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Restaurant etiquette - to say - or not to say how it was after a bad meal

rcallner Aug 28, 2010 07:19 PM

Not inedible, but each dish was heavy, oily, not pleasant. Nothing outright ruined, but each of us left knowing the food was poorly prepared and we did not enjoy the meal. Not the server's fault, so we tipped per the price. The server actually did not inquire as to how the food was - had he done so, I would have answered honestly, but it seemed gratuitous to volunteer my observation. I won't return, and as a person known as food-obsessive, I'll dis-recommend the place to people who ask me. Should I have said something? Similarly, if a dish has too much this or would be so much better with that - is that an observation ever worth sharing?

  1. h
    Harters Aug 29, 2010 03:52 AM

    I only ever comment if I think there's a point to it. Most places have no interest in your comment and, certainly, are not going to adapt their cooking based on what you say. The staff are simply asking "how was it", because they think they should ask. Like you, I'd be likely to simply not go back .

    However, you do get the odd occasion where you get a sense of genuinme interest - "It's a new dish on the menu today. How was it?" Then I'll happily comment.

    1. MGZ Aug 29, 2010 05:32 AM

      If a dish is not good, I don’t eat much of it. I simply don’t see the point of eating bad food and a few bites is enough to tell when it’s just not worth it. Most servers can’t help but notice when they are bringing back most of the food they brought out. It pretty much screams “That was lousy.”

      If a server asks why I didn’t eat, I am generally honest. “The meat was terribly over cooked,” “The potatoes were greasy,” “That fish tasted like ass.” Whatever. Sometimes, the cost of the bad dish is removed from the bill. Sometimes, the whole meal sucks and we abscond in laughter, an appropriate amount of cash left on the table with the offensive offerings.

      Ultimately, though, actions speak louder than words.

      1. f
        fourunder Aug 29, 2010 06:51 AM

        Sounds like you pretty much handled the situation as I would have. i.e., it probably would not have done any good and I would not return. The place in lacking in attention from the kitchen to service.....however, your last sentence with regards to sharing your thoughts.....I would say not.....instead, if you otherwise liked the dish, ask for it to be prepared with the observations you had in mind. A good kitchen will accommodate you if at all possible. Hopefully, the kitchen will pick up on the hint in a round about way.

        1. j
          jameshig Aug 29, 2010 09:41 AM

          Go in when it's not busy, maybe between lunch and dinner, and ask to speak to the manager. Go with very specific things and let them know exactly what was wrong- pork chop overcooked, salad over-dressed.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jameshig
            GraydonCarter Aug 29, 2010 02:02 PM

            See the manager doesn't want that. He wants to know at the time so he can correct it. If you go afterwards, there's not much he can do.

            I usually am so hungry and so indecisive about how bad it is, that I'm already more than halfway finished before I decide it really is bad. Then do you really complain at that point? The manager is going to look at my plate and say, well it couldn't have been THAT bad, you nearly finished it!

            1. re: GraydonCarter
              j
              JayEsBee Sep 1, 2010 08:43 PM

              I agree that going back later to complain is a bad idea. I used to work as a manager in a movie theater, (not exactly the same thing, but...) and I always felt 1) frustrated that the time had passed and I was unable to do anything about the complaint, and 2) that the person complaining was just trying to get a free movie pass.

          2. s
            Sherri Aug 29, 2010 04:56 PM

            I'm in the "Vote with my feet" camp. I don't return. If someone asks about our meal, I will answer honestly. If the manager is interested in your dining experience, he/she will ask. When they don't, I figure they don't want to hear what I have to say -- "don't ask the question if you don't want the answer" has proven to be valid. Life is too short to try to teach someone who isn't interested in learning.

            1. FoodFuser Aug 30, 2010 04:10 AM

              The end of the meal is too late to ask me. If something was glaringly wrong with the meal, they know already, because I've sent the item back.

              Many years ago my workgroup decided to go to Spaghetti Warehouse that had just opened. I ordered lasagna. It was so over-salted that I almost gagged.

              When I spoke with the waiter (very young, and maybe on his first day of work) he took it back to the kitchen. Upon return, he said that it was the cook's first week and that she had misread the recipe, and the tsp became Tbs, so the dish was triple salted.

              I asked which dishes had been prepared by a different cook, and the replacement dish of fettuccine alfredo was wonderful.

              Yet, after all that, as we were leaving, I noticed a party of four, all being served the same lasagna. I wish I could have stayed just two more minutes to see what transpired.

              5 Replies
              1. re: FoodFuser
                LindaWhit Aug 30, 2010 01:04 PM

                YIKES! Why didn't the restaurant just remove the lasagna from the menu for the day? That seems idiotic to serve it to others.

                1. re: LindaWhit
                  FoodFuser Aug 30, 2010 02:27 PM

                  I think so, too. But some folks would excuse them by saying "it's not a restaurant: it's the Spaghetti Warehouse."

                  1. re: LindaWhit
                    GraydonCarter Sep 1, 2010 06:21 PM

                    Oh I hate that! I'm not sending it back because I have an opinion... I am sending it back because by anyone's measure there is something wrong! "Oh, well nobody else has complained." Read these threads above and see the number of people who will just walk out rather than complaining.

                    Like the all-you-can-eat Walleye in Wauwatosa. I complained that the fish weren't properly scaled, and my plate had a big pile of scales on it as proof, yet it was obvious the chef didn't care, and the waiter couldn't or wouldn't ask him to.

                  2. re: FoodFuser
                    Quine Aug 30, 2010 01:22 PM

                    This reminds me of the time I was served lasagna at a diner. It was a local place and I was a frequent lunch time customer. It's usually pretty good. That day I was served what was clearly, not made that day (not that that is an issue I do think lasagna is best the 2nd day) and stone cold in the middle, a huge middle! I called the server back and explained it was cold and got a Haughty "Really?!" So I stuck my finger straight into the middle and looked her clear in the eye and said "really!"
                    Yes, I was served a different and and well heated new one.

                    To me, not saying something is being complicit. But being a in the business born and raised, I am just as vocal with Wow! That was great .

                    1. re: Quine
                      alkapal Sep 12, 2010 02:35 AM

                      """So I stuck my finger straight into the middle and looked her clear in the eye and said "really!""""

                      ain't nuthin' like the direct approach! ;-0).

                  3. al b. darned Aug 30, 2010 12:56 PM

                    After paying the tab (to avoid looking like I was trying for a freebie) I would, and have on many occasions, asked to speak to the manager in private. There I quietly explain what I perceived to be the shortcomings, whether it was food or service. If it was the first transgression, whether or not I returned would depend in part on the manager's response.

                    BTW - Fair is fair. If the food and/or service is beyond the expected, I will also ask for the manager and also let him/her know my feelings.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: al b. darned
                      Bill Hunt Sep 1, 2010 08:02 PM

                      I think that yours is a good approach. Quiet, discrete and away from others is better. Were I the GM, chef, or host, I would want to know, and would communicate with whomever.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        al b. darned Sep 5, 2010 03:00 PM

                        One of my "mottos" is "I can't solve a problem I don't know I have." I apply this to places I do business with. Rather than just going away mad and posting on some forum I at least try to make them aware of what I perceive to be a problem.

                        1. re: al b. darned
                          GraydonCarter Sep 9, 2010 07:21 AM

                          Most of us believe that the person in front of us doesn't care, and we'd be right 90% of the time. In fact, it seems like half the time the owner of the restaurant doesn't even care. And the fact that there is a stack of comment cards available at checkout does not communicate that anyone cares. So it is the rare organization that really truely means it when they ask "how was your meal this evening?"

                          In the book by Janelle Barlow, A Complaint Is a Gift: Recovering Customer Loyalty When Things Go Wrong, she maintains that customers should think of their complaint as a gift they are giving the service provider.

                          Complaining makes the world a better place. Most service providers appreciate a professional, nonattacking complaint. Every time we see bad service and do nothing about it, we subtly encourage the restaurant to continue with that same level of service. Every time we stand in a long line in the grocery store because empty cash registers aren't being staffed and we don't point this out, we enable managers to believe that they can get away with inadequate service.

                          Continuous feedback tells the service provider how to improve service in ways they may never have thought of themselves. If they don't react positively to you whlie you are doing everything possible to stay polite and they still aren't helping you, then take your business elsewhere. Be sure to tell them you aren't coming back.

                          1. re: GraydonCarter
                            alkapal Sep 12, 2010 02:36 AM

                            well-spoken, graydon. insightful and so very true.

                    2. LindaWhit Aug 30, 2010 01:06 PM

                      If the food is completely inedible, I won't eat it. If it's edible but just not good, I'll probably eat enough to take the edge off my hunger. But if the server doesn't ask how the meal was, I probably won't say anything to them, but I will let the MOD know if I can - either immediately in person, or later via EMail. Otherwise, I just wouldn't go back.

                      1. junescook Aug 30, 2010 02:51 PM

                        So the food comes out and everybody else's is ok, but your fried oysters are overcooked, dry and almost black. DW gives you a look as if to say (or even says) don't be so picky, you'll ruin every one else's dinner. So you push them around, grin and bear it and if the waiter asks, you say that they were perhaps a bit overdone.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: junescook
                          Quine Aug 30, 2010 04:38 PM

                          Ya know, in that situation, it's who you know you are going to go home with.
                          Having been in the Business as well as married a while to an Executive chef in a major Casino; I've gotten that "eye" too. Sometimes it's about the time out with friends and sometimes it's about the food. For me, I claim faint appetite and ask to take it home, to the cats or trash.

                          1. re: junescook
                            Bill Hunt Sep 1, 2010 08:00 PM

                            I commented down-thread on similar. Three mains were excellent. One poor diner kept getting heavily over-salted mains - over and over, and with different dishes. If the dish is not good, there is no reason to hold back.

                            Now, if one just is not happy with their choice, then something is wrong.

                            I strongly feel that the diner (or the host) should immediately call the server over, and explain the issue. Quiet tones are best. Then, it's up to them, and the kitchen, to rectify things. If the kitchen knows exactly what is wrong, they should be ready, willing and able to make things right.

                            Just my opinion,

                            Hunt

                          2. s
                            sparkareno Aug 30, 2010 04:27 PM

                            This is why one of my biggest pet peeves is when the waiter doesn't come by after we have had a chance to taste to ask how everything is. Every waiter should be trained to do this no matter how nice or divey the place is.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: sparkareno
                              Quine Aug 30, 2010 04:32 PM

                              Or maybe they already know...

                              1. re: sparkareno
                                h
                                Harters Aug 31, 2010 05:30 AM

                                Whereas, I regard it as the sign of a good restaurant where staff do not ask how everything is. Take order, bring food, take away crockery, bring bill....nothing said between first and last action.... thanks, perfect service.

                                1. re: Harters
                                  Bill Hunt Sep 1, 2010 07:54 PM

                                  Now, I like a bit more interaction, though at well-chosen moments. To me, the waitstaff can also be a conduit to the kitchen. If something is off, they need to be able to communicate that, so that others are not exposed to something bad. Stuff happens.

                                  Now, I would prefer that the waitstaff not pop back too soon, and not ask me questions, when I am in deep conversation, or have a mouthful of food. Look and judge.

                                  Hunt

                                2. re: sparkareno
                                  Bill Hunt Sep 1, 2010 07:48 PM

                                  Oh, so you get asked, "is everything to your satisfaction," about 2 nanoseconds after it has been served, too?

                                  Let the patrons have a moment with the food, and then ask that question, when the host does not have a mouthful of the dish - if you really care, and are not just doing what "Waiting Tables for Dummies" recommends. Let 'em actually taste the dishes.

                                  Hunt

                                3. weewah Aug 30, 2010 11:17 PM

                                  I really resent being served sub-par food, and then feeling like a troll if I complain about it.
                                  It is so unpleasant when you're supposed to be having a treat, if the food is horrendous or the server has better things to do than cater to my table.
                                  If it's merely not that great, I will eat and pay, I'm there because I'm hungry.

                                  BUT - I will also go on www.tripadvisor.com and leave a completely truthful review of what I found in that establishment, no matter what the quality. This has eased my resentment at two restaurants who served terrible meals and really pissed me off with their 'so what' attitude.
                                  For the places that are very good, or have awesome servers, or a lot of character, I get to be their champion and recommend them to others. I keep a small digital camera in my purse all the time. Oh The absolute POWER!!!

                                  1. e
                                    ESNY Aug 31, 2010 09:02 AM

                                    Well, it depends if you just don't like it or if it was prepared wrong or cooked wrong. If you find the food too heavy and oily, I'm not sure I would say anything.

                                    If the steak was over cooked or pasta was cold, or the fish tasted off, that's a different story. I would've highlighted this point immediately, even if it meant having to flag someone down. Once the meal is over, its too late and I don't see a point in bringing anything up.

                                    1. buttertart Aug 31, 2010 12:04 PM

                                      First meal in our new town - dinner the day we moved - we both ordered grilled fish in a place that should have known how to cook it perfectly. It was overdone, not inedible, but not right. I mentioned it (pleasantly, non-accusatorily) to the waited when he asked how it was and the service immediately turned very frosty indeed. I should have thought that it would have been valuable information to pass on to the cooks in the kitchen. They were unpleasant enough about it that we have no intention of going back.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: buttertart
                                        Bill Hunt Sep 1, 2010 07:44 PM

                                        To me, this points up an issue with that restaurant. Especially a waitperson, you are not addressing them, or their "art," but the meal that you were served. Now, were I the chef, I'd have come to your table, introduced myself, and asked for a critique. While one might have a true "vision," and there could be patrons, who disagree with that vision, it does pay to learn. Usually, I am the most harsh critic of my dishes.

                                        Now, and especially with seafood, the degree of cooking can be debated - a bit. Still, at the end of the night, it is the patron, who is the ultimate judge. I do tend to cook just a tad longer, than my wife would, but do find that much seafood is overdone in restaurants, that should know better. A bit of that might be regional, a bit might be personal, and a bit might be lack of attention. I overcooked a nice Alaskan salmon the other night. Shame on me, but I was tasting some Shiraz. Came back to that recipe later in the week, and UNDERCOOKED it! Dang - over-compensated for my mistake. Still, this was for the two of us, and not for a dining room full of paying guests. Luckily, the next night, I did a total knockout beef filet, so I was not banished. In the past, I have done that salmon dish to perfection almost always - just had two slip ups and they WERE in a row.

                                        Were I doing commercial cooking, I would want to know the feedback. I do that in my "day job," and so does my wife. Some days, the critiques do hurt a bit, but are necessary.

                                        Now, if a guest ordered the fennel-rubbed lamb shank and then complained that they do not like fennel, I would have issues. The level of done-ness of seafood should be considered. Maybe alter the time by just a bit, depending on the dish.

                                        I think that you did the correct thing, and pity the restaurant.

                                        Ever watch "Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares?" Plenty of owners and chefs do not want any input from the patrons. They are expected to line up, and pay, regardless. Interesting program.

                                        Hunt

                                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                                          buttertart Sep 2, 2010 06:15 AM

                                          I tend to like my fish just done, still moist, but definitely cooked, which is the style appropriate to the cuisine served by the restaurant. This was unpleasantly dry. Their loss indeed, since it's very close to our house, we enjoy Greek food, and would have dined there often.

                                          1. re: buttertart
                                            Bill Hunt Sep 3, 2010 09:29 PM

                                            Dry is "overcooked" in my book too.

                                            Now (and this does depend on the fish), wife wants things towards sashimi, and I am looking for a bit more doneness. I will often do one of each - one for her, and one for me.

                                            Still, dry is a no-no, even for me.

                                            Hunt

                                          2. re: Bill Hunt
                                            alkapal Sep 12, 2010 02:41 AM

                                            bill hunt, this is one of your greatest lines: ""I overcooked a nice Alaskan salmon the other night. Shame on me, but I was tasting some Shiraz.""

                                            just like you, understated, but spot on! ;-)).

                                            1. re: alkapal
                                              Bill Hunt Sep 12, 2010 06:57 PM

                                              Hey, when the faux pas IS my fault (not just in my loving wife's mind), I own up!!!!

                                              Going for some sesame-crusted ahi steak tonight, so will moderate the Pinot Noir intake, until the tuna is done perfectly, as I need the "brownie points." [Grin]

                                              Hunt

                                        2. GraydonCarter Sep 1, 2010 06:27 PM

                                          Have you ever been to a business dinner with a jackass? He sends it back just to prove that he is all-powerful. "These are supposed to be Jumbo shrimp, but these shrimp are not big enough."

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: GraydonCarter
                                            Bill Hunt Sep 1, 2010 07:30 PM

                                            In a very few instances, and never a second time. Same with wines.

                                            Now, we dined with another couple not that long ago. The guest's main WAS horribly salty. She passed a taste to me (not to her hubby?), and I completely agreed. This was not perception on her part. Also, her palate is very well-developed, having authored 4 cookbooks, and being a guest chef on many TV and radio programs. Just way too salty. I signaled our waiter, and whispered about the problem. In moments, she had a replacement main dish. Same exact thing. We both agreed, one more time. Signal went out, and whispered discussions. A totally new main was provided, a different dish, and again, too danged salty. We were all holding up on our mains, until all had been adequately served. I asked for the chef, and he approached the table. Again, I whispered of the problem, and asked what could he possibly do, that would not be so very salty. I pointed out that none of the others had the same issue. He offered a few other selections, and the final one was great. Still, our table returned a bunch of food that night. Though we did not anticipate it, nor wished for it, that lady's mains were comped, and so were desserts for the table. As the server was working hard to get a good main course to our guest, she was rewarded in the tip, even above the price, had nothing been comped. Had any other diners overheard, they would have thought that we were all a-holes, but there was just much too much salt being added to several dishes. The exec. chef would have fired a bunch of folk that night.

                                            Sometimes, food (or wine) must be returned. Doing so quietly is my first choice.

                                            Hunt

                                            1. re: GraydonCarter
                                              alkapal Sep 12, 2010 02:43 AM

                                              >>>"""These are supposed to be Jumbo shrimp, but these shrimp are not big enough."""<<<

                                              in my mind (on insomnia) i would think of saying to the jackass, with my head tilted and a little quizzical look: "but... aren't you always the one saying that 'size doesn't matter.'" geeyack!

                                            2. Bill Hunt Sep 1, 2010 07:12 PM

                                              I normally quietly share my impressions, even if I feel that the FOH was just parroting a canned question. If there was too much salt (or fill in the blank), I would prefer that the kitchen address a potential problem, before the next seating.

                                              Hunt

                                              1. jfood Sep 2, 2010 07:06 PM

                                                happened to jfood tonight. four colleagues at one of one colleague's favorite restaurants. apps were oversalted and tasteless, no biggie since jfood ordered a rib-eye for his entree. first bite of the steak had that "turned" taste. somewhat nervous jfood cut a smalle piece from the other side of the steak. this piece of meat had definitely turned, it had that slightly rancid flavor. jfood ate some of the potatoes and left the meat. everyone finished, and the server asked if jfood wanted to take home, nope, then he asked if everything was OK. what was jfood to do? no need hurting a colleague's feelings. it was only one steak in a long life of great steaks.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: jfood
                                                  Quine Sep 2, 2010 07:43 PM

                                                  I would not have made that decision. I understand your feelings for you colleague and commend you for not speaking in front of the party. But you *did* have a dish that could potentially cause food poisoning ("turned", "rancid flavor"). Discreetly I would have approached the Front Manager and expressed concerns, if they do not tell the kitchen or the kitchen chooses not to act, at least it was not from your lack of information.

                                                  1. re: Quine
                                                    LindaWhit Sep 3, 2010 08:48 AM

                                                    I agree with speaking discreetly with a manager in this situation. After that, it's up to the restaurant management to make a decision.

                                                  2. re: jfood
                                                    FoodFuser Sep 2, 2010 07:54 PM

                                                    Thursday night inventories will get you, man. The head chef had probably already gone home to get rested for the early Friday A.M. buying of the weeks restocking.

                                                    1. re: jfood
                                                      Bill Hunt Sep 3, 2010 09:35 PM

                                                      JFood,

                                                      That was just "aged" beef. Should have cost more - right? [Grin]

                                                      We had an interesting appetizer dish, some years back. My wife had ordered the crab cakes, and got two. Think that I had the Kahuku Corn Chowder. We shared, and I got one of the two crab cakes. I tasted mine, and was about to exclaim, "this is the ultimate crab cake," when I saw her face. She spit her crab cake into her napkin, and I knew that all was not well. I smelled hers, and it was bad. I signaled the server, and explained. He took her's to the kitchen and returned in a moment with a complete replacement. Seems that there were crab cakes left over from the night before, and we had gotten one fresh one, and then one that must have been left out of the 'fridge, as it was rancid. He apologized. Both of these were fresh ones, and excellent. When the bill came, all crab cakes were comp'ed and so was my wife's dessert. No one else in the restaurant knew what had happened, and I only hoped that no one else got one of the spoiled crab cakes. I did that review under the title "A Tale of Two Entrees," as similar haunted my poor wife for 2 weeks in Hawai`i.

                                                      "Stuff" happens,

                                                      Hunt

                                                    2. tracylee Sep 3, 2010 02:57 AM

                                                      Mom and I met for lunch at one of my favorite local restaurants, and having an off day, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with cottage cheese. This was after getting a hug from a long-time waitress (not ours that day) and the co-owner.

                                                      Two bites into the cottage cheese, I encountered a perfectly cut piece of plastic, about 1/2" by 1/4", maybe a bit bigger. I quietly mentioned it to the waitress and let her know that I was fine, but didn't think it should get out to anyone else.

                                                      I guess I've been going to this place for so long that I've begun to feel responsible, LOL. Back before they got the current, great owners, I'd seat my friends, get them utensils, menus, condiments, etc... before going back to the gaming tables to get the only waiter on duty.

                                                      1. j
                                                        joe777cool Sep 4, 2010 11:02 AM

                                                        When it comes to a lackluster meal, my rule of thumb is if they dont ask, then they dont care and Im not going to bother offering up my 2 cents. I know the waitstaff didnt prepare the food, but if they dont show any concern to whether I like the food or not, my tip will reflect it.

                                                        If its really bad, I will say something regardless

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: joe777cool
                                                          MGZ Sep 4, 2010 01:03 PM

                                                          But do you still eat it?

                                                          To me, life's too short, and restaurants are too numerous, to eat lousy food. Hell, ain't that what justifies being here - "never settl[ing] for less than optimal deliciousness"???

                                                          1. re: MGZ
                                                            j
                                                            joe777cool Sep 4, 2010 01:32 PM

                                                            If I ordered it, and im paying for it, Im going to eat it. If its so bad that I wont eat it I will asked for it to be taken off the check and eat later or try something else. Sometimes life IS too short to eat lousy food, but I dont have the bankroll to eat two different meals!!

                                                            1. re: joe777cool
                                                              MGZ Sep 4, 2010 02:05 PM

                                                              Nothin' personal there, joe. I'm just struck by how many 'hounds replying to this thread seem to go ahead and eat what they're served knowing full well that it's not very good. Hell, I don't have enough money to afford retreating to a second restaurant either, but I can usually go home, lick my wounds, and sate my appetite with an apple and a hunk of cheese or something.

                                                              1. re: MGZ
                                                                j
                                                                joe777cool Sep 5, 2010 10:18 PM

                                                                my fiancee wasnt a very good cook when we started dating, I have trained myself to eat things I dont really like!! LOL!

                                                                1. re: joe777cool
                                                                  c
                                                                  Chef Jimmy J Sep 7, 2010 07:43 AM

                                                                  Joe, Did she marry you? Can you cook? Solution, check your local Culinary Mecca and see if there are couples themed cooking classes. Most run about $60 a couple, you learn how to prepare a variety of Ethnic and Regional American food, you usually are allowed to BYOB of wine and you get to meet and eat with a group other Foodies. Awesome date and a full tummy. Try it! JJ

                                                                  1. re: Chef Jimmy J
                                                                    j
                                                                    joe777cool Sep 7, 2010 08:16 PM

                                                                    Yes I can cook, and she has actually gotten much much better.....but there were some serious bumps in the road! That is actually something I have looked into, funny you should mention it. I looked up a class with Chef Walter but it seemed rather expensive. I will check some other places

                                                                    1. re: joe777cool
                                                                      c
                                                                      Chef Jimmy J Sep 7, 2010 09:07 PM

                                                                      Joe, try your local Community College Culinary Program, Instuctors build community goodwill and the Students get to practice their skills sets and improve their communication skills, not to mention when your done the kids clean up and you pay just the cost of food! Smaller Culinary schools do the same, at least the places I teach have. If I find myself heading up the Northeast Corridor again we'll get together and bang some food! Good Luck. JJ

                                                        2. CharlieKilo Sep 4, 2010 07:35 PM

                                                          Just blow. Never go back.
                                                          Life's too short.

                                                          1. c
                                                            Chef Jimmy J Sep 7, 2010 07:26 AM

                                                            Complain or not? You all should work or visit a Retirement Home. I did a year in a RH as an Asst. Food Service Director, responsible for satisfying the residents and ordering/menu design. People that are 80+ have NO PROBLEM telling you about the quality, quantity, doneness, seasoning and their overall satisfaction with the food and your ability as a Chef/server including your value as a person in general. If you don't have a THICK SKIN those old folks will eat you ALIVE! I find it hysterical that you're told, "You're worthless and your food isn't fit for Human Consumption!" BUT The plates are always Clean. Gotta love it! JJ

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Chef Jimmy J
                                                              j
                                                              joe777cool Sep 7, 2010 08:22 PM

                                                              The elderly..... when they are cranky and mean, they are the worst customers you can ever have. I remember like it was yesterday, one elderly man who said his pasta was "raw" and inedible when it wasnt even al dente. I made him 3 different plates (eating some before the 2nd and 3rd dishes) only for him to say he couldnt eat it. I really felt like telling him to get new dentures....but im sure my boss wouldnt have approved! JJ I feel for you, because those people have nothing to do with themselves and those meals were probably the hilight of their day - I can only imagine dealing with them

                                                              1. re: joe777cool
                                                                Soop Sep 9, 2010 09:26 AM

                                                                There's always a reason. I don't know how much time you have, but I bet if you get to know them they'd be awesome.

                                                                A lot of elderly people are probably like that because they're lonely or they feel abandoned.

                                                              2. re: Chef Jimmy J
                                                                bagelman01 Sep 9, 2010 06:24 AM

                                                                BAD FOOD AND SUCH SMALL PORTIONS........................

                                                              3. Soop Sep 9, 2010 09:24 AM

                                                                last time I ordered a pizza, it came with waaaay too many sundried tomatoes. Like someone had a jar they wanted to use up. I was getting stressed until I realised it was the tomatoes were ruining it and took them off. When they asked me how my meal was, I explained that it was fine apart from the over-the top sundrieds. He agreed with me and said he always did the same thing.

                                                                But in general, whenever I want to feedback critically, I add at least one good thing per bad thing. I find you come across as less of a jerk, and if someone has had a hard day, it will ease the blow a bit.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Soop
                                                                  c
                                                                  Chef Jimmy J Sep 9, 2010 11:15 PM

                                                                  I really loved the quirks of the old ones, when there is not much to do but look forward to your next meal, you tend to have preconcieved notions about how it should be. For every cranky person there were 2-3 total sweethearts and their biggest complaint was, " My Doctor is an IDIOT, can you slip me some SALT for this?" Since in many restaurants the Chef over see's but does not have his hands in the food, customer feedback lets us know if someones dropping the ball, front and back of the house. If a Chef, Owner , Manager or Server does not care what customers think it is NO PROBLEM!, they won't be working there soon!

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                                                                  OldTimer Sep 11, 2010 11:40 AM

                                                                  I think we have to keep in mind that there are many "comp hunters" out there. They have perfected the art of complaining to the point where a comp item is expected. My problem is the realization that few waitpersons have the courage to tell the chef that his/her item was below par. I recall once the owner approached me, and I ended up giving his inexperienced cook a lesson in calamari frying. There had been many complaints before mine...lukewarm oil will do it every time.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: OldTimer
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                                                                    Chef Jimmy J Sep 12, 2010 02:06 AM

                                                                    If a customer complains I'll give them the benefit of a doubt and comp the meal,but I have a great ability to recognize faces. Spent my youth as a bouncer at several college town bars having to keep track of customers who paid the door man. That person comes back and has another problem and wants a comp, I will call the police and have them charged with refusal to pay.

                                                                    1. re: Chef Jimmy J
                                                                      Bill Hunt Sep 12, 2010 07:03 PM

                                                                      Chef,

                                                                      I hope that does not happen too often. OTOH, I have seen people, who have made a career of defrauding restaurants, airlines, and many other businesses. Just seems to be something genetic.

                                                                      When I complain, it is very quietly, and no one, but I, and the server/chef, should ever know what was said. From my standpoint, I have several motives - I do not eat bad food, I do not want the kitchen to serve others bad food, and I want to help correct the issues, ASAP. Other than a replacement dish, I have never wanted a comp of anything. I think that I might have been comped a dozen times, in my long life.

                                                                      Good luck,

                                                                      Hunt

                                                                      1. re: Chef Jimmy J
                                                                        Soop Sep 13, 2010 07:40 AM

                                                                        JJ, good for you. On the flip side, when a customer is genuinely unhappy about something (as sometimes happens) and works up the nerve to say something, the worst thing that can happen is for the manager to say "well what do you want me to do about it?". The answer should realistically be "whatever you think it takes for me to ever think about returning".

                                                                        Whether it's a comp for the entire meal, a free bottle of wine with the next meal, or just a sincere apology, it often doesn't matter as long as the complaint is being taken seriously. Good on you for the great customer service! And as Bill says, I hope people don't take advantage of your kindness often.

                                                                        1. re: Soop
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                                                                          Chef Jimmy J Sep 13, 2010 09:13 AM

                                                                          Bill, Soop, Thank you both for your kind words. I appreciate customers informing me of a problem and the very few that make a scene do so for some crazy need to impress or garner attention. Unfortunately the biggest problem with customers is not the ones who complain but the dissatisfied who say NOTHING and never return or worse tell every person who will listen about their opinion of your operation. My brillant mentor, Professor Marcia Shore, once taught, "A happy customer may tell ONE friend, but an unhappy customer will tell EVERYONE they know!" Words to live buy if you want to stay in business. JJ

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