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"How is everything" and how to reply

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Now I've been thinking about this problem for a while and have discussed it with others countless times. The dilemma is, when your dining at any restaurant, either fine dining or casual, and the server comes by to ask you "how is everything", I usually just say that everything is good (unless I ordered a black and blue steak and received it well done).

But what are you really supposed to say? and what about if they asked you after you were done your meal? Does your answer change? My parents have often said this dish was too salty or this dish didn't have enough meat but I don't think I could do that (they only do these at more casual Chinese restaurants where they know the chef personally, so its a little more bearable).

As the primary cook at home, I would like to know everything that I did wrong or right so that I could improve my cooking. But do chefs or waiters at restaurants really want to hear the truth? Or are they just asking for the sake of asking?

  1. I always figured they are asking for the sake of asking, and I answer for the sake of answering "Terrific, thanks very much!"

    It's like when some asks "So how have you been doing?" They don't really want to know, it is just a social convention to ask those sorts of questions, and it is a social convention to respond, "Wonderful, how have you been?"

    3 Replies
    1. re: redfish62

      Either that, or they actually want to make sure you're happy. Or to see if you need more sauce, or whatever.

      Funny thing is, if no one checked on you (not *you*, I mean you in the general sense), we'd be hearing all about how it makes people mad when the waiter doesn't check in with them.

    2. I think it is a stupid question.... My reply is.... "The water taste funny" Would you mind changing it out?" ~~

      1. Chinese restaurants are very different. They are more on par with BBQ joints I have been to. You can usually speak more frank in these types of restaurants.

        In typical Italian and French restaurants ... etc, yeah, I agree with you. I almost always say things are fine. They don't really expect me to say "I think you added a bit more oil this time. You should consider cutting down next time". They are not really looking for feedbacks.

        1. i'm usually fairly honest - probably on the nice side of honest, but honest just the same.

          the otehr day i was at a place i go with my kid sometimes, as it is very kid friendly, but also has one of the best beer selections in NYC. the food is never great, but it is usually passable. this time they had a special of steak, collards, and fries.

          the steak was ok, but coldish - they rested it too long. the collards were woefully undercooked, they obviouslly were cooking them as if they were a fast cooking green like spinach.

          she asked how it was. i told her. exactly as i've told you.

          1. They're asking because they want to know if everything you ordered has arrived and is correctly cooked, like if you got your steak and it's to the right temp, and if you need anything else, like more sauce as was stated in another thread, or if your baked potato is rotten in the middle and needs replaced. It's not really to nitpick about the food being too salty or whatever unless it's so salty you can't eat it. If you don't like the food there in a general sense, bringing it up with the server isn't going to accomplish anything. It's really to gauge whether everything is correct and that you've gotten everything you asked for and to see if you need anything else.

            3 Replies
              1. re: rockandroller1

                Yes. This isn't a hard question -- no need to get offended or flustered by "how is everything". Appropriate answers are "fine, thanks" or "I'd like to order another drink, please" or maybe "I ordered a vegetarian dish, but this looks like a steak."

                1. re: Pia

                  or "this is undercooked" or "my carbonara is really an alfredo" or "can you please make my soup hotter" or "this is wonderful" or anything else you care to say. it's your dinner