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Group menu etiquette qn

rwarren Dec 30, 2007 10:52 AM

Dear foodies,

I have a question and I would like to know what others would have done in a similar situation.

I belong to an ethnic dinner group and we recently went to a fancier-than-usual restaurant. A group menu was drawn up for us (we were ~24 people, billed individually) We were advised ahead of time what the price would be, but not what was on the menu. I did ask and was told that ordering off the regular menu would NOT be an option.

Once at the restaurant, I saw the menu and did not care for the choice. (This isn't about not eating certain foods for allergy/religious/whatever reasons, I didn't think the price quoted reflected a good value for what was being served.) I requested the regular menu and for almost the same price had a much more interesting, flavorful, substantial meal.

The organizer was at the other end of the table and probably unaware that I had not ordered off the group menu. (Another diner was also disappointed with the choices and ended up following my lead.) i do know that those around me were less than thrilled with the group menu, after eating it. I did offer tasties of mine!

I wonder though, if I did the right thing by ignoring the group menu in favor of the regular one. Or would it have been better etiquette to give my regrets to the hostess, walk out, and eat elsewhere? What would others out there have done?

Thanks in advance for your insights.

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  1. c
    chownewbie Dec 30, 2007 11:13 AM

    Oh gosh, I think walking out would have been far worse! I do believe you committed a small faux pas - but this is one person's opinion. Groups like these are usually as much about the friendships as they are about experiencing new/different food/cultures. I doubt the primary focus is finding the best price/pound of a given food item. I would have recommended you try the set menu for two reasons:
    1. respect for the host who put the dinner together
    2. respect for your fellow diners (you may have come accross like you thought you were better than them)
    ** perhaps you may have liked the choice, who knows?
    Perhaps I am old fashioned but I would never think of balking at the choice of the host in faovr of my opinion. Sometimes manners trump taste preferences. Out of curiosity, what did you have?

    2 Replies
    1. re: chownewbie
      lynnlato Dec 30, 2007 11:23 AM

      Well said, chownewbie. I would also ask rwarren how they suppose the host would've responded had they known what he/she did. I think out of respect for the host and the others in the group, you should've just eaten what was pre-selected. But alls well that ends well. If the host was none the wiser, then you got a pass!

      1. re: chownewbie
        rwarren Dec 30, 2007 12:46 PM

        The cuisine was Swiss.

        The group menu:
        Appetizer: cheese fondue with bread
        main: choice of beef, chicken, or chinese fondue (some were broth and some were oil based)
        Dessert: chocolate fondue with a few pieces of fruit and one oatmeal cookie
        beverages extra
        Fondues were shared among 4 people. (Yes even the cookie)

        My choice: table d'hote from the regular menu:
        Appetizer: escargots in garlic butter
        Main: Wiener Schnitzel with Rosti potatoes and mixed vegetables
        Dessert: Hot apple strudel
        tea included

        I am shy to post prices but mine was $5 less.

      2. m
        moh Dec 30, 2007 01:21 PM

        The key thing is that each person was billed separately. It would be unacceptable to order something different from the group menu if it meant that the organizer would be charged for the original set menu, as well as a second meal (leaving the set menu uneaten). Since everyone pays for what they eat, and since the restaurant was willing to bend their rules and let you order something other than the set menu, I think it was very reasonable to order something different. I don't know what your relationship with the organizer is, but I would comment that there might be some organizers who might be offended if you didn't go with their choice. But if I were in your shoes, I think I would have done the same thing. Walking out would not have been an option. That would be plain rude, even with giving regrets to the hostess.

        5 Replies
        1. re: moh
          TexasToast Jan 2, 2008 10:09 AM

          I agree with moh. If you are to be charged only for what you eat, then it matters not whether you suffer the pre-selected option or actually eat what you like.

          Of course, if each guest did the same thing, then that kind of defeats the purpose of having a hosted dinner, but that's for the individual participants to decide on for future events.

          TT

          1. re: TexasToast
            t
            Tay Jan 2, 2008 08:41 PM

            Mob...
            It was just as rude to blow off the agreed upon menu and insist on ordering from the regular menu, especially since the OP states that he/she inquired about that and was told it was NOT an option. The individual cost is not the issue. It's the idea that the OP agreed to be part of a group dine out and then, basically blew off the other Diners and did as he/she pleased. It was very disrespectful to the person who made the arrangements and could have easily given other diners in the group the impression that what they were eating was "not good enough" for the OP. As it was, he/she stated that another diner, 'jumped ship' based on the OP doing the same thing. The OP knows it was the wrong thing to do. He'she even acknowleges that:
            "The organizer was at the other end of the table and probably unaware that I had not ordered off the group menu"
            The purpose of a preset menu is that it allows the restaurant to prep for "X" numbers of a specific type of dinner. It is also easier to serve, thus requiring fewer staff.
            Texas, to quote you"
            Of course, if each guest did the same thing, then that kind of defeats the purpose of having a hosted dinner, but that's for the individual participants to decide on for future events"
            The key words are "future events".. Not presen events. The OP agreed to the group dinner and should have honored that committment.
            "

            1. re: Tay
              m
              moh Jan 3, 2008 05:46 AM

              Well, as I said in my previous post, there will be hosts who would be insulted. I guess I was assuming that the reason that ordering off the regular menu was not allowed was because the restaurant had not allowed it. But if the restaurant then allowed a few of the group to do so, then I don't see it as a problem.

              I would agree it would have been rude to act this way in the following circumstances:
              1. The Host and the rest of the group were stuck with the cost of an extra uneaten meal.
              2. The restaurant would boycott the Host from any future reservations because of the perceived break in contract
              3. The stated goal of the evening was for everyone to eat fondue and discuss fondue ad nauseum.

              I would agree that the original poster should probably reconsider his involvement with this group, as they may not be a good fit. And I have already agreed that some organizers would take offense, so yes, he was being rude if that is the case. But personally, if I were the organizer of the evening, I would encourage a varied menu rather than a single set menu. The point of these groups is to try different foods. I would want to have multiple choices. It sounds like the limited menu was imposed by the restaurant, so if the resto is willing to bend a bit, why not enjoy it? In someone's home, it would be rude to ask for a different dish just because one didn't like what was being offered. But in a restaurant?? Isn't that the point???

              M question is, what harm was done in this situation? If the host is insulted because someone didn't perfectly follow their plans, well I'm sorry, but that's a bit thin-skinned. You are a host: your goal is to make sure that people have a nice evening. It is a bit controlling to be upset if someone wants to order something a bit different from your menu choice. 24 people are never going to spontaneously order the same thing in a restaurant.

              Now what is the worst case scenario? OP orders off the menu. then everyone starts to order off the menu. Restaurant gets upset. Chaos ensues. So I agree, perhaps the potential for disaster makes the original action rude. But fortunately that didn't happen. And if it did happen, then there is something the matter with the group dynamic, and then you do need to reconsider the purpose of this group, there is some major dysfunction going on. Perhaps I am lucky to be surrounded by reasonable people, but in my usual group of diners, if chaos ensued, we'd all just go back to the set menu, then have a good laugh later on about the absurdity of the situation. And continue to plan our next eating fest, probably at another restaurant. That is the point, isn't it? To have fun and enjoy each others' company and to explore different cuisines? When it is no longer fun because you have to worry about potentially insulting someone vs. ordering something you want to try, well, I get enough politics at work. It's time to find another hobby. Social disasters happen, but just because they do, it doesn't mean the evening is ruined. If you really like each other, then that just becomes a "remember that crazy evening???" moment that everyone chuckles about later on.

              BTW: it's Moh, not mob...

              1. re: moh
                t
                Tay Jan 4, 2008 11:45 AM

                moh (sorry about the misspelling... At that hour sometimes everything 'blends' :-}
                " It sounds like the limited menu was imposed by the restaurant, so if the resto is willing to bend a bit, why not enjoy it?"
                As was pointed out several times before, the OP inquired about ordering off the regular menu and was told that was not an option. so the restaurant was not, ' willing to bend.' The fact that she/he apparently insisted, was rude. The restaurant handled it very professionally
                This is the thing:
                The OP agreed to abide by the choices/decisions of the Group.
                The Group entrusted a designated individual, AKA: The Host, with the responsibility of making the dining choices/arrangements.
                If the actual menu was going to be an issue with the OP,then the time to make a change was not at the time of the dinner.
                Ordering from the regular menu when everyone else has agreed to share a communal meal in an equalizing-type of dynamic, sends one or both of the following messages:
                a)That the OP really isn't willing to participate in the spirit of the shared Group meal..
                b) That the OP somehow feels that he/she is "above" having to share an "ordinary" meal... Even the comment about allowing others to have a taste of his/her (implied, 'better' meal) made me shake my head...

                1. re: moh
                  nummanumma Jan 4, 2008 11:48 AM

                  i think a good rule of thumb for behavior is to ask yourself, if everyone did what I am doing, would it be a problem? This limits individuals from doing one-off rude things- it is not cool for one diner to order their own food while everyone else toes the line and eats what is ordered for them. As you pointed out, if everyone at the table did this, it would likely pose a problem. Why should one person do it? Poor form, I say.

          2. b
            BlueHerons Dec 30, 2007 01:46 PM

            The restaurant is there to please you not the other way around. You have every right to order off the menu.

            1 Reply
            1. re: BlueHerons
              m
              moh Dec 30, 2007 01:52 PM

              "The restaurant is there to please you not the other way around. You have every right to order off the menu"

              Oh yes, I agree with this statement completely! But we have all been to places where they have rules like "everyone at the table has to order the tasting menu or else no one can order it", "no substitutions", etc. Often, when a big group has a set menu, the restaurant might be reluctant to allow someone to order off the main menu. So you are stuck. Of course, you vote with your feet, and you may never return. But at the time of the group dinner, it sometimes doesn't seem worth it to make a fuss.

            2. t
              Tay Dec 30, 2007 02:13 PM

              rwarren
              Sorry...
              When you joined the group, you agreed to participate within both the confines and the spirit of the group. You had already asked about ordering from the regular menu and had beeen told that was not an option. You did it anyway which I think was rather rude. Ordering off the agreeed upon menu was not acting in the spirit of the group. It could easily have caused dissention. What if half the people suddenly decided to do the same thing? I have no doubt that there were some in your group who resented your action regardless of whether or not they expressed it outloud. It was a "Marie Antoinette" moment and we all know what happened to her. As for contemplating giving your regrets to the hostess and walking out. That would have been even more insulting.!
              Seriously... Perhaps you're not cut out for group dining.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Tay
                r
                Rick Dec 30, 2007 02:23 PM

                I agree with Tay, you went to dinner knowing that you were expected to have dinner from a pre selected menu but chose not to do so. I'm sure others were much too polite to actually tell you that you were being rude. You could have always went back at a later date by yourself if you really wanted to try other menu items. The pre selected menu by no means sounded awful so I question the real reason you chose to be the rebel of the group.

                1. re: Rick
                  scoopG Dec 30, 2007 03:24 PM

                  I agree with Tay and Rick. And you can be darn sure everybody in the group found out about your and the other guest's choices. Offering "tasties" of your own food to others could have been viewed as an insult to the host/organizer and your fellow diners - sort of a "see what I got and you didn't" or "I make better choices than the host" sort of thing. Question, Rick: What do you mean billed individually? The host paid (or prepaid) the total bill plus tax and tip and then each diner paid their 1/24th share? How was your $5 savings realized then?

                  1. re: scoopG
                    maplesugar Jan 4, 2008 12:54 PM

                    I'm sorry, I agree, ordering off the menu was poor manners. If there was a set menu for four to share fondue and only three shared one of the fondues then who "ate" the cost of your share rwarren? The host or the restaurant? Nevermind the extra work involved serving a pre-selected menu to a large group AND serving menu items...just my 2 cents.

                2. re: Tay
                  z
                  ziggylu Dec 30, 2007 06:13 PM

                  I agree with Tay. we're members of a dinner group...on alternative months we dine out. There have been some occasions where someone arranged a set menu with a restaurant for the rest of us...one particulalry memorable as something my husband and I didn't enjoy at all...but we had accepted teh date, time and plan and just made the most of the evening though we didn't enjoy the meal at all. Sometimes a restaurant is chosen we really don't care for....in those cases we decline well in advance but would never dream of agreeing to the group consensus and then going against the grain at teh restaurant.

                  One the months we cook at someone's home there's been plenty of times - for all us members for sure - where we might not have been thrilled with the theme or some of the courses but again it's a group dynamic and we agreed to be part of the group.

                  Life's just too short get wound up about things like this...

                  1. re: Tay
                    lynnlato Dec 31, 2007 05:54 AM

                    Amen. It was a group thang.

                  2. jfood Dec 30, 2007 03:20 PM

                    Before jfood begins, your menu was waaaay better, but that's not the question.

                    Six Sigma is drooling over the process errors in this one.

                    - One person chooses and sends only the price and not the menu (a recipe for disaster if no choices)
                    - Restaurant allowed more than one person to order off-menu (maybe they were disturbed by the menu ofperpetual fondue as well)
                    - No one asked "organizer" if (s)he minds if the restaurant would allow would (s)he mind if they did not order the triple fondue

                    Given the situation, on a macro level, it was probably not the best thing from a group dynamic perspective to order off-menu. Although this menu is not very appealing to jfood as well. he probably would have sucked it up and eaten it and suggested a change in process going forward. In the event that you just can't bear it, then Jfood would suggest that the person who has an issue with the predetermined menu at least ask the organizer if (s)he would mind, and in this situation stating that you really did not like fondue should be enough.

                    By now the organizer has probably heard about your selections. You may want to give a call in case there are any ill-feelings.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: jfood
                      t
                      Tay Dec 30, 2007 03:40 PM

                      jfood
                      You really are the CH Diplomat. The OP knew it was a Swiss restaurant and I cannot imagine that she/he didn't have some sort of inkling that fondue was involved. I'd wager the group probably chose the restaurant for the novelty of having fondue. The price was based upon a large party all being served a set menu. And the kitchen was prepared to deliver 'en masse'. What would have happened if even more diners decided to 'break ranks' and order off the regular menu?... Chaos for the kitchen and possibly the staff. . Had the OP asked the organizer if she minded if the OP ordered from the regular menu what would the organizer have done if those within earshot said. "Oh me too!". That would have goten awkward really quickly. I think, your kindness aside, the OP was really off the mark on this one. The time to take a stand is before the date of the dinner. If I felt that strongly about it, I would have contacted the restaurant and found out what the group dinner consisted of and if it was displeasing, I would have contacted the organizer and bowed out, or joined the group for after dinner coffee and cake.
                      Had there been an allergy involved, that would have been a different situation but not liking the menu that 23 of your friends and acquaintences are eating around you?...I'd have to say: Suck it up and chow down.

                      1. re: Tay
                        r
                        Rick Dec 30, 2007 04:11 PM

                        Forgot to mention, the OP also wondered if it would have been better etquitte to have excused himself from the dinner and give the host his regrets! Does anyone really need to ask if that's a better choice, honestly?

                        Sorry OP, but it seems like you like to be the black sheep. Nothing wrong with that really, but why join a large food group if that's your thing? I doubt you'll enjoy many dinners where 20+ other people are weghing in on what to have for dinner.

                        1. re: Rick
                          jfood Dec 30, 2007 05:00 PM

                          Oops, oh yeah Rick, forgot about that. No way is that an option.

                        2. re: Tay
                          jfood Dec 30, 2007 05:04 PM

                          Tay, hopefully no Swiss posters will come by stating their cuisine is more than hot oil/cheese/chocolate and some tongs. Jfood wonders if this ever happened to this "group" before. Pleasing 20 people at various restos is a major undertaking.

                          In jfood's groups the inhouse affairs have the entire menu sent to all participants plus what each is expected to make/bring. On the outside groups we normally get together, everyone looks at the menu and then the moderator asks if there is something taht really looks good and anything that looks reall unappealing. Then the moderator orders.

                          The OP should have sucked it up as both you and jfood stated but the pre-dinner process also has some flaws that could be better achieved.

                      2. SweetPea914 Dec 30, 2007 05:56 PM

                        The "right" thing IMO would not have been either of your options to "ignore the group menu in favor of the regular one. Or...to give my regrets to the hostess, walk out, and eat elsewhere?"

                        The TRULY "right" thing would have been to eat what was on the given menu. Especially since it is an "ethnic dinner group" and someone obviously needs to plan these events in a manner that will A) make life and the bill easier and B) to ensure that the (large) party is being served at the same time.

                        Also, since you mention that you "did ask and was told that ordering off the regular menu would NOT be an option." yet you did it anyway, I have to wonder if this is a group you should continue with. Sounds like you are not as flexible as others might be.

                        However, If you received individual bills each and no one was technically the actual host, I'm somewhat inclined to give you a pass and say that what you did was not "OK" But maybe tolerable?? Although, the person that did the planning is undoubtably feeling a bit like they failed the group and you do owe an apology...or better yet, why don't you try to plan the next outing or offer to help plan the next one if one person does all the planning. Maybe you can offer some insight or you may see how difficult getting a group together and pleasing everyone can be :-)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: SweetPea914
                          scoopG Dec 31, 2007 02:31 AM

                          That's my question to the OP: how was this bill settled and how did OP realize a savings of $5? How many restaurants catering to a large group then will allow 24 separate checks? Absolute nightmare for the staff.

                          1. re: scoopG
                            rwarren Dec 31, 2007 02:14 PM

                            All diners were billed individually. (For clarification: Yes there were 24 separate checks prepared, distributed, and monies collected by the waitstaff)

                            Group menu was $34.95 per person plus beverages.

                            Mine was $29.95 including beverage.

                            Each diner also paid taxes, compulsory service charge, and compulsory coat check.

                            1. re: rwarren
                              t
                              Tay Dec 31, 2007 03:04 PM

                              rwarren
                              I think you have gotten the 'insight' you requested in your OP. You're probably sorry you asked ! Lol! It's pretty clear that you made a bad choice. That having been said, it isn't the end of the world. Next time, just find out the menu ahead of time. If it's not something you feel you are willing to eat, you can either decline or perhaps arrange to join the group for post dinner coffee. I have to admit I have never heard of a restaurant issuing separate checks for identical dinners.The only thing I can possibly figure is that people's checks were different depending upon what and how much they had to drink. In a situation like that, usually the group agrees on a cash bar, and either gets their own drinks or pays the Server at the time of service

                        2. b
                          burlgurl Dec 30, 2007 06:20 PM

                          I think you were in a situation where you would have had to sacrifice and take the set menu..You mentioned that the fondue was served to groups of 4, which explains why you could not order from the regular menu..this could still have been charged to the groups total bill.

                          1. h
                            hsk Dec 30, 2007 09:21 PM

                            Walking out AFTER you had shown up would definitely NOT be better etiquette. How could you do it - lie and say you're not feeling well, or tell the hostess you don't care for the food selections?

                            If you were told the menu when you "did ask and was told that ordering off the regular menu would NOT be an option." - that might have been the appropriate time to give your regrets, and would have been better etiquette, IMHO.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: hsk
                              rockandroller1 Dec 31, 2007 06:44 AM

                              I agree with the others. In settings like this, it's not about you getting the best meal possible, it's about the group and their dining experience. It's akin to going to someone's house and asking them for something else because you don't like what they served. Unless there is a real dietary problem such as an allergy or religious reason not to eat what's offered, you should have just eaten off the suggested menu and gone back another time to get what you wanted. Group menus are selected to give everyone a taste of what's available and to make it manageable for the kitchen. 24 people all ordering off the menu might crash the kitchen and make everyone's dining experience horrid, including people not in your group. That's why they do a set menu for large groups. Haven't you ever just picked at something you didn't really care for to be polite? That's what this was about.

                              1. re: hsk
                                rwarren Dec 31, 2007 02:46 PM

                                The cuisine was not communicated to us till 2-3 days before the event. And yes, if I had known what our group menu was ahead of time, I would not have attended.

                                Once the restaurant was (finally) announced, I looked up the (regular) menu on their website and drooled excitedly over the various possibilities. I also had pleasant memories of another Swiss restaurant many years ago (no fondue involved).

                                1. re: rwarren
                                  rockandroller1 Dec 31, 2007 03:44 PM

                                  I belong to a similar group and only rarely is the full menu communicated in advance. Usually the menu is pre-selected and if not, it's a small group (10 or less). I have been several times where the meal selection was a surprise. You just eat what you like and sample small tastes of the rest.

                                  If you want to select your own food every time, dining out in a large group like this is probably not best as with big groups, this is standard. And the giving people tastes and such would have really made me mad if I were the host/organizer.

                              2. j
                                justagthing Dec 31, 2007 06:33 PM

                                OK...I will be the odd one out here. But I would have done the same as you, given the exact same circumstances. I do not care much for fondue and would not want to share from the same pot from those I do not know so well. I probably would not have attended though if the menu was not presented/given to me as it was not given to you. Also, have one question, was fondue on their regular menu? Is that what this restaurant is known for? And, if I was the hostess, I wouldn't have minded as long as the restaurant was ok with it. Usually, if it is a hard rule for the restaurant, they wouldn't have let you order from thier regular menu. So...it doesn't seem like it was a problem to them. Glad you enjoyed your meal.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: justagthing
                                  f
                                  Fydeaux Jan 3, 2008 09:05 AM

                                  I'm with you on this one, G-Thing. There is no indications that rwarren's actions caused any disruptions in the overall flow of the evening. There was also indication of upset on the host's part, regardless of whether or not the host was aware of what was happening on the far end of the table.

                                  I am curious about that arrangement for the whole event: Since the menu was not known in advance, I am surprised that there were not at least one or two alternatives offered for each course. Even at wedding dinners, there is often a choice of fish or chicken or beef for an entree.

                                  And besides everything else, this was a group dinner in a restaurant, not dinner at someone's home, and not peace talks between warring nations where someone was going to walk out if the shape of the table or the size of the flags wasnt to someone's liking. I would have done what rwarren did. Anyone who get significantly upset over this is seriously overthinking the whole thing.

                                  1. re: Fydeaux
                                    j
                                    justagthing Jan 3, 2008 09:14 AM

                                    Yes and if I were in the host/ess position, I would empathize that the menu was not varied enough and probably be embarrassed. But then again, I would have insisted on a stated menu prior to the event that I could present to the others that were considering whether or not to attend the event. But maybe that is just me?

                                2. r
                                  rich in stl Dec 31, 2007 06:55 PM

                                  IMHO OP was put in a no-win situation. He should have eaten what was on the group menu which $ucked

                                  Who chose that fondue in extremis menu? Is s/he allowed out without his mother? Can you find a better group? You need to!

                                  1. rednyellow Jan 2, 2008 07:55 PM

                                    I would have just walked out. Tell the host that is wasn't what you were into, see you another time, and leave.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: rednyellow
                                      t
                                      Tay Jan 2, 2008 08:51 PM

                                      red
                                      that was not an option. The OP entered into a group financial agreement to cover the cost of his/her meal. To have "just walked out" would have been extremely rude, and immature. If the dishes being served are that important then it is the responsibility of the diners to find out what is being serrved LONG before the night of the dinner.

                                      1. re: Tay
                                        rednyellow Jan 3, 2008 05:41 PM

                                        I think it was an option, if I read the OP correctly

                                        "I wonder though, if I did the right thing by ignoring the group menu in favor of the regular one. Or would it have been better etiquette to give my regrets to the hostess, walk out, and eat elsewhere? What would others out there have done?"

                                    2. Morton the Mousse Jan 2, 2008 10:20 PM

                                      The only time I will ever eat something I dislike is when I am a guest at someone else's table. Not all meals are about the food.

                                      1. m
                                        mark Jan 3, 2008 04:02 AM

                                        i would have had the fondue extravaganza (i do like fondue), but i also would have ordered some items for the table off the regular menu while explaining that they looked too good to pass up and asking for them to be put on my check. i would have assumed that i would be the one paying for the extras, then hoped that others who tried them would kick in a bit, too (if they don't, well that's just good intel for next time). while this would make my tummy happy, it would have wound up costing me more, and i realize your issue was with the value. however, this is one of those times that really aren't about value; it's about friendship, camaraderie & food.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: mark
                                          meatn3 Jan 3, 2008 09:51 PM

                                          I think you have the best solution! This allows everyone to have happy eating, shows respect for the hosts organizing, creates additional sales rather than mayhem for the restaurant, eliminates the OP's frustrations with the situation and could increase the groups enjoyment of the evening.

                                          1. re: meatn3
                                            l
                                            Lizard Jan 4, 2008 12:08 AM

                                            I'm also chiming in agreement here. Others have excused rwarren's ordering off the menu/substitution because mayhem failed to ensue. I wonder about all the other guests who wished they could have done the same, but didn't, and in NOT doing so, prevented mayhem.* The restraint of others enabled rwarren to do as he pleased without significant effect. This choice allows everyone benefit and is more in keeping with the spirit of the group experience: more chances to taste things for everyone.

                                            * I am not advocating sheeplike adherence in all cases, but group dining tends to be less troublesome that way. :)

                                          2. re: mark
                                            m
                                            moh Jan 4, 2008 05:29 AM

                                            Yes, I also agree that Mark's solution is excellent! Always worth trying more food. Mark, you can join our eating group anytime! You sound like a a great person with whom to enjoy food.

                                            1. re: mark
                                              SweetPea914 Jan 4, 2008 10:19 AM

                                              mark-
                                              By far best answer yet!

                                            2. Karl S Jan 4, 2008 12:47 PM

                                              Well, since there were 24 hosts, you haven't transgressed the duty of guest to host, at least. (An organizer is NOT a host. A host has duties of hospitality to guests - including paying for the event - and a guest has recprical duties of graciously accepting the hospitality.)

                                              I would not have offered tastes though unless everyone was doing so with theirs - that would rub people the wrong way.

                                              That said, the best approach - the most sociable - would have been to stick to the group menu. The fact that your approach was not an etiquette breach doesn't mean it was the best option.

                                              The worst option would be walking out.

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: Karl S
                                                TexasToast Jan 4, 2008 01:38 PM

                                                24 hosts. That's an interesting way to look at it.

                                                TT

                                                1. re: Karl S
                                                  jfood Jan 4, 2008 02:02 PM

                                                  K

                                                  A little left to right versus right to left.

                                                  Jfood likes your approach but would ask you to consider that there were not 24 "hosts" but 24 "guests" (one acting as the organizer).In that case jfood thinks you would agree that a guest ordering off-menu would, infact, be a breach of etiquette.

                                                  What think you Mr S.

                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                    Karl S Jan 4, 2008 04:55 PM

                                                    I don't agree. Everyone was self-hosted, as it were; one host per guest... I value the role of host and hate to see it diluted to meaninglessness.

                                                    More to the point, I think the virtue of my approach is the distinction between etiquette and best practice.

                                                    1. re: Karl S
                                                      MMRuth Jan 4, 2008 05:01 PM

                                                      As usual, I agree w/ Karl S. on his approach.

                                                      1. re: Karl S
                                                        jfood Jan 5, 2008 06:16 AM

                                                        If they are all host then they should be able to decide on their respective menus and that would create chaos. As "guests" they should accept the menu (as decided bythe organizer), as both you and jfood believe is the polite and proper path.

                                                        1. re: jfood
                                                          t
                                                          Tay Jan 5, 2008 07:17 AM

                                                          jfood
                                                          You always have such a nice way of making your point ;-}
                                                          I believe the "self hosting premise is just a matter of semantics. In this scenario, I think that "Self hosting" = Simply being a Patron or Diner.
                                                          For that matter, we all self host ourselves to some degree. According to the OP, there was in fact, a designated Organizer who took on at least some of the responsibilities of a Host.The point remains that the OP entered into an informal verbal contract to participate in a group activity
                                                          and also agreed to abide by the decisions/choices of the Organizer.
                                                          With respect to Karl S, what ensued was neither good etiquette nor best practice. I'd like to think, had the OP given it more thought, that he/she would not have made the same poor choice

                                                          1. re: jfood
                                                            Karl S Jan 5, 2008 07:24 AM

                                                            Actually, I do think as co-hosts they have a proper right to select their own menu - which would hardly be chaotic - but that it is simply not the best practice in this situation. An organizer is simply not a host. I've been both, many times. Worlds apart in responsibilities.

                                                            1. re: Karl S
                                                              t
                                                              Tay Jan 5, 2008 07:35 AM

                                                              I agree that an organizer is not a host in the true sense of the meaning, but in this situation, in lieu of a host, the group chose an organizer to manage some of the responsibilities that would usually fall to a host.
                                                              I would agree with you RE: Selecting their own menu, had they not already agreed to allow either the restaurant or the organizer, to do so. I think it bad form and very rude to agree to one and then do the other.

                                                              1. re: Tay
                                                                Karl S Jan 5, 2008 08:08 AM

                                                                Whereas in this context I would only say it's not best form.

                                                                1. re: Tay
                                                                  jfood Jan 5, 2008 08:30 AM

                                                                  That's jfood position:

                                                                  - They all chose an organizer and the organizer chooses
                                                                  - they are all guests when they arrive, not hosts and should abide by the organizer's decision

                                                                  leaving not an option, but need to have good group dynamics and abide by the moderator's decision, good bad or indifferent.

                                                      2. f
                                                        Fydeaux Jan 4, 2008 05:05 PM

                                                        Rwarren, you are getting slammed here, and I think some people are doing this based on some assumptions that, upon several readings of all the posts, I am not able to devine. So could you please clear up a couple of things?

                                                        Who chose the menu? Was it the host or the restaurant?

                                                        Who was it that told you that ordering off the regular menu would not be allowed, the host or the restaurant?

                                                        Did you have to insist on ordering from the menu, or did you simply ask the wait-person?

                                                        Was there any subsequent issue with the host or any other member of the group as a result?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Fydeaux
                                                          TexasToast Jan 5, 2008 11:58 AM

                                                          Oh good, I wanted to know all of this too, but TT is ultra shy and non-confrontational.

                                                          TT

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