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What about pacing?

I was just talking to friends who went out for their anniversary dinner last night. My friend complained that as soon as they had finished their appetizers, their entrees appeared. I know that, in many instances, this is what diners want. Is there a way, though, to indicate to your server, that you would prefer a more leisurely pace toy your meal?

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  1. You don't have to order everything at once. You can wait to order entrees after the apps arrive. Or just tell your server you want more time between courses.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mojoeater

      I recommend the latter approach, do not recommend ordering entrees after apps arrive. Doing so means you're sitting around with menus in the way when your apps come, but more importantly, some entrees take longer to cook -- say, a steak done mw or other meat dishes -- and not ordering until later means that you will have a much longer pause between courses. Probably longer than you would like. I've always found letter the server know to be the best course of action.

    2. This reminds me of a mildly-related story. For our 6th wedding anniversary, we went to Campton Place in SF for dinner. I was 8 months pregnant - sort of tired, hungry, and grumpy. We booked the earliest reservation available for when they first open and got there about 10 minutes prior. They are still having a meeting, so we left - they all saw us (Asian couple, one very pregnant lady, hard to forget). We finally got seated. No menu. Another table seated after us got their menu. Finally about 10 minutes later and not knowing why we didn't get our menus, I flagged down the waiter, who said that he wanted to give us time to get settled down first. I didn't say anything but thought... "pregnant woman shows up before the reservation, finally gets to sit down... probably wants to move on to dinner ASAP. I've already spent enough time chatting with my husband, thank you very much!" But I guess in hindsight, there's no way he would have known. That was the first time I was ever seated without the menu for a noticeable amount of time. Dunno if this is considered the norm in similar restaurants.

      1 Reply
      1. re: boltnut55

        My experience has always been: the more expensive the menu, the more paced the meal. But, then again, I have had the same experience when forking out the bucks for dinner. I agree with the suggestion that you should speak up if you want to take your time.

      2. This is a pet peeve of mine. I went to Aureole in NY for an 8-course tasting menu about a year ago, and the courses arrived one after another with no time in between. We had to ask the waiter at least twice to slow things down. My feeling is that at fancy restaurants, the presumption should be that you want to linger--if I'm spending over 100$/person, I want to make an evening of it.

        1. If you want to dine, inform the server. Likewise you can ive the server a pretty good head's up by the way you order. If you rush to the menu when you sit, call the waiter over immediately then he will assume you are in a hurry.

          Likewise, if you want to dine, take your time ordering and when the server comes to ask if youare ready to order simply stae, "we're here for a nice leisurely dinner. if you could give us some time before ordering we'd appreciate it." Clue given in a nice friendly inclusive manner.

          Once again communicate, do not assume.

          1. We just had a pacing problem last night at Torafuku in West LA. We ordered our food (just about everything is a la carte including rice) and waited... and waited... Finally, except for the omakase sushi platter which came out first, the succession of food was extremely disjointed, tardy and in the wrong order. With Japanese food, as with alot of Asian cuisine, and for that matter food in general, one expects, needs to have starch (read rice) along with one's entrees (proteins like grilled fishes, meats). Having rice brought to only three of the five who ordered rice without anything else is a travesty. For the other two (our kids), the started complaining about not having anything to eat and fell asleep waiting for their rice set and the rest of the food.

            The food itself was quite good - nothing I felt was so-so or subpar. The service and the pace of the food coming out to our tables was pretty bad. This left my parents wishing for their favorite kinda-divey Chinese eatery where the longest it takes a dish to come out is about five to seven minutes, where the rice comes out with the first entrees, and the service is quite good. Being that I chose Torafuku last night, I'll never hear the end of this comparison...

            2 Replies
            1. re: bulavinaka

              I've noticed that Chinese restaurants don't always bring out rice with their first plate either. Then we have to flag them down or eat our first dish with no rice (cuz we're starving). I try to tell them to bring the rice when they bring out the first dish without it, but sometimes it still takes forver.

              1. re: boltnut55

                To me, Asian food is all about the rice about 60=70% of the time. Rice is the blank canvas, while everything else represents the paint. No canvas, no painting!

            2. We used to go out to some pretty good Japanese restaurants in Manila. The staff were often filipinas dressed as Japanese. I would politely and precisely (and in Tagalog) detail sequencing and timing, especially if I was helping to order for a large group. Always worked and was always necessary.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I guess it could have been my fault for not mentioning when we wanted what, but this is the first time that I'd ever run into this issue at a Japanese restaurant. Especially since they are a Japan-based eatery, I figured they'd know that a bhudahead's gotta have his rice with just about everything!

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  bulavinaka, you're absolutely right. I wouldn't think to tell servers in a Japanese restaurant in LA how to order, combine, and pace the prep and serving.

                  But elsewhere I certainly do let servers know that I would prefer: a) beer and/or drinks with a bit of time to relax, b) miso shiru with nothing else, c) a bit of sushi (norimaki) with nothing else, d) sashimi, tsukemino, ume, any main hot dishes such as unagi and shabu shabu or sukiyaki or teriyaki fish, and plenty of hot gohan all together, then clear the table again for e) sake, more sake, and mo... and f) a final bit of green tea.

              2. And here I was thinking that this was just a problem with my immediate date! My ex always used to order course by course and bc he was hospitality and I was new to the US i figured this was the way to go, but it infuriated me to no end having the menus lying around and then sometimes by the time you order the meal, the dish is out (often w/ specials). However, i can now appreciate the enjoyment of enjoying the meal and the dining experience, since last week when i ate out, i noticed both times (mod-exp priced establishments) the meal was paced a lot quicker than I would've liked. I chalked it up to my now preferred lifestyle of leisurely enjoyment, esp when my date didn't see a problem and thought the meal was perfectly timed. However, if the food is coming out before I've had time to digest, drink and relax i do think the course is too rushed.

                1. Because each restaurant/kitchen operates differently a qualified server should be able to facilitate any pace you want, provided you communicate exactly what you do want.

                  I like to take my time but don't always have time. Lunch has to be wham-bam. As soon as the server has pen in hand I place my order. This is usually enough to let him know I want food to come ASAP. If ordering multiple courses at lunch I tell him not to pace the meal and waive the points of service etiquette.

                  If I do have time to enjoy myself it is a whole different story though. I treat it as a miniature vacation. I tell the server right off that I am there to relax and experience what their restaurant has to offer. The only problem with asking for a leisurely meal is that a poor server can easily confuse this with being asked to ignore or neglect your table.

                  Either style of service that you ask for, your server should know the best way to facilitate that goal. Guessing at the fire time of your entree is not always going to work and may mean waiting way too long. Besides, it is their job to worry about that stuff, not yours.