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Service vs Food - can one fix the other? [moved from Ontario board]

If you were to eat at a restaurant where the service was absolutely disrespectful and rude, would the quality of the food be able to outweigh the negativity?

For example, I've been to Casa Imperial twice for dim sum - the food is excellent, the quality of the tea leaves superb, BUT the service...sigh, it nearly broke me...

The first time around, a server removes a plate, that still had a significant portion on it, as my chopsticks were hovering above it, about to pick something up.

Second time, we are seated, jackets off, tea is served. The hostess comes up and asks us to get up and give back the table, as she had "promised" the table to someone else. The bunch of us looked at each other, "Are you kidding?" It seems we were seated ahead of someone else who was waiting, and that they wanted the particular table we were sitting, no other table would do. We explain that one of our party went to the washroom, that we'll move when she comes back and would she please, in the meanwhile, get a new table set up, as there were plenty of other tables free. She said no, that the other party was waiting, picked up the purse and jacket that belonged to the party in the washroom and moved us to another table that wasn't even set up. After a bit of complaining, we just left it at that, but it ruined the mood we were all in.

In both cases, however, the situations were redeemed by the quality of the food. Would I return though? I'll be considering really hard.

Anyone else have similar situations elsewhere?

Casa Imperial
4125 Steeles Ave E, Scarborough, ON M1W 3T4, CA

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  1. There's a place down here in Houston that serves some of the best crawfish in town, during the season. The service dipped from indifferent, to bad, finally to belligerent from management after I sent back a crab cake that came back cold from the kitchen, twice. The manager slammed the dish down on the table after the second reheating. I ended up calling the manager an a-hole, tipped the waitress, it wasn't her fault, left and haven't been back in years.

    1. Nope. I can't tolerate bad service. When a server is rude or just wants you to shovel the food in your mouth so you can tip and leave, how can you be comfortable there? I don't need them to stay and talk to me about my day, just be friendly and available.

      There are many restaurants here in Los Angeles where I enjoy the food, sometimes crave it, but don't go to because the service. It's never rude (otherwise I'd never even consider going back) but just disorganized and irritating.

      1. in London's Queensway there is a famous Indian restaurant called Khan's. The food is good but the service is known to be terrible and terrible it is. Rude waiters, so fast they have you in and out in about 30 minutes. It's all about turning the tables and the customer is the least important thing in there. Been twice and would never go again.

        1. Can it fix it?

          Possibly - but probably not. Good service and good food are both elements of whether I enjoy a meal. Doesnt matter if this a Michelin starred place or a back street greasy spoon (although the expectations are obviously different).

          1. Great idea for a post dachopstix! I've read all the replies so far and it seems my fellow hounds are in agreement. It's simple for me. I never go where I am not welcome. Sounds like a good way to get indigestion. Since today is mother's day, the busiest restaurant day of the year, common sense does apply. If I was brave enough to eat out today I would lower my expectations. I did have an odd problem a few months ago at a thai restaurant that is very convenient to where I live. I couldn't finish my shrimp dish and deliberately left plenty of shrimp so I could enjoy it later. I was crazy enough to let the waitress pack my to go container and hours later discovered my shrimp had gone missing. The service had been fine but we were seated next to the kitchen and there was some cursing and fooling around going on. I thought nothing of it at the time but a lot of bad things happen in businesses when there is no manager present. I think it was just a fluke but I haven't wanted to eat there since. I did get take out once. somewhat reluctantly. Happy Mother's Day to all! I'm cooking at home today. :)

            1. I may sound like a broken record to those who have read my posts elsewhere but here goes.

              If you want good service go to a chain.

              If you want good food find an independent.

              Sadly, the two are often mutually exclusive. Hear me out on this.

              If a chain restaurant gave you bad service, you can 1- fill out a comment card and mail it in, 2- ask for the manager who will generally "make it right" in some way 3- email/write to head office and tell them about it. And let's also not forget 4- chains employ mystery shoppers who will report bad service. There's always a way to get it fixed and chains DO fix service issues. Otherwise why would they bother hiring mystery shoppers?

              OTOH, if an independent gives you bad service, if the place is packing it in every night do you think the owner will give a rat's ass what you think? He'll toss your ass out on the street and say "guess what, there are 20 people in line to get in here. Take a hike."

              This is part of why chains do so well while foodies wonder aloud "why won't they dine at these nice independents?" and then also wonder why what we thought were good restaurants, go out of business while chains live on. You may not like the food, but these people, ordinary Joe's, are paying their hard-earned money for service. And sadly, a lot of these independents don't give it to them, yet charge twice what chains do. Good food does NOT trump bad service. As I said in another post, I can find a recipe online, buy the ingredients, and make most food myself at home for a lot less than a restaurant will charge. I'm paying a not insignificant premium for them to cook it, plate it, and serve it to me.

              Those from Toronto and Los Angeles can understand my whole point in one word: TERRONI

              2 Replies
              1. re: TexSquared

                Good point Tex. Many of my friends have dads who own small businesses. One has a million dollars in savings, a couple of thoroughbred race horses, a condo down da shore, etc etc. He is to put it bluntly, an ahole. His daugher in law won't even let him see his grandkids on Christmas. "Success" does not always bring out the best in small business owners. I'm glad I know how to cook.

                1. re: givemecarbs

                  Sounds like the jerk who owns Terroni. Brags about driving his kids to expensive private schools in his Porsche SUV, goes on vacations to Italy multiple times a year... and yet he's a complete a-hole to customers. Exactly why I won't ever go there as a matter of principle. I won't fund his lavish lifestyle while he treats me or my family like crap.

                  Chains understand this. You gotta keep customers HAPPY so they come back; good food helps but it's not enough; great service is even more important when there are competitors all over the place I could go to instead. There's a chain around here where each bill is marked with the words "Every Customer Leaves Happy" and the server has to sign under it when they present it to you. And the key word in that is EVERY. Not just your foodie regulars. Few things annoy me more than dining somewhere and clearly we're being snubbed while the regulars or big spenders in the next table get fawned over. You'll never get me back and I'll be telling everybody about it too so they won't go either.

              2. i would put up with bad service for amazing food

                i would not put up with mediocre food just because the service is good

                1 Reply
                1. re: thew

                  I think that goes without saying. If I don't like the food, I won't be returning, regardless of the service.

                  But if the service is bad, I also won't be returning, regardless of the food. There's always somebody else making similar food at similar or better prices who will treat me like they want my business. Or I can stay home and make it myself for a lot less money.