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Oct 19, 2007 11:12 AM

Is it OK to take silverware from nearby table [moved from General Chowhounding Topics]

In a recent thread, the issue of waiting for a replacement knife was discussed. A number of posters said just to take the silverware from a nearby table if it was a casual place. It made me curious. While I would first ask my server to get me silverware, I would not think twice about exercising self-help and taking it from the table next door. No matter what restaurant I am in. Am I horribly uncouth or just practical?

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  1. Practical. I do try to let someone know that I took an item next time I see wait/bus staff. (This thread will probably be moved to Not About Food).

    1. Absolutely practical.

      Jfood has done this on many occasions from diners to high end restos.

      Anotherinteresting question is what happens when the server returns with that missing utensil and realizes its an "oops."

      jfood's experience is they sulk away 90% of the time, 5% of the time they apologize for taking so long and 5% they leave the extra utensil, and we'll call that clueless. In any event it's sorta a shrug in the meal for jfood.

      Wonder if anyone

      1 Reply
      1. re: jfood

        Oh yes, TT did this at a Thai place last week. In fact, we changed plates with the next table as well, as ours had the reminants of what appeard to be food on them :(

        But, as for cutlery, I think the rule is, if you drop it, then you really shouldn't grab another table's. But if the server takes it away after a course, or it's missing when you get there, then it's up to the wait staff to provide a replacement. Only if they don't can you swipe it from the next table (go walk to the serving station and help yourself).


      2. I have done it on several occasions, when the server was out of sight or earshot. But I always let them know as soon as I see them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: vvvindaloo

          I wish this were the only issue with restaurants that don't measure up!

          If I can't get a server or a busser (good advice from someone), I would happily swipe.

          Someone else mentioned reflecting the lack of utensils in the tip, but I don't agree on that.

        2. I have definitely done this, but only at casual places; all the nicer restos I've been to just haven't ever forgotten to place silverware at the table.

          Thinking about it, I don't take a silverware count until the meal actually arrives.. and when there's food in front of me but no utensils (and no waiter), I'm stealing from a table nearby!

          1. I'll hesitate to grab it from the table next to me, but if the wait staff isn't around to give me my own, or they somehow forget and bring me the food minus knife/fork, I'll look around for my own and snaffle it from the next table if need be (as long as it's empty) - I'm not going to sit there and let my food get cold while I wait fifteen minutes for the waiter to show up again and ask if I need anything!