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Feb 15, 2010 09:11 PM

Sharing Food with Dining "Neighbors" at Restaurants?

I recently moved from the East Coast and have had several "interesting" dining experiences since I moved to SF a few weeks ago. As a disclaimer, neither of these were at upscale joints---more like casual neighborhood locals-only type bars/bistros. But, I was wondering if these types of events happen often???

First experience: Drunk dude loudly hinting he wants to try what he perceives to be an "extra" piece of pizza at my table to his friend. Our table ignores him, until he sits down at our table uninvited, then after we decline his offer to take the pizza off our hands, he actually starts to move his hand towards it until said slice is moved away from him.

Second experience: Friendly women dining next to our table at a different place absolutely insist (to the point where they hold the plate up to our table) we try their appetizer. While thoughtful, we really didn't want it and felt kind of awkward. this normal for SF? Has anyone else ever had this happen?

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  1. Nope. Not normal. Actually, the only place I've ever had someone at another table insist I try something from her plate was in a little neighborhood restaurant in Paris.

    1. Definitely not normal, you just happened to sit near two oddballs.

      1. I'd say first one (drunk guy), not "normal", but guy was drunk so no "norms" apply.
        Second one, not common, but I can see it happening, especially at restaurants where tables are close together and ambience is neighborhood-y. I can see it either being thoughtful or creepy, but if your table was admiring the dish, and a conversation ensued, then I can see the offer. Or they were trying to pick you up.
        Welcome to San Francisco!

        1. I have been at a nicer restaurant where I brought in a nice bottle of wine and been sat next to someone who also has brought a nice bottle of wine. We took note of each other's wine and then offered each other a glass.

          But sharing food is out of bounds.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Scott M

            In the second case, the picture the OP paints is the friendly woman simply foisting the appetizer - which would be weird.

            But if the table was eyeing the appetizer, and they started talking, and had some kind of connection, and then the friendly woman offers a taste, that kind of thing is within bounds and happens to me a few times a decade.

            I've even done things like that myself - I remember the one time I had dim sum at Gold Mountain, the table adjacent were dim sum neophytes in from Kansas, and I tried to help them out. I offered them some tastes, too.

            1. re: bbulkow

              The "out of bounds" comment was a personal preference. I would politely decline any offer of food off of someone's plate or table.

              I have no problem telling someone what I am eating and whether I like it or not. I stop short of offering a taste.

              1. re: Scott M

                Yeah, the situation would have made more sense if we had been eyeing her appetizer or asking about it...but we weren't talking "food." We had a nice/quick little conversation about the neighborhood. And I guess she and her friend just really liked the appetizer and were trying to be nice??

                But it was a little strange. Although much LESS strange than the situation with the guy trying to eat our pizza! I am relieved this isn't a particularly common occurrence :) I was beginning to wonder if I was just a cranky East Coaster. haha.

                1. re: MaddyK

                  If the incident with the pizza guy had happened to me, I would have sought out the server or manager and asked to be moved to another table (or moved myself if it was a casual enough place). and I am not even fond of pizza. His was not acceptable behavior anywhere, IMO, including on the left coast.

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    Sounds like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry says he will give Elaine $50 if she walks up to a table of strangers, picks up an egg roll and eat it.

          2. Not normal, but as you can guess some of the stricter rules of etiquette seem to apply less.

            The only time this has happened to me was at a farmer's appreciation dinner at Incanto, where the entire restaurant was reconfigured into communal tables with one farmer at each one. A nice group of older couples had a few leftover whole grilled sardines that they pressed on a friend and me, but we didn't need much convincing. I don't know if their motivation was generosity toward a pair of young people who they perceived might limit ordering due to budget reasons, not wanting the food to be wasted but wanting to avoid excessive consumption and thus trying to move the plate out of their reach, or other reasons, but it felt right in the situation of sharing a communal table and we happily ate their leftover sardines.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SteveG

              Or maybe, like me, they kind'a have a one sardine limit!! I've both happily described what I'm having to curious onlookers, and politely enquired of a nearby table what they were enjoying, but never been offered bites nor would i offer a bite. Ick...weird...over-sharing...etc. Lived out here for 25 yrs. (originally from NJ....). adam