HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Service at restaurants

Food is fantastic, decor is great but their service is so-so..I don't mean bad but just so-so and it's a pretty high end restaurant.

Would you go back?
Is service really important part of your meal?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I can generally let so-so service slide (e.g. inattentiveness). Bad service will affect my decision to return. We used to frequent a neighborhood Italian spot. The food ranged from very good to outstanding. In about our 5th or 6th year of steady visits we had 2 successive visits with deplorably bad service (we gave them the benefit of a doubt after the 1st instance). We never went back.

    On the flip side, our first visit to one of our current favorite spots was with a group of 10. Our waiter was tapping into us psychically and would appear with bread, water, beverage refreshes almost as soon as we were aware of needing them. We have forever associated that experience with the restaurant and even a night of horrible service won't kill that relationship.

    1. Yes, service is important and integral to the experience. I'd be disappointed to have so-so service at a high end place. And, yes, if this was a first visit to the place, it might put me off a return. Of course, if I'd been before and had good times then I'd put this down to a "one off"

      1 Reply
      1. re: Harters

        I like to eat very locally, meaning within walking distance of my house, so my choices are limited. If they weren't I wouldn't put up with poor service. But then again, everyone has their own definition of poor service. For me it's food coming too fast, for others it's too slow. For some it's being too familiar, for others it's not being friendly enough. And the list goes on. To me poor service is when you don't get what you ordered, or it's cold, or they totally forget you're there. Otherwise, I try to not let it bother me.

      2. The steak is great. But people go to Durgin-Park for the abuse, as the waitstaff have been encouraged to adopt a surly attitude. If you haven't gotten backtalk from the waitress, you haven't gotten your money's worth. It is kinda fun.

        3 Replies
        1. re: GraydonCarter

          Their roast pork and Indian Pudding more than makes up for the service, IMHO, It's got to be about 60 years since I was there but the food is that memorable.

          1. re: GraydonCarter

            That's not bad service. That just performance. It's part of the schtick.

            1. re: GraydonCarter

              I don't feel like our waitress at Durgin Park was like that...friendly but not a surly attitude.

            2. Is service really important part of your meal?
              sure is. if the service is awful on more than one occasion, i won't return to the restaurant even if the food is great. and on the flip side, excellent service always improves/adds to the experience regardless of the food quality.

              1 Reply
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Agree. There was an "American" diner in K-town, Germany where the service was just horrendous. We gave them three chances and the food was mediocre at best (nothing like diner food back home). The third and last time we went we were the only people in the the restaurant and there where four servers standing at the bar they saw us come in and sit down. No greeting no acknowledgement and then we sat there for 15min looking at them. No menu was brought and eye contact just resulted in them looking away and still yacking with each other. As we were walking out the door one of them was like "Oh you wanted to order food?" Sheesh, never went back.

              2. Service is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition.

                1. If the service is friendly (not in the "hello my name is sandra and I will be your bestfriend/waitress tonight kind) then I can deal with a lot of sub-par service.


                  1. All other things being equal, I'll take fantastic food **and** fantastic service. But great food with so-so service trumps mediocre food with great service every time.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Agreed. I've never had service so bad that great food didn't make up for it. (And, frankly, I don't care that you're smiling when you're serving me sh*t.)

                    2. Sliding scale with quality of food being the most important criteria, then price to value ratio, followed by service. My service criteria tends to be pretty low if the food is good. As long as they're competent I'm good. I don't require fussing or friendliness.

                      1. It depends on what's wrong with the service. If it's just excruciatingly slow/lax, eventually they just stop being a place we go as it's too frustrating to deal with. If they are making actual mistakes with orders or your money or the food isn't prepared right or something, I would let the manager know, but if things weren't fixed I wouldn't keep going, even if the food was great. It doesn't have to be perfect service, and even indifferent or rushed service is ok, but bad service, no.

                        1. All the best meals of my life were from France...and the worst serves of my life were also from France....but I keep going back....

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Monica

                            Try Belgium - the food's just as good, with none of the attitude!

                            1. re: BobB

                              haha, and every time i visit Belgium, I stuff myself with beer, waffle and chocolate..there is no room for other stuff.

                              1. re: Monica

                                For me it's all about the vol-au-vent and carbonnade a la Flamande! I do always bring home as much chocolate as I can carry though.

                                1. re: Monica

                                  I'll have to try the waffles, then. Because I have found that Belgian beer and chocolate are completely out of this world fabulous.

                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                    Yes, waffles are out of this world..not the big ones we have here in America for breakfast but the crunchy sweet dessert waffles, yumm..
                                    Also the mussels and french fries...

                            2. Great food, so-so service?

                              I tip accordingly, and would likely have no problem returning.

                              Is that wrong?

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: laststandchili

                                When you say you tip accordingly, what % are you talking about?
                                below 15% for so so service?

                                1. re: Monica

                                  I pretty much tip 20% for run of the mill, to be expected, service, 30 or better for outstanding,

                                  Depending on how bad service is I'll drop to 10%, and if it's memorably egregious, zip. If you're either not really doing your job, or are willfully bad at it, I don't feel any need to subsidize the performance.

                                  1. re: Monica

                                    Would the % not depend on where in the world you were?

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      Unfortunately these days I'm pretty much dining exclusively in the mid atlantic.

                                      When traveling I tend to overtip to compensate for being a tourist.

                                      1. re: laststandchili

                                        I try to suss out the local tipping custom and stick to that.

                                        Makes me feel much better that I don't have t tip at all in France - thereby saving the 10% that's the "going rate" here.

                                2. If it's at a high-end restaurant ($150+ per person) then no - great service is to be expected at that level. Not to mention we live in NYC and there are too many choices. Service is not the most important part of my meal (food is, of course) but you expect more than having delicious food served to you at a high-end restaurant.