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Snapping your fingers at your waiter...

john333 Jun 21, 2010 03:04 PM

I bring this up because several times now I've read on different waiter blogs that the worst sin a customer can committ is to snap their fingers at their waiter.

But I've never ever seen anyone snap their fingers at their waiter, nor can I picture myself doing it. It's just so...lame. Plus restaurants are noisy places. The waiter would never be able to hear the sound of my fingers snapping.

Has anyone on these boards done this or seen someone do it? Is it just an urban legend?

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    DGresh RE: john333 Jun 21, 2010 03:26 PM

    I think it's more of a visual thing; like you get the waiter's attention, then snap the fingers. Kind of unnecessary; once you've gotten the waiter's attention across the room, a simple, subtle raised hand or even lift of the face does all you need to do.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DGresh
      melpy RE: DGresh Jun 25, 2010 04:03 PM

      I prefer the face lift. In certain restaurants my dad used to raise his hand. Snapping is completely rude though I have seen it.

    2. goodhealthgourmet RE: john333 Jun 21, 2010 04:01 PM

      i've seen people do it and it pisses me off - it's obnoxious and condescending. you can usually get a server's attention with a subtle (or not so subtle) wave of the hand, nod of the head, or moderately-voiced "excuse me"...at the very worst, if i'm getting nowhere because the place is slammed or the server is MIA, i'll actually get up and try to track him or her down, or ask someone else for assistance...but i'd NEVER snap my fingers at them.

      33 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
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        aurora50 RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 21, 2010 04:19 PM

        Not a snapping of fingers, but - get this - my uncle actually WHISTLED for Wolfgang Puck(!) at the original Spago in the mid-eighties!!!! My aunt (his wife) and my sister and I nearly died.

        1. re: aurora50
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          bluemoon4515 RE: aurora50 Jun 21, 2010 04:35 PM

          Did he come over??

          1. re: bluemoon4515
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            aurora50 RE: bluemoon4515 Jun 22, 2010 03:18 PM

            Um, yeah, he actually did. This was in the early days, when he (and all of us) were much younger, and he only had the one restaurant. (He has always been very nice to us, by the way.)

            1. re: aurora50
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              anonymouse1935 RE: aurora50 Jun 23, 2010 07:58 AM

              I bet Wolfgang tells his friends the story about the guy who whistled for him.

              I like your uncle.

          2. re: aurora50
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            small h RE: aurora50 Jun 21, 2010 04:37 PM

            When I was in grad school, a bunch of us went out for fancy-time at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan. Each table had a little bell, with which you were supposed to summon your waiter. Classy! One of my companions decided instead to stand up on her chair and yell "yoo hoo!" She was not drunk, and I am not exaggerating. It was more than 20 years ago, and I'm still afraid to go back.

            1. re: small h
              Chemicalkinetics RE: small h Jun 21, 2010 04:58 PM

              That "Yoo Hoo" is a "Call of the Wild". Your female friend was clearly hitting on the waiter.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                s
                small h RE: Chemicalkinetics Jun 21, 2010 05:14 PM

                That, I could almost excuse. But she wasn't. She was simply trying to get another round. In the most embarrassing way possible, short of flashing someone.

                1. re: small h
                  corneygirl RE: small h Jun 21, 2010 08:43 PM

                  At least you could laugh about the flashing later!

                  1. re: small h
                    Chemicalkinetics RE: small h Jun 21, 2010 08:45 PM

                    There is nothing embarrassing about flashing. Nothing.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      EWSflash RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 13, 2010 07:41 PM

                      True that, Ck. May get attention at the time, but Oh Jeez even if the flasher isn't embarrassed later on, it's enough to keep you from seeking a public office if you were at that table. Hopefully, anyway.

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    f
                    FrankD RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 8, 2010 05:45 AM

                    I would have thought she was ordering a chocolate beverage..

                  3. re: small h
                    Beach Chick RE: small h Jun 21, 2010 09:49 PM

                    in a strange way, I want to party with your friend.
                    no better way to get yourself another round.
                    what a riot this chick is..bet she's gotta a lot of stories in her war chest..

                    1. re: Beach Chick
                      lynnlato RE: Beach Chick Jun 22, 2010 03:38 PM

                      I waited tables and managed a place several years ago and we had a bartender who was known the city over for flashing her bar customers. She had worked at the restaurant since it opened and was like a daughter to the owner so she could do no wrong, not to mention she was a laugh riot. New customers, old customers, it didn't matter and oddly she never offended anyone. Folks would ask her for the time and she would respond by grabbing her huge boobs and saying "Do these look like a f'ing watch?!!" That line always generated a roar of laughter led by her. Ha!

                      1. re: lynnlato
                        Beach Chick RE: lynnlato Jun 23, 2010 07:09 AM

                        I think she's cut from the same goofball cloth as small h friend..
                        We need more people like that in the world!
                        Where is this place again..my husband would like to know!

                        1. re: Beach Chick
                          lynnlato RE: Beach Chick Jun 23, 2010 08:33 AM

                          Charlotte NC, Beach Chick, and I agree. :)

                          Chemicalkinetics - LMAO!

                        2. re: lynnlato
                          Chemicalkinetics RE: lynnlato Jun 23, 2010 07:45 AM

                          I don't know. I think it is pretty funny the first couples of time, but I think I would get annoyed when I really want to know the time.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                            soupkitten RE: Chemicalkinetics Jun 23, 2010 10:33 AM

                            i bartended at a place that was famously cash only (huge sign on the door)-- folks would sometimes come in (paying cash cover charge), order a big round and then wave their little card thingy at me. i'd take the visa, "swipe" it thru my cleavage, cock my head and quip: "DE-clined!!!" and the regulars would laugh.

                            starting with a laugh was good, because the business was actually awkward and potentially embarrassing-- invariably nobody in the party had cash and one or several of them would need to exit the nightclub, arranging for re-entry with the security staff. . . get cash, come back, square up with me. . . but hopefully the schtick was memorable enough that *nobody* would forget we were cash-only, maybe the story would be repeated for laughs and other folks would know to bring cash, & not debit cards. . .

                            1. re: soupkitten
                              lynnlato RE: soupkitten Jun 23, 2010 12:27 PM

                              soupkitten, I'm shocked... and impressed! Ha!

                              1. re: soupkitten
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                                purple bot RE: soupkitten Jun 29, 2010 10:19 PM

                                Love that story, soupkitten! Nice visual, too. ;-)

                                1. re: soupkitten
                                  EWSflash RE: soupkitten Jul 13, 2010 07:43 PM

                                  soupkitten, you rock!

                          2. re: small h
                            shaogo RE: small h Jun 24, 2010 08:54 AM

                            I gotta tell you, the people at the Algonquin would've welcomed you back with open arms even if she'd disrobed whilst screaming "yoo-hoo."

                            Top-level establishments like this endure the pecadilloes of their (typically well-heeled) customers very forgivingly.

                            1. re: shaogo
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                              small h RE: shaogo Jun 24, 2010 09:11 AM

                              Oh, no doubt. I'm sure that Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley behaved even more inappropriately at one time or another.

                            2. re: small h
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                              debbiel RE: small h Jul 1, 2010 10:24 AM

                              My MIL has used the wave+Yoo Hoo call for the server. I always leave an extra generous tip in those instances.

                              1. re: debbiel
                                s
                                small h RE: debbiel Jul 1, 2010 03:00 PM

                                Is your mother-in-law 45ish, and did she get her MFA at Columbia around 1989? Might be the same person. If so, tell her I said hey! I'd love to have been able to leave a great tip on the night in question, but I was even poorer then than I am now.

                            3. re: aurora50
                              lynnlato RE: aurora50 Jun 21, 2010 05:24 PM

                              OMG!

                              1. re: aurora50
                                goodhealthgourmet RE: aurora50 Jun 21, 2010 09:43 PM

                                ok, *that* is mortifying.

                                1. re: aurora50
                                  onceadaylily RE: aurora50 Jun 22, 2010 03:53 PM

                                  That was my first thought, when I read the OP . . . whistling. I had a customer whistle for my attention, while I was speaking to another customer. I was in a paid position that forced me to carefully control my reaction to that type of behavior, but it is different when it interferes with another patron's experience. That is a walk that demands much more care.

                                  1. re: onceadaylily
                                    corneygirl RE: onceadaylily Jun 23, 2010 08:21 AM

                                    Working in the bar, if someone whistles at me I calmly tell them that whistling calls dogs, not people. Then I go wait on a couple other people before I go back and help them.

                                    1. re: corneygirl
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                                      soupkitten RE: corneygirl Jun 23, 2010 10:34 AM

                                      that's what i always did-- ask the person if they thought i was a dog, to be called by whistle. then i informed them that everyone was served in turn, and that their turn was last.

                                  2. re: aurora50
                                    BiscuitBoy RE: aurora50 Jun 24, 2010 08:46 AM

                                    I hope your uncle also grilled him on those pizza abominations he devised!

                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy
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                                      aurora50 RE: BiscuitBoy Jun 24, 2010 10:19 AM

                                      Ha! No, we just got our picture with him.

                                  3. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                    beekeroc RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 21, 2010 11:01 PM

                                    I agree, goodhealth. It is rude and condescending! I worked as a server for 25 years and if someone snapped there fingers, I would make sure I did one more task before I went to see what they were demanding.lol.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                      mcf RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 27, 2010 01:55 PM

                                      +1.

                                      It's just so disdainful, IMO.

                                    2. boyzoma RE: john333 Jun 21, 2010 04:20 PM

                                      I have been known to fan my face with the bill. I don't even need to look for the waiter/waitress. Very suttle and get's their attention. If that doesn't work hold the bill and the cash/credit card and rest your elbow on the table while you continue conversation. So far, it has worked for me. I would NEVER snap my fingers or shout for someone. That's just rude and obnoxious!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: boyzoma
                                        onceadaylily RE: boyzoma Jun 22, 2010 03:55 PM

                                        I do that, if the bill placed 'just so' over the edge of the table doesn't work. I just pick up the holder, , pointing it toward the room, with my elbow on the table, and continue my conversation. It rarely fails.

                                      2. ipsedixit RE: john333 Jun 21, 2010 04:24 PM

                                        Did you know there's an iPhone app for that? The snapping the fingers part ..

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                          boyzoma RE: ipsedixit Jun 21, 2010 04:28 PM

                                          You are way too funny! But I love it! ;-)

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            alkapal RE: ipsedixit Jul 8, 2010 08:17 PM

                                            or you could use the "flashlight" app with an SOS signal. ;-).

                                          2. L2k RE: john333 Jun 22, 2010 11:21 AM

                                            Of course snapping your fingers to get a waiter's attention is rude in our society, but sometimes it's just about impossible to catch someone's eye/ear. Many years ago I was at a steakhouse (I'll keep it anonymous, but let's just say it rhymed with Gortons), my "medium rare" steak was nearly raw. I tried to catch the eye of everyone who went by, ultimately had to stand up in the restaurant raising my hand until someone came over (this was after 5-7 minutes of trying to get someone's attention, while the rest of my party was refusing to eat until we all had edible food). I like the "little bell on table" suggestion mentioned below. Maybe a buzzer embedded in the table or just calling the Maitre D' on your phone would work better?

                                            1. n
                                              nc213 RE: john333 Jun 22, 2010 02:03 PM

                                              When I waited tables I had guests snap at me. Not often, but often enough. Probably less than once a month, but a number of times every year.

                                              1. cosmogrrl RE: john333 Jun 22, 2010 02:12 PM

                                                My Dad does this, despite the huge amount of training from me to NOT do this. Sometimes he remembers. Funny thing is, he's a very warm, cordial and diplomatic guy. I think this may be a very old school, old world thing?

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: cosmogrrl
                                                  lynnlato RE: cosmogrrl Jun 22, 2010 03:41 PM

                                                  You may be right. I know an older Cuban dude that is infamous for snapping at servers, despite family and friends repeated requests for him to stop.

                                                  1. re: cosmogrrl
                                                    onceadaylily RE: cosmogrrl Jun 22, 2010 03:59 PM

                                                    That is a very good point, cg.

                                                  2. cuccubear RE: john333 Jun 23, 2010 08:17 AM

                                                    The only time I’ve ever seen finger snapping at a waiter has been in old movies, Cary Grant snapping for another bottle of champagne or something.

                                                    Looks like in some cultures it may be appropriate: follow link to “India” topic, last paragraph.

                                                    http://faculty.css.edu/dswenson/web/C...

                                                    1. a
                                                      Atahualpa RE: john333 Jun 23, 2010 12:39 PM

                                                      I've seen it done, at another table. I thought it impolite. However, I've seen worse (people using chauvinist terms with a waiter [female], like toots, sweetie, 'be a dear' and so on).

                                                      1. shaogo RE: john333 Jun 24, 2010 09:07 AM

                                                        It's very, very old-fashioned and entitled behavior. I will, frankly, ask a customer who's snapped at me (it's happened) if they'd like to continue eating like civilized, respectful adults or if they'd like to be shown the door...

                                                        The customer who stood up and clapped his hands at me and my server sat there, and sat, and sat... then his level-headed dining companions prevailed, he apologized, and the rest of the night went swimmingly.

                                                        We're in Connecticut, in a town where there are people who're old enough to remember when snapping at the waiter was usual and customary. I think we're rather tolerant (and I'm speaking for my peers in the hospitality business). However, in a more sophisticated, urban environment snapping one's fingers would be the ultimate offense and, at least in New York and L.A., where I have experience dining at some pretty incredible places, it wouldn't be tolerated at all by either server nor management.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: shaogo
                                                          corneygirl RE: shaogo Jun 24, 2010 10:31 PM

                                                          Add Iowa to your list of "sophisticated" settings .... other than that I agree

                                                          1. re: shaogo
                                                            EWSflash RE: shaogo Jul 13, 2010 07:51 PM

                                                            Thank you, Shaogo,for doing your part to civilize the goobers in a genteel fashion. Seriously. I know they still exist.

                                                          2. Cheese Boy RE: john333 Jun 24, 2010 09:14 PM

                                                            I would laugh uncontrollably if I saw someone snapping their fingers at their waiter and then in and attempt to impress their date call out "Gar-khan ... Gar-khan !" (Garçon ... Garçon). The waitstaff shouldn't be treated like dogs ever. Whistling, and finger snapping are allowed only at Bobby McFerrin concerts.

                                                            1. iluvtennis RE: john333 Jun 25, 2010 03:50 PM

                                                              I have never seen this, and i was wondering the same thing. I mean, people really do this?

                                                              1. JamieK RE: john333 Jun 25, 2010 05:38 PM

                                                                Reading this reminds of the first time I was in Mexico years ago when I was only about 21 or so. I was at one of the hotel bars in Acapulco and thought it incredibly rude to hear patrons making a hissing "sssssss" sound to get the bartender's attention. By the end of my stay, I was sissing along with everyone else, it seemed accepted and the only way to get their attention in a loud bar with live music in the background.

                                                                As far at the OP goes thoough, no -- snapping of fingers is unacceptable.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: JamieK
                                                                  grayelf RE: JamieK Jun 29, 2010 09:37 PM

                                                                  Totally with you on the hissing in Mexico, JamieK, though we thought it was normal as we'd heard it since we were kids travelling with the Parental Units. Another less usual but apparently viable variation was to make a kissing noise at the (usually male) server. You haven't lived till you've seen my dad making smooching noises at a very macho mesero across a crowded restaurant
                                                                  :-).

                                                                  1. re: grayelf
                                                                    onceadaylily RE: grayelf Jun 30, 2010 07:22 AM

                                                                    "You haven't lived till you've seen my dad making smooching noises at a very macho mesero across a crowded restaurant"

                                                                    That made me smile before I'd even had my first cup of coffee.

                                                                2. g
                                                                  gloriousfood RE: john333 Jun 25, 2010 05:46 PM

                                                                  My husband did this. Once. And after I was done with him, that was the last of the snapping fingers.

                                                                  1. h
                                                                    Harters RE: john333 Jun 26, 2010 07:54 AM

                                                                    Never seen it done.

                                                                    Probably a good thing - I'm not sure I could resist the urge to walk up and give them a smack in the teeth.

                                                                    1. SanityRemoved RE: john333 Jul 2, 2010 07:33 PM

                                                                      Having worked in restaurants I'm quite patient and understanding but on a few occasions I have come very close to tripping an empty handed server who has for the past half hour ignored every civilized method of getting their attention as they passed by my table. Lucky for them I politely stop another person. I've also been known to tip heavily those who have had to deal with idiotic customers at other tables while I've been dining. I've even told a couple of waitresses that they are doing fine when they look like they are near tears due to dopey managers or customers.

                                                                      1. Bill Hunt RE: john333 Jul 2, 2010 10:08 PM

                                                                        I find that a raised hand is much better. Maybe if I could snap louder, I might - or maybe not. I like subtle over overt, but that is just me.

                                                                        Hunt

                                                                        1. hotoynoodle RE: john333 Jul 4, 2010 11:52 AM

                                                                          i have been whistled at, finger-snapped and had my arm grabbed all while i was speaking with other guests. it never was a case of me ignoring them, always the case of them not caring about anybody else in the world and being piggishly rude. once i had a guy stand up, in a very small dining room, and clap his hands, yelling, "miss, miss! over here please!" while i was taking an order at a table a few feet away. astonishing how ignorant people can be.

                                                                          mind you, i have spent the majority of my career in fine dining. money don't buy class, folks.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                            Bill Hunt RE: hotoynoodle Jul 6, 2010 10:00 PM

                                                                            "always the case of them not caring about anybody else in the world and being piggishly rude."

                                                                            Not sure when that sort of thinking began, but I first saw it in the '80s - each patron thinks that they are the center of the universe, and want to be treated as such. It happens all too often.

                                                                            I do not envy you. While I do have a larger, than life ego, I try to treat all with respect, as I would wish to be treated myself.

                                                                            Good luck,

                                                                            Hunt

                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
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                                                                              FrankD RE: Bill Hunt Jul 8, 2010 05:56 AM

                                                                              When I was serving, if a customer snapped his fingers at me (it's always men), I made sure he got the slowest possible service from then on. As one of my server friends often said "If you want to have a terrible meal, piss off your waiter".

                                                                              Now, when I'm dining, I'd never do it (or shout or whistle) to get my server's attention, but I'm not above getting up and asking for the maitre d' or the manager, and telling them about problems with my server, at which point I ask if I can have another server for the remainder of my meal. I notice these problems happen most often when I'm dining alone. It amazes me that servers can't figure out that, while they're not going to get the tip they might from a couple, they'd still get more than they'll get if they piss me off, which is I find out what they usually pay into the tip pool, and that's all they get, plus an explanation from me about why.

                                                                              1. re: FrankD
                                                                                Bill Hunt RE: FrankD Jul 8, 2010 07:41 PM

                                                                                Regarding the tip, I'd venture that I might well be matching that of a couple, when dining solo, though that would depend heavily on the level of service.

                                                                                As a patron, I assume that I am a gentleman, being served by ladies and gentlemen, and we can all have a wonderful experience, with just a bit of attention to detail.

                                                                                I find that meals are always better, if no party gets pissed-off. It should never be that way.

                                                                                Enjoy,

                                                                                Hunt

                                                                            2. re: hotoynoodle
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                                                                              anonymouse1935 RE: hotoynoodle Jul 8, 2010 07:57 AM

                                                                              How awful. Were I you, I'd retaliate.

                                                                            3. Jadore RE: john333 Jul 5, 2010 11:26 AM

                                                                              The mere thought is just appalling. Raise your hand a bit and smile, or make some eye contact when they walk by. That's more than efficient.

                                                                              17 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Jadore
                                                                                Bill Hunt RE: Jadore Jul 6, 2010 10:05 PM

                                                                                Well said.

                                                                                Now, an "open letter" to servers:

                                                                                Please help us and look around the dining room. We know that you are busy, and we do not wish to intrude, when you are mentally juggling 6 orders with exceptions, in your mind, but need to make contact with you, so that when you do have a moment, you can stop by.

                                                                                We know that your co-workers are very important, but so are we, while you are working. Help us to motion, in a subtle way, so that we can get our check, return an overcooked dish, replace a soiled fork, or perhaps order more wine. We want to do this in a very casual way, but if you ignore us, we are left to other devices, and most of us are then not comfortable.

                                                                                Please help us to help you.

                                                                                Thanks,

                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                  hotoynoodle RE: Bill Hunt Jul 8, 2010 07:42 AM

                                                                                  mr. hunt, i always appreciate your posts.

                                                                                  for many years, and in several places of employ, i enjoyed serving a couple. they loved food and wine and were a pleasure to engage. i always teased them they should give seminars on "how to be the perfect restaurant guest". lol. perhaps you can do that in retirement?

                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                    Bill Hunt RE: hotoynoodle Jul 8, 2010 07:51 PM

                                                                                    It is too bad that ALL of the clients could not be like those, about whom you have fond memories. Life would be much better for all then.

                                                                                    Going back some years, I had the pleasure of dining with the then CEO of Ritz-Carlton, immediately after they won their first Maclom Baldridge Award in Service Excellence. At lunch, I asked him what the "secret" was, for their winning this award. He leaned over his plate, looked into my eyes and said, " I have always told every Ritz-Carlton employee that we are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen." That was his "secret." IIRC, his corporation won that award two more times, over the years. Though I feel that I shared that philosophy, I have always repeated his words to myself, on many occasions, to remind me of how things should always be. Even when things go horribly wrong, I repeat those words. Too bad that more were not privy to that conversation, as it would likely make their clients much happier.

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                      onceadaylily RE: Bill Hunt Jul 8, 2010 08:50 PM

                                                                                      " . . . we are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen."

                                                                                      I love that.

                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
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                                                                                        DGresh RE: Bill Hunt Jul 9, 2010 03:55 AM

                                                                                        Amazing how true that simple idea is. If we all behave with respect towards those who serve us, and those we are serving, life can go very smoothly indeed!

                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt
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                                                                                          anonymouse1935 RE: Bill Hunt Jul 9, 2010 03:59 AM

                                                                                          "I have always told every Ritz-Carlton employee that we are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen."

                                                                                          Wow. How exquisite.

                                                                                          Too bad those words don't apply today to most diners and some servers. I try to live by those words when I dine out, only foregoing them when met with horrific servers and ever more horrific managers/owners. Sadly, I think it is a 1950s axiom.

                                                                                          Just wow. Thank you, Bill Hunt, for that.

                                                                                          1. re: anonymouse1935
                                                                                            Bill Hunt RE: anonymouse1935 Jul 9, 2010 09:17 PM

                                                                                            In some ways, those words changed aspects of my life. I am still greatful, all these years later, and it was just a nice lunch.

                                                                                            Were I in the hosptiality business, anywhere, I would attempt to pass that tenant on to all.

                                                                                            We have been fortunate enough to dine and stay at a little lodge in the Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Farm, and they have the same attitude.

                                                                                            My wife was so impressed, that she'd been working with their HR person to bring her senior management team to "Blackberry University," for some training.

                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                              hotoynoodle RE: Bill Hunt Jul 10, 2010 11:20 AM

                                                                                              just the other day, i listened to a master sommelier discuss the difference between being nice to guests and being kind. his emphasis was on the latter but the distinction was lost on some of the other sommeliers and servers in the room.

                                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                                alkapal RE: hotoynoodle Jul 10, 2010 01:00 PM

                                                                                                i'm curious as to how he defined the difference.

                                                                                                1. re: alkapal
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                                                                                                  DGresh RE: alkapal Jul 10, 2010 04:37 PM

                                                                                                  I can imagine the difference. I will never forget when my husband and I dined at Jean Georges in NYC. It was an anniversary for us, a pre broadway show dinner. We are not wealthy, and not wine experts. We picked a wine from the rather lower end of the price range (but not cheap!) after consulting with the sommelier. He pronounced it a "good entry level wine". Nice? perhaps. Kind? no. 10 or more years later, we have not forgotten the snub.

                                                                                                  1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                    Bill Hunt RE: DGresh Jul 10, 2010 08:28 PM

                                                                                                    Were I that sommelier, I'd have mentally measured that wine choice against the ordered fare. If it matched well, I would have told you so, and no more. If there was a question in my mind, I would weigh the price-points, do my homework, and pick something better suited, then explain without much wine-speak, why I would recommend wine B, and share what the differences should be. I'd likely not go beyond about 2% of those price points, unless I was 100% certain that another wine would reward the patron, and try to explain how they should be rewarded.

                                                                                                    Ideally, the patron would get the best wine for the budget, based on the food, and a tiny education on why I recommended something else.

                                                                                                    Your case has an element of a "put-down," though that was probably not intended. Still, there would have been a little "ouch," for me.

                                                                                                    I've had several instances, where I had chosen a wine at a certain price point, passing over some less-expensive choices, as I did not know them well enough to choose, only to have a good sommelier, say something like, "that is a lovely wine, but we tasted the _____ tonight, and chef is doing something a bit different. Have you ever had the ______? It's a bit below the price of the wine that you chose, but I think it will pare even better." OK, that is what the sommelier is for. OTOH, there are some, who feel hell-bent on selling up, and also establishing their place above the patron. I've ordered half-bottles of wine A, to have the sommelier point out that he has a freshly opened bottle of a far superior wine, and the B-T-G price will be better, and the wine vastly superior. Those are tips that I can live with. The sommelier gets a bottle, possibly chosen by mistake and returned, off the cellar's tab, and helps a patron. Even in restaurants new to me, with sommeliers, who I have never met, I never hesitate to describe what I am looking for, throw out a few examples, and ask what might be available. I've had wines that were provided by the distributor to the staff, that should sell by the restaurant's normal markup at 2x to 3x, what the sommelier will open it for. At that point, it's almost all profit to him, or her. We all benefit.

                                                                                                    I suppose that it depend entirely on the sommelier, and also the philosophy of the restaurant.

                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                      DGresh RE: Bill Hunt Jul 11, 2010 04:36 AM

                                                                                                      As I recall, he offered us several choices to go with the meals we had chosen. One was in the $50+ range the others may have been in the $80+ range. The cheapest on the list may have been $40+. We chose the $50+ as the description of the higher priced wines didn't seem significant *to us*. Then we got the comment. At the next table, a little later, a group of four young titans of industry obviously pleased him by ordering an obviously *very* expensive wine/

                                                                                                      1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                        Bill Hunt RE: DGresh Jul 12, 2010 08:39 PM

                                                                                                        That sort of "stuff" happens often. I wonder if they knew the wines, or just had $'s to burn?

                                                                                                        Personally, I have not problem choosing the bottom of the list, if it's a good choice for the fare. I am there to enjoy, and not to impress, or to pad the bottom line, but that's just me.

                                                                                                        Enjoy,

                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                  2. re: alkapal
                                                                                                    john333 RE: alkapal Jul 10, 2010 07:03 PM

                                                                                                    I'm curious too.

                                                                                                  3. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                                    Bill Hunt RE: hotoynoodle Jul 10, 2010 08:13 PM

                                                                                                    I can imagine some interactions with each, though might be missing some intended points.

                                                                                                    In the end, I would anticipate that the guest would end up with an appropriate wine, and also feel that they had chosen it, regardless of who actually did.

                                                                                                    Some sommeliers attempt to educate the patrons, and that is probably not the ultimate. Now, I enjoy being educated and actually ask for such. I want a bit more than just a wine rec., and the service to bring that to my table and guest. I want to go beyond AND be educated some. Some patrons only are concerned about the selection and how they might appear to their guests.

                                                                                                    I'm quick to point out to my guests that I am not an expert, and but a student, in the process of learning. A good sommelier will know the kitchen that night, the cellar, and will also have been exposed to the products of many distributors. They should know of more possible wines, than I ever could, not being active in the trade. While I am editing videos by day, they are tasting wines from Ethiopia. That is what I want them to share with me, and with my guests.

                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                              2. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                Jadore RE: Bill Hunt Jul 14, 2010 12:38 PM

                                                                                                Wow. That's amazing. I'm co-signing onceadaylily in saying, "I love that."

                                                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                              Jadore RE: Bill Hunt Jul 14, 2010 12:37 PM

                                                                                              No, sir, THIS is well-said. Amen!

                                                                                          2. jmckee RE: john333 Jul 7, 2010 08:57 AM

                                                                                            I've seen it happen, and worse. I'm against it; it's demeaning and degrading. Jeez, that's what I do when Simon, my nutty cat, gets up on the piano.

                                                                                            My father-in-law is known to raise his empty glass above his head, snap his finger, and yell to the waitress, "Hey honeybunch! Sweet thing!" It used to mortify my wife.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: jmckee
                                                                                              Bill Hunt RE: jmckee Jul 8, 2010 07:54 PM

                                                                                              Signals should be subtle - BUT, sometimes I worry that I might be too subtle, especially when the cell phone has rung, or the waitstaff is talking about the weekend plans. A good server needs to always be aware of a raised glass, a hand held above the table, eye-contact, etc., and a good patron should employee subtlety and discretion AND tact, when getting the server's attention - a two-way street.

                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                            2. r
                                                                                              ricepad RE: john333 Jul 10, 2010 12:42 AM

                                                                                              The only time I would snap my fingers at a waiter is if we were both in West Side Story and we were about to rumble...

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: ricepad
                                                                                                Tripeler RE: ricepad Jul 10, 2010 01:26 AM

                                                                                                Or, if you were both beatniks enjoying a jazz concert. Cool, daddy-o...

                                                                                                1. re: Tripeler
                                                                                                  o
                                                                                                  ospreycove RE: Tripeler Jul 10, 2010 07:07 PM

                                                                                                  Classic customer rudness....In NYC "Hey waitress more rolls!". In Italy try whistling for the cameriere, that will just about get you thrown out. I heard this in a local trattoria in Puglia, a tourist gave the ol' whistle to get the waiter's attention; in halting english the customer was told "go outside if you are looking for your dog, I am not a dog!!!".

                                                                                                2. re: ricepad
                                                                                                  Jadore RE: ricepad Jul 14, 2010 12:37 PM

                                                                                                  I can't even begin to tell you how hard this made me laugh! :D

                                                                                                3. Jadore RE: john333 Jul 14, 2010 12:45 PM

                                                                                                  This thread is killing me!

                                                                                                  1. Glam Foodie RE: john333 Jul 14, 2010 12:46 PM

                                                                                                    Every year, my church hosts a Greek food festival, and I break out my spangly pink belt with faux Grecian coins on it, along with an apron and help serve dinners two nights in a row to the public.

                                                                                                    Last year, some burly guy kept snapping at me for everything under the sun, even when I was looking straight at him and sometimes even coming his way. Because it was a church fundraiser, I simply flashed a smile and asked, "Yeeeees, may I help you?" every time he got particularly obnoxious.

                                                                                                    At the end of his section's meal, he snapped at me one more time, but I ignored him because a small child sitting behind him at another table was sweetly asking me for milk While I was bent over talking to the boy, I felt a large palm give me a good spank on the derriere, and I whirled around, SHOCKED. It was Mr. Snappy, and he had the biggest grin on his face. "I just wanted to see that belt of yours shimmy, and also, to ask you for a box. This chicken was great, you Greek broads sure can cook."

                                                                                                    Within two seconds, every Greek male within 20 feet swarmed the guy, and told him if he so much as looked at me again, let alone snapped his fingers or put his hands on me, there'd be hell to pay.

                                                                                                    Moral of the story: SNAP WITH CAUTION, people, especially if you're dealing with disgruntled men tired from carrying piping hot plates of pilafe all day long.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Glam Foodie
                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                      soupkitten RE: Glam Foodie Jul 14, 2010 12:59 PM

                                                                                                      omg i love a good story with a happy ending. it even has 2 obvious morals: 1) don't act like a jackass 2) treat those serving you as you'd like to be treated, were you wearing their orthopedic shoes.

                                                                                                      hope your church made a bucketload of money at the fundraiser, and that mr snappy thinks twice before snapping his fingers at any other person. rock on Glam Foodie.

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