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Server Pet Peeves?

Here's my most recent pet peeve. When I go out to eat, I almost always have leftovers. Portion sizes are huge these days, even at my favorite upscale restaurants, and the way CG and I eat, I'd rather taste from several different dishes and take home leftovers than only be able to eat two dishes between us and finish the plates.

The last several times, when the server has boxed up my food, they have not boxed up the entire plate. They leave the delicious sauce, put in only half the eggroll, whatever. It's getting to the point that I am going to return to boxing up my own food-- which I know would make my grandmother very proud, since she has it in her mind that once the food leaves your sight, all manner of horror could befall it.

Why is this? What are your experiences?

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  1. I always order more than we can eat at ethnic type places, to get the variety, but I've never had that problem - I always consolidate what I want to take home into a couple of plates and ask them to pack it. Maybe some of the stuff is considered garnish? If the sauce is on the side it's rarely packed with the food unless you ask for it. If there's a lot of stuff it's probably easier to ask for boxes to pack it yourself, I've done that too but not often.

    1. I just ask for a To Go container and do it myself -- I don't like my food going out of my sight after I've started eating it. No telling if what you get back is what you were eating.

      8 Replies
      1. re: podunkboy

        Are you serious? What, exactly do you think is going to happen to it? Why on earth do you think the server would not give you back your food?

        1. re: hilltowner

          That's exactly what I initially said to my grandmother, but since the sauce debacle (intentional hyperbole, of course, for poetic license and dranatic effect) I am beginning to rethink.

          1. re: hilltowner

            in response to the "what do you think is going to happen to it?"

            once,back in the early post-university days, we ordered take out from a place that had stuff from pizza, to chicken to fish and chips. We ordered a pizza i think, and maybe a small fries for whatever reason. We got the order, as well as a small plate with some fries and a piece of fish.

            Relishing in our good fortune, we ate some of it before we got the dreaded phone call from the take out..........we had been given someone's doggy bag instead of our fries.........

            1. re: hilltowner

              There have been numerous occasions when a guest's food that was supposed to be boxed up to go wound up in the garbage can. I now have servers bring the container to the table so that there are no mistakes/mix ups with whose food gets returned to whom. Also (and unfortunately) if a patron has been rude, made sexual remarks, etc. to a server, you might be shocked as to what happens to the to go portion.

              1. re: oystershell

                oyster shell, you wrote: "you might be shocked as to what happens to the to go portion."

                shock the monkey! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oaSZx...

                  1. re: oystershell

                    please tell us what the servers do to the "to-go" portion of those who have "misbehaved" toward the server.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      I've seen (with my own eyes) things come out of the trash if thrown away by accident, especially if the customer was jerky. Not sayin' it's right...

          2. My pet peeve is when you ask a server how the special of the day, soup, whatever is and they say "I don't know". Makes me crazy especially if it is a decent restaurant. My husband who has been in food service forever says that the servers should always (and owners/managers should encourage it) come in on shift and taste the special of the day, soup, and anything new on the menu so they have an idea. I don't even have a problem if they say "I don't like ______but my fellow staff has had it and says it is _________".

            Ok, that is my peeve!

            16 Replies
            1. re: jodymaryk

              I agree, but (as an former server) I have worked at places where management was too cheap to allow that. Sort of penny wise, pound foolish - but it happens. You feel like an ass not being able to answer that one! "I have not had the chance to try the "xyz", but the chef specializes in sauces from Brittany..." Tried to give what info I had with as positive of a spin as I could - but I won 't lie!

              1. re: meatn3

                I agree with you, jody-- and as for the places where they won't allow the servers to taste? I won't patronize them again. There is a nice restaurant on the way to Duluth where that happened on our mini-moon, and it really left a bad taste in our mouths. Pun intended. Appreciate the not lying-- really.

                1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                  Many small independent restaurants simply can't afford to though, especially in the winter when it is slow.

                  Let's say for example that the chef orders 15 pounds of halibut for $120(usually this is a minimum order if you don't have a local fresh fish market). It is delivered on friday and butchered, yeilding 28 orders, that is $4.29 per piece. In Minneapolis a typical restaurant will multiply that by 5 and sell it for $22 an order or so. It might not sell out until Tuesday and often you have different servers each day. If you make one for the servers to try 5 days in a row suddenly it is $5.22 per piece and you have to sell it for $26 to make your margin. That is only a $4 difference but it is huge in the psychology of selling; maybe not to foodies but to the other 99% of your customers. If it is the difference between $19 and $23 per order it looms even larger. People are very price sensitive these days and many small independent restaurants are really in dire circumstances.

                  Right now my wholesale reps tell me that most of their accounts are past due. A lot of restaurants are about to go away. A lot of people who own small restaurants are about to lose their houses, cars, etc. That is where these decisions come from.

                  The other factor is that often restaurants are in a desperate mad scramble to get ready for dinner service. This is especially true in states like Minnesota where servers make the full minimum wage (restaurants have to compensate by cutting kitchen labor). If it is 6 pm on a Saturday night and you still have prep to do and are cooking orders working at a dead run it is not always easy to make a sample plate for the staff.

                  My personal preference would be to make sure everyone on the staff tries everything but it is not always possible, and the decision usually isn't driven by greed.

                  1. re: Somnifor

                    What a great response. I understand about the math, and I thank you for taking the time to calculate it out and reply. The other reason wouldn't apply in this case since the restaurant was empty, and it was a policy to charge the staff the same price for the food as the customers (and the staff just couldn't afford to pay it).

                    1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                      I realize there are always exceptions to the rule and cost reasons why owners/managers don't want to put out food for servers to taste. My husband has waited tables and managed places where they put out one plate of the specials as servers come on for the dinner shift and keep it under the heat lamp so servers can stop and see it and taste it. Most dinner shift people come on at the same time so this usually doesn't sit out long. I realize that smaller places may have a harder time doing this because of overhead but your higher end places that have been in business for a while should be able to afford it. I just like knowledgeable servers that know what they are serving. A lot of times I depend on my server to make my choice when I can't decide and have found IMHO most good servers won't steer you wrong on the menu items. I have really great luck asking them what I should go with and have ended up with some wonderful things that I probably wouldn't have chosen myself. Although I am a 20% plus tipper anyway, this usually ends up being even higher as I appreciate their honest opinion and help.

                    2. re: Somnifor

                      "This is especially true in states like Minnesota where servers make the full minimum wage (restaurants have to compensate by cutting kitchen labor)."

                      I'm sorry, but in no way does paying servers a legal wage validate a restaurant's inability to allow its servers to try the product. I understand that halibut is expensive (and that is a hyperbolic example), but I refuse to allow any negative to come from servers actually getting paid by their employer.

                      1. re: miss_bennet

                        The last time they raised the minimum wage in Minnesota I was instructed by my employer to cut hours from the kitchen schedule to make up for the fact that front of the house labor was going up (front of the house cut some hours too).

                        This made things more chaotic in the kitchen which in turn made it harder to find time to make sample plates.

                        1. re: Somnifor

                          Paying employees is part of the cost of running a business. Period. If I heard that as an excuse from a waiter as to why they were not familiar with the product, I would likely not return.

                          1. re: miss_bennet

                            lol! i think every server has gotten the $0.18 paycheck. it is one of the great american ironies that restaurants *employ* waitstaff, but the servers *work* for the customers, who are the ones who *pay* them. the restaurants pay uncle sam the servers' taxes.

                            restaurants are not required to feed employees, although most of them do. i doubt the expensive halibut will be served for employee meal, though. an employee's getting paid, and getting a free $26 main at the beginning of her/his shift-- these are two different things.

                            oftentimes there really are too few portions of a special or a very costly comestible to be passing it out to the waitstaff. a server should be able to describe a dish adequately without describing their own tasting of it. same as if a vegetarian server was asked to describe a meat braise. . .

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              The other factor is that the last couple of pieces of a special are the most profitable ones. If you get 28 orders you usually cost it out at maybe 25 pieces because you can't really run 2 or 3 orders of a special if you are left with them at the end of a day. So if you cost it out at 25 pieces but can actually sell all 28 the last 3 are mostly profit. You keep your job as a chef by selling the last 3 pieces of everything that comes into your kitchen. They pay for the waste, they pay for the cool little extras that you really can't afford but still buy - the things that give your restaurant it's je ne sais quois. They are 75 extra dollars. 75 extra free dollars on a bi-weekly basis goes a long way in a small restaurant, it will help pay for a produce order or is the difference between organic and conventional. If you give it away to the staff you don't make your numbers and either go out of business or get fired.

                              A good server knows what halibut tastes like, they know what the pickled ramps on top of it taste like, they know what the starch and vegetable under it tastes like. If they can't triangulate and sell the dish without actually tasting it then they shouldn't be waiting tables in your restaurant.

                        2. re: miss_bennet

                          Maybe you're misreading; most states (rightfully) allow restaurants to take tips into account (on tips alone, waiters are generally among the top paid employees in a restaurant).

                          In other words, in most states, for example, tipped staff make $2/hour + tips; if a waiter makes less than the legal minimum wage (say $7/hour) for a shift, the restaurant has to bump it up to the legal minimum. Having to pay actual (untipped) minimum wage + tips adds significant pressure to reduce labor hours.

                          1. re: xanadude

                            I am not misreading. I just don't understand how it is legal for a business to not pay employees.

                      2. re: cheeseguysgirl

                        Any good chef/manager should make it mandetory that all servers taste the dishes, to be served that night. I feel the same about wine pairings from the "list." If they do not know, how can they help the diner? The staff is our only tie, unless we dine there all of the time.


                    3. re: jodymaryk

                      I agree, a server should know know the soups, and the specials, otherwise they are not doing thei job correctly, and will be tipped accordingly.

                      1. re: jodymaryk

                        reminds me of a story of some friends who went to a country restaurant and were looking at the menu when the waitress came to take their order. They asked what the soup de jour was and she said she didn't know and ran back to ask the chef.

                        With great applombe (sorry sp?) she ran back to their table and said
                        said "it's soup of the day".

                        1. re: smartie

                          That is hilarious and tragic at the same time!

                      2. I've got a couple of REALLY BIG pet peeves. The first is when the server rattles off the specials and doesn't tell you the prices. I'm not embarrassed to ask, and I almost always do, but my thinking is, specials are no different from menu items; I want to know how much I'm going to be charged WITHOUT having to ask, whether it's an appetizer, an entree or a dessert, on the printed menu, or off.

                        The second pet peeve is an offshoot of the first: I want to see the specials in writing, even if that means having to add a page to the menu on a daily basis. I want to be able to ponder specials, their sauces, their special ingredients, etc. in the same way as I ponder the rest of the menu's printed offerings. I don't want to have to ask the server to describe, for the umpteenth time, the nuances of each of the specials. I know it's adding an extra bit of work to have it all written out, but it would be so much easier for customers.

                        My last pet peeve -- and this is a BIG one that occurs primarily in the less expensive restaurants -- is servers who stack plates in front of me (or any other guest) as they clear the table. I HATE that. What's worse is when a server scrapes left over food from one plate into another in front of me. Now, I'll admit, I've never worked in a restaurant, but I've got to believe that any server who's ever had any kind of server training has been taught to never, never, never stack dishes in front of a customer. It's rude and disgusting. And I don't think it's too much to ask, even in the local pizza shop, for a server to not do that.

                        Not so long ago, I was in a local Mexican restaurant -- a place I go to quite often. Now granted, some of the folks who clear tables are not all that fluent in English. The young woman who was clearing our table was on her way back to the kitchen with dishes she had just cleared from a nearby table. She stopped at our table, set all of the dirty dishes from that table down in front of me, and proceeded to empty the dishes from our table into the top plate of the stack. I asked her very politely to please move the dishes away from me. She smiled sweetly at me and said, "Yes... yes" and continued dumping food onto the top plate. I said, "No, no" and pushed the stack of dishes away from under my nose. She looked at me like I had just landed from the moon of another planet.

                        Now, this might be an exaggerated example, but I'd like to hear from servers in particular -- were you ever specifically taught to NOT stack plates on front of customers? And, if not, do you see anything wrong with stacking dishes at the table?

                        33 Replies
                        1. re: CindyJ

                          In higher end places, servers are taught not to stack and make multiple trips if necessary. In low to mid range spots, servers are taught to clear tables as quickly as possible - which means stacking.

                          1. re: mojoeater

                            I've seen stacking done successfully on a server's arm, off the table. If they have to carry the dishes away anyway, they might as well clear them properly. I'd hate to think that stacking dishes on the table is a "given" in less expensive restaurants, and, in fact, my experience has shown otherwise.

                            1. re: mojoeater

                              I work at a higher end restaurant. We can stack on our arms/and in our hands, but not on the table, and certainly not at the guest's place setting. We don't use trays or bins, just us.

                            2. re: CindyJ

                              Agree with both of your comments about specials. Write them up and put on the prices. However, I don't think it should be that much of a problem to do it on a computer.

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                Although it is nice to know the prices of specials, most higher end restaurants prefer employess not to mention a "number" when reciting them. This is done because it distracts from the actual food/sauce/quality...etc...and it doesn't flow with the description. If a customer is concerned with cost, then by all means, ask the prices. Servers should never be offended and willing to answer ANY question. Additionally, stating prices sounds very "chain/corporate/kitschy restaurant"-ish.

                                1. re: cocktailqueen77

                                  I guess you could also make the argument that some customers might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable asking for the price, and that it should therefore be mentioned with the description. I don't think mentioning the price of a $30 entree sounds "chain/corporate/kitschy restaurant-ish" at all. And it helps to avoid unpleasant surprises when the bill comes -- like when the special entree is priced higher than most others on the menu. And, the truth is, the cost DOES matter to most of us who are not on expense accounts.

                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    I never said that cost DOESN'T matter. Just that it is, occasionally, a policy that restaurants do not want servers to state prices. It is not because they want the bill to be a surprise, but for the reasons stated above.

                                    As a server, I have no problem answering questions regarding price, and handle it professionally (as should all servers, price should never be looked upon as a negative). As a customer, I have no issue asking how much something is.

                                    I suppose there will be no conclusion to this topic anyway, since there is too much opposition from a customer/server/policy standpoint.

                                  2. re: cocktailqueen77

                                    jfood does agree that stating the price does ruin the flow. he also believes that the customer should NOT have to ask the price of any dish, whether special or ordinary.

                                    It is so simple to write or print the specials and leave with the table. Jfood just does not buy-in to all the excuses that restos use for why they do not leave the specials with the customers other than to pull a gotcha at the end.

                                    Now jfood is not accusing anyone, but come on how hard is it to print or hand write (remember that is with a pen and pencil) the specials on a piece of paper.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      agreed, in order to evaluate my options, I have to see it in writing or I get confused and just order off the regular menu, price regardless, so the restaurant doesn't get to move its special with me. sale lost due to my cluttered and visually oriented brain.

                                      in this day and age of relatively cheap printers, it's just silly.

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        Aaah, thank you. I too am visually oriented, and a server would have to repeat each special a couple of times before I could really make a good choice. If it's written it's a cinch. Often I will get caught up in one word, be it "mushroom" or "cream" or whatever, and I miss the rest of the description. So, so simple to print it out so I have a visual aid. If it's not written, complete with price, I'm not ordering it. Sorry resto...

                                  3. re: CindyJ

                                    As someone who's been a server at several different establishments, I can say that I was never specifically instructed to stack or NOT stack plates when clearing off a table. Common sense, however, dictates that I will definitely not be placing half-eaten food from one table on or near any other table.

                                    As for pricing on specials, I was instructed at one place to avoid mentioning them, as the guest might interpret a mention of price as an insinuation that they cannot affford it. Although I personally would never take it that way, I can attest from several pretty bizarre experiences that even something that harmless can be taken the wrong way if said to the wrong person.

                                    1. re: Al_Pal

                                      So, does the fact that the menu has prices insinuate that the guest can't afford it?

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Personally I think the prices of specials should be mentioned only if they're way more expensive than items on the regular menu.

                                        1. re: Buckethead

                                          The specials should be written down, with prices and handed to each person along with the regular menu. That way you know the price and you can actually remember (see) what is in them as you make your choice(s).

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            Exactly. printers are cheap, no reason not to print the specials with prices.

                                            1. re: rednyellow

                                              Good point. Black ink and bond paper are cheap, and if a restaurant can't afford them...they shouldn't be in the business.

                                              1. re: rednyellow

                                                lots of things are cheap. the reason specials are often not printed has everything to do with the staffing and operation of the restaurant and preparation of the food--and nothing to do with how cheap printers and ink are. specials really are often *special*, and they are changed and added to right up to the opening hour of service, and it does not make sense for chefs to be running off of their station while customers are waiting for their food, to put coherent descriptions together on paper. it is the server's job to adequately describe a dish and give the price if the customer requests it. you might as well expect your surgeon to walk off and print the invoice for your appendectomy five minutes before
                                                s/he makes the first incision.

                                                chain restaurant menus are available for people who need everything in black and white, and who want to eat "fake" specials that are created and costed out to the penny by corporate marketing staff months before they are featured on a menu. folks who want real "specials" created from the day's fresh market produce, fish, etc. should realize that the verbal transmission of the day's specials *does* indicate that they are indeed fresh, transient and *special*. let the cooks cook for eff's sake, it's what they're good at. there is so much paperwork in a restaurant nowadays that many executive chefs don't even get into the kitchen anymore, and the same customers who piss and moan about "so-and-so doesn't even cook anymore" are the ones demanding that someone sit on their butt in the cook's office and take fifteen minutes to write a special menu for what turns out to be less than twenty portions of freaking food that s/he could have cooked in that amount of time. you expect little weensy mom & pops to have the full-time marketing staff of corporate chain restaurants and at the same time the roof needs to get fixed the fridge needs to get cleaned and i'm just going to go ahead and stop because i could go on but guess what i don't have time!!!

                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                  >>specials really are often *special*, and they are changed and added to right up to the opening hour of service,

                                                  a. use a pencil with an eraser until specials are finalized.

                                                  b. before doors are opened, use magic marker to write down the name of the dish and the price.

                                                  c. run off on printer. I've seen hostesses just sitting there chatting, surely they can handle a printer?

                                                  d. have the servers explain the dish in detail.

                                                  1. re: dolores

                                                    or, just listen, ask if something isn't clear, and move on to more important concerns

                                                    1. re: thew

                                                      Either way could be used.

                                                      I like it better my way.

                                                      "important" is relative.

                                                      1. re: thew

                                                        I have enough trouble hearing my dining companion at many of today's restaurants. Listening to and understanding as a list of dishes and their ingredients is rapidly recited is just about impossible many times.

                                                    2. re: soupkitten

                                                      Re the dreaded specials recitation: They are ignoring the scientifically proven fact that a great many people can only absorb new information by reading it. Hearing it will result in little to no retention. Restos that refuse to give them in writing will preclude selling them to a significant percentage of customers.

                                                      1. re: Leonardo

                                                        And think how the poster on another thread could have been spared paying $39. for a tiny bit of King Crab if the special 'special' had been written down!

                                                      2. re: soupkitten


                                                        With all due respect the restaurant really owes it to itself and the customer to adequately describe the special in such a manner as these "special" dishes will sell. If the chef has spent time in getting this newly created dish perfect, then why blow the chance to sell it by not adequately spreading the news.

                                                        For example, jfood is deaf in one ear and obviously has his good ear facing in so he can hear the conversation and participate. Therefore his deaf ear is to the server. Although he goes through the 90-degree turn and his hand cupped behind the ear he probably gets about 30-45% of the information the server is trying to convey. Add to that the various accents in ethnic restaurants and that number plummets. And frankly 90% of the time after the server leaves after describing the specials, the conversation at the table is "does anyone remember the specials?" And that's from people with 2 good ears.

                                                        So it is sorta self-defeating in taking all the time and effort to develop these "specials" only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory to leave the conversion in the hands and ears of the server and the customer. Add to that the potential of "well the server did not tell me that the stuffed flounder had mushrooms in it" and you could get into the he said-she said scenario when the dish is served.

                                                        There are so many downsides to not handing the table even a hand written descriptions of the specials that jfood just does understand why such a simple task creates such angst. The heck with printers and inks and all that other stuff. Assign each server the chore of writing copies for their section. It just can;t be that hard compared to the other items that go into making a good service.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          J, as always, a great point. I think maybe its time for everyone to start asking the same questions over and over, from everyone at the table,over and over and over and then maybe, just maybe, specials will start being printed.

                                                          1. re: rednyellow

                                                            that would be fine. it is the server's job to explain-- verbally-- the specials. part of their job to actually speak to the customer and explain any and all questions regarding any menu item including specials, in as much detail as the customer would wish-- some customers like the "verbal skim"-- good to know that there's truffles on the menu, but they want a steak, or a sandwich, off of the regular menu, not a frou-frou special that costs three whole dollars more anyway. some customers are very interested in the specials. they tend to be the real foodies/chowhounds/whatever, or have some sort of special interest in the food, but the percentage of customers who order the specials is in most cases less than 10%. sometimes an even smaller number. the restaurant in many cases is running a limited special (think a paltry number of servings-- 6 or 8 or 12 *total*) for a variety of reasons related to running the restaurant, and the *function* of the specials is not commonly understood by the average customer. the *function* of the specials is in many/most cases actually *not* to make a bunch of money for the restaurant. that's the regular menu's job. the specials are all about *not losing money.* in most cases they don't *want* to sell more specials than regular menu items-- that would screw things up. they *do* want to sell the special item to the customers who would be most interested in it-- and chances are these are the same customers who bothered to get off the cellphone when the server recited the specials and listen.

                                                            unfortunately the marketing savvy that Leonardo and Jfood exhibit in their posts above don't transfer when you realize you're dealing with six portions of a special as opposed to 50 portions of a regular menu item. you could spend twenty minutes writing, spellchecking and formatting a mouthwatering description of the special that would make twenty two customers instead of six order it, but you've got merely six portions, and now you've also got sixteen disappointed customers--when you do it that way (the wrong way, arguably, here we go again); you've also wasted twenty minutes of a cook's time doing that at five thirty, when s/he should've been cooking, so you've got sixteen *hungry,* impatient, disappointed customers. :(

                                                            conversely when the servers recite the specials, the customers who will most appreciate the special food have a better chance at getting it. most customers are the burger and chicken folks, regular diners, table 5 has a food-obsessed chowhound whose ears perk up when the server says "hand-foraged local ramps"--omg! gotta have the special! s/he pays attention, s/he gets the gold nugget. same concept as paying attention during lecture class, church sermon, business meeting, what have you.

                                                            it's been established on these boards that chefs are morons, but doing the physical work of cooking for a living leads to a pragmatic outlook, and chefs fail at the big picture when they get bogged down in minutiae like using valuable cooking time to type up specials menus. after all, they have already obsessively and exactingly penned (developed, sourced, costed) out the regular menu to appeal to the broad base of their diners, and that's *not* whom the specials are aimed at-- the specials are generally aimed at diners with special food knowledge that is above average. call it the 95th percentile of food i.q. and up. you can write pulitzer-prize winning prose about the deliciousness of guinea hens all night in the chef's office, but it's not gonna help you sell it to 95% of your customers because it's unfamiliar, it's risky, it's outside of their comfort zone. but you *want* to cook them, so you order four young hens from farmer sue since she's bringing in the lamb for the regular menu anyway and run a guinea hen special, hoping to sell 7/8 portions, make 7 customers happy, and have one portion for the staff to eat and comment on, and hopefully not lose money on the deal, and dang, if you do, it was just four hens. see-- that's a typical, moron chef's pragmatism at work. the guinea hen special is super cool but it's not paying the rent. that's not what it's for. it's also not for the average customer, and i'm sorry if i'm letting it somehow out of the bag by saying that. specials are for the other chefs who are visiting. food critics always order the special. very food-savvy customers will take a chance on a special. we give every customer the option to choose a special, fully counting on 95% of them *not* to order it. maybe you're trying out a new sauce in advance of the new fall menu, you were able to get a great price on fish that's normally above your price point, you scored a very small amount of unusual game meat, you have a few portions of succulent braise left-over from the special event that got rained out at the end that's even better today. run a special-- the customers who are paying attention will be all over it. pragmatism.

                                                            now it's the servers' job to sell the specials. i notice as a diner that a lot of servers will skim over the specials (understandable, since most diners aren't interested/paying attention), and since i am always interested in the specials, i try to cue the server to my interest, often by glancing at the menu, then at the server, and saying something like "i am interested in your specials today," and since servers get brownie points for selling specials, and are often enthusiastic about the specials themselves, the server generally readjusts to: oh, here we have one of the 5%! and excitedly goes over the specials, answering any questions i might have. it's often a delightful human interaction, one that most diners miss out on. in practical, time effective terms, i think one of the nicest things a server can do to sell a few more specials and avoid the whole "whether to state the price verbally or not" issue is to describe the specials, verbally, and drop a handwritten card that notes only the basic special and the price: guinea hen, $19, pork-belly braise $15, soba/ramps/chanterelles $14. i think that's as close to spoon-feeding as customers can expect on this issue. but it's no more the chef's job to write descriptions of daily specials than it is to fold napkins, sorry.

                                                            1. re: soupkitten


                                                              There is no "marketing savvy" in selling 6 portion nor does jfood think chefs are morons. And no one insists that it's the chef who takes pen in hand to write. But at the end of the day SOMEONE has to take a piece of paper or a small chalkboard or an index card in one paw, and a pen, pencil or marker in the other and stand with the chef and write the menu and prices for the customers to read. And when you run out of one because the chef only bought 8 hens, you take the pen or marker and cross it off the hand written special lists.

                                                              If you are saying that noone, including the servers have the time to do this small task then how the heck do they have time to stand at a 4-top and describe each one in detail, answer all the question and enter the perpetual do-loop.

                                                              Jfood is sorry but there is absolutely no excuse for this simple task of customer service. You and he may agree to disagree on this one.

                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                Jfood, i do respect your opinion, but who is this SOMEONE you speak of? restaurants have cooks, servers, dishwashers, but by and large they do not have full-time secretarial staff making $20/hour writing menu descriptions, and if they did, we'd all pay a lot more for every single menu item. i am a full-time chef who also has a bfa in writing (english language) but i can tell you i am really, seriously, in the minority. there is a long thread currently running about menu bloopers which pokes fun of the average menu-writing abilities of restaurant staff. i can laugh, too--but really, should i be adding "ability to write english-language descriptive menu blurb" to every job description? "sorry you may not wash our dishes, you can't even diagram a sentence correctly?" in any event, it makes no economic sense, and is wasteful, to spend excess personnel-hours on a non-moneymaking item that is aimed at a very small percentage of customers. it would make more sense to do away with specials entirely, which is even more wasteful, would raise menu prices higher yet, and would also be a huge loss for the small group of diners who are fans of specials and who actively pursue them.

                                                                specials are offered to every customer (like the louis viii cognac displayed behind the bar), and few folks are interested/buying said item, for a variety of reasons. printing a drink menu stating that a shot of louis viii costs $120, and dropping it off at each table, will not increase the sales of the item. customers who prefer this liquor will order it whether it is on a menu or not, the vast majority will say thanks but no thanks. some customers will no doubt be offended by the menu: "omg they have a liquor that costs $120, that's ridiculous, what hosers, why would they print that on a menu and shove it in our face." unfortunately, many specials menus feature items that may also offend the sensibilities of the average customer: "omg blood sausage? BLOOD sausage?" "omg bunnies? people eat little bunnies?" "ostrich/yak/octopus/stinky tofu?" "wow home-cured 3 year old ham for $13/2 oz? guess they don't know oscar meyer's is on sale at price chopper, that's ridiculous, what hosers, why would they print that on a menu and shove it in our face?!" pitching a menu item toward the correct customer demographic *is* the most basic customer service. pitching an inappropriate item to a customer is the opposite, and can be needlessly insulting to that customer. verbal specials menus give the power to both types of customers-- the savvy customer can question the server about the specials menu which interests her/him; the average customer can cut to the chase and place her/his regular menu order, skipping the hoity-toity weird specials menu, which may make her/him uncomfortable, entirely.

                                                                the specials are where a chef can show a little unscripted originality and play around with unusual/local ingredients, recipe development, etc. a crew that cranks out a lot of burgers and roasted chickens can have a little fun on the specials menu, and i would argue that they deserve to test and improve their chops through the experimentation and unscripted nature of specials. like a commercial photographer who likes to spend two hours a week taking art photos, the weekend specials menu hones different skills, keeps you out of a rut, keeps you from going nuts. for that reason i feel strongly that specials are valuable, they are personal, they are a chef's territory. if customers want something scripted there is the carefully honed regular menu. the specials are like a chef's "sketchbook." specials are for the connoisseurs, the fans, the obsessives, the weirdos. scripting the specials inherently destroys the spontaneity and fun of the whole thing. the chef no longer picks up the nettles at the farmer's market, because doing so, s/he'd have to come up with a new menu tag. instead the crew will recycle an old special which is already written up. everything is a bit more last-year, a bit less innovative, a bit more stale. i'd rather try and focus on a server's shpiel for 20 seconds than cramp a chef's style. i despise the chain restaurants' fake "specials," and i think that spontaneous, true daily specials are rare and should be celebrated rather than constrained in excess verbiage. it appears i am in the minority, that's okay.

                                                                the verbal recitation of menu items has been very common for hundreds of years in every type of eating establishment. it is/was established restaurant tradition, and happens to be one of the finer points of service which i very much appreciate when it's done well by a server-- also, increasingly, it's done very poorly, which may be part of why customers would rather have a printed specials menu, or perhaps we should just text the specials to a terminal placed at each table. traditionally (increasingly obsolete), your server would approach the table and state the soup of the day, the fish of the day, the special(s), before taking the table's orders. i thought it was nice. i also liked having chairs pulled out for me, wine presentations, having crumbs swept off of the tablecloth between courses. times change.

                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                  OK right foot eases off the gas, left foot pushes in the clutch, bring the shift into the middle and then left and down into second gear; ease off the clutch and slow the train down.

                                                                  jfood is not advocating a separate person to write the menu, but if the server can pick up a pen and a piece of paper then the chef can dictate what s/he wants it to say. and to the other thread jfood finds most of those posts a dispicable display of self-righteous importance.

                                                                  Jfood is not asking for a recipe-like description, but how about "sauteed rabbit with root vegetables - $26" or "Penne with shrimp in garlic oil - $22". Don't exactly need a PhD in the Classics to write that on an index card. Then the customer can ask the server when s/he sees the card as a memory jogger. But sometimes, physical limitations do not allow people to hear the server (i.e. jfood's deafness).

                                                                  C'meon Souppy, with all the talent and persuasion powers you have, jfood is sure you can sweet talk one of your staff to write a couple of index cards for those over-demanding customers that want to taste those brilliant one-off dishes.

                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                    Jfood: ditto & thank you. We were not exhibiting any "marketing savvy", simply a little common sense and life experience.

                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                      I almost always agree with soupkitten as well... I think it is because we have both been on either side of table service. Unless you have walked a mile in a waiters shoes, you cannot judge. We have walked a marathon. :)

                                            2. I have to say it really bothers me when low end places start cleaning the floors while the restaurant is still open.....it's great that they're clean...but i don't want the superstrong bleach smell invading my nose as i eat.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                or spraying chlorine solution on nearby tables.

                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  Lobby your local health department. Surfaces are required to be cleaned with sterilizing agents for your safety.

                                                  1. re: hannaone

                                                    the spray mist goes everywhere! there are better ways to clean that don't drift beyond the cleaned table -- e.g., a paper towel with infusion of cleaner.

                                              2. I hate when the serves say, "can i get you GUYS something to drink?" I am not a guy. And I agree with another poster...please do not vacuum or sweep while i am eating. blech.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: donna5657

                                                  Love when they bring the spray bottle with bleach/chemical in it next to your table with and spray away...makes me sick with all the fumes.

                                                  1. re: donna5657

                                                    not sure but why the "you guys" thing bugs the heck out of me as well

                                                  2. I've had this same problem. They don't include all of the rice from my plate, and they only put in the meat and not the sauce from the stir-fry. How am I supposed to flavor the rice?

                                                    I'm not talking about sauce boat contents. I'm talking about the sauce that was integral to the dish itself and already on the food. They don't put it into the container. If I want sauce or condiment included from some container on the table, then I'll season my food before I ask to have them pack it up.

                                                    It isn't just Chinese food, though that is the most likely to be annoying. I've had it happen with braised beef and the braise sauce, and the like. I wonder, are they reusing the sauce??!! J/K.

                                                    1. I really dislike seeing underwear on servers - you know, like the top of their G-string above their pants!

                                                      1. I friend of mine who is a server in a place that has a strict uniform of a white long-sleeved shirt and tie (for both men and women) turned me on to one: exposed armpits. Isn't it lovely when your pretty young waitress in the nice, black, tube-top dress reaches in front of you to put your food down, which basically means her armpit is right at your nose? But that's more of a management thing.

                                                        Other than that, my pet peeve is not refilling water glasses. I often feel as if I'm being spited for not ordering a beverage. I would often prefer to get an appetizer than a drink. My bf drives us to these places, and we have a strict zero tolerance for drinking and driving, no matter the amount, so no way are we ordering wine. I wouldn't even care if they just brought over a pitcher with water and left it on the table. This is especially irksome with spicy meals (I know, water doesn't help as much as other things like rice or milk, but I like water). It can be very frustrating.

                                                        19 Replies
                                                        1. re: miss_bennet

                                                          That's a peeve of mine, too--even if I do order another beverage. Keep my dogbone water glass full. Coffee or iced tea, too, if I order them. A soda or an alcoholic beverage, I'm fine with someone asking me if I want more. But coffee, tea, and water I want kept full. My dad had a restaurant when I was growing up, and my sister and I both worked there when we were old enough, and this is one of the first things we learned when working on the floor; which is probably why I have no patience with servers who don't do it.

                                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                                            I'm a little confused... why is it allright that they leave your soda unfilled but not if it's coffee or tea? I would think that's difficult reasoning to read your mind like that.

                                                            1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                              Coffee, tea, and water almost always include free refills; alcoholic beverages--rarely if ever. In lots of places, you pay for each serving of soda, so it's more comparable to a glass of draft beer than a glass of ice water. Admittedly lots of other places include free soda refills. In which case, as the Rev said, keep my dogbone glass full!

                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                Here in the Midwest (at least in the cities in which I've lived), usually soft drinks have complimentary refills. That is where I got confused. Thanks!

                                                            2. re: revsharkie

                                                              Good point, revsharkie on the water.

                                                              However, I'm not sure I've ever seen tea refilled, cold or hot. I've never seen iced coffee refilled, but hot coffee is refilled.

                                                              Then again, this is Westchester.

                                                              1. re: dolores

                                                                typically in the south, iced tea is refilled.

                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                  Yes, such civility. The first time I heard 'swit' tea, I had no idea what they meant!

                                                                2. re: dolores

                                                                  Dolores, that's really strange. I don't think we have a restaurant out here in So. Cal. that doesn't keep refilling ice tea for the price of one glass.

                                                                  1. re: dolores

                                                                    I've been to plenty of places in Westchester where they refill tea.

                                                                    1. re: marmite

                                                                      Hot tea or iced tea?

                                                                      Do they refill iced coffee?

                                                                      1. re: dolores

                                                                        I've had both iced and hot tea refilled. I don't think I've ever had iced coffee refilled (though I rarely order it, so perhaps that's why).

                                                                        1. re: marmite

                                                                          >>hot tea refilled.

                                                                          Interesting, I don't think I've ever seen that.

                                                                          1. re: dolores

                                                                            I have, at places where they make the tea in large quantities and they bring you a full pot of it or pour it out of a pot for you.

                                                                            If you get a pot of hot water and a tea bag, then you either have to pay for the refill, or they just bring you more hot water and you are expected to re-use the same teabag. Yuck.

                                                                          2. re: marmite

                                                                            Interesting. I don't remember ever getting a free refill of iced tea - anywhere! My experience has been in NYC and upstate NY.

                                                                            1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                                              In the South that policy could cause a riot! Ice tea is always refilled free - otherwise what would flow through our veins? ;-D

                                                                      2. re: dolores

                                                                        OMG Dolores ..... you need to come to Texas. Ice tea here is served in gallon-sized tumblers, and constantly and persistently refilled to the point where it annoys me. I've been here over 20 years and have yet to finish my serving of iced tea.

                                                                        1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                          And based on what I've seen on the FN, Cheflambo, I could have all the chicken fried steak I want with that iced tea!

                                                                          Oh, and the BBQ, how can I forget the BBQ.


                                                                        2. re: dolores

                                                                          I'm in the San Francisco area, and almost all iced tea, hot tea, and regular coffee are refilled. I say almost because I don't think Chinese restaurants do w/iced tea or coffee. They will w/hot tea because it's just hot water. Most places have free refills of soda.

                                                                          Pet peeve: okay, the big one I've already complained about many times... not feeling comfortable sharing and not ordering drinks. The next one is actually iced tea related because when I do order drinks, that's what I order. I also judge a restaurant experience on how many glasses of it I drink. There really is a correlation. The more cups I drink, the better I like the place! Weird.

                                                                          How I like my iced tea is when I get it, it should still have ice, it's cold, there are no tea leaves in it, the lemon should be a wedge, I should have a spoon to stir, and it should not be flavored unless I was told. My subsequent refills should also be the same. Many times I have had to ask for extra lemon, a cup of ice, and/or a spoon. Now... I have learned to ask for "iced tea with extra lemon" so that I don't have to feel bad asking the server to go back and get me a piece of lemon for my refill... because soon I'll be asking for a cup of ice!

                                                                          I've gotten warm iced tea (I think it's room temperature out of the dispenser and they don't put enough ice in it) or sometimes w/no ice in it. I've gotten sliced lemon (like how exactly do I get juice out of a slice politely), and most of the time the refills don't come w/lemon.

                                                                          Sorry... seems like a silly rant about nothing, but on the other hand, how hard is it to get the iced tea right?

                                                                          Edited to add that a lot of things y'all mention should bother me but don't, like saying "you guys," commenting on my food choices, bringing the check to DH, talking about themselves, clearing dishes when others aren't done, smelling the cleaner (at least they're cleaning, whew!), etc. We're all so different. :-)

                                                                          1. re: boltnut55

                                                                            "...Sorry... seems like a silly rant about nothing, but on the other hand, how hard is it to get the iced tea right? ....We're all so different."

                                                                            You answered your own question. Because many people have their own likes and dislikes when it comes to iced tea, (and everything else to do with their meals) it is nigh impossible for the restaurant to "get the iced tea right". For instance, I don't like lemon at all with my iced tea. "Right" is definitely in the taste bud of the beholder (bedrinker?).

                                                                    2. This is a brand new pet peeve, because I have never seen this before. I went to an upscale chain steak house for a business lunch. The waiter introduced himself by name (hate) and said he would "facilitate" our meal. Apparently, that's just being a waiter, because he took our orders and brought food. But, after introducing himself, he handed each of the four of us a business card, which listed him at the restaurant! I have never received a card from the waiter, much less 4. He was actually a good waiter, once you got over the card and the Facilitator title. whether it's his idea or the chain's, it is ridiculous.

                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                      1. re: cocktailhour

                                                                        oh my gosh,

                                                                        reminds me of an experience we had at a certain (australian?) steakhouse chain. Server introduces himself by name, pulls a chair from an OCCUPIED table behinds us and sits down with us.

                                                                        don't know if it was just him or that was the chain.

                                                                        1. re: hala

                                                                          I think it's the chain. Happened to me as well, where the server actually sat in our booth. Just...odd.

                                                                          1. re: Cachetes

                                                                            Yep, I've experienced that too at (I assume) the same chain. Server came bouncing up and plopped down in the booth. I suppose it doesn't bother me as much as it does others, but even so it's a little bit overly familiar.

                                                                            1. re: revsharkie

                                                                              Normally I HATE it when a server sits down and talks to me when I am eating, I am there to enjoy my dinner, and not to chat it up with a total stranger. HOWEVER, there is one restro I love to go to for a late lunch, and I know the servers are going to be winding down.. This place is DEAD between 2-3pm. I go alone, and often the server who I request to be seated in his section will sit down and chat with me and we share horror stories about our bartending days in Ft Lauderdale...he mentioned it one time and we both had such horrific stories it became a trend for us... it was his "break" and my lunch, so we would sit together, and chat, and it was great... but it was an INVITE. always..he never assumes, and always asks if I would like some company.

                                                                              1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                We have a pretty nice restaurant downtown here (not exactly fine dining, but not greasy spoon cafe, either), and one of my youth group kids works there. Technically he's a busboy, and he also washes dishes sometimes. Whenever he's working out front, he manages to greet and talk to all sorts of folks. Mike and I were down there eating a couple weekends ago, and he came and sat down with us for just a couple minutes, just to chat. His cousin was there with a friend and their girlfriends, and he sat down with them. I saw him talking with lots of other folks, too. They ought to make him a waiter; I think he'd make an incredible amount of tips; not only is he friendly but he works his you-know-what off.

                                                                          2. re: hala

                                                                            "oh my gosh,

                                                                            reminds me of an experience we had at a certain (australian?) steakhouse chain. Server introduces himself by name, pulls a chair from an OCCUPIED table behinds us and sits down with us.

                                                                            don't know if it was just him or that was the chain."

                                                                            Happened to us, too at the same chain.

                                                                            1. re: Anonimo

                                                                              Unless invited, that is in very poor taste.

                                                                        2. oops one more...... it always bothers me when servers come and take a plate away while there's still food on it, and if you say you weren't finished with it, you feel like a piggie. Sometimes they don't even ask, and you're there like but...but....hey !! Seems to happen a lot with appetizers. I know they need the space sometimes....but sometimes we like to keep picking at something during the meal... It always feels to me like the server is telling me i've had enough to eat.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                                                            that reminds me: waiter shows up with entree, but expects you to move your app plate!

                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                              !!! alkapal, I see what you mean, we do agree -- that's my deal breaker, my 'do it twice and I'll loathe you the rest of my life' no going back to a restaurant bone of contention!

                                                                              Well, exaggerating just a little. I hate, loathe and despise being rushed, and I won't perMIT my entree to be placed at the table while I am still eating my appetizer.

                                                                              I don't care if it has to be rewarmed and hope that they don't expectorate into it, but I - don't - want - to - be -rushed. How hard IS this exactly?

                                                                              Oh, and no, I don't want to wait an unusually long time between courses either. If the restaurant doesn't have the timing issue fine tuned, they shouldn't be in business.

                                                                            2. re: im_nomad

                                                                              I always feel like I'm being rushed out when that happens. I don't want my entree brought to the table until I make it clear that I'm finished with my appetizer. I want all of the entrees to be served at the same time, and I don't want the dishes cleared until EVERYONE at the table is finished eating.

                                                                            3. I am also the queen of leftovers and I share your pet peeve. I LOVE leftovers for breakfast and/or lunch the next day. Nothing pains me more than when a wait person boxes up only the meat off the plate and not the rice and veggies and sauce.

                                                                              Other than that, I really have very few pet peeves. Stick all the armpits in my face you want, just gimme mah food.

                                                                              1. My biggest server pet peeve is when they made comments to you about how much you did or did not eat. I have a hearty appetite, and I rarely if ever leave anything on my plate (Part of growing up very poor, I never wasted food) I had a server at a very high end restaurant say to me and I quote "Wow, you get a sticker for being in the clean plate club" HELLO????? I just paid $38 for that stuffed lobster, and I am darn sure going to eat every bite at that price!

                                                                                Her tip was less than my normal 20% as I was humiliated at her rude comment. Servers should never ever ever under any circumstance talk to a customer like a child!

                                                                                19 Replies
                                                                                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                  Wow, there's seriously no excuse for that, and I say this as a server. I sometimes can't help but to (internally) make judgments about people's eating habits, whether it's the morbidly obese man who hoovers up piles of food or the chronic dieter who barely eats a thing and forces us to throw out platefuls of perfectly good food...BUT, I would never, ever make any sort of commentary.

                                                                                  And, speaking of server pet peeves, I'm always put off by servers who don't let customers know that they may have a slightly-longer-than-usual wait time if it's too busy. I ALWAYS let my customers know when this is the case (and am, of course, apologetic about it), but I can't stand servers who just choose to pretend this isn't the case, and leave their customers baffled at the long wait.

                                                                                  1. re: new and troubling questions

                                                                                    I agree, you should never speak about their eating habits. Even if they do it first and say they hadn't eaten all day, or make fun of themselves for eating all of it. I always say, "Oh, most people finish it." -Whether it's a total lie or not. No need for them to feel insecure about themselves. The one time I messed up was when two large ladies ordered a dessert and I brought out one. They simply said, "We'll have the cobbler." So I assumed they meant one. It's a large portion, very sweet, and nearly everyone shares it. I was embarrassed by that and scrambled to get the other one right out.
                                                                                    As far as warning them about wait times, we can't do that. We're not supposed to defend our food or service, it looks bad. If they seem rushed and ask me, I'll be honest... but we have time standards that everyone works hard to meet.

                                                                                    1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                                                                                      Same goes for the "oh that EASILY serves two people" when you ask how big something is.....

                                                                                      1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                                                                                        That's funny, something similar happened to me once. I was serving a rather large man and he ordered a diet coke, but a moment later I happened to forget whether he ordered a diet or regular, so I asked "was that a diet coke, sir?", and he seemed embarrassed suddenly; I think he may have thought I was being snide about it (as in, "ha, yeah right, like diet coke's going to help THAT gut"), except that was SO not my intention at all. I'm super-cautious now about comments that might even vaguely come across as commentary on others' diets.

                                                                                      2. re: new and troubling questions

                                                                                        I truly don't understand this....why is it that the "morbidly obese man" gets more attention and mental dialogue than some of the people out there who i've seen hoovering up food?

                                                                                        It bothers me because i once witnessed someone stating to a somewhat larger lady in a restaurant..."do you really need that dear"? For all you know this person is having a treat after months of dieting.

                                                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                          I totally agree with you about that, actually, it's completely unfair to make judgments about people based on a single, brief impression when serving them. It's a terrible impulse to judge (that I think a lot of servers might share, unfortunately), but the last thing any server should do is to make any sort of commentary on one's diet (whether it's a customer who eats a whole lot, OR the sort who spends an hour pushing food around the plate and guzzling water like it's a meal).

                                                                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                            >>It bothers me because i once witnessed someone stating to a somewhat larger lady in a restaurant..."do you really need that dear"?

                                                                                            A server said that to a dining patron????

                                                                                            Wow. Guess they cared diddly about their tip.

                                                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                                                              Forget the tip - I would be having words with the manager! If a server ever had the sheer audacity to make a remark like that within my hearing, I would do my utmost to make sure they were immediately unemployed.

                                                                                              SO, so, so rude!

                                                                                              1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                                                                I would as well, that is unconscionable! It is not the servers place to tell you how much you can eat.

                                                                                                The only person I ever scolded at a restro, was someone using a buffet spoon from a peanut chicken, to scoop shrimp across the buffet table because he was too lazy to walk around the other side, but I was a fellow diner, and I told him that was dangerous because some people have severe allergies and that could potentially be fatal. He just laughed and kept piling high. *sigh* But that is a whole different set of circumstances.

                                                                                                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                                  Doubly frightening because the cross contamination manages to endanger two highly allergic sub-populations--those allergic to shrimp and those allergic to peanuts. Should have unleashed your gryphon on his a**!

                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                    gryphon, is my son, I am his keeper. hence my username.. I know that Gryphon's by definition are Lords and Guardians of Earth and Sky, but I am happy with my kinder sohn.

                                                                                                    That being said, I wish I unleashed my native american temper on him! Such selfishness should be punished by a slap upside his head with a buffet tong ;)

                                                                                                    1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                                      What a wonderful name! Gryphons are from winged lions to cruise missles! That buffoon should not only have been buffet-tonged, but beaten, branded, buffetted, blasted, and then beheaded. The lack of respect for others cannot be forgiven. So not only you, but Gryphon are welcome to eat and dance with me!

                                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                        be careful Sam, I may just take you up on that offer someday!

                                                                                                        Your posts intrigue me, and I travel often. Do not be shocked if I ask you someday to host me at a lunch :)

                                                                                              2. re: dolores

                                                                                                no, it was a nearby diner who said it to her

                                                                                                1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                  Yikes. Imagine being (or being with) a person who thinks they have the right to say that to a stranger.

                                                                                                  But o/t, I thought of a favorite restaurant this morning whose owner sold -- and the new owner promptly ran the place into the ground -- and how important the little things are.

                                                                                                  Harrald used to make sure that the patron never had to 'ask' to have their bread basket refilled, there was actually a server aware if that was the case. Super service, I know, but wow.

                                                                                          2. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                            This happened to me recently! I was having dinner at fairly nice microbrewery restaurant and ordered a sandwich. While I am a somewhat slow eater, and my friend is quite a quick one, I was surprised that I had to warn the server away from my half-eaten sandwich twice! The first time, she took his plate away. The second time, she said, “Well, aren’t you a little trouper!?” Huh? I was still enjoying my sandwich (not forcing it down or anything, and not letting it just sit on the plate – still taking regular bites amid conversation.) I wound up leaving the last quarter. We were in an out in about an hour, so I can’t imagine what the deal was there. I just shrugged it off, but thinking about it now does annoy me.

                                                                                            I don't get worked up about little things, as a rule. My sisters and my husband both worked in restaurants and as a result I think I tend to be extra easy-going. (Interestingly, perhaps because they have their ideas of How Things Should Be, they are often les accomodating than me!)

                                                                                            1. re: meg944

                                                                                              >>but thinking about it now does annoy me.

                                                                                              As well it should.

                                                                                              I was in one of my favorite restaurants last evening, and it 'appeared' that the servers, very VERY solicitous in this particular restaurant, were going to be attempting to rush me.

                                                                                              Since this is my number one deal breaker, a word to the server resulted in picture perfect service. Since the food is very good, the two hour (my absolute must have) dining experience was exactly as it should have been.

                                                                                              Would you have a word with a future server if they tried to pull that on you again, meg944?

                                                                                              1. re: dolores

                                                                                                I don’t think she was necessarily trying to rush me. Perhaps she just thought I was eating really slowly and somehow assumed I didn’t want any more? She seemed pleasant otherwise – just strangely surprised that I was still eating, and I think it was more a matter of being overly friendly/familiar that caused her to talk to me in that manner. Of course, it would be inappropriate to remark on it at all, but the fact that it was not much food or such a long time made it really weird. Now, my friend snarfed up his food (and ¼ of my sandwich) really quickly, so maybe that gave the impression that I was extra slow? Or maybe it was because I am a fairly small person (though not one who should be mistaken for a child)? Anyway, I doubt I would make a fuss unless I had to arm-wrestle someone for my entrée – I just told her I was still enjoying it. Though I did give her the raised eyebrow when she called me a “little trouper.”

                                                                                                1. re: meg944

                                                                                                  I'd be tempted to stab her grabbing hand with a fork.

                                                                                                  But that's just me. Whatever happened to "are you finished with that?" before grabbing the plate?

                                                                                          3. 1. Servers not knowing the specials by memory so that they muck it up when they recite the special. I'm fine if they use notes.
                                                                                            2. When paying with cash: not returning with lower denomination bills when giving back change after the bill is paid.
                                                                                            3. The ubiquitous reply when ordering "yes, that's a good choice".

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                              I definitely agree with #1. I forgot about it. I can't stand when you ask what the specials are and they say "I don't know. I will go find out". You know, even if they were late getting on shift they need to at least look at the special memorize or jot them down.
                                                                                              As for #2. Doesn't bother me one way or the other but my hubby who waited tables forever will jokingly say to me when we pay with cash and are waiting for the change "Go for the glory" or "no guts no glory" meaning don't give us ones, bring 5 and 10's as we will tend to leave the bigger bills even if it means two or three dollars more then we would have tipped if they brought ones. I know this isn't for everyone but we just figure a couple of bucks won't make us or break us and the server (good ones, let me say) is happy with the bigger tip.
                                                                                              Isn't it funny all of our pet peeves. I have to also say I have the utmost respect for servers that do their job well. Been there, done that and it is a very hard to job to do day in, day out and smile at your customers all day and I wouldn't want to do it again although I firmly believe everyone should do it for six months at some point so they have any idea what servers go through with us fickle public.

                                                                                              Kudos to all of you that have waited table or still waiting tables (or any job in the restaurant business for that matter!)! Keep up the good work!

                                                                                              1. re: jodymaryk

                                                                                                When I was waiting tables I always made change in small bills because I found that most people have the opposite response from you. If 20% was $5 and they had to choose between a) leaving the $10 bill I just brought them, b) asking me to break the ten, or c) leaving me the $2 they had left in their wallet, I would end up with the $2 every time.

                                                                                                1. re: mordacity

                                                                                                  I realize we are the exception rather then the rule, but wish it was different!

                                                                                            2. Just read that two fairly new restaurants in this area have 'communal tables'. Outside of the ick factor of that, I was wondering how servers feel about dealing with separate checks in a group?

                                                                                              How does this work with a 'communal table'?

                                                                                              26 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: dolores

                                                                                                We've got one place in the area that's got a communal table, and it's anything but "ick." During regular hours, folks come into this unique, gourmet-to-go shop/cafe and can choose to either dine in or take out. If you come in for a cup of coffee, pastry, salad, soup, sandwich, cheeses, or any of the delectable dishes that are continually being brought out of the kitchen, and you choose to eat in, you can sit at the communal table, which seats up to about 12 people comfortably. You can bring a newspaper and eat in solitude, or you can engage in conversation with others sitting at the table. If you've brought along a bottle of wine, the staff is happy to uncork it and provide stemware at no additional cost. It's a really nice concept, and everyone I know who has sat at the communal table has enjoyed it.

                                                                                                Separate checks don't really matter here, since everyone either helps themselves to prepared foods or orders for themselves at the counter. You can either take your selections up to a register, pay, and take your food to the table, or, if it's something that's being served hot, you get a check when you're finished. I can't speak for the owners, but "separate checks" doesn't seem to be an issue at all.

                                                                                                I just read in yesterday's Phila. Inquirer that there's a brand new, very large restaurant/market in the Philadelphia suburbs that has a communal table in the rear of the shop. It's a concept that seems to be catching on, and I really enjoy it.

                                                                                                  1. re: dolores

                                                                                                    What is it about the idea of a communal table that you find "ick"?

                                                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                      In some restaurants I've been to, we've been asked if we want to share a table with another group. We hate it. Conversation is stinted, we have the notion that the other party is watching us eat, and that we have to make polite conversation with them. If we go out to dinner, its to enjoy each other's company, something that definitely is hampered.

                                                                                                      I think the situation is entirely different when you are dining alone, and the other people at the table are also solo diners.

                                                                                                      1. re: beany

                                                                                                        I think asking if you'd like to share a table with another party is really odd. If you say yes, do you get your choice of which other customers to dine with?

                                                                                                        Same holds true if you're dining alone. UNLESS the restaurant has a known policy of seating single customers together upon request.

                                                                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                          It happens in small towns. Here we have a little cafe on the edge of town, where there is one table everyone knows is a communal table. You sit there, you're gonna have company. And we've gone out there at times when the only open table was one with six seats (there are two of us), and if another group of three or four comes in, we invite them to join us. Not a big problem for us, because we know that's how it works there. And there was a little place in a town south of us when I was a kid where there was a similar table, and they'd often seat various folks there if there wasn't anywhere else to sit. I think we got put there once.

                                                                                                          In a place like that, it's okay with me; in another setting I might not be quite so accepting. But one of my favorite dining experiences happened at a church dinner where they pretty much put you where there was room for you. We were enjoying our meal, and then I looked across the table and noticed that the toddler sitting there, whose parents were pretty much occuped with a couple other kids, was watching me closely and imitating how I was eating my sausage and applesauce together. It was adorable.

                                                                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                            Usually they'll say something like "If you want your own table it will be an hour, but if you don't mind sharing with those people, you can be seated right away" Or "would you mind sharing your table with another party"

                                                                                                            i guess we do have the option of saying no, but it seems so anti social (even though I guess we are) that we usually tend to agree and then eat as fast as we can and get out.

                                                                                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                              I have to agree with you Cindy I find it odd too. When my hubby and I went on our honeymoon up in the Pocono's Resort we had to share the dinner table with about 3 other couples. I was uncomfortable as the other diners were way above our league and let us know it. I dreaded going back the 2nd nite, we almost opted not to but their food was excellent and well, we paid dearly for the trip we were determined to get every penny out of them that we could. The 2nd nite was not as much as a disaster as the 1st as we were put with other *honeymooners* So we had a little more in common but still, we were on our honeymoon and didn't really want to socialize. It would have been nice if they had a dining area for the newlyweds to enjoy just each other.

                                                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                                                sounds like it means "snootier".

                                                                                                                but still, at most communal tables, you don't have to speak with others. i like them when i eat out alone: i can converse with anyone i find interesting and if i dont' find anyone at the table interesting, i can eat and read or listen.

                                                                                                                1. re: cimui

                                                                                                                  >>and let us know it.

                                                                                                                  How charming of them.

                                                                                                                2. re: Smileelisa

                                                                                                                  Ditto on the Poconos! We went to several resorts which were otherwise very nice, but I disliked sharing tables with other couples. We did wind up having fun conversations a couple of times, but mostly we would have preferred to be on our own. Had I realized that this was the policy, I would have chosen other places - it's not like there aren't many to choose from!

                                                                                                      2. re: dolores

                                                                                                        Communal tables are not really a group. Each party is its own, well, party. A couple may be seated, order their drinks and first course, and then a party of 4 is seated at the same table. they don't share anything and they are on their own timetable. it's like having 2 separate tables, from the server's perspective. but it can be a nice way to talk to new people--or not. You don't even have to talk to them or interact, just like you wouldn't with someone at a nearby table.

                                                                                                        1. re: cocktailhour

                                                                                                          I think what you've described is a more formal version of the communal table than the one that I described. There's at least one restaurant I can think of that does have a large communal table where everyone is seated at more-or-less the same time, per their reservations. That's more along the lines of what you've described where each party is separate, yet together.

                                                                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                            I've been to round tables in the South, where a payment is given at the door and everyone pulls their food from a lazy susan. Delightful.

                                                                                                            I've been to hibachi style dinners up here. Dreadful.

                                                                                                            I'm referring to an outrageously expensive new restaurant in Westchester that has a communal table. No thank you.

                                                                                                            As I've shared, dining out is entertainment for me. I want my table, my server, my check and my privacy if I want it. If the tables are realllllly close, as they are in one of my favorite new places, and I choose to talk to the folks at the next table and they to me, then good for both of us.

                                                                                                            If the restaurant, and an outrageously expensive restaurant at that in a town where I have to pay to park sticks me at a communal table -- no thanks. What's the benefit to them, by the way? And again, how DO servers handle the bills? Or am I expected to split the drinks and food at a communal table with all my 'new' friends?

                                                                                                            Yes, that was sarcasm, and no thank you to a communal table. Oh, and lest the flames get lobbed, it's my opinion and I am entitled to it.

                                                                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                                                                              <<I'm referring to an outrageously expensive new restaurant in Westchester that has a communal table. No thank you.>>

                                                                                                              Dolores- which restaurant?

                                                                                                              1. re: marmite

                                                                                                                According to the free 'White Plains Express', both Antipasti and Peniche in White Plains.

                                                                                                              2. re: dolores

                                                                                                                I agree! I want my own space, and want my meal paced to suit myself and my dc's. I did go to the Poconos for my first marriage ( I was young, but not too foolish), and when we saw they wanted to seat us with others, we checked out the next am, came back to Boston, and enjoyed places and restaurants we normally could not afford.

                                                                                                                1. re: macca

                                                                                                                  Absolutely. Good for you, macca.

                                                                                                                  And at the prices the two places I named charge, they're out of their minds thinking a 'communal table' is a good idea.

                                                                                                                  1. re: dolores

                                                                                                                    Agreed- and if I want to eat at a communal table, I will stay home and enjoy my meal with family and friends!

                                                                                                          2. re: dolores

                                                                                                            I really don't understand the 'ick' factor of this at all, but I can tell you about the separate checks.

                                                                                                            I work at a music venue that serves food (very good food) and we have cabaret-style seating. That means that if the show is sold out, every seat in the place will be taken; lots of couples sharing four-tops, families sharing with couples at six-tops, etc. Although sometimes people are weirded out by this at first, I've NEVER heard anyone compain about it afterwards. Sometimes people are hesitant but when I return to their table ten minutes later they are best friends with the other couple- this could be just because it's a concert environment and therefore people are in a good mood, usually drinking etc., but I bet it's not too different at more traditional restaurants. We do have a few two-person tables that I offer to people who look like they really want alone time, or to older people who generally take greater issue with having to share.

                                                                                                            The checks are not hard at all, unless you get sat all at once and can't tell who's with who- in which case I just ask at the end before I bring the checks, how would you like the checks split? But it's usually abundantly obvious. On our computers, you can add multiple parties to one table, so I have Table 36 Party 1, Table 36 Party 2, etc. Sometimes there are four or five checks for one six-top table, which can be a hassle but isn't the norm. You do have to be careful that you're ringing things under the right party, but it only takes a little bit of extra diligence.

                                                                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                                                                              one thing I dislike is that people are seated at the communal tables at different times. so I might be seated next to someone who's already got food. Strange

                                                                                                              1. re: akq

                                                                                                                Another reason communal tables are an idea from hunger. Hah.

                                                                                                                And imagine paying a gazillion dollars for food and sitting at a communal table AND paying for parking?

                                                                                                                Yeah, right.

                                                                                                              2. re: dolores

                                                                                                                They are the norm at a lot of the Basque places here in Northern Nevada. The sides are shared and the main course is brought individually. If others are seated much later, additional sides are brought out. House red wine in unlabled bottles is also placed on the table as part of the dinner, about a bottle for four-five places, and it is refilled... Makes for some interesting conversations, especially the night they put some BLM folks with a table of mining managers and the cattleman's association leadership team.

                                                                                                                1. re: NVJims

                                                                                                                  BLM-- is that bureau of land management? or something else?

                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                    Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management

                                                                                                                2. re: dolores

                                                                                                                  I’ve been seated at many communal tables at wine dinners, and in Europe, and while there’s always that initial moment of fear, it has always turned out to be very pleasant. It’s not as if the food is brought out family style. (Though at the right kind of place, I wouldn’t be averse to trying that either.) We tend to have general conversation but one certainly could certainly keep to oneself. And we’ve never seen the servers have the slightest issue, as they take each order on a separate check. If you’ve never tried it, I would recommend giving it a chance.

                                                                                                                3. my #1 peeve:

                                                                                                                  keeping the check-holder stuffed into the back of their pants, and then whipping it out and handing it to the customer. it's absolutely disgusting.

                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                    Why? What do you think is in their back pocket that is so bad?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Olallieberry

                                                                                                                      i really hate it when they print your check and bring it to you before asking you if you want dessert. It's really stupid. why would they not want to sell you more food?

                                                                                                                      1. re: hala

                                                                                                                        Because selling entrees and wine to the next table earns them more money than selling dessert and coffee to you.

                                                                                                                        1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                          >>Because selling entrees and wine to the next table earns them more money than selling dessert and coffee to you.


                                                                                                                          Rush me -- lose your 20% tip.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Olallieberry

                                                                                                                        olallieberry: not in the pocket...in the waistband, so it sits inside their pants. big difference. i see servers do it all the time, and it makes me cringe.

                                                                                                                    2. For me, there's only one unforgiveable sin for a server: avoiding eye contact.

                                                                                                                      Although I appreciate great service, I'm not too picky. I'll tolerate just about everything discussed so far with little more than a grimace and maybe a reduction of the tip into the 15-17% range.

                                                                                                                      But when a server walks by my table while studiously looking the other way, it makes my blood boil. Don't know why, it just does. A while back, we had ordered, but the food hadn't arrived. For waaaaay too long. I had been trying to catch the server's attention for several minutes to ask if there was a problem, but he never looked our way. Finally he passed right by our table, but he was holding a menu on his shoulder so that his face was completely hidden, and he ignored my repeated "excuse me." We walked out, and will not return.

                                                                                                                      1. oh my goodness. i have so many! having been a server for so long has pretty much ruined all future dining experiences for me because i can't help but notice all the little things being done wrong!

                                                                                                                        - serving drinks by holding the top of the glass/cup
                                                                                                                        - clearing before everyone at the table is finished
                                                                                                                        - calling us "guys"
                                                                                                                        - offering fresh ground pepper before i've had a chance to try my dish
                                                                                                                        - server who does not know the menu or ingredients in a dish. well, not so much that they don't know, but when they don't take the initiative to find out the correct answer.
                                                                                                                        - asking "are you all set with that?"
                                                                                                                        - being served wine in a hot and/or wet glass
                                                                                                                        - being served glassware that is chipped and/or has lipstick stains. there is no reason why these things should escape the eye of a server or bartender.
                                                                                                                        - when returning a drink because the glass is dirty, the drink is then poured in to a new glass and given back to me rather than getting a new drink all together.
                                                                                                                        - being served my entree when i still have my appetizer
                                                                                                                        - being offered only sparkling or still bottled water, as if regular ice water doesn't exist.
                                                                                                                        - when serving a dish/drink instead of clearing space on the table the server pushes things out of the way with the dish/drink being served.
                                                                                                                        - not clearing empty glassware from the table

                                                                                                                        there's more, but these are at the top of my list...

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: rebs

                                                                                                                          You hit most of them. You did leave off "Are you still workin' on-nat?"

                                                                                                                        2. I don't especially want to know my server is "tired." Since I'm a pastor, and it's sort of my job, if I were to find myself facing a server who's honestly having a terrible day, or dealing with a crisis, I would figure out a way to help them; but if you're just tired or it's been a long day or you'd rather not be at work, that's really not my problem, and I don't want to hear it. Do your job. (Boy, I sound like a nasty person...I'm really not...)

                                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                            from time to time we're all nasty people, albeit unwittingly.

                                                                                                                            1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                              "I don't especially want to know my server is 'tired.'"

                                                                                                                              We also had her for our table, and we got to hear how the other server hadn't showed up. She was running behind, told us hw tough it was, then went off to chat with another table.

                                                                                                                              PLEASE! Spare me your woes. I came to eat and relax.

                                                                                                                              While I'm on it, my wife once made the mistake of mentioning her new glasses or contacts. That sparked our waitress into 1o minutes of conversation about HER eyeglasses experiences.
                                                                                                                              (I'm really sorry; I didn't come to hear about your personal life.)

                                                                                                                              And, again: while I'm on it: a waiter who altered, upward, of course, the tip on the credit card charge.

                                                                                                                              Another: a waiter who basically told us that we couldn't get our salads without the dressing already on them, as we wanted them.
                                                                                                                              (We should have called a manager over, but one of our friends seemed to enjoy doing battle with the waiter.)

                                                                                                                              All of these incidents were in various Little Rock, Arkansas restaurants, one of them with "gourmet" pretensions. (The eyeglass place.)

                                                                                                                              1. re: Anonimo

                                                                                                                                server altering credit card tips is not a peeve, it is a crime, and should be brought to the attention of not only the local police, but the OWNER of the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Anonimo

                                                                                                                                  altering your credit card tip?!?!?!?
                                                                                                                                  agree with gryphonskeeper entirely, and also am dying to know what you did in response?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                    We called the restaurant, spoke with the manager, who said that he'd deal with it, and credit it to our credit card. He did that. He also told us that he'd send us some gift coupons, but he didn't . (Which was just as well, as we don't like the food, the ambiance our the service.)
                                                                                                                                    It was a TGIF. (Can I say that here?)

                                                                                                                                    By the way, we're talking small change here, like, for example, a $2.50 tip to a $5.00 tip. Still, it shouldn't have happened. Calling the police never occurred to us for such a paltry sum.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Anonimo

                                                                                                                                      It is not about the sum, it is about the theft, and utter credit card FRAUD. let's do some math shall we? You are customer number 1... most waitstaff in chain restros have no less than 20 tables a night. 20x 2.50 theft, = $50 a night. do that an average of 220 days a year (average working year with 5 days a week plus a vacation)) 220x 50= $11000 that is grand theft.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                                                                        Good to know, gryphonskeeper. When a restaurant (now out of business, happily) or their bank put an $11.00 tip on a $15.00 bill because hubby 'used' to put dollar signs in front of his numbers, I never thought to report them to anyone.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Anonimo

                                                                                                                                        anonimo, your "small change" was in fact a big, 100% change! you should contact: 1. corporate tgif hq ceo and legal. they not only have a thieving server, but as bad if not worse, a complicit manager.
                                                                                                                                        2. your own credit card's fraud investigations unit. they could do further investigation. server ripped you off by such a brazen action, it is 100% likely that you are not alone.
                                                                                                                                        3. the police, for same reasons.

                                                                                                                                        shocking! i would have gone ballistic. it is never too late to address the incident, and ask for accountability from the tgif company, and justice for the thief.

                                                                                                                                2. I've also been on both sides of the table and bar; serving can indeed be a very difficult job (although it does cultivate patience and self-discipline). I assume we servers and former servers can do up a thread just as long on "customer pet peeves".

                                                                                                                                  Having said that, and staying on-topic, I agree with most of the things on rebs' list, although the standard of (expected) service very much depends on context and the type of restaurant. I'll also add the total blank stare that sometimes comes when you ask what type of wine is served by the glass (if not listed on the menu). Knowing the varietal is necessary (chardonnay is pretty different from sauv. blanc), but knowing the region or producer would be helpful too.

                                                                                                                                  But the only thing that really gets me is when a female server barely acknowledges my existence when I'm, for example, out for dinner with my husband. Being flirtatious (even mildly so) is a big no-no when serving a mixed group. I really wonder if they've even realized where their tips are coming from? Perhaps sometimes it works in such cases, but I'd think more often than not they're just isolating their customers.

                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: littlegreenpea

                                                                                                                                    Yes, lgp. You identified one of the VERY few things in the world that really drives me batty about some servers. My SO and I tend to trade off on footing the bill. I like to make it a point to pay in those circumstances. (It also annoys me a little when servers automatically plop down the check in front of the male in a party -- but I wouldn't call that a pet peeve.)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: cimui

                                                                                                                                      How about being the lone female at a business lunch and the server giving the bill to one of the men, any of the men, when the tone was set throughout the lunch if the server cared to take note that I was hosting the lunch?

                                                                                                                                      And no, I should NOT have to ask the server to give the bill to me before we sat down.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: dolores

                                                                                                                                        Agreed: deeply irritating! I never understood how folks could screw this one up. Give the check to whomever asks for it fer crying out loud. Should be easy enough.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: dolores

                                                                                                                                          I would absolutely find that irritating.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: dolores

                                                                                                                                            Ive been the lone female/host on several occasions and here in the South, its hard to get them to LET me pay. So here's how I handle it up front .... when we are ordering, I tell everyone else I am still deciding, and go ahead while I look at the menu. The guys place their orders, I order last, at which point I close my menu, hand it to the server and said " .... and please bring ME the bill." This usually works.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: cimui

                                                                                                                                            Yup! And of course in those situations, the bill always automatically goes to him. Even if I don't pay the bill, my husband and I discuss the tip. We generally tip really well, but it's important for servers pulling that kind of stuff to know that it's totally inappropriate.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: littlegreenpea

                                                                                                                                              With me, it really doesn't matter if I'm paying or my boyfriend is... I'm the one you have to please. The faster servers realize this, the bigger their tips can be.

                                                                                                                                        2. New one-- last night CG and I were eating at our neighborhood fine bistro (combo of fine dining and bistro), and when I was done with my salad, placed my fork and knife together on the plate. Server comes up, takes my knife off and places it back on the table, and takes away the fork and plate. I was always taught that if the diner leaves it on the plate, it should be removed, and replaced with a new one. Am I wrong?

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                                                                                                            You're not wrong -- but a lot of less-than-fine restaurants do this, I've noticed. I usually just put the utensils back on the plate and ask the server if she/he minds bringing me clean ones. I am a little surprised teh server did this at a nicer establishment.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cimui

                                                                                                                                              I don't mind it in decidedly "down scale" places, but any where with tablecloths/cloth napkins ought to, IMO, give you new silverware.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                                                                                                                              This annoys me also. If I leave my utensils on the plate and the server starts to take them off, I just ask them to please bring me clean ones. I left them on there for a reason.

                                                                                                                                            3. I've been on both sides of the coin so little quirks don't bug me - 'you guys' is fine, grab my plate before I'm done, I may slap your hand to get it back - but I don't really get mad. Also, I for the most part, love talking with the wait staff. They often give you more insight into the menu or will offer you a good by the glass wine selection that isn't on the menu.
                                                                                                                                              #1 peeve - bring me something I didn't order and then argue with me about it - irritating! I know what I ordered and even if I am in the wrong - why argue with me - will it kill you to fix it?
                                                                                                                                              #2 peeve - snobbiness - I don't care if you were on last night's episode of Law and Order, tonight you're serving me, so be nice.
                                                                                                                                              #3 peeve - don't make me ask 3 times for something - when I want to get it myself or do it myself, I cook at home.
                                                                                                                                              #4 peeve - a dirty bathroom - that says alot

                                                                                                                                              Overall though, I like the folks who work in restaurants and usually have good experiences, so I don't have a long list of pet peeves.

                                                                                                                                              While I'm at it... some earlier posts mentioned communal seating -- I can understand why you would want your own table... personally, I enjoy having the option. I like talking to other people at restaurants. Food's a great bonder, even if it's temporary, and you can meet really interesting people. I remember when my dad and I were travelling together - we were in a tiny little local taverna in Athens at a communal table. Nex to us was a young couple from Bavaria. He spoke 3 words of English (Cheeeecago and Al Caponaaay), she spoke a little English and a little French, I spoke a little French and my dad was just good at communicating with and understanding people. We had the best time sitting with them that night, laughing, drinking wine, listening to music - and we all learned a suprising amount about each other. That was more than 20 years ago and the memory is still vivid. When I'm alone especially, I will opt for the communal seating, bar, chef's counter - whatever - I like the potential for conversation. And even when you're with someone else, it can really add to the evening.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: dwilde

                                                                                                                                                i'm pretty low key myself
                                                                                                                                                but you remind me of something that happened a few weeks ago.

                                                                                                                                                2 people out t dinner, server brought one correct and one incorrect appetizer. when i pointed it out to her she said in an incredulous tone "let me go check that out" - don't check it out, just accept that i know what i ordered and get me the right dish

                                                                                                                                              2. My pet peeve is it seems lately no matter where we eat, I always have ice water and tell them no lemon. Naturally 9 times out of ten there is a lemon floating in it. I do not like lemon water and I am limited to soda, I like coke but I have to drink sprite,,etc and I don't care for it. You then proceed to tell them that you asked for NO lemon and they look at you like you grew a 3rd eye.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Smileelisa

                                                                                                                                                  Lisa, the best way to handle this, and I know because I am a bartender, tell them I would like a water NO lemons, My boss sucks them all day and I don't need to have his breath on my mind tonight.

                                                                                                                                                  I heard that ONCE from a client and laughed for hours... it might just put a smile on your servers face.

                                                                                                                                                2. 1. When they don't come around to refill water/drinks enough! I am always drinking a ton of water and appreciate waiters who are conscientious about checking.

                                                                                                                                                  2. I HATE when waiters make comments about what I'm eating. Keep your opinions to yourself!

                                                                                                                                                  One time I ordered a buffalo chicken sandwich with extra buffalo sauce because I love things really spicy. I kept drinking water and the waitress NEVER came around and when she finally did she never brought water. She came back eventually and I asked where my water was and she said "Ya know, if you didn't get extra sauce...you wouldn't need so much water!"

                                                                                                                                                  I was APPALLED. That's how I like it...don't tell me how to eat my food because you're too lazy to bring me water. Ugh!

                                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chew on That

                                                                                                                                                    A few $.00 tips and she might get the hint---unfortunately, people continue to tip for such poor service.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: NVJims

                                                                                                                                                      Can't stand it when the server makes comments on how fast or how much I ate, such as "Wow you really snarfed that up in a hurry!" or "You must've been really hungry!"

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                                                        is it worse than having your (once only!) date say, "wow, you really wolfed that down!" ;-)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                                                          I had taken my wife and 20 year old daughter out for lunch one day, at a nicer establishment. With our meals, the two women ordered iced tea, and I had a coffee. The waitress came around fairly frequently topping up my coffee, but there was no need to offer refills to the ladies as they were sipping at their drinks, making them last throughout the course of the meal. When we were finished eating, my wife still had about 1/4 of her drink remaining, so she drained the glass as we were putting on our jackets. We were all three standing already when the waitress appeared and plunked two full glasses of iced tea on the table. I said "ummm...we were about to leave." She said "oh sorry, I didn't notice you were finished eating. I only noticed that your old lady here were sucking back her drink like there was no tomorrow, so figured they must be dying of thirst, so I brought more." Food was good, service was good, there had been no issues whatsoever, and I had already put a 20% tip in cash on the table. I reached across and removed half of it and put it in my pocket. I think I was a good sport to leave her 10% after such a rude final comment.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: GaryR

                                                                                                                                                            you were too generous. i would have taken back the entire tip and told her what she could do with the iced tea...and her unsolicited observation.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GaryR

                                                                                                                                                                you left a tip? If ANYONE called me an old lady sucking back a drink, tehy would be left .01

                                                                                                                                                                and that, is generous

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: GaryR

                                                                                                                                                                  Good lord. I am with the .01 tip brigade.

                                                                                                                                                                  I can't imagine what people like that waitress are doing in a service industry.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GaryR

                                                                                                                                                                    garyr, PLEASE tell us you got her fired!

                                                                                                                                                            1. I have taken to asking for the leftover container to be brought to me also for the same reasons. I don't get it. Don't they want people to come back again?

                                                                                                                                                              1. My pet peeve at the moment is bakeries that charge tax. I love bakeries and try to patronize the ones that survived the low carb craze, there are three I like in my area. One is just a basic bakery, donuts, cold drinks and baked goods. They never charge tax on their baked goods. The second one is a supermarket bakery and they don't charge tax either. But my favorite (and more expensive) bakery charges tax always. They have sandwiches too so maybe there is a different law for them? But I always just grab a couple of their yummy danish or maybe a cupcake.And I always get taxed. The owner is a lovely person and I can't seem to bring myself to say anything. I doubt that charging tax is hurting their business, but I do want them to survive and prosper. Anyone know the laws and rules on when to charge tax on baked goods in Penna?

                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                                                                  I know where I'm from (BC, Canada), the rule is if you buy fewer than 6 "items," like doughnuts, you get charged tax.Also, strange, you get charged tax on unsalted saltines, but not salted. It seems like there's no rhyme or reason to my province's taxation regulations. But I would not go so far as to write a place off because they are obeying the law. That seems quite unfair.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                                                                    They're all different types of businesses. Some collect (not charge!) sales tax, some are not required to. My bakery is a wholesale business with a retail store attached. We are not required to collect sales tax because there is no seating in the store - it's a counter. People buy items "made on the premises, but not intended for immediate consumption". That's the key phrase. The minute you add seating and sell food for immediate consumption, such as sandwiches, you are required to collect tax. Our other location is a cyber-cafe. They do sell meals for inhouse consumption, as well as the bakery items. They have to collect sales tax on everything they sell. Seating = sales tax. At least in NY State. Thank goodness the state has no problem with people who buy pastries and start eating on their way out the door!

                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, and don't ever think that a business will voluntarily collect sales tax if they don't have to. Who needs the headache!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                                                                      whereas you may have issues with a bakery charging tax, how is that a server pet peeve? servers don't decide when to charge tax.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                                                                        How can you be sure that the other bakeries have not included tax in the price they charge you? They could be charging you tax without you even knowing.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. On several points, I do agree with you. For us, it is about tasting what the kitchen can produce. This is a reason, that we love "tasting menus," and loads of "small plates." Also, I do see far too many places with over-the-top portions, and an uncomfortable with these. However, as we are usually traveling, left-overs are seldom an option. My first use of these would probably be in some airport, or inflight, where heating, and utensiles are not readily available. Oh, we do bring some food home, should we be AT home, for more than a day, or two. Unfortunately, too many of these get tossed by the housekeeper, while we head out to elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                        I am far more inclined to really enjoy the smaller portions, and dine on the dishes there. A recent review of a steakhouse in the South, was more about their "family-sized" portions, than on the quality of the foods. Just last night, wife and I did a local Hawaiian-themed restaurant. We did 2 appetizers, and two entrées. We lamented that we did not do 3 appetizers only! Too much food for two. Happens all too often.

                                                                                                                                                                        I do not diminish the problem that you cite, only state that I have not encountered much of this. It's probably the differences in our separate travel plans.

                                                                                                                                                                        Now, I have plenty of "pet peeves," but they are the fodder for other posts.


                                                                                                                                                                        1. This weekend I was re-acquainted with another pet peeve. I was at a very nice bistro in Palm Springs that I like to hit when I'm in town. The soup that night was a Gazpacho flavored with cantaloupe. It sounded good for a warm night so I tried it. First spoon was so acidic, I couldn't really believe it. I had a drink of water and tried another. Awful. The waiter came buy and asked how I liked the soup and I told him it was like eating a spoon full of vinegar. Here's the peeve - "Everyone else loves it!". I don't want to hear that, I don't care. It is meaningless to me. I politely told him what I thought and asked him to ask the chef to taste the soup. He took the soup away and returned a short moment later, blushing and said that it was indeed totally awful. He apologized. We got to talking and together guessed that the vinegar in the soup must have soured it over the course of the eve. The rest of the meal was fantastic.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. this made me furious. in an indian resto in ocala, fla., the waiter brought the sytro take home box, stood at the end of the table (just to my right) and just held it out open and dangling at eye level. i couldn't see my bro-in-law across the table. AND, he was "handing" it to my 86 year old mom (who is only 5'2") on my left, next to the wall. had it been my resto, and i wasn't a guest, i would have blasted that a@#!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                            plus, he just had a smirk on his face, like, look at what these anglos will put up with here. see how superior i am. i don't have to give them good service.