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Dressing on the side?

I'm a restaurant professional and have for a long time been wondering about the reason so many diners order their salads SOS (thats shorthand for sauce, or in this case dressing, on the side). Personally, it offends me that my customers don't trust me to properly dress their salad. But there's the rub- what is a 'properly' dressed salad? I think it comes down to; does the customer think I'm going to put too much or too little dressing on the salad? So please, you know who you are. Do you ask for dressing on the side because you want more or less dressing than you think you will get if you order the salad dressed?

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  1. For myself, I cannot eat raw onion or cucumber or I get terrible heartburn. Rather than ask for certain items to be left off-which may or may not-be part of the dish, I find it easier just to ask for the dressing on the side and I can remove the offending items myself, . Once the dressing is on the salad, it is harder to see if these are on the salad. It just seems lower maintainence than requesting ingredients be excluded.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sherriberry

      Hey, thats not something I ever thought of. Good answer.

      1. re: chrisandbetsyc

        Amen to Sherribery. This is something that restaurant staffs are amazingly insensitive to--no, probably just not aware of. I have major sensitivity to onion/garlic/chives. Huge, all-night heartburn extending to upper throat. I've been questioned closely by waitstaff about my not wanting onions/garlic, as if I'm some dork who simply isn't familiar with garlic. NO, it's a health hazard for me, as I have a pre-cancerous esophageal condition. So thank you so much, chrisandbetcyc, for asking this question.

      2. re: sherriberry

        +1 for that response. That's how I approach it. I'm also a big salad dressing devotee, so I ask for extra...never seem to get enough, tho.

      3. Depends on your restaurant. Local favorite to fine dining of course not. Chain you bet, I travel a lot with work if I'm at any chain restaurant I always ask for dressing on the side. I have to travel with tight restrictions with work, I'm feeding other people with tight money and AMX card restrictions so I eat a lot of salad. On my own at a restaurant I'm seeking out of course not I'm in thier hands as far as I'm concerned...thats why I'm eating there.

        2 Replies
        1. re: chris2269

          So true! Depending on the type of restaurant I have been known to ask for SOS. I am also watching my weight for health reasons and use the fork dipping method for restaurants that may over sauce. Mostly though fine dining=chef's choice, chain=SOS.

          1. re: melpy

            I also will do this at chains or places were I don't believe the kitchen will have a lot of finesse. -This may explain why it offends you.
            Mostly, I do not want to be faced with an overdressed, sogged-out bed of greens with inferior dressing.
            I am often ordering a Ceaser with grilled chicken and dressing on the side in hopes of getting a passable meal at a place that doesn't really appeal to me. If I don't care for the dressing, I can ask for oil and vinegar and do my own thing. If the dressing is thick and goopy, but it tastes okay, I can use some, but thin it out a bit with a cruet of vinegar from the kitchen.
            I do this for my tastebuds and my waistline.
            If I am at a neighborhood joint I love and trust, I will not bother with SOS dressing. I will be bummed if it's overdressed though. So may cooks seem to err on the side of more dressing, it's a shame to overwhelm the beautiful greens we have available these days.
            At a palce of higher caliber I might send it back, depending on my mood and how overdressed it is.

        2. I usually ask for the dressing on the side because I only like a little on my salad so I figure I can add it myself but I can't take it off if there's too much. Also, I like to taste the other flavors of the salad if it contains creamy ingredients like avocado or goat cheese. Sometimes a menu doesn't include all of the salad ingredients so I agree with being able to pick out ones I don't like.

          1. It's an old dieting trick...put your fork in the dressing then the salad on the fork.

            You get the flavors but not all of the calories.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Cathy

              I found out about this and it works pretty well- if you want more you can make it happen, but otherwise you get a good balance. No reason why you shouldn't order it that way, so many salads I've ordered were grease bombs with gross artificial flavors, makes me sad to see a salad wasted like that.

              1. re: EWSflash

                Yep to Cathy & EWS...you mostly don't know how much oil or what KIND of oil is in the salad dressing, how much salt and other possibly nasty junk is added...sugar too!

              2. re: Cathy

                This is why I order on the side as well.

                1. re: Cathy

                  That's usually my reason, too. That and the fact that usually the salad is not really "dressed" -- it's slathered with dressing. If the dressing was created and layered into the salad, that would be a good reason to not order the dressing on the side. But even Caesar salads these days are often splashed with a prepared dressing.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    Caesar salad is often the worst offender in the "slathered" category. I never order it, just for that reason. It's usually pre-made in a giant vat and you can never get the dressing on the side.

                    Once, about 15 years ago, I was in a restaurant in provincial PA and had the experience of getting the tableside-prepared Caesar salad, which of course builds the dressing right onto the romaine. I think that's the only time I actually enjoyed one. But that menu item (and preparation) has gone the way of oysters Rockefeller...

                    1. re: travelmad478

                      There are a few places that still do the tableside Caesar salad thing -- I believe the Dilworthtown Inn here in southeastern PA still does it -- so you can have it "customized" to your liking. Other than those rare exceptions, salad dressings generally are ladled out from a big vat.

                      1. re: travelmad478

                        Lemme guess..... the Victorian Manor?

                        1. re: linguafood

                          No, I have no recollection of the name of the place, or even the town, but we were staying in Ephrata at the time so it would have been somewhere in that vicinity. The whole thing was very "George Washington Slept Here" as I recall, but that's all I can remember!

                          1. re: travelmad478

                            Ah, well maybe it's not that uncommon...

                    2. Unless I am eating in a restaurant where I am confident in the chef I expect the salad to come out way overdressed. Almost every time I go to a new place and I let them dress the salad I get a soggy greasy mess. In a chain or inexpensive restaurant my salads are overdressed 100% of the time. I ate at Houston's last night and (not my choice) and I forgot to order dressing on the side, and it came dressed with twice as much dressing as any restaurant that most of us would consider 'hound worthy.