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Portion size in a restaurant...do you ask??

Is this a rude question towards your server? And what entirely is it supposed to mean?

Automatic response is to think that a customer considers the restaurant serves small portions and have gone in with that assumption.

I would think that if you even have a question (but not to ask-just assume that portions are smaller and an added course may be in order) to the order courses to what you would think will fill you up-may it be a salad or app order.

Why ask? To me it just seems rude, and a complete insult to the restaurant. How is a server supposed to answer that type of question?

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  1. I don't think it's rude to ask for information - I have ordered a "cup" of soup that turns out to be a good-sized bowl which throws off my calculations of what else I ordered and am able to eat. And orders of something like bruschetta could mean a nice little nibble or a huge mound of food - I have never had servers seem insulted by a factual inquiry. It's obvious, I think, that I'm trying to decide how an item fits into a reasonable meal and it's perfectly appropriate to ask. And at lunch I like to order serveral appetizers instead of an entree so it's even more important.

    5 Replies
    1. re: sheiladeedee

      Okay, I realize that I wasn't too specific in my explanation. I am not insulted as a server to be asked this, just slightly mystified in why this information is needed. If a patron is that worried in the portions, why bother dining out? Small or large, the patron can order more or take home the remaining leftovers. Information about the menu is a must. But instead of questioning towards "portions" why not ask how many individual bruschettas are served, or how it is served? Reason behind this question is that I was a part of a party where two patrons wanted to split a salad and a pasta and grilled the waitress on the portions of many menu items. It seemed very rude and cheap. How can one respond ("Ma'am, our portions are small and only enough to accompany one person." this could be true, but would anyone want to say this or hear it?!!?).

      1. re: cocktailqueen77

        OK, here's an example. What's a cup, and what's a bowl, when it comes to soup? I love lobster bisque. If I order a cup to start my meal, I'll plan the rest of what I order - salad, dessert, big or little entree - assuming I'll get a 6-8 oz serving. If it comes in a 24-oz cup, the calculation for the rest of my meal will be thrown off. If I'm feeling like all I want is a bowl of chowder and a salad for lunch, expecting a 12-16oz serving, when I get a very small bowl, I will leave feeling unsatisfied. So, especially if the restaurant doesn't specify cup or bowl when discussing soup, I think it's reasonable to ask the server approximately how big the serving might be. I don't want to grill the server, I just want to get a sense of how much food to order. I wouldn't do this at a high end prixe fixe place, but it seems entirely reasonable at a place where you order all these components separately.

        1. re: cocktailqueen77

          while many patrons can certainly take home leftovers, it's not always a viable option. i.e. vacationers who have nowhere to store or reheat them [i recently faced that conundrum with leftovers from a very expensive steakhouse dinner], or people who aren't going directly home after the meal and can't leave the food sitting in the car for hours. plus, some foods just don't travel or reheat well.

          i also agree with the post below regarding the issue of planning your intake based on your level of hunger. knowing the size of menu items helps determine the number of elements to include in the meal...will the entree suffice? am i hungry enough to want a salad or side dish too? is the salad or appetizer so big that i'd be satisfied just eating that and don't really need an entree as well?

          don't worry about offending a patron with your response. if someone asks, they should be prepared for whatever you might tell them...assuming it's polite/in good tste, of course ;)

          1. re: cocktailqueen77

            I personally don't like taking home food and reheating it. Also at home I very seldom reheat food. I prefer to cook (or eat out) daily because I think most dishes (there are of course a few exceptions) don't taste very good when reheated.

            1. re: cocktailqueen77

              do you take home leftover seafood?

              or soup?

              or fried stuff?

              I often ask about portions, especially apps, as I don't want to waste food. It has nothing to do with cheapness, I just don't like to waste good food, and I don't like to overeat. It makes me uncomfortable both ways.

          2. You are totally entitled to ask! It's your stomach and your money -- of course, as with everything in life, asking respectfully, courteously and quietly is always appropriate.

            1. I often ask, especially when considering steaks, as I seldom want 14 ounces of steak.

              1. I often ask questions about portion size and whether I got the right number of dishes for myself or for a group. Unless I'm going someplace where I order a prix fixe, I think that's perfectly reasonable. I'd rather get the right amount of food for myself than worry about offending a server who would more likely than not understand.

                Why tiptoe around the issue and ask about the number of items or the preparation when they'd ultimately want to know about the portion size? Ultimately, asking about the number of bruschetta or the presentation won't tell you definitively about portion size. Maybe they're small bruschetta or maybe the chef's "bruschetta" is some deconstructed rendition, the description of which wouldn't tell someone unfamiliar with it about portion size.

                I completely understand how mortified you must have been to have eaten with those who feel the need to badger a server. I do believe there is a pleasant middle ground, however, that allows you to remain polite and direct. I appreciate when a server can help me choose at an Indian restaurant, for example, how many curries, grilled items, and side dishes to order.

                I don't think ordering out necessitates that you always throw caution in the wind. Sometimes, you do want to stay close to some budget or even some diet. I know I tend to continue eating food when it's on the table whether I'm really wanting it or not. Maybe someone is going someplace afterwards and can't take leftovers. Maybe they're ordering items that don't keep well or reheat well or they just won't feel like eating the next day. And ordering too little can lead to pauses while you wait to speak with a server and then wait for your food to arrive.

                If they ask about portion size, I don't think it'd impolite for you to ask how hungry they are. Of course you can't know for sure, but they're asking you for an opinion and trusting that you, as a server, are familiar with a restaurant and how an average person might experience it. I would wager that you handle these questions quite well. I also believe it's quite fair for you to say that the salad would probably be more suited for one person. Most dishes aren't, and shouldn't be, created for two people. I would find it odd if someone was offended when told that.

                1. it's not rude.

                  just keep it general- "is this appetizer big enough for two to share", "i'm really hungry, is this meal a large portion?" etc.

                  be careful though about demanding too specific information- if you put the server on the spot and he/she doesn't know every little answer you might make him feel stupid. that's what builds resentment. i worked in a steakhouse and i knew all the sizes of steaks- in ounces. every so often i'd get some pompus brit asking "well, what's that in GRAMS???"

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: excuse me miss

                    Agreed. But on the flip side, don't ask the very vague "is it big"? The server's not sure what is or isn't big to you, and in relation to what. Asking if it's big enough to share, or "I'm not super hungry, is this a really large portion?" is the way to go.

                  2. I often ask about portion size, not because I'm afraid of getting too little, I'm more afraid of getting more than I can eat. Often I'm away from home on business so taking leftovers isn't a good option. I abhor waste, so I'd rather ask before ordering. In some restaurants, an order will easily satisfy two smaller appetites. I also ask servers if a dish is very rich or not if I want a light meal.

                    I find the responses from servers highly variable. Some clearly are confused by the question and give peremptory replies. Others are more helpful. I adjust the tip accordingly

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: cheryl_h

                      depends alot on how experienced the server is. i personally wouldn't tip a server less because she hasn't quite learned how to communicate properly. some people just aren't good at serving. if they at least try to help me i appreciate. especially when you're new to a restaurant- even with years of experience- questions about the menu are intimidating. some people don't handle that well.

                      if the peremptory reply is obviously just impatience and attitude of the server, then i agree with you.

                      1. re: excuse me miss

                        I don't tip an uncommunicative server less, I tip a helpful server more, starting from a standard 15 - 20% of the total. The tip reflects the extra service offered by a good server. I agree experience counts. Enthusiasm, knowledge and articulateness also count. Servers who have these qualities deserve something extra, don't you think?

                        1. re: cheryl_h

                          yes, i completely agree with you ;)

                          also may i point out that i would never look down on someone who really does want to get their money's worth. any server who does should be ashamed. it's my job to "read you" and give you what will make you happy. servers have to serve all types. if you hate vegetables i would point out the meat and potato dishes. if you want to get the most for your buck i'll lett you know what our generous plates are.

                    2. Don't think it is rude at all! A friend and I dine out about once a month. Usually a few appetizers and one entree is more than enough for us- as a matter of fact, we sometimes have leftovers. If we are not familiar with the restaurant, we will often tell ask the server- and have never been given any attitude. Server always lets us know- OTOH, I was dining with 15+ a few months ago. We have a private room in the restaurant, but were all ordereing off the menu. when we ordered the appetizers, we told the server that either a lot of us like a particuler app, or that only a fe of us like it. We told the server to bring as many as he thought were needed for each appetizer. Again, no attitude and everyone was happy. Maybe it depends on the diners attitude, but I have never had a problem - whether I was wondering if the item portion was large or small.

                      1. This is funny.
                        When I owned a small rest our menu items were "whole meal" (Korean rest) and customers routinely asked "How big is the serving?"
                        Thinking about the main dish and the eight ban chan dishes that came with every meal, my answer was "A good sized meal for one."
                        Many would then ask if it (single meal) was large enough to feed two people.
                        This question was always hard to answer because I don't know the customers eating habits. So I would answer that some people shared and some didn't, then make the rec that they could always start with one and order more if they needed to.
                        It didn't bother me to be asked the questions, but it was difficult sometimes to give a "right" answer as people so obviously wanted.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: hannaone

                          i know what you mean about trying to guess what the right answer for the particular customer is! everyone has different appetite sizes- i can't be expected to decide what's enough for someone!!

                          something i've done is compare the size to something well known...
                          "how big is the basket of fries?"
                          "well, it's about the same as a large at mcdonalds"

                          1. re: excuse me miss

                            I understand that there are many variables to asking about portions. That is why I tried to summarize it differently above (unfortunetly I was half asleep and did not do a good job at trying to make my point).

                            The rudeness factors from someone trying to insinuate that a restaurant serves small portions, due to many factors (price, atmosphere, etc) by asking abot it in a very obscure matter. "Will this be enough for both of us to share?" is too broad of a subject. The server had no chance at guessing how hungry the two ladies were. Maybe I should change this to "should you ask for portion when you are sharing a meal?". I think that is more of the topic.

                            Portions that are not listed like ounces (cuts of meat) or how many (like in the bruschetta) is information on a need to know basis, and agreed that asking is important. I think it is also how questions are worded that make all the difference.

                            1. re: cocktailqueen77

                              You are absolutely right- how you ask can make all the difference. As my earlier post says, my friend and I almost always ask when we are getting a seafood/pasta dish, and usually it is large enough for us to split. And I don't want to order a whole meal and bring nhome the leftovers for this type of dish- much better eater as prepared, just not the same reheated.

                              1. re: cocktailqueen77

                                Equally important to how questions are worded, is how questions are answered.
                                If someone is questioning the portion size, it's the servers job to find out what the customers intention or reason for asking the question. This way there are no suprises when the dish or bill arrives.

                          2. At a time when many are clamoring for people to control what they eat better; to eat less, to eat more vegetables and less foods with saturated fats...etc....it seems to me that anyone trying to determine portion sizes at a restaurant should be presumed to be trying to improve their diet.

                            Certainly there are people who are simply rude and who act in a rude manner. Asking about portion sizes (regardless of the terminology used) is completetly reasonable. Yes, it can be argued that one can always take home leftoevers. Depending on the food, that's unreasonable. A dressed salad, for example, won't hold. Meats and fish dry out, especially if you attempt to reheat them...and so on.

                            My first thought when I saw the title, but before I read the post itself, was that someone was worried about portion sizes that are too large, not too small. When my wife and I ask about portion sizes, we just want information, there's no presumption that the portions are too small or too large...we're asking because we don't know. If we ask a totally innocent question like "what is the portion like with the crab cakes appetizer?" and the server perceives it as an insult...well, that's likely to set things on very bad footing. I think its far better to not look for insults and presume that people are earnest in their questions.

                            If someone is rude about how they ask a question, the problem is being rude, not with the question itself.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: ccbweb

                              exactly- it is rude to be rude

                              it is my job to offer you as much information as i can to help you make your selection.

                              1. re: ccbweb

                                Same thought here when I first read the title. I ask about portion sizes all the time, including in very high-end restaurants, and I've never gotten the impression that the server was insulted. (Crabcakes are a good example, by the way - I've had crabcake appetizers that consisted of one pingpong ball-sized cake and others that were more like two hockey puck-sized cakes.) I ask because I love food, and I love to have a variety of items over the course of a meal (especially dessert), but I don't have a huge appetite so I need to pace myself, so to speak. I'd like to know if the appetizer I'm considering is so big and rich that I'll be full by the time the entrees arrive, or that the "primi" portion of pasta will in fact probably be enough for a main course for me, or that all the entrees are large portions so I should probably order one that will make for decent leftovers the next day.

                                1. re: cookie monster

                                  I'm on the same page; I always want to try many things, but don't want to eat two tons of food, or carry home some sad leftovers. So I often ask about portion size, and I've never had a server react negatively. I think that most good servers understand that you're trying to manage expectations--anything he/she does to make the diner happy will result in a bigger tip.

                                2. re: ccbweb

                                  That's what I assumed too.

                                  Especially when dishes aren't classified as appetizers and entrées, but as pastas, soups, etc, it can be hard to tell how much food you'll be getting.

                                  Or when a restaurant offers a "small" and "large" size - how else do you know which one to get? (That's why I like that some Chinese restaurants serve dishes in pints and quarts.)

                                3. I don't see why it is rude or insulting to anyone. Restaurant portions vary widely. As has often been noted here, Cheesecake Factory is well known for oversized portions. Some fine dining establishments (used to) serve much smaller portions. What is wrong with wanting to know what you are getting? Nor do I think it infers that the restaurant is cheap if you want to know how many shrimp are included in the shrimp cocktail - a dish that is frequently shared by diners.

                                  I also don't believe that because two or three people share some food that should imply that they are cheap. Why shouldn't two people share an entree if that is all they want? If you carry this further, why would a restaurant have a choice between a cup and a bowl of soup. Does that infer that the people who order the cup are cheap? Many restaurants offer lite portions and full portions. Surely they don't do that because they think their patrons are tightwads. A lot of times having a small entree means I don't feel so guilty about having an appetizer or ordering a dessert, clearly a winning situation for the restaurant - and the server.

                                  I don't think most patrons would expect the server to be able to answer that question without a little back and forth discussion. If you are working a lot of tables at a place that counts on volume for its profit, I understand this takes up valuable time, especially if you have a large group all asking lots of questions. Sometimes that's just the price of life.

                                  1. It's definitely not rude to ask! I sometimes wish all restaurants would specify right on the menu! Too many restaurants are serving portions large enough to feed 2-3 people! Often husband and I are not going home afterwards so leftovers aren't an option. So we ask because we don't want the leftovers, the extra food, etc. Normally for the two of us a shared entry and a few drinks is more than enough food.

                                    And too small? That's happened only once - I ordered one of the specials from a place we go to occasionally. What was worded as a "dinner salad" turned out to be more of an appetizer/side salad portion. (And this coming from someone who deems most "side salads" to be a "dinner salad" portion!)

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: odkaty

                                      on a related topic, I appreciate when a server says something if we aren't quite ordering enough- e.g. if four of us order something that gets served in threes, the server might say, " That serving has three pieces, would you like two orders?"-

                                      1. re: nummanumma

                                        I try to do that - the bruschetta served at the restaurant where I serve has four pieces, so it's difficult for more than four diners to share it.

                                        Half the people asking seem to want a lot of food and half seem to want very small portions of food. If I'm not sure what they're asking, I try to ask follow up questions so I can figure out what information they're looking for.

                                        1. re: jnstarla

                                          If you're a server I can't imagine why you're obviously annoyed with this question. Is it really that hard to figure out why someone wants to know portion sizes?

                                          Take appetizers for example. Depending on the restaurant an app can feed 2-4 people, in other places an app can easily be handled by one. If it's youre first time in the restaurant, how do you know how many to order if you don't ask?

                                          1. re: Rick

                                            I never said I was annoyed; you are reading too much into my post. I said that it's not always clear what is being asked, so I try and explore through further questions what the customer wants.

                                            I don't find it annoying, actually. People who are hungry or who are annoyed because they got way too much food aren't happy people. I want my customers to be happy, because happy people tend to leave larger tips. :)

                                            1. re: jnstarla

                                              I think Rick's response was actually directly to the OP.

                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                Yes, my response was directly to the OP, sorry about that jnstarla. I just hit the first reply button I see!

                                                1. re: Rick

                                                  No harm, no foul! I was wondering how you got "annoyed" from the content of my post, but I will live to serve another table. :)

                                    2. it is rude to ask that? i don't think so. i don't think it's rude to ask your server anything that has to do with the menu or the restaurant. for a server, though, the question "is that going to be enough for us to share?" is a tough one and can put the server in an awkward situation. portion size and what's "enough" is totally subjective. if it's something like meat or fish, i can tell a guest how much it weighs when the chef portions it out at the beginning of the night and the guest can decide on their own if that is enough to share. but with items that don't really get weighed, like apps and salads, it gets trickier because i really don't know what a guest's appetite is like. i also try to avoid showing how big a dish is by using my hands (it was this big!) or using examples (the crabcake is about the size of a hockey puck) because it just seems inappropriate let alone looks/sounds ridiculous. some guests share appetizers that other guests wolf down alone. i've been in situations where i've told a guest that a dish is appropriate for one person and it ends up that they can't finish it and complain that it was too big and think that i was just trying to increase my check average. i've also been in the opposite situation where i've told a guest that a dish is appropriate to share and they complained that it wasn't enough and they are still hungry.

                                      1. slightly off topic, but this thread reminded me of something.....

                                        my first waitressing job, years ago, was in a pizza/pasta/pub type place and i also had to take delivery orders. so many people would phone and ask "how many slices in a large/medium/etc?" and they would seem very stressed and worried about having the right number of slices per person. i always thought that was funny. because we can slice a pizza into how ever many slices they want.

                                        then there was the time a customer called to complain because his pizza wasn't sliced. we were busy and i guess the cook just forgot. he was really mad. i thought that was funny too.

                                        1. Hi cocktailqueen et al.,

                                          I agree with most posters on this board that asking about portion sizes is not, by definition, rude. However, it does seem that the couple you were with behaved in a way that was extremely tacky at best. Asking the size of many different items is certainly excessive and does make it sound like they're trying to figure out how little they can possibly order and get away with it, or that they somehow doubt that the portions are appropriate.

                                          I do sometimes ask for help, mostly because I have a habit of ordering a bunch of appetizers sometimes in lieu of an entree -- but I always ask the question as, "Can you let me know if I order an amount of food that sounds wrong?" or "Do you think that if I get an app too I won't be able to finish this?" -- I guess what I'm saying is mostly that I try to be friendly and nonspecific about it, as excusememiss said above.

                                          When sharing, I usually ask, "Do you think I will make a huge mess if I try to cut that in half?" I get the information I want because if I ask a question like that I either get an opinion that accounts for the entire idea of sharing, not just what kind of pieces there are. But I didn't request for them to tell me the ounces (or grams!) on the plate. I find that when I let the server know that I'm interested in his or her opinion (on the food as well as the amount) I almost always get decent advice without asking very pointed questions.

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: Adrienne

                                            Ok...why shouldn't someone figure out what the minimum they can order to be satisfied in terms of their hunger is? I'm not sure I understand the idea that customers must forgoe certain information when they go into a restaurant. If its OK to ask about the size of one item, why not all the items? If someone wants to figure out if they can order 3 appetizers to share and be done, why is that not OK?

                                            The idea of insulting someone by asking for information about the products being sold is baffling to me. If you're buying a car you ask a lot of questions. If you're buying a house, you ask a lot of questions. If you're buying a computer you ask a lot of questions. If you're buying a mattress you ask a lot of questions. Why do we think food in a restaurant is so different? The customer certainly isn't always right....but when they're simply asking for more information, how can they already be wrong?

                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                              Not by definition rude, true, as I have responded before. The rudeness factors from how the customer asks. The original point I was trying to make was summed up without enough information. I was appalled by how others I was dining with ambushed the server with questions to portion sizes, because they were very rude in the way they were going about it. It got me thinking that asking about portions could be considered an insult to the restaurant-and we were at an upscale place, where in some situations the questioning of the portions-reminder: I mean the way/how it is asked, and if it isn't something already stated on the menu (ounces, how it is served, etc..) hints to many negative factors (small portions, high price, etc). The OP was immediatlely after that dining experience and it left me very upset about the whole situation. As written before, asking about portions can be a part of the dining experience and not considered rude.

                                              I agree that information about the menu is needed. But that applies to many other things than just portion size. <If someone wants to figure out if they can order 3 appetizers to share and be done, why is that not OK?> Again, it is the process and way a person asks. But to compare food in a restaurant to a car or mattress? That's ridiculous. I know there are some extremely high priced restaurants, but the average car is priced over $20,000 and is something you will estimately be using for at least over two years!! A mattress can be purchased for over $1,000 (which is close to a dining experience in some places) but it something that you will be spending more than six hours on everyday for over two years!! How are those even comparable?!?!

                                              1. re: cocktailqueen77

                                                Also, when someone asks "does this car go fast?" there is a definitive answer-yes, or no. Based on fact. When someone asks "Is this enought food to fill me?" it is a subjective question that, without some knowledge of the person's appetite, is difficult to answer. (And can, in fact, be rude to answer if you say one thing .For example- OMG! Its a huge portion- and the customer feels the opposite-Ummm I need to order something else, I'm still hungry-)

                                                1. re: cocktailqueen77

                                                  Rudeness is wrong, regardless of what's asked. It could be a perfectly legitimate question or request of but if it's asked rudely, it's out of line. I think comparisons are good--the crab cakes are the size of a hockey puck or even hand gestures. Both server and customer need to be specific (It must be hard to answer, "Is it enough for me?" Suddenly the server has be become clairvoyant, know what kind of appetite the customer has, how much he/she has eaten for the day, etc. The wrong response would be, "That should be fine for a tiny little lady like you" which I have received. Ugh). Can you imagine shopping in a grocery store and getting a box of cereal where all you know is the name and price--they don't tell you how much is in the box.

                                                  1. re: cocktailqueen77

                                                    I think we're all in agreement about the fact that if you're rude, it doesn't matter what you're asking.

                                                    As far as comparing cars and computers and such with food....they are products that one is considering purchasing. Simply because something costs more or less doesn't mean that a potential buying is entitled to seek less information about it.

                                                  2. re: ccbweb

                                                    No I think asking for information is fine... I just think that if you want to order 3 apps to share, you should ask "do you think this will be enough food?" rather than "how many ounces does each of these weigh?" Although I do understand that it can be difficult for a server to know how much food you want, and I do disclaim if appropriate (I'm not very hungry, I'm ver hungry tonight, etc.), I think that if you ask for the ounce-age, it kindof implies that if you just asked for the waiter's opinion, he or she might be insincere (i.e., trying to get you to order more in spite of huge portions, which has never happened to me before). If the waiter feels unable to guess, he or she can certainly gesture or say how much it weighs or whatever, but starting by asking that way -- especially if you go down the whole menu doing it -- I think is rude. Not horrible, but rude.

                                                    And all of your comparison examples cost so much more than food that I can't really see how you could think food isn't different unless you are eating at places WAY WAY more expensive than where I've ever been.

                                                    1. re: Adrienne

                                                      Yeah...asking for specific ounces starts to seem a bit odd...although I can imagine that if someone were on a specific diet that it could matter. Again (and boy, how often can we reemphasize this?) it all comes down to how you ask and interact with the server. If you were to say "I have to carefully watch how much I eat of particular items, can you tell me how many ounces of tuna is in the appetizer?" it would probably come off without any insult or implication about anything else. If you say "so, is this one of those tiny things restaurants try to rob people with? is there even an ounce in there?" then you're pretty much a dolt and a rude one at that.

                                                      As for the comparisons, my point is only that if you're going to spend money on something, you get to ask some questions about it, no matter how much money you're going to spend. How about a closer to dollar amount example....it's reasonable to ask how long a movie is before you buy the ticket.

                                                      Overall, I bet we agree on most of this. It all boils down to being polite and respectful.

                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                        The ounce issue is in response to an earlier post where someone wrote about wanting to know the oz of steak or other meat sizes. That is what I am referring to. I have been to restaurants where they do not specify how large a cut of meat (or fish of the day for that matter) is, which is an important question to ask a server and would be expected by any server to be prepared to respond to.

                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                          Asking for specific sizes gets you the information you need and avoids having the server interpret the customer's needs. It isn't rude. I don't understand why you think it's an insult to the restaurant.

                                                          Asking with attitude is rude. If your friends are rude, the problem isn't with what they're asking, it's how they're asking it.

                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                            Overall, I bet we agree on most of this. It all boils down to being polite and respectful.
                                                            Yes; 100%. And yes also to CQ below, I think an entree steak might be my ounces-exception, just because ounces are such a standard way of describing some cuts of meat.

                                                    2. Jfood has a very specific means of understanding portions at a resto. On the way to the table, some people talk, some people check out the guys, some people check out theladies, jfood checks out the plates. You get a pretty good feel for the level of size from gazing around. Best is when the table next to you is an hour ahead in the meal, they are receiving their entrees as you are looking at the menu. No, jfood does not stare but a quick glimpse sure falls into the old phrase a picture is worth a thousand words.

                                                      And as others have stated, questions, asked properly are always well received by professional server. they are there to assist in your having a great meal. if you order a nice steak and its 4 oz some may feel its perfect and others may fee it's your kidding. better to know up front and the server is the encyclopedia of answers.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        Very eloquently and accurately put jfood. Since the original post I have continually wished I could go back and edit in additional info to support my opinion. I was thinking if I could change the title it would be : "Can you believe what my dining companions did?".

                                                      2. My daughter and I just had the experience of ordering "tapas" in a local restaurant. When I think tapas, I think of a plate with several small bites on it. So we ordered six plates for the two of us for lunch. Each portion was HUGE; easily enough for 3 or 4 people to share as an appetizer. While it was my fault for not asking, I also wonder why the server didn't warn us when we ordered? We wasted a huge amount of food (weren't headed straight home, and most of the dishes wouldn't keep). I have to admit that, although the food was wonderful, I would think twice about eating there again simply because I felt as though we were taken advantage of.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: smr33

                                                          It's a tough situation for a server to try to judge what someone's appetite is. What if the server told someone that would be too much and it turned out not to be enough? Then, people would be annoyed at them for that.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            If you're serving tapas that are not actually tapas-sized, that is a time to interject at risk of being wrong. You don't have to say "wow, you'll never finish that," (people have said that to me and I find that awkward even if they're correct), but a waiter could say, "Just so you know, our tapas are on the large side," preferably before ordering even began, to prevent people from ordering twice the food they wished to eat.

                                                            1. re: Adrienne

                                                              I think if they're having to say that to every customer that it should just be printed on the menu. Maybe that wouldn't be in the best interest of the restaurant but the server is taking the blame for it.

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                Actually, the more I think about it, I think the problem lies in calling their dishes "tapas." The restaurant is not a true tapas place. It seems to me (at least judging from the portions we received) that the restaurant is calling what would normally be considered an appetizer, a "tapas." Thus, my confusion.

                                                            2. re: chowser

                                                              In a tapas place, you can always order more (in fact, we usually begin with what we think is the minimum number of dishes to satisfy our appetite; if we love something in particular or find that we're still hungry, we'll order more). It seems more annoying to end up with more food than you can possibly eat.

                                                          2. In other parts of the world (Europe comes to mind), portion sizes are shown on the menu--perhaps it's customary, perhaps it's part of trade regulations. It could be that's what the patron is used to and just wants to know.

                                                            Suprisingly, I couldn't really relate to the number of grams/milliliters in a portion shown on a menu when I was traveling there (even though I could convert them to our standard measurements)--seeing how something looks on a plate (I'm from jfood's school of thought) is a better indicator for me than a numeric quantity.

                                                            I will say that I've rarely been disappointed in the subjective judgement of a waiter as to whether a combination of dishes might fill me up or leave me hungry, even without quantifying the exact portion size. Or their judgement (in a place without a kid's menu) as to whether a certain appetizer would satisfy my kid as an entree.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: tubman

                                                              I lived or traveled (and ate) a lot in Germany, Croatia, Switzerland, England, France, Italy, Austria, Spain, Portugal etc. but beside very few exceptions I can't remember a single restaurant where portion sizes are shwon on the menu. I don't know where you got the information but it is wrong.

                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                It's standard throughout Russia (by regulation, even at fast food places, as our translator told us) and we saw it in several places at which I've eaten in England and Germany in the last two years. I didn't mean to imply it's everywhere in Europe, simply because I haven't eaten everywhere in Europe (and neither have you). What I meant was that if the places I saw were a sampling, it's reasonable to assume that it's not totally unheard of in Europe in the general sense.

                                                                1. re: tubman

                                                                  It's not rude but I'm not sure many would know. Depends on the waiter.

                                                                  1. re: tubman

                                                                    I agree that it s not unheard of in Europe but very uncommon as it is in the US