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Bringing your own condiment(s) to a restaurant?


I have a favorite Italian restaurant not too far from my house. It's a family place, definately not white tablecloth dining... in season, we love to get their insalata caprese, because the owner makes his own mozzarella. (it's delicious)

My only complaint is that they usually put one lone leaf of basil on top and when we've asked for "extra" basil, they give us maybe two more whole leaves.

Knowing this, last night we went to same restaurant and I had a little zip-lock baggie in my purse, with lots of basil in it.

The waiter delivered our appetizer and when he left, I reached into my bag and sprinkled the basil over top. I got some funny looks from the table next to us and I think the waiter was a little confused when he came back to check on us, seeing the ample quantity of chopped basil across the plate.

was this wrong? We thoroughly enjoyed the appetizer but some how I felt like I was doing something forbidden.
(anyone else do stuff like this? Please tell me yes so I dont' feel quite so embarrassed)

  1. I know for a fact that a rather famous Indian conductor brought his own chili powder, not trusting the restaurant's concept of "heat level" and I, on more than one occasion, have brought a mini-bottle of hot sauce, in case of "emergency."

    4 Replies
      1. re: arktos

        And a free bottle of Frank's Extra Hot to Arktos

      2. re: beevod

        Lots of people bring their own hot sauce to restaurants (I worked at one for years). No problem with that. But bringing actual food and sitting with people who are paying, that is a no-no. But a condiment? Of course it is ok.

        And I see no problem with the cloth napkins either.

      3. When we order a martini out, I love one with a long ribbon-like twist of lemon peel, Meyer lemon peel even better--usually get that stubby, mean chunk of peel with pith. So for awhile I was taking along my homemade twists to liven the drink. Another place had pleasant outdoor seating, but skimpy paper napkins and a few underseasonings--so for there we took along fabric napkins, Kosher salt, ground pepper and a little bottle of olive oil. And when I used to go to IHOP for pancakes I took along my own maple syrup.

        18 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          I think as long as you are discreet, and you are not avoiding paying for something that the restaurant supplies. But I WOULD say the cloth napkins are over the line. They are pretty obvious while being used, for one thing, and it's a slippery, Special Snowflake-covered slope toward toting your own Charmin and linen hand towels. Just ask for a few extra paper ones.

          I once had an outstanding meal at a high-end restaurant that concluded, unfortunately, with a cup of dark roast coffee, which seems ubiquitous at such places. I hate the stuff, which tastes burnt to me. Too bad there is never a choice of regular or dark. If I ever go back there, I will have a packet of instant in my purse. If the way they serve tea is hot water and an undunked bag, I will order tea and whip out my instant. Not as good as brewed, but better than dark roast. I have a cute little glass maple syrup bottle from Cracker Barrel, which served real syrup in individual-serving bottles. If I know I am headed for breakfast someplace else, I fill it up from my Trader Joe's Grade B bottle. If the weather is cool, I'll take a couple of pats of unsalted butter, too. For me, salted butter ruins toast, pancakes, and waffles.

          1. re: greygarious

            So greyg, you are willing to take tea bag, maple syrup and unsalted butter but you draw the line at cloth napkins? Do you understand we only used them because we were the only people on the patio and if we had eaten inside we would have gotten nice cloth napkins? Was fine with us and the waiter couldn't have cared less. Guess we all have the place we draw the line...I guess there would be applause if I could afford to tote around a truffle.

              1. re: thegforceny

                I think that if I were to rank all the things that chowhounds have taken to restaurents on a scale of tackyness, cloth napkins would be the least tacky and the most justifiable on environmental grounds. I would not be embarrased to take a cloth napkin with me to a place that offers only paper.

                1. re: hala

                  But if you drive to the restaurant, that's kind of funny.

                  1. re: LeoLioness

                    Go back and read the OP about cloth napkins. I don't believe it was about being 'green' but about the skimpy paper napkins not being adequate for the task.

                    1. re: John E.

                      In actuality, it was about having a nice napkin rather than feeling like I was at some fast food joint.

                      1. re: escondido123

                        Well hun.. I think we just have to manage our expectations.
                        Quite frankly I go to the restaurant to eat.. if I wanted accomodations I'd go to a hotel instead and pay for the linens to be laid out.
                        This seems as ridiculous to me as bringing your own silverware to replace plastic or bringing your own table cloth.

                        1. re: wisenyoung

                          Hun? I don't go to a restaurant just to eat, I go to have a nice evening, have someone else cook for me, enjoy a different atmosphere, eat something I don't usually prepare, maybe try a different wine. This particular place had good traditional French food but it really lacked finesse. But we wanted to support the place because the food was good and this was our compromise. The place did eventually go out of business, but that would have been because not enough people came, not because we brought cloth napkins. Oh, and thanks for the idea on the silverware, though now my purse is starting to get heavy!

                          1. re: escondido123

                            Any chance that was Bouchon in Escondido? We miss it.

                              1. re: escondido123

                                Ooooh, we miss it so much! Have you found a French replacement in north inland?

                                1. re: pine time

                                  For classic French we go to Vincent's, otherwise Tango is now our favorite place.

                        2. re: escondido123

                          Frequently, if I remember anyway, I will bring some extra paper napkins in my pocket because too often there is only one napkin provided. I prefer my unused flatware to remain on a napkin, I like a napkin on my lap, and I like another with which to wipe my mouth if need be. After writing that it sounds like I'm Felix Unger when I really am not generally that way.

                          1. re: John E.

                            I think we all have habits that sound odd when written down but really aren't a big deal in reality. As to hostility, I must admit it surprises me because I thought this was going to be a rather fun topic when I first posted and didn't realize folks were so strict about what and what was not "allowed." Oh well, I figure as long as I'm not hurting anyone or causing a fuss, I won't worry about it.

                        3. re: John E.

                          Regardless of the motive, it is still green.

                        4. re: LeoLioness

                          You mean if escondido drives. I am very lucky in that I live in a big city and use public and active transport most of the time. But I have nothing against cars, we rent cars and use our car sharing service all of the time.

              2. There is a Chinese seafood buffet in Brooklyn that has lots of raw clams and boiled shrimp, but no Tabasco sauce. I would bring my own bottle. There was a vegan Chinese restaurant in Manhattan that did not have herbal tea. I used to take a box of te4a with half peppermint tea bags and half chamomile tea bags and I left it with the staff and they would bring it out to me when I dined. When in the south I am tempted to bring butter into the Waffle House. Real maple syrup would be a good idea too.

                3 Replies
                1. re: phantomdoc

                  Seriously? A chinese restaurant that doesn't have hot chili sauce available? Only in America..

                  1. re: FrankD

                    Tabasco is a specific brand of hot sauce, with its own flavor. As someone who grew up with Tabasco on raw oysters, I have to say that other chili sauces (like sriracha) wouldn't cut it.

                  2. re: phantomdoc

                    tabasco? it isn't remotely chinese, why should they have it? I'm sure they had other hot sauces, chinese hot sauces if you asked.

                  3. Yes, I have been known to bring my own condiment. Specifially, I like sweet n' low in iced coffee, McD's only has Equal, Sugar or Splenda. I hand the pink packet to the cashier and they are more than willing to put it in the cup before filling.

                    That said, bring a fresh vegetable/herb to add to a dish might not really be considered a condiment. But as long as you add it yourself, the restaurant should have no objection, provided it is not something they will provide at an extra charge. A patron should not bring something to add to a meal that the restaurant sells.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: bagelman01

                      So I'd be pushing it for unfolding a package of prosciutto and salumi to decorate the plate with?

                      1. re: cgarner

                        only if it was available as an option at the restaurant

                        1. re: cgarner

                          Not at all. There's a pizza place near me that has beautiful crust, and tasty sauce, but they don't put enough cheese and pepperoni on it. So I bring a baggy of grated mozza, some additional pepperoni, and my creme brulee torch, and load it up. And it hasn't affected my waiter's tip at all.

                          1. re: FrankD

                            Wow, that sounds like the definition of cheap. Don't they offer extra cheese & pepperoni? Or have you never thought to ask them? Glad it doesn't affect the tip, nor should it.

                            1. re: Phurstluv

                              I think Frank was being facetious. (Or, only in Canada does a pepperoni pizza come without pepperoni or mozzerella).

                              1. re: John E.

                                I went to a pizza place in Pennsylvania once, back in my vegetarian days, and was shocked (shocked, I tell you!) to find that their "plain" pizza came with pepperoni. It came out this way, and they wouldn't make one without.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Wow! Good grief!! (am on your side here)

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    tells me the pizza was made off-site and frozen well in advance and baked on order. yuck.

                        2. For many years I carried a pepper mill in my purse so that I could have fresh ground pepper on my salads. Many times, I could see a peppermill on a side table, but it wasn't offered. I always tried to be discreet about it.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: tracylee

                            OMG me too! I love fresh pepper. Newport Seafood Grill gets big kudos because they have an actual pepper mill on every table.

                            1. re: pdxgastro

                              I LOVE restaurants with pepper grinders on the table! Newport actually does a pretty decent job for a chain restaurant, and I never turn down an invite to eat there.

                            2. re: tracylee

                              That's actually a great idea. I should remember it! The Dollar Store by me sells disposable pepper grinders that I use for travel/beach house/just in case I run out.
                              Is there anything worse than old pepper that doesn't taste like anything once you manage to coax 8 grains out?

                              1. re: monavano

                                I actually became known at conferences for a club I belong to for bringing the pepper mill to local meetings, as well as District and Regional conferences. I can't do salads any more, but some old friends still ask if I have the pepper mill with me. I usually carry a small purse that holds room key, credit card, cash and pepper mill.

                            3. Chefs don't like it if you even salt & pepper your food. They see it as an insult as they are supposed to have already seasoned it. But I always have my little collection of seasoning packets in my pocket, to be used in a stealthy manner:



                              soy saice

                              tabasco sauce

                              hot salsa


                              lemon juice

                              cajun seasoning powder

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: arktos

                                That must be a BIG pocket, lol! I, too, bring my assortment!

                                1. re: arktos

                                  How do you carry lemon juice around?

                                  1. re: hala

                                    TrueLemon is real powdered dried lemon in little packets. ATK gave it a good review. They also make orange, lime, and grapefruit versions.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      At some Asian and Filipino markets you can get real calamansi juice in plastic packets and there's always some in our travel bag along with seasoned vinegar,pepper sauce,sriracha,soy,fish sauce and mae ploy.

                                  2. re: arktos

                                    On occasion, some chefs can be funny about that, but only an idiot chef would have a problem with a person adding salt to their food. When I worked as a cook, the problem that I had was when people would salt it without trying it first. Now that is stupid.

                                    1. re: arktos

                                      Be very discreet, bring your stealthy seasonings, and screw the pompous chef's ego. That's my story and I"m stickin' with it.

                                    2. Oh. Oh my. This is just too much. Be embarrassed.

                                      1. It has never even occured to me to take my own condiments to a restaurant. Frankly, I find the idea most odd.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Harters

                                          I would have to agree with Harters and thegforceny. This would be a practice that I'd find rude, odd, and a little creepy.

                                          The only person I've ever known who did this had an eating disorder, and saying she had to have the salad dressing she liked or she couldn't eat was a symptom of her illness.

                                          1. re: jmckee

                                            I'm with you guys. For me part of truly enjoying a meal out is just RELAXING and letting go of the compulsion to control every little detail of my environment. If everything's not *perfect* by my definition, so what? It's the way it is—and there's something to be said for learning to experience the world as is.

                                            There's a holier-than-thou attitude implied by bringing your own ingredients—and also a passive-aggressive one.

                                        2. Wrong? No.

                                          Ill-advised? Probably.

                                          he makes the dish the way that he feels presents the flavors in the proper balance, and seasoning it with your own condiments sends a pretty clear message that you don't think it's good enough.

                                          If it were Denny's and you wanted to dump hot sauce in your grits, nobody would care. But when it's a mom-and-pop with whom you have an ongoing relationship, it would be pretty easy to see it as an insult.

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            My husband and I like to walk to dinner so that limits our options. The food may be good at our local places, but it is not being made by a chef that will ban you if you use salt and pepper. If they make a good martini but can't do a good twist, why shouldn't I bring my own? Same for cloth napkins or maple syrup. I think that's better than complaining because they don't have them and as long as you're circumspect I doubt anyone will even notice.

                                            1. re: escondido123

                                              So you arrive to a restaurant with 1) cloth napkin 2) salt and pepper service 3) a bottle of olive oil 4) pre-cut lemon rinds and/or 5) maple syrup and you think that is an appropriate thing to do?


                                              We will just have to disagree. It is beyond tacky.

                                              Eat at home if you are that particular.

                                              1. re: thegforceny

                                                When I read your description it made me laugh, very bag lady sounding. But really it was never all at once and not very often.. At one restaurant that had decent French food but only flimsy paper napkins we took cloth napkins--we were the only ones eating outside. Salt, pepper and olive oil were in little containers that fit into a tiny baggie that I only took out if necessary. Lemon rind was just a couple times at another place, until the bartender took the hint and learned how to make the streamer style. And maple syrup--you'd eat pancakes with maple flavored syrup? Now that is tacky. As I said, my options are limited so I adapt--and no one but the bartender ever notices because it sit outside where tables are in a line and nobody can really see what's going on next to them.

                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                  Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where one of the character was taking real maple syrup to the diner.

                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                    But...why did the bartender have to "take the hint"? Why couldn't you just ask to begin with? Same with the bistro that had cloth napkins indoors but not outside–did you ask if you could have some? If you like your pancakes with real maple syrup, why not just go to a place that offers it? Etc...Not trying to pick on you, but I am trying to understand. Same with the poster above who brought a peppermill, and though she/he spied one at the restaurant, "it wasn't offered"—why not just ask?

                                                    There are a few high-end, chef-driven places that don't offer S&P, but they're in a minority.

                                                    1. re: tatamagouche

                                                      I am truly amazed at the people coming onto this discussion, not reading the whole discussion and then getting right into attack mode. Eariler you talk about "holier than thou and passive aggressive" and now you say you're not trying to pick on anyone but want to understand. That I would call disingenuous . You might want to try a different approach if your curiosity is genuine.
                                                      I like a ribbon of peel in my infrequent martini--asking for double twist gets you two of those mean little slivers. So tell me what it hurt for me to drop that peel into the drink that I paid for so I could enjoy it?
                                                      If you read the earlier post on the napkin, they didn't like to have them outside, that was the place for paper ones. So why argue and make a fuss when we could bring our own?
                                                      As to the maple syrup, that was many years ago when I used to go to IHOP with a group and we hated that there was no real maple syrup so we brought our own. Again, who were we hurting?
                                                      I go to restaurants I can walk to and that I enjoy. I order a number of courses, I don't complain or ask for off-menu items and I tip well. If you don't find that explanation sufficient then we will just have to agree to disagree.

                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                        Yeah, you're right—I was sort of responding generally/theoretically there and particularly to you here—so I apologize to you. I still don't agree with you—to me it doesn't matter whether it's an ingredient or part of a place setting, once you cross that line you're on the proverbial slippery slope. And so it could be hurting the restaurant insofar as once one customer does X, what's to stop the next from doing Y?

                                                        I said that such behavior *implies* certain attitudes, and to me (and apparently others on this thread) it does. But implications aren't facts, gut reactions aren't always correct, and I acknowledge that.

                                                  2. re: thegforceny

                                                    I can't help but be on the same page as you on this one Theg.
                                                    If you don't like how something is prepared where you're eating, either don't eat there, have some backbone and say something to have it fixed, or suck it up and eat it.
                                                    Are paper napkins really THAT big of a deal ? Like seriously ?
                                                    Learn not to get it all over yourself by using your silverware properly (even if it's plastic) and there should be no overwhelming need for them either way....
                                                    Ugh.. I just don't get this whole ordeal.

                                              2. I've done it plenty of times, but never in a higher end place. When I was going to school in central Europe, a lot of the pub grub type places my friends favored did not exactly serve well seasoned food. I had a tiny tupperware thing that I put whatever condiments in that I felt might be needed. And I had a lot fewer crappy meals because of it!
                                                I really don't think you were doing anything wrong.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: alliegator

                                                  I think you make a great point- I wouldn't dream of smuggling seasonings into th French Laundry, for instance. In that case, you're trying to show somebody up, is my gut feeling.

                                                2. I probably wouldn't do the basil thing but I've sure been tempted, especially at these pizza places that put one leaf of basil in the middle of the pie. I get it's the style but I want more!

                                                  My similar temptation has been to take lime with me when I go for pho. Many places around here have started serving it with lemon wedges, just not the same.

                                                  I do always carry a tiny salt shaker in my purse, mostly for movie popcorn but it has been pressed into service at restaurants occasionally and surreptitiously.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: grayelf

                                                    Off subject…is there a lime shortage or something? I’ve been seeing this lately too. There’s a restaurant near work that has good pho, they started serving with a lemon wedge too… you’re right, just not the same!

                                                    To expand on what Sunshine said, it is a “mom and pop” place and we have a fun relationship with the owner. His food tastes like food from my childhood… tastes like “home” (food my grandparents would make) we’ve had long conversations about Italy and the food of the different regions. And he’s got a good sense of humor. Once my husband told him that I made the best whatever dish he’s ever tasted (something that they serve on the menu) and he came around the counter and put an apron on me (laughing, mind you) and told my husband, that’s it then… she’s hired! We compare our Pizza Rustica and “sweet pies” at Easter every year.

                                                    It’s a BYOB, so sometimes when we go, I bring him an extra bottle of my Dad’s wine or my home made Meyer Lemon limoncello, he brings a piece of whatever home made dessert he has that day. They’re just great people there.
                                                    I don’t know if I’d be offending him more if I said “I really would like the caprese with a handful of basil instead of just one or two leaves”… or if he’d just roll his eyes and throw up his hands at me for adding more basil to the dish.

                                                    1. re: cgarner

                                                      Regarding limes. I think there is at least a huge increase in lime prices. I was at a local mexican restaurant recently where they offered lemon to put on my taco rather than lime, the explanation being that limes were 4 times as expensive.

                                                      1. re: cwdonald

                                                        Cwdonald, I almost fainted. Lemons for limes in Mexican!! Would be rioting here in TX. Rioting and anarchy. lol. :)

                                                        1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                          Any port in a storm, is my way of getting a tart flavor to a beloved dish.

                                                        2. re: cwdonald

                                                          in which case, I think it's fair of them....if I were the owner I might put up a sign explaining and imposing a temporary surcharge for limes...but 400% is a huge cost difference and the restaurant shouldn't be expected to swallow it.

                                                          Here's the walkthrough:

                                                          Let's assume, for ease of calculations, that the cost of a lime wedge is a quarter (25 cents). It goes on a plate for which our cost is $10. The lime is, then, 2-1/2% of the total cost of the plate -- pretty insignificant. (I'm using these numbers because they're easy to manipulate in my head...but they illustrate the issue clearly enough)

                                                          If the cost of the lime goes up to $1 a wedge (4 times the price), the lime is now 10% of the total cost of the dish -- that's enough to seriously skew profit margins -- which aren't that big to begin with in the restaurant business, and especially when limes are present in *so many* Mexican dishes.

                                                          I'd rather have a wedge of lemon, even if it's not my first choice, than have my neighborhood joint lose money because a secondary ingredient was soaring out of control.

                                                    2. A friend used to go to his favorite Indian restaurants with a tiny Tupperware cup full of extra hot lime pickle ... not available on menu. He would get an array of other condiments, and no one seemed to mind.

                                                      1. Cgarner, I feel your pain. That homemade mozzarella may be good, but how can the owner call it an insalata caprese with only 1 little basil leaf on it?! That's a crime. Basil is cheap (in season)!!!

                                                        I'm going to a potluck in August which calls for finger foods. I'm thinking of bringing a caprese appetizer: a toothpick with a cherry or grape tomato, a small bocconcino mozz, and a basil leaf. One on each toothpick-imagine!

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                                          Try scooping out the tomato pulp, adding a touch of balsamic & parmesan, then stuff w/ mozz & top with chiffonade of basil. Yum!

                                                          1. re: pdxgastro

                                                            Again, I'm confused. Clearly, the restaurant *has* fresh basil—did the OP start with asking if they could have a little more? That seems to me the obvious place to start.

                                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                                              hi tatamagouche... yes, in my original post, I stated that whenever we've asked for "extra" basil, the extent of "extra" was an extra two leaves or so.

                                                              1. re: cgarner

                                                                Yes, I saw that later, sorry. Do report back to let us know if you get anywhere with the owner about the fact that by extra you mean lots!

                                                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                  About asking for "lots" of extra [whatever]--we like lots of half and half in our coffee, and if we have to ask for those little containers, I try to make a joke of it: "just give me a cow" and haven't had any snarky responses.

                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                    And I'm always embarrassed as the little pile of empty cartons cries out for recycling.

                                                          2. In perhaps fast food places, it would be (slightly acceptable), but I would be appalled to see anyone add anything to what was served, seeing it as an insult to the chef. You don't like what they serve? Then eat at home.

                                                            If you do find it so unacceptable, maybe have a quiet word with the chef (or bartender if the martini isn't right. Adding your own seems pretty rude. Can you imagine going to a dinner party and then someone pulling out their own flavours to add?

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: pj26

                                                              You have a point there! Bringing condiments to a house would be a bit forward, but it depends. I'd think it odd, but would not take it personally. Then again, I'm confident that way with my cooking.
                                                              I put out little salt and pepper sets when entertaining a big group. It doesn't bother me at all if they embelish my dishes. I'd put out hot sauce if guests want it on their eggs, for example.
                                                              Condimentizing (word?) is so personal and if one has the gumption and is discrete, then I say go for it in a restaurant.
                                                              I have to disagree with the "eat at home" comments. In this economy, an owner or chef would be the fool to turn away customers because they adjusted the flavor or seasoning a bit. Sure, an ego can be that big, and if they can afford to turn away business, that's their choice.

                                                              1. re: pj26

                                                                pj26, my goal at a dinner party is to have my guests enjoy the food and company, if they enjoy something more because they added something to it, then no, I"m not offended. I don't get people (chef's) who are offended because someone would put salt or pepper on a dish, because people have different tastes and preferences.
                                                                my step-mom instinctively salts her entire plate before she even tastes her food... it drives my Dad crazy... she's a 'salt person' so why deprive her of enjoying her dish if she enjoys food that has a saltiness to it?

                                                                1. re: pj26

                                                                  My job is not to tell a chef how to cook--that is something I would consider rude. But if they don't know how to make a good lemon twist, truly who does it hurt if I bring my own and slip it into the drink--they get the money, I get a great drink. I don't take condiments everywhere, every time--and I haven't done it in years because two of the restaurants closed--but only when I know I want something that they skimp on a particular ingredient. Jeez, lots of you guys seems to think whatever anyone with a food "sensitivity" wants to do is fine--bring their own food, have long discussions with the chef etc. My opinion is if you go to a place, don't expect them to be doing all sorts of special favors for you, if you can without causing a fuss, do it yourself.

                                                                  1. re: pj26

                                                                    In college we would occasionally swipe a bottle of sriacha hot sauce from the local Asian place (before it was available in every grocery store) to use on Bacon Double Cheeseburgers at McDonald's. It was delicious at the time, now....maybe.

                                                                  2. We go to an upscale (tablecloths, etc.) Italian that doesn't have gorgonzola cheese.
                                                                    We asked them for it and they told us to bring our own next time as they have never stocked it - we did and we do! I could give a flying fig whether the people near us gape lol!

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Linda VH

                                                                      Linda, you failed to mention what you needed the gorg cheese for.

                                                                      1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                        DH and 14 year old like plain romaine with gorgonzola and vinaigrette dressing.

                                                                    2. I totally get you. Here in Toronto you can't get a malt, only shakes. I got sick of it! Malts are my favorite guilty pleasure. You can't even buy malt powder here. Only ovaltine which is not malt powder. Anyways I had some shipped here. The last time we went out for a burger and malt I brought some malt powder in plastic bag in my purse. My husband was MORTIFIED. I could not even use it. He was like if you take that I out i am leaving. Some people are crazy including my husband! I am willing to ruffle some feathers just like you:)

                                                                      19 Replies
                                                                      1. re: danionavenue

                                                                        I would call your husband well-mannered.

                                                                        1. re: jmckee

                                                                          I agree - I think it's down to good manners and respect.

                                                                          1. re: pj26

                                                                            Agree with the above two posts. Sometimes one can not have everything exactly the way they want and you know what, you'll just have to make do, go elsewhere, or stay home.

                                                                            1. re: pj26

                                                                              How is it bad manners to enjoy your food the way you like it? As others have said, I’m sure that the restaurant would rather she bring her business there along with something that they don’t serve, than to not bring her business at all.

                                                                              In your opinion, I should
                                                                              A) stop going to that restaurant, because they don’t’ put enough basil on the appetizer
                                                                              B) send the waiter back AGAIN for MORE basil (thus alerting my ‘friend’ the owner that I’m sending something back TWICE and possibly hurting his feelings)
                                                                              C) suck it up and eat the dish, though it’s not as I prefer to have it
                                                                              D) don’t order the appetizer anymore even though we love the home made mozzarella, thus depriving myself of one of my favorite things on the menu

                                                                              Please tell me which of these options is a “win” for anyone?
                                                                              (I apologize for being snarky, but I get fired up when I see people calling others rude here…remember the old saying about pointing a finger at someone….)

                                                                              1. re: cgarner

                                                                                C or D sound pretty good to me if you really are asking.

                                                                                1. re: cgarner

                                                                                  E) Don't worry about what anyone else thinks! Enjoy your salad with extra basil.
                                                                                  Win. Win.
                                                                                  I've never brought my own food (although a pepper grinder might be an idea) but if I saw you surreptitiously garnishing the salad with your own basil, I'd secretly smile to myself knowing your passion.

                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                    The only time I've done this is at Starbucks with their breakfast sammy.It's a good sandwich but I think it needed something more,so I brought my own packs of ketchup.I can't believe the don't offer any kind of condiments(salsa,ketchup,mayo),it's not like I'd be insulting the Chef...

                                                                                    1. re: petek

                                                                                      never mind the condiments you mentioned, Starbucks is pushing their ice tea, but you can't get lemon at Starbucks

                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                        "but you can't get lemon at Starbucks"
                                                                                        That would mean that someone would have slice a bunch of lemons,that's just asking for too much.. :-D

                                                                                        1. re: petek

                                                                                          They carry squueze packets of honey, they could stock the same size packets of lemon juice

                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                            I was being facetious, hence the little :-D thingy.(lost in translation)
                                                                                            And if they carry packets of honey then surely the could carry some packets of catsup..

                                                                                  2. re: cgarner

                                                                                    I'm just amazed at how uptight people are on this subject. It's not like CGARNER or I are going to The French Laundry with a pocketful of condiments. I can assure you that the owners of the restaurants where I've done these things are more than happy to have my business because 1) I order a drink, wine, appetizer and main--maybe even dessert. 2) I don't give detailed instructions on what to put on the side, what to substitute, what to bring me that's off menu. 3)I tip 20% 4) I don't demand to speak to the chef if something goes wrong. I like to go out and really don't see how wanting a true twist in my martini or a cloth napkin rather than cheap paper or real maple syrup rather than some flavored corn syrup has any effect on anyone else's meal--which is the only reason to consider it rude. As I have said, there are limited options so I make them work for me and help keep businesses alive.

                                                                                      1. re: cgarner

                                                                                        If your relationship with the owner is as warm and friendly as you say it is, then *tell him* you like lots of basil, and offer to pay for the extra basil. Then cheerfully pay whatever the difference is.

                                                                                        Then he knows it's because you like *lots* of basil, and not because you think he screws up the dish.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          sunshine, you said a mouthfull (no pun intended) you're probably right about that. Maybe if we were to make our wishes clear to the server, instead of just asking for "extra" basil, ask for LOTS of basil, then I could avoid having to tote my own

                                                                                          1. re: cgarner

                                                                                            and have the conversation with the owner, not the server (unless the server is a son or daughter, or the spouse of same).

                                                                                            THEN tell the server.

                                                                                            1. re: cgarner

                                                                                              It wouldn't hurt to try anyway. I have a thing for lemon. Not just a slice, but maybe a whole lemon's worth of slices with a seafood meal. Also on veggies like asparagus, brussel sprouts, lots of greens etc. I always ask when I order for "a lot" of lemon slices and explain nicely (maybe even in a slightly apologetic tone) that I really have a thing for lemon juice. I am always accommodated, and never with attitude. I realize that lemon slices and basil served on the side are slightly different matters, but it's the same idea.

                                                                                              I attend and annual crab feed/fundraiser where all-you-can-eat crab is served. I dream about this event...the crab is always amazing. My first time attending, they ran out of lemon slices and drawn butter (the horror), which definitely impacted my enjoyment of the meal. It is a very casual event--the goal is raising $$ for our food bank--so the next year I brought lemon slices in a zip-loc bag and shared with my table. Probably not the classiest move of my life, but I'm okay with that.

                                                                                              1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                but at an all-you-can eat fundraiser, it's not *that* big a deal...you're more-or-less donating the lemon to the cause, you're paying to help a charity...you're right -- not the classiest, but not as "non-classy" as hauling out a baggie full of lemon slices in a for-profit restaurant.

                                                                                  3. You asked if it was "wrong"? I don't think it is wrong unless it is against the policy of the restaurant (to allow outside food in).

                                                                                    Tacky?....yes, a bit.


                                                                                    Sneaky?...It should be, so others don't think you are tacky and funny ;)

                                                                                    But if it makes your meal more enjoyable, then I can't see the harm in it. I have carried in hot sauce to a place before, when traveling I have packets of condiments in my car, "wet ones" in my bag, S & P at my office, etc. No harm, no foul.

                                                                                    1. I've been the chef in this scenario.

                                                                                      About 30 years ago, I was an itamae when sushi bars were new and exotic. One of our regular customers used to bring in a little lunch bag with his own condiments. As soon as he sat down, he'd arrange a small container of chili paste, baggie with tiny wedges of lemon, a couple of small shakers with mystery powders, and I forget what else. It didn't matter what he ordered, he'd slather or sprinkle or adorn EVERYTHING with at least one of his additives, and usually two or three. I doubted he could actually taste the sushi under all that stuff. If this behavior wasn't boorish enough, he was a loudmouth know it all, to boot.

                                                                                      I hated serving the guy, and really wanted to ask him not to bring his own stash. My boss, the owner of the place, said we couldn't afford to turn away a customer when we were trying to get established, so I bit my tongue and served him. I even attempted to persuade him to eat the sushi as it was prepared first, but he insisted he was 'improving' it.

                                                                                      Eventually, he stopped coming in...and probably took his bag o' goodies to the tapas place across town. I hated that guy.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: ricepad

                                                                                        Being quick and subtle is key to doing anything of a personal nature in a restaurant. From putting on lipstick, sneezing, using a cell phone, disciplining your kids, taking a pill, removing an unwanted ingredient from a dish, complaining about incorrectly cooked meat, using a favorite condiment the restaurant doesn't provide. I believe as long as you don't call attention to yourself and don't cause problems, leave it at that. What I've done and the OP has done are not the same as "lining up containers" and being a loudmouth too. Funny thing is, it wasn't until the third time I brought my own lemon twist that the bartender came out and asked how I made such a fine, thin ribbon.

                                                                                        1. re: escondido123

                                                                                          True, I probably hated that guy more because he was obnoxious than because he 'augmented' the food I prepared for him. I guess I didn't really care that he was spending big bucks on sushi to make every item taste like chili and lemon and rice, once he was done with it. It was insulting, but he was paying to insult me, so that was his right.

                                                                                          1. re: ricepad

                                                                                            I love "paying to insult me." Did the guy know he was being insulting or was he just oblivious? My BIL is a retired Marine who spent many years hiding the flavor of bad military food with tobasco and whatever citrus he could get his hands on. Many years later, he still tends to go for those condiments and I think he carries a to-go tobasco.

                                                                                            1. re: escondido123

                                                                                              Considering what a boor he was in all other aspects of his behavior, I think he was oblivious. And a crappy tipper, too, but that's for another thread!

                                                                                      2. Wouldn't a restaurant (couldn't a restaurant) be faced with some legal liability if a patron brought their own fixins in, used said, and then complained of some food borne illness?

                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: RedTop

                                                                                          It might be so. A breakfast place near me makes spectacular home fries but of course the eggs are bland supermarket stuff. I once took two from the local poultry farm and asked the waitress if they could charge me for their eggs but fry mine - they refused, citing possible liability.

                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                            You are fabulous. (I think?) Did you bring your well-seasoned skillet for them to fry them up?

                                                                                            1. re: thegforceny

                                                                                              Hmm...wow? Yea bringing in seasonings and hot sauce or anything along those lines is a bit extensive, but bringing your own eggs? I think that draws the line. As far as bringing in your own CLOTH napkins, that is also overkill. Why not ask the servers for a cloth napkin if it is that crucial? Also, does a napkin really determine how your food tastes? It hasn't affected my meal before.

                                                                                              1. re: Laurenjo28

                                                                                                Because a cloth napkin is nicer and makes for a more pleasant evening so what's the big deal? And why does it matter to you anyway?

                                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                  Do you also bring candles if you were hoping for a romantic evening for two and the lighting in the place is wrong? Or listen to your iPod if you don't like the music in the restaurant?

                                                                                                  It just seems like a slippery slope to me...sometimes you don't get everything exactly the way you want it.

                                                                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                    No candles, thank you. I don't own an iPod and I turn my cell phone when I go into a restaurant and I never talk on it. I also don't discuss dental surgeries, stomach problems or toilet training, all things I have had to listen to from other tables when dining out. I think my condiments are a lot less bothersome than all of those. And if you had a choice of just a few restaurants because you can't drive at night, you too might do a little something to improve your evening. I wish you well.

                                                                                                  2. re: escondido123

                                                                                                    Well you gave an answer so I gave my opinion. It isn't a big deal, I just think it is over kill. If I'm not mistaken, in a previous post you did say the restaurant supplied cloth napkins inside, which led me to believe you could simply ask for one.

                                                                                                2. re: thegforceny

                                                                                                  So she brings eggs and is fabulous but above you tell cgarner to "suck it up" or "don't order it". Why the applause on the one hand and nastiness on the other?

                                                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                    Because I am assuming greygarious is being facetious!!! Bringing in eggs? he/she MUST BE joking. Geez.

                                                                                                  2. re: thegforceny

                                                                                                    I am assuming greygarious was being facetious about bringing in eggs.

                                                                                                  3. re: greygarious

                                                                                                    Not exactly the same scenario, but my boyfriend has a lake cabin and was headed up for a boy's weekend. There's a local bar out in the middle of nowhere that has great burgers, that you can get with a whole list of ingredients, including a fried egg. The guys placed their orders, but were told the kitchen was out of eggs. Since they had packed food in for the weekend, they had a couple dozen eggs out in their coolers, so they asked if the kitchen would mind frying those up, and the cook was happy to oblige. This is also a place where we've seen them take unfinished leftovers and dump them in dishes out back for the local stray dogs, so I don't think they're too concerned about liability issues.

                                                                                                    1. re: gmm

                                                                                                      Also, just about every major fishing destination (lake or ocean) has restaurants that will take your day's catch and cook it for you. I've never brought in an egg, but I'd rather have a professional cook that skate or shark or whatever we caught that day.

                                                                                                3. I think we all need to think back to the scene in 'To Kill A Mockingbird' (book or film, your choice) when a little boy guest ask for and then pours syrup all over his dinner. Do we remember what the cook said to Scout?

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. Okay, I love food, but I can't imagine doing something like this. If the food is so inadequate it requires such a remedy, I'll eat somewhere else. I'm not such a delicate flower that I have to correct seasonings that somehow offend me.

                                                                                                    Exception: airplane food. You're trapped. If you get food at all, it will be nasty, so bring those condiments along (if you can get them through security) and go to it!

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                      You don't always have the option of eating elsewhere. That said, I usually just eat whatever I can or stay hungry simply because I would never think to carry condiments around. Just not my personality.

                                                                                                      1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                        Yeah. How far gone are you if you take basil to a restaurant just in case the food isn't done perfectly the way you'd make it at home? Aren't you setting yourself up to be disappointed? Aren't you planning to have a bad time? Crap -- just stay home and cook if you already have decided you won't have it the way you like it if you eat out.

                                                                                                      2. I figure it this way....if you enjoy the restaurant and will continue to go....then do what makes you happy. That being said, if it is a restaurant you frequent you may ask to speak to the chef and explain that you are a regular and that you'd prefer more basil. Maybe other customers would prefer more as well and just don't go as far as to bring their own.

                                                                                                        1. I'll share this story here again because I think it is cute and topical. Some decades ago I was dining with friends at the old original Le Cirque in Manhattan, and I noticed a little old man dining alone at a nearby 2-top. When his entree arrived, I noticed him retrieving a small jackknife and a little bag from his jacket, and next he was shaving a truffle on his meal. Later after he left I asked our server about it. He said that's the little old mans table, he eats there every night, and almost always brings a truffle. They obviously had no objection; who could?

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                            That *has* to be the most fabulous and expensive condiment to bring! Ding ding ding, he wins the prize.

                                                                                                          2. In defense of bringing a cloth table napkin, why are people name calling instead of applauding this person for being environmentally conscious? We quit buying paper napkins at home we now use cloth napkins. It’s just better for the environment. The amount paper products that are used and thrown away (un-recycled) from the restaurant industry is deplorable. I say kudos for doing your part. (Even if being environmentally conscious wasn’t your intention, you’re doing a good thing by bringing your own)

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                              errr....not necessarily. Cotton production is highly damaging for the environment, but if you use linen that is better. While overall fabric napkins are better, don't kid yourself that they are beyond reproach. Very good article about it here:

                                                                                                              1. re: pj26

                                                                                                                I buy all our napkins at Goodwill or other resale shops so I don't think the cotton production pollution should be on my head. Also, they didn't like to bring cloth napkins outside because they said they had a tendency to "disappear."

                                                                                                            2. I know some Japanese folks who bring their own soy sauce and wasabi (or yuzukosho) to steakhouses, since it's not a common condiment to ask for. While bearnaise sauce, compound butters, and steak sauces can add some flavor to a steak, it seems that those are far too heavy to add to an already heavy hunk of protein for many Japanese. I have to admit, I really like the yuzukosho/soy sauce for my steak as well.

                                                                                                              1. A few months ago, I was invited to Red Lobster. I try to eat healthfully, and I knew that the grilled seafood options would come with buttery sauce. I brought a vile of my own sauce inside of a plastic bag for double protection in my purse. It was seasoned fish sauce (nuoc mam pha). I was very discreet about it, and somehow no one smelled or noticed it in the extremely crowded, musty, and cavernous Red Lobster. I just poured it on my lobster tail, scallops and shrimp. I felt so clever and smugly proud for not having the butter sauce but instead having a light chile garlic fish sauce drenched seafood platter. Yum! Bad manners, rude, weird, I know. What if the fish sauce had spilled in my leather purse? I know! But I would do it again in a heart beat!

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                                                  It would have been vile if your vial had spilled...

                                                                                                                2. wow, never thought of this! I just wouldn't have gone back to that restaurant.

                                                                                                                  1. OP, for a split second there I thought you were talking about Spirito's in Elizabeht, NJ. It's an old school, non fancy, red sauce pasta and pizza joint.
                                                                                                                    They always bring out Italian bread and a shaker full of parmesan cheese....no butter. Ever. Don't ask for it. It's one of those tough love, type places. Consequently, Spirito's regulars who must have butter with their bread have been known to bring their own. It's not frowned upon as it is part of the restaurant's quirkiness. In fact. over the years, people have joked about getting up a little butter stand outside the restaurant :)

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: HungryRubia

                                                                                                                      I have travelled with a small pepper grinder. I have also been known to have a small baggie with Thai bird chiles and sawtooth herb, plus the occasional lime, when I go to certain pho places that overlook these items on the side plate of sprouts and herbs. I am discreet about using them, but if challenged, would simply state that they are essential to my enjoyment of pho and since they opt not to include them on the herb plate, I am merely supplementing from my own stash.

                                                                                                                    2. I do not and would not.

                                                                                                                      What is served to me when I eat out is a reflection of how the restaurant/chef/whoever prepares the dish. If I dislike it I either mention it to the server or, if condiments are needed, ask for it or simply note that such-and-such a dish at such-and-such a place is not to my liking, and try to remember that if I were to return.

                                                                                                                      Insofar as the Insalata Caprese you had with insufficient basil - I would ask for more, note they would only furnish two more leaves, then not order it next time if they still refuse to provide more basil even if I offer to pay for it.

                                                                                                                      Have you tried asking them if they would sell you the mozzarella to take away with you? (And make your own insalata caprese at home)

                                                                                                                      41 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                        I don't get it though. If the restaurant doesn't care....and the customer doesn't care...why should you care?
                                                                                                                        Why should the customer change their behavior because you care? ("you" as in "other people", not specifically you).

                                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                          Thank you. When I have commented before about other diners being rude, crude, disgusting, noisy etc, I've often been told to just mine my own business. So now I say, if the woman next to you slips a ribbon of lemon peel into her martini, MYOB.

                                                                                                                          1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                            I wouldn't *say* anything -- but I'd think they were weird and lacking in some social graces.

                                                                                                                            1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                              I agree that one should mind their own business in a restaurant. It doesn't hurt me if another patron takes out a pepper mill, a cloth napkin, a ziplock baggie with lemon wedges, or a tupperware container full of olives. And I don't think that it is in the restaurant's best interest to curtail this activity.

                                                                                                                              It reminds me of this scene from the movie Big Night, where a customer wants spaghetti with her risotto.


                                                                                                                              That being said, I do agree that in most cases, the things described above are tacky, and bordering on rude. That's fine. Lots of people do things that other people find tacky or rude. You live with them when you agree to be a member of a society.

                                                                                                                              I used to travel with a colleague who always embarrassed me. When asked if she wanted mushrooms on her steak, or bacon on her potato, her response was "I want everything that is free." I was always mortified.

                                                                                                                              You have a right to be tacky and rude as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

                                                                                                                              We could be having the same argument about people who wear flip-flops and shorts and t-shirts with tacky sayings on them to dinner. "Hey, it is my meal and I am paying the restaurant. Why shouldn't i be able to wear what I want?" You can wear what you want, and the restaurant has the right to serve you or not. but there are accepted behaviors in a polite society. If you choose to behave differently, that's fine. but other people have the right to look at you and think "Crass."

                                                                                                                              1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                                                                Well said.

                                                                                                                                What bothers me most about this discussion is the fact that it seems to those who indulge in this tacky behavior, don't want to hear from those of us who consider it rude, vulgar, tacky, crass whatever. As if our opinions don't count, and only want to hear from those who agree w said passive-aggressive behavior. If you don't want to hear other opinions, maybe you should go somewhere where diverse opinions are not allowed.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Phurstluv

                                                                                                                                  Now there ya go!
                                                                                                                                  People don't seem to understand that yes they do indeed have the right to do these things (most of the time, unless the restaurant sais otherwise I suppose) but whether or not it would be "acceptable" in polite company is apparently escaping them completely.
                                                                                                                                  Yes you are allowed.. but good manners and etiquette are something else alltogether.
                                                                                                                                  Now some of you are surely saying to yourselves that I've insinuated things that were less than becoming of other posters that may certainly be considered less than polite.. yup, I sure have.. I'm allowed

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phurstluv

                                                                                                                                    You are correct when you point out that everyone here is allowed their opinion. My opinion is that your statement that it is "rude, vulgar, tacky, crass" to bring condiments into a restaurant is going a bit overboard. While I believe it can be described in that manner in some cases, I also believe it would be incorrect to use those words in all cases. I think someone could bring their own sweetener, peppermill, sea salt, etc. without being rude, vulgar, tacky, or crass.

                                                                                                                              2. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                @sedimental: Hold on there. I said nothing in my post about judging another patron of the restaurant dining there at the same time as I did, as you are accusing me - or any other observing patron - of doing. I merely stated what I would do and why. I then said what I would do if I were to order that insalata caprese. I then asked the OP if he/she had thought of enquiring of the restaurant if the cheese could be bought from them. That was it.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                  I don't get the fact that the OP is asking for our opinion, and if we disagree, we get jumped all over on??? Since we disagree with the premise, we have no right to say so?? We're supposed to STFU and only those who agree should be allowed to comment?? Sounds like our current main stream media problem.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phurstluv

                                                                                                                                    Disagreement is great, different strokes for different folks, I just don't get the name calling

                                                                                                                                    Crass, rude, tacky, impolite.. what's the point?

                                                                                                                                    If I want to tell someone I think they're wrong, I can think of many other ways of doing so without all the name calling. I don't mean to direct ALL of this at you Phurstluv, this just seemed to be the best place to "insert comment here"

                                                                                                                                    1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                                      +1. It's a food board, folks. Lower the hackles and.... be nice. You know, all the things you learned in Kindergarten ;-)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                        But that is was adjectives are for: to describe the situation. It IS, in many posters opinion, a tacky and crass activity. How else to describe it? It is this particular act that is crass and tacky, not the entirety of the person per se.

                                                                                                                                        I honestly can't think of another way to describe it.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: thegforceny

                                                                                                                                          "But that is was adjectives are for: to describe the situation."

                                                                                                                                          Adjectives that kept coming to my mind while reading this thread: hostile, condescending, smug, argumentative, and piss-elegant.

                                                                                                                                          This board could use an ignore list.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: padkimao

                                                                                                                                            Fair enough. Never heard "piss-elegant". Good one!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: thegforceny

                                                                                                                                              +1. Piss Elegant. That's a new one!

                                                                                                                                          2. re: thegforceny

                                                                                                                                            Adjectives=name calling, thinly veiled, of course ;-)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                              I guess, but as I noted below, I don't know how those of us who feel the answer to the OP's original question—"Is it wrong?"—is "yes" can explain why we think it's a "yes" without hurting someone's feelings. Again, it's the nature of an etiquette/human behavior thread. I'm sure there are ways, but clearly none of us have figured them out in this instance.

                                                                                                                                              Not to turn this into a meta-thread about the etiquette of posting about etiquette.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                                Well said.
                                                                                                                                                I think a polite way to disagree is to say "I wouldn't do it, but hey, that's just me". We're not talking about public urination here ;-) It's rather benign stuff, really.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                    I see. So I should simply "enjoy" the faux maple syrup? Not happening. If a place offers real maple syrup at a premium, I'm happy to get it, but if they don't have it, I'm bringing my own or staying home and making pancakes. Perhaps if I do that I should feel self-righteously great about not bringing my business to a local restaurant that I generally enjoy. Some folks here would do well to get a (different) "hobby."

                                                                                                                                    1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                                                      If you want to dine there, why not order something other than pancakes or whatever you put the syrup on, instead of looking crass? Or, as you put it, stay home and make pancakes?

                                                                                                                                      The only ones who are feeling self-righteous are those that are bringing in their own condiments anyway. Those are the ones that need a different "hobby" as you put it.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Phurstluv

                                                                                                                                        Because I choose to, and I really could care less whether you like it or not.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                                                          and also, this is an area where it's the ONLY place to go out for breakfast in about 20 miles. The kitchen could care less, the other customers are friends and don't care AND I just said that if they had maple syrup, I'd happily pay a premium for it. What part of that is unclear?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                                                            If this is a place you regularly go to, and I think this is particularly pertinent if you go "en masse" and your group of friends feel the same, you might want to suggest they offer the real syrup at a premium so that you don't have to tote your own.
                                                                                                                                            Business owners are always looking at ways of bringing in more clients and especially to make more money. Seems to me you care a good deal for the well being of the local merchants, why not do your best to help them out with a good suggestion.
                                                                                                                                            This seems to be another example of someone preferring to complain and be uncouth in behavior, than to act on their own expressed sentiments and do a little good for someone else instead of just thinking about themselves.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: wisenyoung

                                                                                                                                              I have no dog in this fight, but I do have a friend who has her favorite Mom & Pop restaurant keep a bottle of her favorite sauce there just for her. They've even named a menu item in her honor,

                                                                                                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                I think this is the best possible outcome (well, not the menu thing although that is awesome too!). If you are a regular at the restaurant, they should be able to accommodate you without you having to carry in your own supplies.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                                                              I have a friend who keeps his own bottle of medium (or number 2 grade) pure maple syrup at his local breakfast joint. He is a regular and they are happy to keep his bottle on hand for him when he comes in. He is a loyal customer and a good tipper. Nobody has a problem with the arrangement.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                                                Thanks, sweetpea, that is exactly what I've been saying, and for something as simple as that, I've had a load of invective directed my way that is nearly unprecedented. It honestly makes me want to leave Chowhounds and never return, but I suspect that's what some people want - to keep it as their private club and chase off anyone who isn't like them or in their in-crowd.

                                                                                                                                                I'm pretty sure that if I asked waitstaff, kitchen, other customers, and they all said it's OK, people here would still be as angry and critical. I can hear it now "sure, they said that to your face but REALLY..." blah blah blah. Be sure and come over to my table and call me names to my face the next time you see me dining at a restaurant near you. If you have the wherewithal, that is.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                                                                  There was a time when I carried my own toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling on my vegetable-based sushi rolls. Freshly toasted seeds taste great, while the commercial ones tend to taste woody and stale. It wasn't cool and I knew it, but I was smitten with the seeds. One sushi chef started sprinkling my maki with toasted sesame seeds. While they were the commercial kind, I really appreciated his generosity and willingness to make customers happy. I stopped bringing the seeds after that. I've since moved on to eat raw fish, so there is no longer a need to perk up fairly bland vegetable rolls.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                                                                    The thing is, threads about etiquette are based on value judgments—the OP asked: "Is this wrong?"—so they're guaranteed to raise hackles. The only way to avoid criticism in such cases is to not ask for it by posting. Conversely, the only way to avoid insulting someone in such cases is to not criticize the human behavior in question. It's the nature of this type of thread. I for one might try to avoid the phrase "passive-aggressive" from here on out, especially since in using it, I admit I may have been being exactly that.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                                                                      Wow, good thing you aren't overreacting.

                                                                                                                                                      Oh wait, you totally are. I guess when you said upthread that you " could care less" you didn't misuse the phrase "couldn't care less"?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                                                                          The OP asked for opinions and got them (in spades). People draw the line differently -- I carry a lovely little Peugeot peppermill in my purse and use it discreetly. However, one of my favorite restaurants uses really crappy paper napkins that I HATE, but would feel like a freak if I took my own cloth ones. I wouldn't take any of this personally.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                            I wouldn't do it either where other people were dining. The place I did do it never had anyone eating outside so it was just us and the waiter, who couldn't have cared less and I doubt even noticed. That place didn't survive because in spite of good food, the service was generally quite bad.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                              If you can do it and no one knows, where' the foul?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                  there's a table koan - if nobody noticed, did it even happen?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                    Or even if no one notices. I think part of the problem on this thread is that we're now all Thinking Hard about the issue. I will confess that I find bringing your own condiments, basil, and/or napkins a little weird and possibly tacky when I read about it here, because my full attention is devoted to the idea, but honestly if I were a fellow diner I very much doubt if I would even notice. And if I did it certainly wouldn't ruin my meal. At worst it would engender an amused look, which really in the scope of things that usually happen to me in most days is not even a blip on the radar.

                                                                                                                                                                    {this was in response to pikawicca's "if you can do it and no one knows" comment-it replaced itself and I'm not up to restructuring my first sentence...]

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                      Exactly. It's the nosy bodies that care what you're doing discretely.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                        If you're truly discrete, others wouldn't notice in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                          Exactly. Others should MYOB.
                                                                                                                                                                          I mean really, what they going to do? Call the condiment police?

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                      huiray, no, I haven't thought of asking for it for takeout... but that's a really good idea
                                                                                                                                                      (matter of fact Sunday "dinner" was a nice platter of Insalata Caprese with tomatoes from my Dad's garden all the fresh basil that we wanted, along with some salumi and other cured meats and wonderful bread. Probably the only thing that could have made the meal better was that home-made mozzarella... good call!)

                                                                                                                                                    3. I see no problem with small things like condiments. I wouldn't bring my own cutlery, cloth napkins etc. I always carry wet naps though. I am on a seriously reduced sodium diet (Doc's orders) so I do bring my own salad dressing in a small tupperware container. If I plan on having fries I bring my own no salt ketchup and so on. I'm surprised no else has mention food restrictions or dietary needs. On a side note we went to a fine dining restaurant for our son's 21st birthday. (His choice) The menu had nothing my daughter would have eaten at the age of 11. I discreetly asked if they could prepare chicken fingers as they had chicken on the menu. I was told no and she had to order off the menu. I again asked if there was anything the kitchen can do for a child. Again the answer was no. Needless to say the bill was $900 for 8 people. That is the last money that restaurant will ever see from us!

                                                                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: 02putt

                                                                                                                                                        dietary restrictions get a free pass.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: 02putt

                                                                                                                                                          Might it not have been better to enquire of the restaurant at the time of booking if they could cook something special for an 11 year old who wouldnt want to eat any of their food? That way, you would have known of its policy (a hardly unsurprising policy given it is "fine dining") and be able to go somewhere else where your daughter might have got something to eat rather than stare at an empty plate all night.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                            I understand where you are coming from but we didn't book it his mother did. Enough said.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: 02putt

                                                                                                                                                            You asked a fine dining establishment to make chicken fingers?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                              At $900 if I wanted to slaughter the damn bird myself I should have been able to. Besides, they did offer lightly breaded fish and chicken was on the menu. It's not like I was requesting something they didn't already have. They even could have offered to make spaghetti and throw some tomato sauce on it. I don't see the problem. They offered no explanation, apologies or suggestions. Quite frankly they were pompous assess. Like a lot of CHers I have been to numerous fine dining establishments over the years and never been treated so rudely. Like I said I don't mind paying for good food and service but the food was just okay and the service was terrible. So I guess I had other beefs as well. But really, they could have offered some sort of explanation. For $900 I think I was owed that much.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: 02putt

                                                                                                                                                                Just because you don't "see the problem" doesn't mean it wasn't an issue for the kitchen. How were they rude about not making a special meal for a picky eater on the fly, exactly? Why didn't you call in advance if you knew you were bringing someone who is limited in what she will eat?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                  If it was a problem they could have explained this with more than a flat out no. The maitre de did not consult the kitchen. I barely had the request out of my mouth before I was treated like dirt for asking. Pardon me for expecting a little courtesy. My daughter was not a picky eater. She was your typical 11 year old. Maybe they should have had a sign on the door. No children allowed. Besides your missing the point. It is not that they would not cater to my request it was the manner in which handled. Whether you think I am right or wrong in asking a question and expecting an answer or explanation does not matter in this case. Considering it was 7 years ago I guess you can assume I am still a little bitter about the experience. Maybe I should have really ticked them off and brought out my pepper mill.

                                                                                                                                                          3. I have thought about bringing a peppermill but never remember to do so. I really like fresh ground pepper, not the dust in most pepper shakers. I would not bring along a giant peppermill, but one like this:


                                                                                                                                                            1. I have no issue with BYOC, but IMHO basil in a Caprese is an integral element, not a condiment. and I hate a stingy use of it.

                                                                                                                                                              but as far as condiments proper, someone posted this link a couple of years ago, makes one want to contact a distributor.

                                                                                                                                                              1. Heck, it's YOUR meal.

                                                                                                                                                                Take whatever you want to augment it.

                                                                                                                                                                My parfleche includes anchovies to augment the salads
                                                                                                                                                                cracked pepper for anything
                                                                                                                                                                Good wooden chopsticks if the food calls for them.
                                                                                                                                                                Two lemons, for fortifying water with vitamin C.

                                                                                                                                                                Enjoy the chef's offerings
                                                                                                                                                                Don't be afraid to add to them.
                                                                                                                                                                The secret is discretion
                                                                                                                                                                and proper decorum.

                                                                                                                                                                1. cg--try Bacco at 202 &63. (Yesterday was so nice, we sought out the outdoor seating (below 90? Nice!) I think you're local?

                                                                                                                                                                  Mom got the capprese salad and I got the margherita pizza. Both had very nice fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. Giovanni, the 90+ gardener, had all veggies growing: tomatoes, basil, zuccini, oregano, etc. Since mom showed an interest, he gave her two sprigs to plant (thanks, our front yard is full of herbs and spices ;) The smell was wonderful and we actually chomped those leaves more than the bread.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Restaurants in Puerto Vallarta don't typically have lemons. At my age I can't switch to limes for seafood so I bring my own lemon. Used to be a real challenge to find here, even tried growing my own. of course now with Costco almost always available.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. My MIL always used to carry around garlic powder in her purse.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I most always bring a small bottle of maple syrup.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. My BF and I went to Door County last June and every restaurant we patronized had ketchup with high fructose corn syrup in it, which I am zealously trying to avoid.

                                                                                                                                                                          Someone at another discussion board suggested I bring my own individual HFCS-free ketchup packets and if management asks, tell them why. I just know BF would frown on this, but I'd like some input from Chowhound members just the same. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. I wish I was a little more ballsy and had the means of carrying, and pretty much all food on planet earth is better with wasabi mayo. Well ok I exaggerate, but man do I love that stuff. Rare to find in a restaurant, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. overall, my take on this thread, speaking personally, as someone who lives in a very restaurant dense area, is that while i get what people are saying, to me it seems that if you don't like the way a place does its thing, find another place.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Hello all! I am a new "hound" and have read this thread. I am a home cook and a server in the Midwest. One thing that I would like to add to this discussion is that there are several rules that the health department imposes on restaurants. As much as I do not disagree with cloth napkins, extra basil, seasoning and lemon juice, I would caution everyone that many restaurants would frown upon their patrons bringing in outside accessories for fear that the local health departments might have an issue and impose fines or worse, close the doors.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Fascinating thread. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. If you bring your own:

                                                                                                                                                                                  You're insulting the chef.
                                                                                                                                                                                  My dinner, my way, I'm paying for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  You should suggest improvements to the chef/waiter/resto.
                                                                                                                                                                                  It's his/her vision, take it or leave it. STFU.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Support your local restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Give up and eat somewhere else.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Slippery slope. Could lead to flip-flops, sequined bras, and jorts.
                                                                                                                                                                                  No biggie. Just be discreet.

                                                                                                                                                                                  You're a rustic bumpkin if you tote stuff in, in your saddle-shaped handbag*.
                                                                                                                                                                                  I leave a special bottle/box of something at the restaurant, and it's all very cool.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Up to a point it's okay. By which I mean, what I bring is okay, not what you bring.

                                                                                                                                                                                  (Interestingly, I haven't seen reference to those who bring own Reidel glassware. Or those greenies who bring Tupperware rather than bring styrofoam home. Curious what the room attitude is on those.)

                                                                                                                                                                                  *I have a saddle-shaped handbag. It's adorable, and it makes me laugh. It has stains from the time I picked wild blackberries and toted them in it, back to my hotel. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                                                                    "greenies who bring Tupperware rather than bring styrofoam home" that question did come up somewhere here a coupla years ago, personally no skin off my nose, but apparently some in the business said since they couldn't guarantee the cleanliness of the container they might be held liable if someone got sick. (I sorta call BS as I could take the styro clamshell and leave it in the car long enough and get just as sick as with my scratched reusable plastic - not that I wanna be bothered schlepping that stuff around)

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Rarely beseen
                                                                                                                                                                                    are all these besmirchments
                                                                                                                                                                                    of them who have confidence
                                                                                                                                                                                    in their management of their condiments.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Or even their presaged pre-packaged additions
                                                                                                                                                                                    to give lift chef's poor renditions.

                                                                                                                                                                                    If you know
                                                                                                                                                                                    the resto
                                                                                                                                                                                    and you know that it's lackin'
                                                                                                                                                                                    then most discreetly
                                                                                                                                                                                    Have condiments, be packin'.

                                                                                                                                                                                    What beauty resounds from the stories above
                                                                                                                                                                                    of "regular" customers,
                                                                                                                                                                                    with real life relationships with the owners
                                                                                                                                                                                    and leave bottles of condiments in their safekeeping.

                                                                                                                                                                                    That's neighborhood way as it oughta be.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. A while back we occasionally went to a restaurant with a salad bar that did not have French dressing. We also had a family member that really liked that kind of salad but much preferred French dressing. The problem was easily solved by bringing along a small bottle of French dressing. Where is the harm in this?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Discussion seems to be going in circles, and we've had to remove a number of angry and personal replies, so we're going to lock this thread now.