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Attitude at Mark Joseph [moved from Manhattan Board]

Last week, my husband, our son, and I went to Mark Joseph for dinner. My son lives in the building and not only frequents the restaurant, but takes out some of the delicious sides when he is cooking at home. We weren't starving and ordered one round of drinks, 2 caesar salads, a porterhouse for two, creamed spinach, sauteed mushrooms and shared a dessert. A light meal by steakhouse standards....the server clearly wasn't happy that we weren't ordering another main or a bottle of wine. The restaurant wasn't full but most of the other tables were the typical large groups of men celebrating their deals. The steak was very good, it had that mineral tang, the creamed spinach was excellent, and the mushrooms were also good. The caeser sald had no greated cheese or anchovy taste. The cheesecake was worth the calories. All that said, I feel that you should be welcomed at a restaurant regardless of how much you order (within reason). We are low maintainence and tip well. Must everyone in the party order a main dish all the time?

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  1. Nancy - i've wondered the same thing ever since i moved to manhattan about 15 months ago. my partner and i eat out a lot - and it becomes a calorie thing for me - trust me i can eat all they serve - but find that if we both order appt.s and then split a main - that will satisfy both of us - we also order a cocktail each (liquid calories don't count <g>) - that was fine in Boston - but in Manhattan - we definitely can run into some attitude. I use to be a waiter - many moons ago - so i understand trying to get the bill up - but i also understand professional service - sometimes you just want a light bite - so like you i'm not sure of the proper etiquette.

    1. I have mixed feelings about this. I sometimes order 2 apps instead an app and a main. Always wine but usually no cocktails. I have not encountered any attitude in this case. Your waiter should not have "clearly" indicated his displeasure. That's just rude. That said, I can understand his being less than pleased, as you were 3 people, presumably occupying a table that could accommodate 4, yet you were only ordering for 2. In a fine restaurant, it is generally expected that each person will order a meal, even if not everyone has multiple courses, but if there were empty tables, it should not have been an issue.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rrems

        I agree. It's definitely presumed that each diner will order an entree. Extra courses are exactly that: extra.

        When my husband and I don't feel like an entree or more each, we sit at the bar or in the lounge. That way there's no pressure, and the dining tables seat those having dinner, not snacks.

      2. Hi Nancy
        We've been to several places here in the Detroit area. I've been trying to lose some ballast so we usually split the entre. We've never had any server cop an attitude. In fact, we've never been charged for a split and often have been served the entre split in the kitchen and presented on separate plates. Can't say it never happens but in my experience, it certainly isn't common here in the Detroit area.

        1. Jfood understands that a server's tip is in direct proportion to the amount of the check at a ratio of 15-20% per dollar spent. Jfood also understands that the amount that jfood pays is also in direct proportion to the amount of the check in a ratio of 115-120% of what he orders. So the dollars out of jfood's pocket is 5.75-8.00 times greater than the dollars into the servers pocket for every dollar of food ordered.

          so jfood orders what his stomach tells him to order at any given meal. If he does not want a $10 bottle of water - not ordered; chicken instead of steak - cluck cluck; dessert and coffee not in the cards that night - please bring the check. And if mrs jfood is not that hungry and wants 2 appetizers, that is what she is ordering. And if there are three people in jfood's party at a 4-top, sorry what's jfood to do? Should jfood order a phantom meal to please the server? Not happening.

          Serving tables in a restaurant is like investing. You have some winners and you have some not such winners. It's a portfolio of tables. If jfood's is a low beta for the night, sorry, but it is jfood's money to spend, his hunger to satisfy and he only has three people in his party.

          Order what you want. Ifthe server cops an attitude, forget about it, enjoy your meal and your company and deal with it in the tip.

          1. Attitude isn't great service. "clearly wasn't happy" means a 15.00000000% tip

            1 Reply
            1. The server shouldn't have made you feel this way. However, as I'm from NYC, a lot of servers will give you attitude if you don't order at least a certain amount. Whether or not this is right, it's just the way it is. That is why I'm pretty sensitive about ordering a certain amount for the table (even if I'm not that hungry). For example, if DH orders expensive wine, I'm more prone to ordering just an appetizer.

              1. Wow. I've never felt pressured to order more food than desired or felt that I was cheating a server by having a party of 3. Live in LA, not NYC, and I think it's a little more relaxed here. I was briefly a server a long time ago in a different life stage. I remember that, as jfood has commented, some tables are flush, some are sparse. I don't have the financial means to eat in expensive places more than a few times a year, so these aren't usually casual "bites" for me. At any rate, as a customer, it's my call what to order. If the restaurant doesn't like it, I can take my money elsewhere.

                1. You say "a porterhouse for two" -- was it on the menu like that? In that case it would be considered two entrees, no? Your order sounds like a lot of food to me.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Up With Olives

                    I agree with Olives. You ordered a porterhouse for TWO, two sides, two appetizers, and a dessert. Why were you supposed to order yet another main course??

                    1. re: Trixie Too

                      trixie here's how I see it - when you are a server there is an average amount spend per head. I am guessing this particular restaurant is upscale and expensive and the average check per person is probably at least $40. So three people walk in server expects his check to be about $120 therefore is expecting at minimum $22+ tip. If these customers only spend say $90 his tip is now going to be $16-18. So our server is now not a happy bunny as he feels he is going to be down around $6. It might not sound like much to us, the customer, but if say our server has not had a great night all round he will get quite sassy.

                      I had a restaurant and my goodness I used to hear all sorts from my servers when they had a bad night, sometimes they used to blame the hostesses for giving big parties to other servers and not them ( I got all the 2 tops tonight it's not fair), sometimes they moaned they got all the cheap customers (shared entrees, no alcohol) and sometimes they moaned that they had poor tippers, slow tables, slow turnarounds etc. You just can't win!! I used to tell them it was swings and roundabouts but ....

                      1. re: smartie

                        I think what needs to be cleared up is the terminology: some restaurants offer, say, "porterhouse for two" or "chateaubriand for two" on the menu -- and it's not served to one person and the price reflects its size. So, therefore, the original poster would have been ordering two of the same entree = "porterhouse for two".