing - how is that not personal opinion? I know for a fact that what I consider proper levels of salting is different than other people.

                                                re: teh burger thing, given the begging & pleading i sometimes go through to get burgers which are medium rare or less, i'd have probably paid double the amount ;)

                                                1. re: jgg13
                                                  m
                                                  miss_bennet Apr 29, 2008 12:02 PM

                                                  My theory with salt is you can always dd it, you can't take it away. But I agreaa that there are various different opinions on the subject. I have been cooking for only fifteen years, but I only started adding salt in the past three years. I would just steam vegetables, and my family would salt them at the table. I would not salt them, I would merely butter them. I'm not a huge fan of salt. More to the point, my first job was in a movie theatre concession. I never put very much salt into the popcorn batches, much to the vexation of my co-workers. But when they would make it, I would barely be able to eat it. If a customer asked me to put the salt on theirs, I'd be more than happy to. But once the salt is cooked in, you can't take it away.

                                                  I think my boyfriend feels the same way about the burger thing. But since it's the law here, I think it is extremely rude to ask someone to break the law to serve you (penalties include loss of licence for the restaurant along with personal fines).

                                              3. davmar77 Apr 25, 2008 09:05 AM

                                                as many people salt eggplant,it could have been a matter of them forgetting to rinse before prepping.my mother has no problem sending something back but my wife very rarely does.without trying something else,it's also hard to say if it was a fluke.of course if they didn't seem to care,that's another story.

                                                1. a
                                                  Al_Pal Apr 25, 2008 10:17 AM

                                                  I used to be very hestitant to complain about a dish when I went out to eat, but working in the service industry has completely changed that.

                                                  As a server, I like to give my guests ample opportunity to let me know if a dish is unsatisfactory because they're not going to come back if they think the food is horrible. Management feels the same way. We would rather have to comp a dish and replace it with something new or offer a complimentary dessert than have that person walk out of the restaurant and never come back.

                                                  While it sounds like the waiter wasn't terribly attentive or observant, it's also your responsibility to speak up when you're not satisfied. If you worry about coming across as rude, don't. As long as you don't treat the server badly because of it (they're not making the food, after all), you'll be fine. I always start with something along the lines of, "I know it's kind of a pain, but whenever you have a moment..." I promise that both the server and the owners of the restaurant (whether it's a chain or not) genuinely want you to enjoy your selection. There have been several times when I have asked the chef or coordinator come out and speak with a guest to find out what he or she wants, only to have him return minutes later with a brand new dish that's not on the menu but is exactly what the guest was looking for in the first place.

                                                  1. jspear Apr 25, 2008 10:23 AM

                                                    Send anything back that you are paying for and do not like. After that, you have to make choices. I have favorite restaurants that are tried and true but everyone, everyone makes mistakes or serves things that you thought you would like but did not. Give feedback to who ever will listen, the manager, the wait staff, the cook. Constructive and gentle, no yelling or throwing things. See what the response is and judge your response to that. If they make an effort, so should you. If you liked the service the drinks the place and saw other things you might like, give them a second chance. If they strike out on one or two of the other areas, don't go back. If you are not full, eat somewhere else, make it an adventure or have PB&J at home and chalk it up to a learning experience. I had a similar experience but it included a hamburger, raw. After 3 attempts at a redo, I declined any further food. My friends were so concerned that I wasn't eating but I had had an app and a salad and wasn't about to waste away. The owner apologized profusely and seemed upset that he couldn't bring me something. I like the place, the drinks and the staff, I tried again and have been happy since. Bad night, new grill cook, who knows. Keep it in balance, it is not the end of the world but could be the end of your history with this place.

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: jspear
                                                      rockandroller1 Apr 25, 2008 11:00 AM

                                                      What's interesting is many people would send back a meal they didn't like (myeslf included) but you are not allowed to send back wine you don't like. Unless something is "wrong" with it, it's off or oxidized or whatever, if you ordered it and don't like it, tough.

                                                      1. re: rockandroller1
                                                        k
                                                        kimmer1850 Apr 27, 2008 07:36 AM

                                                        Here's where I expect Invinoverdes to chime in.

                                                        If a guest doesn't like a meal and a restaurant comps it then the restaurant loses only the cost of the dish. Usually in the $30 and under range. (Note I said usually.) And also, we're talking menu items that are poorly cooked or not presented as described on the menu not the subjective "I don't like it because I don't like it." Let it be said that in the interest of customer service some restaurants wil comp and replace something just because someone doesn't like it.

                                                        Wine is a different animal. For less expensive bottles I often remove them and offer them by the glass or for tastings for special occasions or regulars. An expensive or boutique bottle can't really be offered by the glass. Lets face it. If you're returning a $200 bottle of wine I really can't sell it by the glass. Very few people are willing to spend $50 a glass and I am surely not giving it away.

                                                        My advice with wine is to ask to see the sommelier or question the server closely if you are unfamiliar with the wine BEFORE you order. Let them know your tastes, price range and the food you've chosen for the meal. A knowledgable service staff will be able to assist you. Don't order something that is big and bold and spicy when what you really want is soft and fruity with hints of chocolate. Thats kind of like ordering a 20oz porterhouse when what you're in the mood for is orange roughy.

                                                        OTOH...if the wine is presented to you as "A" and that what you want but it really tastes like "Z" then call over the manager or sommelier and politely explain the problem. No one should be forced to pay for a false bill of goods.

                                                        1. re: kimmer1850
                                                          rockandroller1 Apr 27, 2008 08:21 AM

                                                          Oh I completely understand that you can't resell an opened $200 bottle of wine. However, that's not the scale I'm talking about. Where I live, I think there is maybe ONE restaurant that even has a sommelier. And nowhere would I order a $200 bottle of wine unless I won the lottery. So most of the time when faced with a list at an "average" (read low- to mid-priced restaurant, $$ max) restaurant, if there's nothing I recognize I am guessing based on the types of wines I like and countries of origin which I historically also like. The servers at restaurants like this really don't know anything about the wines. So oftentimes it is a crapshoot, even by the glass, which is mostly how I order because it's usually just me and Mr. Rockandroller and a whole bottle of wine will put us over the legal limit for either of us driving. However, if I order a glass of cab, knowing I generally like cabs and it's from, say, France because generally speaking I like French wines, and I get it and I don't like it, I'm stuck with it. Whereas if I order food and I really don't like it, I can send it back, and usually get something else instead, or at least have the cost deducted from my bill. I'm just pointing out the double standard. The restaurant can take a financial "hit" for a meal but not a glass of wine.

                                                          1. re: rockandroller1
                                                            Catskillgirl Apr 27, 2008 02:09 PM

                                                            The difference would be that the restaurant didn't produce the wine - they're reselling it.It's not like a dish that the cook ruined somehow - all they do is open the bottle. The restaurant can't guarantee the taste of a glass, but they should be able to guarantee the good flavor of the dishes they prepare.

                                                            But then, I rarely drink wine, so what do I know? *G*

                                                            1. re: Catskillgirl
                                                              rockandroller1 Apr 28, 2008 04:49 AM

                                                              That's a great way of looking at it. That makes sense.

                                                            2. re: rockandroller1
                                                              invinotheresverde Apr 29, 2008 11:55 AM

                                                              If you're drinking btg, simply ask for a taste first. Problem solved.

                                                            3. re: kimmer1850
                                                              invinotheresverde Apr 29, 2008 12:07 PM

                                                              Agree with everything you stated above.

                                                              If a wine has been described to you as such-and-such by the somm or waiter, but actually tastes completely differently, send it right back. Of course it stinks that the restaurant will have to eat such an expensive bottle, but that's a gamble you take if staff is describing expensive bottles they have no idea about. Since selling $50 glasses is difficult, and wine reps aren't in the business of refunding the price of unflawed bottles, I'd save it for the staff to taste, as long as they make a few tasting notes from it. Then, the same mistake probably won't happen again.

                                                              If a guest returns an unflawed bottle they simply don't care for, I have a hard time taking it back, unless it's part of our btg program. Ordering bottles of wine is always a risk, even for seasoned vets. You're not going to be crazy about every wine you try. I consider it a learning experience.

                                                          2. re: jspear
                                                            invinotheresverde Apr 29, 2008 11:53 AM

                                                            J, our opinion differs here again (surprise, I know). I agree with others that there's a big difference between something prepared incorrectly and something you just don't like.

                                                            Example: I'm not much of a mushroom fan, but I ordered a mushroom/veggie springroll recently. I was feeling adventurous, and liked the description. I took one bite, hated the flavor and gave the rest to a friend (who said they were great- crazy 'shroom lover.). Should I have sent them back even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with them and it was basically a poor choice on my part?

                                                            Similarly, dining with friends, I chose a S.A. pinotage that I'd heard a bit about. The waiter informed me that it was an extremely smokey wine. I figured, "What the hell, we'll give it a try". When the initial taste was poured, I couldn't swallow it. Again, others thought it was okay, and there was nothing wrong with the wine. Hell, the waiter even warned me about it. Should I have expected it off the bill?

                                                            I think there's a big difference between a raw burger and something you just don't care for. "Bad night"s and "new grill cook"s aren't the same as things prepared correctly that you just don't care for.

                                                          3. p
                                                            penguiino101 Apr 25, 2008 04:06 PM

                                                            This is interesting. When you are a kid you can just say, "Mommy! This is icky." I don't usually go to the place again, but sometimes you can calmly tell the waiter what the problem is. I take suggestions from others beforehand, and I will sometimes ask questions.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: penguiino101
                                                              d
                                                              dolores Apr 27, 2008 06:21 AM

                                                              >>>what do YOU do if you just don't like the food in a restaurant?

                                                              Nothing, apparently.

                                                              Hubby and I tried a recommended Japanese restaurant, and neither of us liked our entree.

                                                              We didn't say anything, and won't go back. It was us, and not the food, I think.

                                                            2. k
                                                              Kam7185 Apr 28, 2008 02:10 PM

                                                              It really depends on the situation and restaurant. Always mention it to the waiter within the first minutes, or management assumes you "trying to get something for nothing" and they are none to pleased with the situation. I have worked in restaurants of every caliber and whatever you do, do not send something back for a "Fresh" one or to be cooked a tad longer etc.Once that plate leaves your table, you don't want it back! Yikes! Always order something different, if anything at all.

                                                              This past Saturday I went with a group to an Asian Fusion "hotspot". When my spicy shrimp dish arrived it looked like popcorn shrimp with ranch dressing. I refused to $32 for something from Long John SIlvers and sent it back for the Ahi instead. If I'm at a restaurant where I don't expect much and my premonition proves accurate, I would still send it back but not order anything else. At that type of restaurant it's not worth the hassle and if they are still going to charge me thats fine, I'm just notgoing to waste my calories!

                                                              1. j
                                                                jhopp217 Apr 28, 2008 03:07 PM

                                                                I think a few people have hit this point on the difference between not liking something or something being bad or improperly cooked. I'll give you my biggest and most common gripe. Overcooking! I can't tell you how many times I have ordered a burger, steak, steak sandwhich and been asked how I'd like that cooked. I always say "medium rare." If you do not do beef medium rare, then don't ask me how I want it. Now, I'm with other people and all the food comes at once and I get a weel done piece of meat. What do I do? If I send it back, everyone else will be finished by the time I get my meal. So usually I just grin and bear it and suffer through some shoe leather.

                                                                I've been to many places where I didn't like the food. It doesn't mean it wasn't good, it was that I didn't like it. I've been disgusted by appetizers that a table shared and others loved it, so how can I complain because I didn't like it. Now if I order something and it's obviously bad in some way, that's another story.

                                                                I may have posted this before, but when I was 6 or 7, I went to Gage & Tollner's in Brooklyn and ordered the clams casino. I took one clam and told my parents to get the waiter. I explaind that the clams weren't good, and that I wanted another batch. The waiter refused to accept that a child knew the distinction between a good and bad clam and actually went and got the chef. The chef took the plate, took a whiff, then wolfed one down. He apologized, made me a new order (If I remember correctly with a few extras) and he made me a special dessert. The whole place knew of the story by the time we left, and the waiter who was very embarrassed, apologized profusely. It's a lot harder for an adult to do this, but if something is bad, especially with seafood, always comment.

                                                                1. r
                                                                  RGC1982 Apr 28, 2008 05:32 PM

                                                                  I can think of two occasions. On one occasion, the pork chops I ordered were raw in the middle. It was so appalling that I sent it back immediately, and then ordered something else because I was completely turned off to pork at that point. The smell of the raw pork just got to me, and I couldn't eat it even if they cooked it thoroughly. On the second occasion, in yet another pork experience, I ordered wild boar at one of my favorite restaurants. It was terrible. I didn't say a thing and blamed myself for a poor choice -- just tough meat and lots of fat and skin. Don't know how other people did with that special -- but I probably wouldn't order it again anywhere else. I didn't go back to the first restaurant. That is the best way to handle it.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: RGC1982
                                                                    j
                                                                    jhopp217 Apr 28, 2008 10:35 PM

                                                                    I apologize for my ignorance. I've cooked pork myself many times, and I actually like it medium to almost medium rare. I've rarely found a pork smell I couldn't get past. If you can't get past the smell of raw pork, how would you go about cooking it yourself. I presume it's raw when you buy it, Isn't it?

                                                                    1. re: jhopp217
                                                                      s
                                                                      soupkitten Apr 29, 2008 10:36 AM

                                                                      agree with Jhopp. there are "well done meat" people, though, who are disturbed by pink tinge in the center of a burger, chop or steak. that's perfectly fine-- sometimes there are good reasons, people are pregnant or immune systems are compromised, etc-- but they should just order domestic meats well done in the first place, and probably avoid game meats, which tend to get tough when overcooked.

                                                                      1. re: soupkitten
                                                                        m
                                                                        miss_bennet Apr 29, 2008 01:28 PM

                                                                        I am one of those "disturbed by pink tinge in the center of a burger" people because I was raised knowing that there is a risk of e. coli when ground meat is not cooked to 165 F. However, if I ordered a steak in a restaurant rare (which is my preference) and it came medium, I would send it back for a re-do. Well done, and I sending it back and getting something else.

                                                                      2. re: jhopp217
                                                                        m
                                                                        miss_bennet Apr 29, 2008 01:33 PM

                                                                        I understood that rare pork can lead to tapeworms after years of consumption. And I actually don't think that raw meat really smells like much at all, unless it's right at your nose or off.

                                                                    2. jgg13 Apr 28, 2008 06:11 PM

                                                                      I just grin & bear it. I really dislike people who send things back (unless it is a safety issue, etc - ie raw chicken, one has food alergies *that they specified* which weren't worked around, etc) and in general dislike people who whine to the server looking for comps. If you don't like it, just don't go back. Personally I tend to give every place "a second chance" just in case it was an off night.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jgg13
                                                                        j
                                                                        jhopp217 Apr 28, 2008 10:37 PM

                                                                        I recently stopped in to a pizzeria I really like and got a chicken parm wedge. I started eating and realized the chicken was not cooked through. I chalked this up to a large piece, and continued to eat. A few hours later..well you get the picture. Will I eat at this establishment again, absolutely, but the next time I go in, I will definitely give them the heads up.

                                                                        1. re: jhopp217
                                                                          im_nomad Apr 29, 2008 01:45 PM

                                                                          i think undercooked chicken should be a restaurant deal-breaker.... I might be a bit more understanding if it was a large piece.....but pieces on a pizza? I shudder to think at what low temperature that must have been cooked at.

                                                                          1. re: im_nomad
                                                                            jgg13 Apr 29, 2008 02:40 PM

                                                                            I guess my feeling is that poop happens and sometimes there's a screwup beyond belief. Maybe you were the unlucky one who had that happen, so ya might as well give it another whirl. OTOH, "fool me twice ...."

                                                                        2. re: jgg13
                                                                          Miss Needle Apr 29, 2008 10:16 AM

                                                                          "Personally I tend to give every place "a second chance" just in case it was an off night."

                                                                          I agree. Unless something was absolutely hideous (food, service, etc.), I tend to give a place a second chance as well before writing it off (unless it's very expensive -- don't need to spend another $300+ to decide I don't like the place). I could have also ordered wrong as well. I'm surprised how many people write a place off after one visit where it was good, but not great or they were kept waiting for 5 minutes.

                                                                          1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                            m
                                                                            moh Apr 30, 2008 06:02 AM

                                                                            "Personally I tend to give every place "a second chance" just in case it was an off night."

                                                                            I'd like to give every place a second chance. But I must admit I don't often do so. Not because I am unwilling, more because there are so many new places to try and great places to eat. I don't get back often enough to the places I love, and I am always curious about the place around the corner. I only have so many calories/dollars/meals to spend. But if I have an opportunity to try the restaurant again, I usually will.

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