HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Is it ok to complain to the manager that the food portions are too small for the money?

  • 76
  • Share

Last night I ate out and ordered the salmon. It was really delicious but I thought the size of the piece of salmon was too small given the price of the item. There was no picture of it in the menu so I didn't know before ordering how small the piece of salmon would be.

Is it considered gauche and uncouth to say to the manager that for the money paid the serving size should be bigger?

On the one hand, if people don't complain the restaurant will never know, but on the other hand I don't want to come across like Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies.

Any thoughts?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. what's "too small"? what was the price of the dish? were there accompaniments? were you in a fine dining place or a low-priced chain? if i am in a place i've never been, i often ask the server how big the portions are, because they are almost always to much for me.

    according to the usda, a "portion" of protein is 3-4 oz., about the size of a deck of cards. i have never seen a place that serves a portion of ANYTHING that small.

    for many years, i worked for an internationally-famous, and much awarded, chef. his food was inventive and unlike menus in the rest of our city. people swooned over how delicious and beautiful everything was, yet complained that the portions were too small. when we served salmon it was a 6 oz. portion, and likely enough butter in the rest of the dish to choke a horse. but the way he plated the food, with the veg and starch UNDER the fish, on a large white plate, it "looked" smaller than what were people were used to, so their brain told them it was small.

    personally, i think most americans feel deprived unless their meal is more than they can possibly finish and that drives me mad with the wastefulness of it.

    as for complaining to the manager, it's a free country, but you're better off speaking with your feet. if you didn't feel the place was a good value, don't return.

    11 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      +1. I think you would sound like Jethro. They're not going to alter the price, or bring you another slab of salmon. Given that's the case, why bother telling them? If you think you're not getting your money's worth, don't go back.

      1. re: Indirect Heat

        If you like the restaurant and the food what could be wrong with a helpful comment about the lack of value you perceive? Not everything has to be done for a reward. I agree that one comment won't change their portion size, but why is it just plain naive to think that a business might respond to a number of similar comments? One way to be sure they won't is for no one to comment.

        1. re: Midlife

          People probably comment all the time. It shows a different value system, not a problem with the restaurant-- the restaurant wants you to pay for the quality of the food, not the quantity while many Americans want to pay for quantity and quality is an afterthought. If the food was not a good value because it was poor quality, complain, but if you complain because you wanted more food they're just going to shrug you off as completely unappreciative of food quality, even if most of their customers argue that.

          1. re: Basiorana

            To me, that's a great explanation. Without going into details we had a fantastic three course prix fixe dinner for Thanksgiving. We wouldn't have changed a single thing about it including the quantity. The portions were what some would call small; I thought they were appropriate. Each course was something I'd never had before and was filled with flavor. I savored every morsel. Had any course been doubled in size, I'd have eaten it but I think it would have detracted from the overall meal. IMO, CHs (when they're in CH-mode) are nothing about quantity and everything about quality.

            1. re: Basiorana

              americans, or people?

              1. re: Basiorana

                So when a restaurant serves me an unusually tiny portion (not on a tasting menu) and the food is good, I should just order more................ regardless of my value perception? ............. because they just won't understand? I don't disagree with your conclusion, but it certainly reflects poorly on the restaurant if they totally disregard the feedback they get from guests. I suppose the arbiter in this will be the bottom line of the restaurant's operating statement.

                1. re: Midlife

                  One more thought. I appears, from this topic, that perceptions of valid portion size vary among people. That makes sense. While this is mostly subjective, what I'm referring to is a portion (not on a tasting menu) that is so small that even my wife, who is 5'3" and has never weighed more than 120, thinks it's not enough. At that point the food has to be REALLY, REALLY exceptional for me not to consider coming to a value conclusion.

                  It seems that many restaurants have reduced portion size to be able to lower prices in this economy. I have no problem with that but reserve the right to come to my own conclusion about the value I perceive. As a business owner, I have always appreciated honest, well-intentioned, and logical feed back from customers. I find it disappointing when management seems to be above receiving it.

                  1. re: Midlife

                    Midlife,

                    I agree with you. I encounter many, who feel that any restaurant dining experiences should yield leftovers for a family of 8 for a month. I happen to not be of that mindset.

                    Recently did a 9-course tasting menu, and actually gigged them for having the portions for the "mains" too large.

                    Same for many restaurant reviews, when the portions were just flat over the top.

                    I want to enjoy my meal, and not have to hand back copious quantities of food. As I am most often traveling, having 8 servings leftover, is not something, that I am looking for.

                    Hunt

          2. re: hotoynoodle

            Usually my experience has been the same as yours; that even the "small" portions tend to be larger than the suggested serving size of 3-4oz (especially keeping in mind that protein shrinks when it cooks). However, I have been served what loos like 2 oz of protein on a rare occasion- and in the case I'm thinking of at Tabla Bread Bar in NYC, I was livid! It cost over $25 for what amounted to less than 4 bites of food. Yes, it was delicious but seriously? If it had been listed under appetizers or small plates I'd have been more forgiving, but it was supposed to have been an entree (fish curry). Also, it came with absolutely no accompaniament; no veggies or starch (and starch is cheap!) However, as I said this has been the rare anomaly. Yet, I don't see why you recommend not speaking to the manager. I feel the same way about politics. If you aren't happy, speak up! What's the worst that can happen?

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              [Quote] personally, i think most americans feel deprived unless their meal is more than they can possibly finish and that drives me mad with the wastefulness of it. [/Quote]

              While I understand your point, is that worse than spending good money and leaving a restaurant hungry? There has to be a balance.

              1. re: PotatoHouse

                I am sure that there are such restaurants out there, but in the last 30 years, I have not seen them. I have never left a restaurant hungry, but I guess that it depends on the restaurant.

                Hunt

            2. Portion sizes aren't going to be uniform from one place to another. If you're eating in a higher end place that serves better meat/fish, the prices will probably be higher for smaller portions. I think the best bet is to ask about portion sizes if you're not sure.

              There are few occasions where I think it is okay to complain about size. If you ordered a piece of meat with a set size that came out obviously smaller than specified, if you ordered something and see others getting the same dish with a much larger portion, or if you've ordered the dish before and the portion size has shrunk without any change in price or notification of the change.

              1. It is entirely appropriate for you to express your views to the manager. However, don't be surprised if the manager doesnt agree with you.

                The fact that you mention that there was no picture suggests it was the sort of place where you might have expected a picture. I presume, therefore, that it was not a fine dining establishment. The part of the world I'm in doesnt generally ever have photos on the menus (occasionally one of the more bottom-end Chinese places might do) so I'm unsure what portion size you might reasonable expect in such a place wherever you are.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Harters

                  i'm unsure where one eats that there are pix on a menu other than a children's menu at a chain and unless there is another object to reflect scale, what would be the point? a zoom lens can make a a silver dollar look like a frisbee.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Chain restaurants like Dennys, Applebees, etc. frequently have pix. Beyond that, I've never seen it. Photos (and lamination) are probably a clue as to what one should or should not expect. IMO, of course.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      One rule of thumb I've made clear to my SO is when we're traveling in Italy (or other countries/touristy cities), if the restaurant's menu has photos of the food on it, we don't eat there.

                      1. re: sockii

                        I agree with that 110%.

                2. Express your opinion of value for money for portion size yes,
                  Complain, no.
                  If you did not ask about portion size in advance, you have no right to complain, UNLESS the same dish was observed being served to others and your portion was substantially smaller.

                  ====
                  My wife has been regularly annoyed at a local restaurant where she takes our 13 year old. The grilled chicken breast for the sandwich is always less than 1/2 the size of the breaded chicken breast sandwich. She has voiced her opinion to the manager (who she knows and knows her by name) and was told the actual meat is the same weight before breading and frying. BS
                  I was with them for lunch earlier in the week, My daughter ordered fried, my wife ordered grilled. I scraped the breading off my daughter's chicken and compared. The debreaded chicken was 2 1/2 times the size of the grilled breast.
                  My wife called the manager over, who exclaimed shock and surprise. He took the chicken away to weigh them. Turns out the grilled chicken was 3 oz, the de-breaded 7.5 ounces. He further investigated and found the prep cooks have been splitting the grilled in two for quick cooking, but neglecting to tell the grill people that a grilled chicken snadwich gets 2 pieces.
                  Here, when management had made assurances as to portion size, complaining is appropriate.
                  So, expressing an opinion made sense.

                  1. Why worry about what other people think? If you think the portion's too small, then it is too small.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: beevod

                      If you think it, it is a fact. How does that work?

                      1. re: nummanumma

                        because what a proper portion is is subjective

                        1. re: thew

                          thew, sometimes this site is about food and sometimes it's about semantics. I fully understand the subjectivity of a person's conclusion that something is true IN THEIR OPINION, but the Oxford dictionary says: "fact: a thing that is indisputably the case". I'm not sure who gets to resolve the dispute or to prevail in it, but there is certainly a dispute in this situation.IMHO "fact" is not really the right word.

                          In my wife's family a whole lot of huge arguments were avoided when everyone finally included the words "in my opinion" before making a judgmental statement. It saved us from a lot of door-slamming.

                          1. re: Midlife

                            agreed. you if you look at my post you will find words like "seems to me" or the ilk in many of my posts.

                            but what youre saying is exactly what i said that you responded to, only with more words

                            1. re: Midlife

                              On the other hand, isn't 99% of what we said is "in my opinion"? When I make a statement like "a carbon steel wok is better than a aluminum wok" or "key lime pies are best when made with real key limes"... clearly they are my opinion. Aren't we just stating the obvious by including "in my opinion"?

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                sadly - it isn't obvious to many people.

                                1. re: thew

                                  And, unfortunately, it isn't automatically the case with everyone either.

                      2. This is a particular problem with foie gras. What starts out as an ample slice soon becomes the size and thickness of a silver dollar. I have been forced to complain several times, but my complaint has been directed at overcooking rather than stinginess.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: OldTimer

                          My wife and I both ordered foie gras at a restaurant and her portion came out much larger than mine. When the waitress came over to find out how everything was, I commented on this to her. She responded that she had noticed it too, then talked to the people in the kitchen and decided to not charge me for it.

                        2. If you're still hungry at the end of the meal I think it's fair enough to say something about the size of the portion. If enough people say something they might fix it... but if everyone politely keeps their mouth shut nothing will ever change.

                          1. I think so. However, I more often find the portions to be way over-the-top too big, and many of my reviews have expressed such.

                            I am much more of a "small plate" person, and so is my wife. In the US, we both find most portions to be much too large. We have very, very seldom found portions to be too small.

                            Now, we are not hoping to feed a family of 4, sitting in our auto's trunk, and find that tons of left-overs are often no where as good, and are often cleaned out, with the trash.

                            As to any photograph of the dish, unless there was a ruler included, it would never be allowed into court.

                            If one feels that the portions are too small, then a talk with the GM is definitely in order. We just find that most US restaurants go the other way. If dining in PHX (our home town), then things might work out, but if dining, while traveling, there is NO room anywhere for left-overs.

                            Sorry that the portions were too small for you.

                            Hunt

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              I agree with you, Hunt. Bob and I rarely order entrees. Two or max three small plates and that's plenty. Now if one is seeking "fuel" rather than a nice meal out, that's probably a different thing. And I'd likely go to a place with pix and laminated menus :) And then we share a dish. But that's just us.

                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                I find this too. Portions are so large that I have no use for multi-course meals. Finer restaurants seem to have portions the way I like them, smaller and therefore leaving room for an appetizer, dessert and a beverage or for multi-course meals.

                                When I go to a regular restaurant, where the entire meal is served on one plate except for bread which comes first, then I like a full plate. I may not eat it all but I like bringing food home with me. When I lived in SF and LA in Cali, I could feed an army of people living without homes, or so it felt, just by giving away leftovers. It is a good idea to ask for utensils and napkins just in case. Good food, even if it is someone else's leftovers, is often appreciated by those who cannot afford it.

                                There is a place in Boulder, CO that we haven't been back to for dinner since their portion sizes changed. Not a big deal, just not what we want anymore. Their breakfasts are still terrific though.

                                In the above case, I always ordered the same dish (can't help it, I like it so I order it repeatedly). On one visit, the full plate of small ravioli arrived with only three medium ravioli that were no where near the same total mass as the plate of smaller ones. They tasted great and there was less sauce.

                                We decided not to complain because things change. But, I was surprisingly still hungry so we did ask. I asked our server, "did the raviolis change or is there a different chef tonight?". The server explained that they were changing their menu and this was the new way the ravioli was going to be served. I felt they should know what the change meant to their customers so I told her what it meant to me. I said, "I wish they would keep it the old way because I'm still hungry."

                                I like honesty and clarity but I'm not prone to complaining. When phrased correctly and when the intention is to learn rather than correct or argue, I find the result is positive even if not to my liking. I probably would have never said "my meal was too small" but that is just me and we are all so different.

                                If the restaurant that changed the ravioli dish wasn't so loud and pricey, we may have gone back for dinner. But, with all the noise, high prices and the smaller portions for the same price, it just isn't worth it when we can go to another place.

                                Now, I did go out with friends to a restaurant that an in-law of an in-law was a waitress at. We were a group of six, we had lots of money to spend, most of the party ordered five or so hundred dollars worth of wine and we did decide to complain. One lady ordered lobster pasta of some sort and received a bite of lobster, no more than a bay shrimp sized portion. We were all happy with our meals but there was some kind of attitude that we could not quite place. We had made reservations but were seated at the service door and they had needed to bring out extra chairs as the table was not large enough. We sat partially blocking the service door.

                                After strange and almost demeaning treatment from the host we agreed to post our complaints. When asked how our meal was, the elder at the table voiced his complaints and that is all I remember. It was a long time ago. But, why go out for fine food and fine service if you are going to be treated poorly? We assumed that it was some kind of judgment based on our connection to their waitress but, still, what a rude way to treat paying customers.

                                That might have been the only time I made or participated in an actual complaint. I'll have to think of it to be sure. I have brought things to a server's attention such as a hair in the middle of a burger but that is for their own knowledge and good, not to complain.

                                Gee, I feel like I'm writing a book here! So, in short, I would not complain because the portion was small. I might, however, if still hungry, have said "oh, it was delicious, thank you. I wish there had been more as I could eat it all over again." I'd have to still be hungry to say that though!

                                1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                                  Just trying to understand here. When you say " oh, it was delicious, thank you. I wish there had been more as I could eat it all over again." .................... are you saying that it's perfectly fine with you that the portion served left you hungry and, more to the point of this topic, that there's NO relationship of the portion size in terms of value for what is charged???? If there's no problem for you, what do you hope to transmit by your comment?? My thinking is that your comment really serves to reinforce the restaurant's portion size as, if nothing else, causing you to order more food. I have no intent here to try to guess whether or not that's their intent, but it strikes me that your comment tells them the size and price are OK. Am I missing something?

                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    In my mind, I am telling them that I'm still hungry. That may or may not mean anything to them but my goal wasn't to tell them that the portion size is wrong because I'm hungry, just that I'm hungry.

                                    My guess is that they'd receive more responses from customers and piece it together. Maybe not, but I won't be too bothered if their menu continues to offer the smaller portions.

                                    1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                                      You said that between the noise, prices, and downsized portions, you no longer go there for dinner. Presumably, the management is interested in retaining its customer base. You'd be more helpful if you told them outright why you wouldn't be returning, rather than vaguely hinting at your dissatisfaction.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        Ah, yes, I see your point. But, my goal was not to help, it was to learn. I wanted to know if this was their new way of serving the dish I liked or if it was just a temporary thing. I hope I don't sound like too much of a jerk but that was my only goal. They are always busy, I'm sure I have not hindered their success. I'm not always comfortable being direct.

                              2. The OP needs to tell us more, if they were sized the way food is presented to judges in ICA or other competitions then I guess he has a point. American portion sizes are larger than European ones but I have got used to seeing them now.

                                1. There are other considerations then size. One of my favorite (and fairly expensive) restaurants has what many would consider smaller portions, but the food is meticulously sourced, masterfully prepared, and always flat out delicious. Every thing I put in my mouth sings.

                                  I would be happy to be served a beautiful 6 oz piece of anything to a poorly cooked 10 oz.

                                  But as Harters points out, if you expect pictures on the menu, then I can assume this was not fine dining you are talking about.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: cheesemonger

                                    Cheesemonger you are on target!!! We Americans equate quantity to quality, Chinese buffets, brunch buffets "all you can eat lines, etc. etc. There is no magic in pricing a restaurant plate..."Buy it Cheap...Serve it Cheap". It is no wonder that we as a Nation are becoming an army of Tubbies!!!!!

                                    1. re: ospreycove

                                      Agreed. So many people feel like they are being ripped off if they don't get a Cheesecake Factory-sized portion, or at least a portion large enough that there is some to take home afterward. At many higher end restaurants, portion sizes are smaller so you can order 3 courses without being completely stuffed after the main course. Even if it isn't fine dining, the portions don't need to be gigantic.

                                      Yes, it's a problem if you finish eating and are still starving because the portion is so tiny, but I have rarely seen anything in the US outside of a tasting menu that serves 3-4oz protein servings. Most places that offer small and large portions don't go below 6oz for the smaller portion.

                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                        any statement made about 300 million americans is bound to be as false as it is true

                                        1. re: thew

                                          Thank you.

                                        2. re: ospreycove

                                          Hey now :) WE are CHs. THEY are other people who want quantity over quality. Got it?!? J/K of course.

                                        3. re: cheesemonger

                                          Ah but there's small, and there's small.

                                          I sometimes wonder if higher end places sometimes forget if they are cooking a portion for the tasting menu or the carte. Was recently at a newish and very aspiring place - I'm sure it will get its Michelin star in the next year or so. Everything I put in my mouth from the 3 courses was a delight but the portion size was bordering on taking the piss - both starters were miserly (more an amuse than starter) and I doubt if they could have got away with much less potato with the main (maybe half an egg sized spud).

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            that makes me very irritated when you get one new potato and half a julienned carrot and a slice of squash which are considered the side. Those kind of restaurants are the ones that charge an arm and a leg for the protein and sauce but think it's gauche to provide more than a mouthful of vegetables.

                                            1. re: Harters

                                              "I sometimes wonder if higher end places sometimes forget if they are cooking a portion for the tasting menu or the carte."

                                              True. I was once at a restaurant in Arizona where I got ONE scallop for my appetizer. It wasn't accompanied by truffles or anything like that. And it was $16.

                                              To the OP -- I think we need more info -- type of restaurant, portion size, comparison of your salmon to other people's dishes, etc.

                                              1. re: Harters

                                                >Ah but there's small, and there's small.

                                                Definitely true. I certainly don't believe quantity = quality, but there are definitely higher-end places I've been that take "small plate" dining to an extreme. It's also frustrating when sizes aren't really uniform; that is, when at the same restaurant one appetizer is just two or three bites in size, and another is nearly entree size, and without advance knowledge one can't know what to expect. It's why I often appreciate food blogs and review sites that include photographs of the food, so I have some sort of idea in advance what kind of portion sizes to expect.

                                            2. Restaurants make mistakes too. It's alright to ask.

                                              My ex ordered salmon once, received the plate and the portion was miniscule. The waiter wasn't around so he snagged a manager-type. He looked at the plate, got a total look of horror on his face, and bustled the plate back in the kitchen. A few minutes later, he emerged with a portion that was closer to what was expected.

                                              Explanation: the chef had saved a scrap to cook for his own dinner, and the waiter had picked up that one by accident. Since the chef is tasting things all night long, he didn't want a large portion.

                                              1. Many menus have the weight of the protein portion on the menu. If they don't list it, ask what it is before ordering.

                                                I would have said something.
                                                Gauche and uncouth??? Is it somehow classier to be afraid of the personal opinions of people who you are paying to cater to you? Is it more refined to allow yourself to be ripped off?

                                                I live 12 miles from where Jethro, Jed, Granny and Ellie Mae Clampett of Beverly Hillbilly famewere supposed to have originated, in the Mo. Ozarks. My people have been here since 1835. Before that; Kentucky, before that, Maryland.
                                                I have known for most of my life that good sense, good intentions and courtesy are what constitute class. Not fear of the opinions of people who are selling you something. Not the fear of Anyone's opinion when your behavior does not warrant censure. I find this sort of shame slightly shocking.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: weewah

                                                  except for places proclaiming the heftiness of their burgers, i don't usually see weights of proteins on menus.

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                    steak houses usually list the steak weight.

                                                    1. re: smartie

                                                      had dinner at both morton's and ruth's chris last week -- no weights listed on either menu.

                                                  2. re: weewah

                                                    Other than a steak house and an outlier of a server telling the table the size of the piece of fish jfood has never seen the weight on a menu. then you get into the whole pre- or post-cooking weight.

                                                  3. When salmon (or any other fish, for that matter) is served as a steak or fillet or... well, as a piece of fish as opposed to being incorporated into something else like a fish cake or creamed, I expect the piece of fish to be a minimum of 4 ounces, precooked weight. If it is smaller than that, I will feel compelled to have a serious chat with somebody!

                                                    1. it is ok? that's [once again] subjective.
                                                      to me, yes, I mention it, but my husband says nothing except for later to me he complains.

                                                      1. This is entirely my opinion, but I won't complain to the manager unless I know him/her personally. The size portion is what the restaurant decides to sell. It is a conscious decision. Like you said the portion are "too small for the money", I won't complain the meal being too expensive either. That is the other side of the same coin. That is just me.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          I have to think that most savvy business owners and managers would want reasonably expressed feedback from customers. As said above, though, the value issue is your personal opinion so it should be expressed in that context.

                                                        2. If it's so small it must be a mistake then maybe, and before digging in. If just not good value then no, I'd consider it gauche to complain. Just don't go back if it's an issue for you.

                                                          I remember years ago we sometimes went to a local french restaurant that served teeny portions so you had to have four courses to be even remotely full. We considered it very expensive even though any given course wasn't overly pricey. Some places are just like that.

                                                          1. "Is it considered gauche and uncouth to say to the manager that for the money paid the serving size should be bigger?"

                                                            In those terms, yes. How about, "The salmon was really delicious but I was surprised that the portion was so small. I would have enjoyed having a bit more." It's all about how you phrase it.

                                                            1. My brother in law just did this exact thing. He complained to the manager on how small the salmon was for the price. In the end, he got another piece of salmon for free. After that experience, I doubt my sister and her husband will ever go back. Hell, why not tell them how you feel? Its not like they will have your business afterwards if you have been duped with the food portion.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: porkbutt03

                                                                My MIL and I were long time regulars at a place near her home for our weekly lunches together, and when we first started going to a particular place, they had a lunch menu that was a ridiculous amount of good food beautifully plated for $9.99 for the first year or two. She always had a baby spinach salad with a very large piece of grilled salmon for that price and a $5 glass of wine. Then they raised the price to $13 and then $15 and they were still very reasonable, including the price per glass of wine which rose to $9 all at once.

                                                                After a while, she got a salad with a piece of fish maybe a third of what she'd always gotten. We commented to our server, who knew us well and who'd always gotten very good tips from us that we were glad when they'd raised the prices rather than diminish the meal, but getting a big bump in price with a small fraction on the plate of what used to appear was a bad combination. We certainly didn't ask for more food on the plate that day, just said the reason we'd been regulars so long was that the food was very good as well as the value. On future visits, they'd returned to a larger portion, still a good value, though not as large as the original.
                                                                I think it was valuable customer feedback offered in an agreeable tone, and I think it was better for them to hear it than to just have us leave and decide not to come back.

                                                              2. Fine, quantity is not equal to quality. However, quality INCLUDES quantity (imagine a Venn diagram here).

                                                                I'm notorious for going into a restaurant and coming away with half or more of the meal in a doggie bag. My appetite is just not that big. I've been known to order a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch and still take half of it home.

                                                                So if I go to eat some place and come away hungry, the portions were REALLY small.

                                                                It has happened to me, and always at some place that thinks it's a tony high-falutin' example of haute cuisine.

                                                                The idea that high quality meals do not include generosity in serving size is rubbish. And when I say "generosity" I don't mean a pound of salmon or a 12 oz burger, I mean a normally sized portion that the average American diner would come away feeling they had actually eaten a full meal and not just attended a tasting party.

                                                                Some of the teensy portions I've been served on whacking great white plates have had even me rolling my eyes and planning what I'm going to REALLY eat when I get home.

                                                                Don't worry about what other people think. If you're unhappy with the portion size it's likely there's a good reason for it, ie the portion size was too small. Let it be known that you are dissatisfied with paying for a meal and then still going home hungry, in polite terms. Personally I wouldn't bother giving such a place a second chance.

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                  I think it is pretty standard that fine dining restaurants don't give you crap for portions. I love how many people shell out a crazy amount of money and are still hungry. You are going to the restauo not just experience the food but also to eat, ie. have a full stomach. It doens't matter how delicious the food is, if you were given hardly anything, what is the point?

                                                                  1. re: observor

                                                                    Right. That's why I stick to the Cheesecake Factory. The food may suck, but you won't leave hungry.

                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                      Or maybe Ryan's.

                                                                      1. re: Sue in Mt P

                                                                        My father-in-law LOVES Ryan's. One time my wife said something to the effect of "but Dad, the food here just isn't very good." His response: "Sure, but look how much you get!"

                                                                        Truth be told, though, Ryan's and the Cracker Barrel have taken a back seat for him since they opened a Golden Corral in his town. There's no place he'd rather be getting dinner. At 4:30.

                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                          Quqntity vs. Quality. I am constantly reminded by European visitors about "the huge quantities of food in restaurants" most if not all find it......Disturbing. I just tell them it is "The American Way, excess in everything!

                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                            Sounds like my dad...he's from the great depression era and i wonder if this has anything to do with his absolute love for buffetts. Finding a Bonanza Steakhouse, Shoney's, or Luby's cafeteria on vacation was like hitting the jackpot. The success of our vacation rested on the ability to find one of these places.

                                                                            1. re: iluvtennis

                                                                              And many arrive with cargo shorts, and empty pockets, to be filled with food from an "All You Can Eat" buffet, for tomorrow, the next day, the next, and then for a meal for the neighborhood.

                                                                              A smorgasbord is the ideal location for such - just fill one's pockets, and keep filling.

                                                                              I had kind of assumed that the OP was talking about some semblance of fine-dining, but I guess that I was wrong.

                                                                              Hunt

                                                                    2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                      This sounds like a common US issue - many diners want to feed the entire neighborhood for a week. Some places do not accommodate that, though some do. I would say, "choose wisely."

                                                                      Hunt

                                                                    3. When the server arrives at the table to ask if you are enjoying your meal, express your opinion of the portion size. The server will probably be worried that the tip will reflect your dissatisfaction, spurring him/her to convey your complaint to the chef and/or manager. The ball is then in their court. If they make it right, great. If not, don't return. And don't dun the server - it's not the waitstaff's fault.

                                                                      1. This thread reminds me of that Citicard commercial where a couple goes to a fancy French restaurant and are served "elf food" portions. Still makes me laugh!

                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFFQPO...

                                                                        1. Seems to me that complaints about small food portions are best prefaced by complaints about the flavor. Who can forget the classic...
                                                                          "The food was absolutely terrible!"
                                                                          "Yes, and such small portions!"

                                                                          1. Kinda old thread but—

                                                                            you have every right to complain. That said, IMO there are things that need to be considered before one does:

                                                                            To put it bluntly, Americans eat too much. (I count myself among them.)

                                                                            When one looks at portion sizes recommended by nutritionists, they're often pretty closely in line with what Americans consider "small plates."

                                                                            PS: once again, this is an awesome tag list.

                                                                            More and more restaurants serve small plates so that increasingly food-savvy customers can try several things.

                                                                            At certain high-end restaurants, that's going to cost you, because they're using better ingredients and more time/labor-intensive techniques.

                                                                            If that bums you out, then don't go to certain high-end restaurants. There are plenty of restaurants, including other high-end restaurants like steakhouses, that will fill the bill (in every sense of the term).

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                              That PS was supposed to be at the end.