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Would you ever give unsolicited advice to a stranger at a restaurant?

Let's set the scene.

You are dining with your companion at a restaurant you are quite familiar with. You know what's good and, more importantly, you know what to avoid, in this case the salmon.

In an adjacent table is another couple who are within earshot and you overhear that they are considering the salmon.

What do you do? Do you warn them? Or say nothing?

Or be passive-aggressive about the situation and say to your own dining companion, in a rather loud voice so that adjacent diners can't help but overhear, how awful the salmon is at this particular restaurant.

What do you do?

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  1. It would depend on why it is awful (eg. farmed, wild but not line caught, etc -vs.- consistently overcooked, sauce is always congealed, skin is left on and soggy, etc.). If it were something that could be helped, I might consider leaning over to say that they might want to consider asking for their fish done *this way*.

    Although I never do, I MYOB at restaurants. I'm there to enjoy my food and the company of my dining companion(s). I couldn't care less what other people near me are ordering.

    1. Well, if the restaurant I am dinning at does not know how to prepare salmon, one of the most simple of mains to prepare, I would not be considering what the other table is ordering but rather what the hell I am doing dining there?!?!??!?!?

      4 Replies
          1. re: Insatiablegirl

            One of my favorite restaurants does a great job on everything I have ordered there except one dish that I have tried twice, and can't stand their preparation. Apparently not everyone agrees with me because after a dozen years it is still on the menu and i see people both order it and clean their plates.

            I never assume that my tastes match those of others, so i would be reluctant to tell strangers my opinion, solicited or not. My friends aren't so lucky, I'm more than happy to share my opinion, even when they don't want to hear it. LOL

            1. re: Insatiablegirl

              Insatiablegirl, very well said, indeed!

            2. This is an easy one. I would mind my own business.

              Who are you to decide what others order at a restaurant? If you did this to me, it would totally creep me out and ruin my evening.

              1. Never tell someone that a menu item is not good (or bad), tell them what is good, and if they ask about the salmon, just say you never ordered it.

                M.

                11 Replies
                1. re: Maximilien

                  "if they ask about the salmon, just say you never ordered it."

                  So you think it is appropriate to lie to strangers who ask your opinion?

                  1. re: FrankJBN

                    Or just say, "I prefer the chicken".
                    Diplomacy, not deceit.

                    1. re: FrankJBN

                      If they ask -- all bets are off.

                      But to insert your opinion into their evening? not right.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        This describes me and my hubby.

                        And I have an aversion to restaurant eaves droppers, self-centered loud talkers and young children who peek over the booth to start conversations with strangers (beyond hello).

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Restaurant-strength pepper spray.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            ah, but my dh's dart-eyes usually do the trick effectively enuf.

                          2. re: HillJ

                            I share your dislike of all of those types, and I would add that I really really dislike people who read my newspaper with me on the train, thinking I don't notice.

                            1. re: Willa

                              heehee -- I had that one time on a plane -- after about the fourth page, I just turned to him and asked if it was okay if I turned the page. The ruby blush indicated I'd hit the mark squarely.

                          3. re: FrankJBN

                            yeah, I don't get that either. I can see why it might be best to keep your mouth shut if not asked, but if you're opinion is solicited, why in the world wouldn't you warn people?

                            1. re: FrankJBN

                              lying is a sin, editing is a career.

                          4. I've got to say, I don't really go to restaurants with "bad" dishes. There are dishes I don't care for at basically every place I go but that's just personal preference. I wouldn't impose that on a stranger. And if I was the one ordering, I'd be completely weirded out.

                            1. It may be the only thing on the menu that they can eat due to dietary restrictions, and, if that's the case, they may get royally pissed at you, and they'd have every right to be. In the end, you're opinion is irrelevant. The rule of unsolicited advice to strangers is that the adviser has to be willing to suffer all the consequences of doing so; if not, never so advise.

                              45 Replies
                              1. re: Karl S

                                Why would they be royally pissed? And what consequences?

                                I don't think I would offer unsolicited advice, but I've been the recipient of it in restaurants before. And I've had friendly brief conversations with folks next to me in restaurants. Haven't been creeped out. Sometimes have heeded advice, sometimes haven't. There seems to be a lot of uneasiness with conversation among strangers on this thread. Seems odd to me.

                                1. re: debbiel

                                  Having a friendly brief conversation with people at the next table is not the same thing as a busybody interrupt a private conversation to tell me what I should or should not eat. Seems odd to me that you can't see the difference.

                                  1. re: ChillyDog

                                    Me to dining partner: I'm thinking about having the salmon...
                                    Stranger at next table: I'm sorry. This is none of my business, but I've had the salmon. Love this restaurant, but the salmon has always been a bit dry.
                                    Me: Oh, thanks. What do you recommend? OR Thank you (a bit curt, indicating no further conversation desired) OR Really? I'm surprised? Their other fish dishes are so good! OR...

                                    Friendly, brief conversation.

                                    1. re: debbiel

                                      Me: You are correct! It is none of your busines.

                                      :-p

                                      1. re: debbiel

                                        This is none of my business.
                                        Say this 5x to yourself.
                                        Stop.
                                        End of story.

                                        Seriously, you mean well, but really stop and think about boundaries and whether your well-informed opinion (and it's really just that) needs to be shared for the world to continue spinning round and round on its axis.

                                        1. re: monavano

                                          Can you imagine extending this beyond the food? "I couldn't help but overhear you're planning on voting for xxxxxx. Can I recommend you look at zzzzz because he is much better." I don't think it's any worst.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            <I couldn't help but overhear you're planning on voting for xxxxxxx>

                                            I had that happen to me once and I'm hoping they wished they'd never started the conversation to begin with, after my response.
                                            Why do people think their opinion is that important?
                                            Keep it to yourself. It's NONE of your business.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              ...or clothing...or shoes...or child-rearing...or what's in my shopping cart...

                                              I don't know if I just have the invisible "give me your opinion" sign flashing over my head or what...but it seems every few months somebody tries to tell me why I should wear certain things or raise my kids a certain way or buy certain things.

                                              And I didn't ask any of these people for their opinion. Drives me batty.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                In my opinion, you should have a glass of wine...;)

                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  I do, regularly...but I'll choose it, thanks. :)

                                                2. re: sunshine842

                                                  Drives me double batty.
                                                  I cannot, for the life of me, understand how these people think their opinion really matters to me. Most of the time the 'goodwill' nosies need to take a good look in the mirror with their own lives. And their clothes and their children.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    In my opinion, you have excellent taste and that dress looks fantastic on you.

                                                    Should I mmob?

                                                    1. re: Vidute

                                                      Just listen to your momma - if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

                                                      ...so if you really loved someone's dress/hair/purse/shoes -- a quick compliment in passing is always welcome.

                                                      "why would you wear that rag?" Not so much. :)

                                                  2. re: latindancer

                                                    That's likely the most ironic post so far on a board that is specifically about people's opinions about other people's business.

                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                      yes, but our opinion here IS solicited. a big difference from blurting it out to strangers who may or may not be interested.

                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                        Coming here is tacit agreement to engage in opinion sharing, n'est ce pas?
                                                        If I'm with a dining companion, not talking to you, not looking your way, not saying very loudly that I really, really wish that someone, anyone would help me make my food choice! then it goes to reason that I'm not looking for your kind opinion.
                                                        That said, I know your intentions are good, but I didn't solicit your opinion and maybe you've just insulted my taste because I happen to like the salmon!

                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                          I couldn't agree with monvano more. The creepiest part of this whole scenario is that the people at that table next to me are listening to me. Obviously, sometimes you can't help but hear your dining "neighbors", but I think part of restaurant etiquette is *pretending* you don't. If I know they were eavesdropping at the very beginning of my meal, I would be quite uncomfortable for the duration.

                                                          1. re: Justpaula

                                                            Obviously, sometimes you can't help but hear your dining "neighbors", but I think part of restaurant etiquette is *pretending* you don't.
                                                            --------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            That!

                                                        2. re: linguafood

                                                          Unsolicited advice is different from someone asking. If someone asked me if the salmon was good, all bets are off. But, if I'm not asked, I don't tell.

                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                            There's no comparison. This venue is totally different than someone piping in, giving me advice, without my asking or wanting it.

                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                              This is the first time I've ever seen a comment stating that online IS different than RL or visa versa.

                                                              Because CH threads begin as a general discussion or a specific question and quite frequently break off into a combination of discussions by a combination of CH's and then whenever a breakdown happens another CH who hadn't participated in the original discussion pipes in with their own feelings, or defends a CH's strong opinion sometimes the fur flies.

                                                              So how is RL or online advice that much different? On CH no one owns the OP; leaving it open for everyone to chime in. In RL, you step into the conversation of a stranger and you can ruin your meal.

                                                              Being helpful is over rated in some circumstances and called charity in another. Some people dislike charitable, pay it forward thinkers. But people with strong personalities tend to dislike anyone else's opinion and rely mostly on their own.

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                I choose to come to CH and I invite comment/opinions. Everyone coming to this forum expects the same. All bets are off when it comes to where the dialogue goes. My choice. Their choice.
                                                                If I wish to have another's opinion on the street, in a restaurant, in a bakery, in a clothing store I'll ask for it.
                                                                However, what you call 'pay if forward thinkers'? I call it nosiness bordering on rudeness. I'm all about talking to strangers, commenting on the weather and nice talk. It's human kindness I'm concerned about when I do it. Sometimes people need a little human contact. I hardly think what you're talking about has anything to do with 'pay it forward thinkers'. I don't think interjecting an opinion is considered 'giving back'.
                                                                The person who thinks their opinion about food, clothing etc. is the end all isn't my idea of a necessarily nice person who's trying to do a good deed. I think there may other issues at work.

                                                          2. re: latindancer

                                                            OMG what a strong point you just made. I got so tired of one of my regular work lunchmates' expounding and droning on and on and on about politics that today I made a break for it and went to a restaurant, and what was at the table next to me? a pair of hard-of-hearing old boys droning on and on and on about politics.

                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                              People like that feel that the rest of us are complete morons, incapable of perceiving our world 'the right way'....which is, of course, their way.
                                                              The same thing goes with food, clothing, computers, cell phones, cars, etc....the list is endless.
                                                              I have a friend who I really love going out with, who upon hearing that kind of unsolicited comment, will simply and directly say "would you please keep your opinions and comments at a dull roar so I'm not forced to listen to you?".
                                                              My feelings on this topic are basic. If I choose to go into a coffee house where politics, religion etc. are being discussed (we all know the places) then I either am in the mood or I'm not. I choose to go in or not. The rest of the places? Those people who choose to start in with their unsolicited comments are legitimate targets for those of us who don't want to hear it.

                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                LOL...a simple have yourself a nice day works well too. Don't want to be confronted by people offering unasked for opinions doesn't mean you need to bark back. You get what you give.

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  This got me thinking a little more about this....

                                                                  I was raised in a city where the cloud cover was there 24/7 365 days a year...and the people in this city reflected the mood and the environment.
                                                                  The 'have a nice day' term was used to say 'eff you' to those who didn't agree with what was being said.
                                                                  I prefer the term 'eff you' after living in that environment all those years.

                                                          3. re: chowser

                                                            "I noticed you playing with that engagement ring box below the table. Surely you could do better than her? Oh, and, the salmon sucks."

                                                            1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                              "And, really THAT tie with that jacket? No wonder the box isn't pale blue. And did I mention the salmon sucks."

                                                              1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                That one got a laugh!

                                                                "You know, the salmon comes with rice. I don't think she needs all those carbs, hmmmm?"

                                                                1. re: rohirette

                                                                  Hah! Once, I was at a lovely restaurant in Chicago with some big firm New York lawyers who were my co-counsel and visiting for a meeting. One of them was a pompous poop (you know what I am trying to say) and had tried to throw me under the bus and steal my client a numer of times. He never stopped looking for a chance to take the lead away from me. I was on to him.

                                                                  Anyway, we ordered. I then excused myself for a moment and retired to a lovely private booth (okay, it was a stall) in the ladies room. While behind my closed door, I overheard two women remark that the Monkfish had worms in it. Ahhhhhhhh.... but wait! The nasty New York lawyer had ordered the monkfish! What to do, what to do....... LOL! .

                                                                  1. re: Willa

                                                                    ah, but the parasites wouldn't have made him ill out of professional courtesy.

                                                                    1. re: Willa

                                                                      And, you would deny him the evening's special "monkfish avec vers"?

                                                                      1. re: Vidute

                                                                        A very special "special"! Of course he should enjoy it!

                                                                        1. re: Willa

                                                                          so.............inquiring minds want to know....did he enjoy it?

                                                                          1. re: Vidute

                                                                            :)...........Well, to be honest, I finally told him about the worms before our food arrived. I smiled sweetly while he blanched, went pale and snapped his fingers for the waiter to order a rare steak. LOL. I had waited long enough that he knew I was on the fence about sharing the information about the worms. So I made my point, he knew exactly what I thought of him, but i wasn't responsible for poisoning him. LOL! His associate (usually very prim and proper, from an old family line in Virginia), got it too, winked at me and laughed his butt off. It was better than not telling him! He might have gotten sick but he never would have mentioned it because it just wasn't the kind of topic he ever discussed.

                                                                            1. re: Willa

                                                                              Touche! Great way to put him in his place. :) I'm certain the Virginian wasn't the only one entertained!

                                                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                                                You are correct. My associate loved it as well. The lawyer was so horrified to think that he had almost eaten worms (I'm laughing with delight as I recall that amusing evening) that he proceeded to over-indulge in his obscenely expensive red wine. Mid-way through the meal, he was sporting a ridiculous red wine mustache, was slurring ever so slightly, and had effectively lost his dignity. I learned afterward that other associates at that firm had somehow heard the story of that evening's events. It must have sustained them on many an overnighter at the office.

                                                                                1. re: Willa

                                                                                  Wonder if anyone snapped a photo or videotaped to use as leverage at a future date..

                                                        3. re: debbiel

                                                          Because *you* would have spoiled their meal if that's the only thing one of them can eat. And you'd own whatever their reaction to you was, that's why.

                                                          It's is completely none of your business: if you intrude, you own what you started. The problem is, people who butt in don't want to take responsibility for what they start. Unless they are willing, they should keep their opinions to themselves.

                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                            Ah, yes...seagulls....they fly in uninvited, make a lot of noise, sh*t all over everything, and take off....

                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                              I'd think *the chef* spoiled their meal if there's only one thing on the menu they can eat and it sucks.

                                                              1. re: danna

                                                                But *priming* someone to expect something to be sucky makes it all the worse. More of the meal is ruined, potentially. This is what unsolicited advice-givers have to pay more attention to, because it's right in the middle of their cognitive blindspot.

                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                  Karl, you have a good grasp on life. I enjoy your posts.

                                                          2. I'm all for giving and getting help in a restaurant. I'm a friendly person and don't mind someone talking to me a little bit. So I'd do it or wouldn't mind having someone offer a little friendly advice. It certainly wouldn't creep me out to have a person be friendly.

                                                            Where I would caution is what exactly consititues "Bad." Did you not care for it (objective) or did you find a flaw with it (subjective) such as it was over cooked. In other words, if it came with a tomato sauce you may not like it but the dish could be perfectly executed. Whereas it could be simply pan seared but cooked to the point of jerky. When no one would like it.

                                                            For the most part I don't see this as all that different from giving someone advice who wants to go to said restaurant. Let them know to steer clear of the salmon.

                                                            DT

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                              I've piped up a few times when tables next to me are discussing what to order where their choices are the meal that I am currently eating and something that I know that the restaurant has difficulty executing. I always lean over and say "I can recommend suchandsuch. I'm enjoyng this right now". Sometimes they go with my suggestion and sometimes they don't. I can say, that on several occasions, I heard the diners who decided to go with the other dish grumble "why didn't I listen to her".

                                                            2. I would never tell someone that an item is "bad" since many times it is a matter of personal taste.
                                                              I have on occasion pointed out that the restaurant is famous for their _________ which is excellent.

                                                              1. I B quiet. 2 many packin' heat.

                                                                1. I would say nothing and certainly wouldn't go the passive-aggressive route, either.

                                                                  I can't think of many (any?) situations in which I would provide unsolicited advice to a stranger.

                                                                  1. I would never intrude on the other diners by addressing them directly, unless the other couple are people I know. That said, if I had strong feeling that a particular dish is bad, and as the OP said the other couple are in earshot, I might say to my dining partner in a voice the other couple could hear: "Don't order X, it's the one thing this restaurant doesn't do well."

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                      This makes one wonder how many times the OP oredered the salmon they thought was bad. Is it appropriate to condemn a certain dish because it was tasted once and disliked (or ill-prepared).

                                                                      If bad the first time, did OP order it again to make sure it was alwyas bad? Doesn't seem likely.

                                                                      Although if if bad preparation or faulty ingredients, maybe it was only that one time.

                                                                      1. re: FrankJBN

                                                                        That would have been enough for my mother to declare "Well, THIS place has certainly gone down the tubes!".

                                                                    2. Keep quiet. The world already has too many do-gooders.

                                                                      1. Another post about busybody diners/shoppers*?! Hey everyone - leave adults alone to make their own non life threatening decisions. How 'bout you do that, k?

                                                                        In other words: MYOFB

                                                                        *Recent post regarding lectures in the olive oil aisle

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: thegforceny

                                                                          I will never forget the time an older man stopped by our table to tell my partner to "pay less attention to your phone and more to your beautiful dining companion". Uh, my boyfriend was looking up movie times so we could decide what to see? But thanks for the tip on how to be completely rude and intrusive, sir.

                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                            Really? You didn't find it endearing? I would. But then, I'm a sucker for 'older persons' and try to give them a little leeway. :o)

                                                                            1. re: soypower

                                                                              I've been given enough random unsolicited advice from strange older men in my life ("Smile!" and "Smoking is bad for you!") to find it all pretty much obnoxious at this point.

                                                                        2. No way. I'm happy to give advice when asked, but otherwise, no way. So obnoxious to intrude on someone's meal like that.

                                                                          1. Ok, I'll play devil's advocate—from the "newbies" point of view. If I was unfamiliar with the restaurant or hadn't tried the salmon before and was contemplating it, I would be grateful if someone steered me away from it if it wasn't very good, with a few words as to the reason why. It would save me a bad meal and possibly some money.

                                                                            1. If they asked? Sure.

                                                                              Unsolicited? Nope.

                                                                              1. I wouldn't say anything unless they asked me....especially regarding salmon.
                                                                                I've found salmon to be one of the most subjective foods on the planet.
                                                                                Some of the most foul, over prepared salmon dishes I've tasted have turned out to be delicious to others so I say.....leave it alone.

                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                  Depends on how confident I am that they will receive something very off-putting. A lot of it is personal tastes, but if it's a matter of a piece of fish that is likely inedible I would politely interject.

                                                                                  I have intervened when a young lady at the table next to me nearly skipped the small piece of seared foie on her plate because she thought it was a mushroom.

                                                                                  1. re: Rodzilla

                                                                                    Sparing someone from committing a cardinal sin is different (although I'd have given serious thought to saying "I love mushrooms -- I'll take it" )

                                                                                    :)

                                                                                    1. re: Rodzilla

                                                                                      A fresh Alaska King Salmon with a Honey/ginger glaze is inedible, to me.
                                                                                      Yet, infusing different tastes into salmon continues to be a favorite preparation with many restaurants and chefs who should know better.... and I consider it blasphemy.
                                                                                      I'd never interject my opinion because people who don't know any better love it and I'd rather not get into a discussion about how disgusting I think it is to ruin a beautiful piece of fish.

                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                          Honey/ginger I might could get into. Too many people think that salmon belongs with dill,which to me is the equivalent of dragging it behind your car for a couple of miles and coating it with manure. But to each his own.

                                                                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                            My point being....

                                                                                            Leave the damn salmon alone :).

                                                                                        2. re: Rodzilla

                                                                                          were you sure she thought it was a mushroom? had it been mine i would have gladly given it to you - find it an entirely disagreeable food and may have said something about not liking mushrooms to avoid a disagreement with a dining companion.

                                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                            Positive.They ordered a foie gras doughnut, she was asking her partner what it was was. "is that a mushroom or something?" I'm a young guy myself, so I thought there was less chance of me embarrassing them than if they had asked the waiter and I didn't want them to miss what they were paying for.

                                                                                            "I'm sorry, I happened to overhear you and that's actually the foie - it's an odd looking piece, but I didn't want you to miss it." said smiling of course.

                                                                                      1. If you know that a certain dish at the restaurant is very unpleasant, either consistently or that particular night, and I was the one considering it, I would definitely want to be warned (in a low-key, friendly way, of course). In fact, I would consider an act of kindness. My funds for fine dining are too limited to waste them on a dud.
                                                                                        OTOH, I live in a society where it is much more acceptable to talk to strangers than it is in America.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: almond tree

                                                                                          If that particular dish is truly that bad, and you've been there enough to know that it's *consistently* that bad, you'd be doing the owner/manager a service by telling THEM...then warning strangers wouldn't even be an issue.

                                                                                          It's not a matter of talking to strangers (which is very accepted in the US) -- it's whether or not YOUR opinion of the dish should be aired to others...and whether the dish is truly bad, or the OP simply doesn't care for it.

                                                                                          I looked at it from the other side -- imagine I'm sitting in a restaurant, chatting with the others in my party as we peruse the menu, when suddenly someone leans over from the other table and says "whatever you do, don't order the salmon - it's bad".

                                                                                          First thing I would do would be to look at their table and see if anyone at the table actually had the salmon in front of them. If yes, I might ask what's wrong with it...if there's no salmon on the table, I'd begin to wonder about loose screws at the next table.

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            "If that particular dish is truly that bad, and you've been there enough to know that it's *consistently* that bad"

                                                                                            Sort of asked above but how many times does one order a dish one thought was bad, so bad as to compel warning other diners about it?

                                                                                        2. If it's so terrible than why is it on the menu? People are obviously ordering it.

                                                                                          1. MYOB, it's a 24-hour job.
                                                                                            ~Sr. Patricia, my first grade teacher ;-)

                                                                                            1. How would you know that the other diners like what you like? In this case I'd say, MYOB. And the restaurant would probably look askance at you if you intervened. If you have probs with the salmon, take it up with the restaurant manager.

                                                                                              1. For OP. Asked above/below but how often have you had the salmon, so as to know that it is a dish to avoid?

                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                                  It's a hypo folks.

                                                                                                  The "salmon" was just an example.

                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                    doesn't matter,really -- it could be Brussels sprouts, liver, or foie gras (NOT the same thing, even if they're the same organ, by the way), and the discussion would be the same.

                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                      My answer remains. It's the premise, not the specific food.

                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                        So it's a hypothetical - how would you know that any dish is so much to be avoided that you would so advise a stranger?

                                                                                                        had it once? had it several times, always bad? Heard about it? You posted the"premise", so you've obviously thought about it. Give us the 'hypothetical" 'facts' and your answer.

                                                                                                    2. Taste is too subjective. What one may dislike, another may enjoy.
                                                                                                      They can order what they want and make a decision on wether to order again or not return.
                                                                                                      Either way, I don't think this would be doing anyone any favors.

                                                                                                      1. I recently did something like this, not at a sit-down restaurant, but at the Asian food court near my house. I was standing in line at the Sichaun stall ready to order their ma po tofu, but the two guys ahead of me were told they were out of tofu when they ordered it.

                                                                                                        So all of us bailed and a few minutes later, the same two guys were behind me at the Cantonese stall and one said, "Oh, look, they have ma po tofu here, let's just order that." I immediately turned around and just said, "Don't. I've had the ma po tofu here, it's awful. Don't get anything Sichuanese here, you'll just be disappointed. Any of the roast meat plates or any of the old school Chinese-American dishes, you'll be fine." I think they ended up getting Korean.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                          To me, that's different -- standing in line is inherently less formal, and there's less physical and implied space between you than there is in a restaurant.

                                                                                                          Would you have leaned over or turned around and offered the same advice had you all been seated in a table-service restaurant?

                                                                                                        2. I have given unsolicited advice, but not really in the situation you describe. Just recently I heard someone thinking about ordering the one bad milkshake at a great place that specializes in milkshakes. I felt like I had to say something as they were pondering the menu.

                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                            [but not really in the situation you describe]

                                                                                                            Actually, this is completely analogous to the OP. Because you don't like this particular milkshake does not mean that they will agree with your subjective taste.

                                                                                                            If they ask you "what's good here?" you can reply but otherwise MYOB.

                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                              I live in a foreign country where I don't speak the language fluently, as well...and I find other Anglophones who insert themselves into my private conversations to be just as unwelcome here as at "home".

                                                                                                              The only time I've offered help is when someone is loudly and obviously floundering -- in the funniest case, a woman standing literally right behind me in the supermarket, who, in utter exasperation, said loudly "Is there NO ONE in this store who speaks ENGLISH!?" (she was trying to find something and not having any luck). The look on her face when I turned around, within arm's reach, and quietly replied "what do you need help with?" was pretty priceless. I helped her find what she was looking, and we both went on our way.

                                                                                                              But to insert myself into a private conversation where there is no outward sign that there's an issue? Nope. Nunna my bizwax.

                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                i lived in korea for a few years, there was a small convenience market on the ground floor. One time I walked in and the whole place had been re-arranged. I was standing where the coolers had been. suddenly i hear a voice with a soft texas drawl... "lookin few some beeeer?" I turned around, but the only other person in the store was the young cashier who was busy doing some inventory. I turned back around figuring I was hearing things when I heard "the beer coolers are behind the pillar." At that point the cashier couldn't keep a straight face. He had an aunt in Texas and used to spend his summer vacations there, spoke english without a trace of a korean accent. He said my expression was priceless both times he had spoken. I ended up doing a lot of my shopping there from then on.

                                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                  The look on your face was probably something like this poor lady's...she even said so...that she was frustrated and sort of vented, and never for a second imagined that there was an Anglo standing right there next to her.

                                                                                                                  But a Texas twang in Korea had to sound a lot stranger than a Florida drawl in France.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    well I gotta admit... while im not racist... but it wasnt a face I expected to hear that twang from. Seems to me in the book "Innocents Abroad" Mark Twain had a story about not expecting anyone to understand what he and a friend were discussing in Paris, which happened to be a lovely lady in front of them, who happened to be another American.

                                                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                      Funny. I am unmistakenly gringo, and I overheard many fascinating conversations when I lived in Mexico, nobody thinking I understood a single palabra.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                        We spent a few Christmases in Puerto Vallarta, and one time on the bus, a couple of young ladies were nudging each other and saying how they'd like to take my BIL home with them. Imagine theirs surprise when I said in Spanish: "I don't think my sister would like that, since they're married". They were pretty quiet the rest of the trip.

                                                                                                                        We were at a restaurant in the South of France - Castelaudre I believe, and I was doing my best to re-learn high school and college French and not mix it up with Spanish. I managed everything but verb conjugations, with I brought up at dinner. A Brit ex-pat across the restaurant from us said: "Well, that's not very useful then, is it?",

                                                                                                            2. I have been in situations like this when I am dining at the bar, and another solo diner comes up and sits near me and maybe says something nice about how what I'm eating looking good, and I will offer up what it is that I ordered. I think I engender people talking to me, because this happens a lot, and I often will get asked by the diner if they should get A or B as it's their only meal at such and such restaurant and they are in from out of town. I usually just describe the strengths and weaknesses of own as I see it and then let them choose. As others have pointed out, "bad" can mean something different to different people.

                                                                                                              I don't know if I would lean over out of the blue, but my body language usually makes it clear I can be approached when I am dining solo at a bar, so I often get asked/talked to.

                                                                                                              1. Here's another reason why myob is the way to go. What if you overhear someone say "I think I'll order the salmon tonight" and you say "the salmon is not good here" and they say 'oh, I loved it last time I ordered it".
                                                                                                                Now, you've insulted them, inserted yourself into a conversation not meant for you and treated them like a child who needs your help making up their mind what to order.

                                                                                                                1. In the positive, yes. For instance, I've heard diners nearby wondering aloud if they should try something I've tried before and thought was delicious and let them know the same.

                                                                                                                  But in the negative, never.

                                                                                                                  1. I remember in the mid 90s I was at a diner about to order lunch. I said to my colleague that I was thinking of ordering the meatloaf and a guy overheard me and recommended it highly as he just had it. That guy just happened to be Glenn Beck who at the time was a DJ at a local radio station.

                                                                                                                      1. If it's just a taste thing, no. I have spoken up before but for health reasons. Airport, guy was thinking of ordering chicken parmesan from a fast food place and asked if it was fried and fatty. He had just had surgery and was about to get on a plane and too much fat could make him sick he told the counter person. The guy behind the counter had no idea but said it couldn't be because they don't have a fryer. When counterguy walked away, I told the guy it's generally fried especially in places like that elsewhere and brought in. The guy thanked me profusely. In a nicer restaurant, situations like that wouldn't happen but if food is trucked in prepared, they might have no idea.

                                                                                                                        1. I'm generally pretty incapable of MYOB so I'm not sure what I'd do. Depends on the formality of the restaurant, the look of the people, the distance between tables, etc. If I did make a comment, I'd be very specific: "I just had the salmon and thought it was very dry tonight." I'd definitely speak up in line.

                                                                                                                          I really hate the passive-aggressive and patently false comment to my dining companion. If you have something to say, say it directly.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                            Agreed. My dear MIL is very social animal and prone to striking up conversations with strangers. She wouldn't interject her opinion unless asked, but if she'd had something she thought was bad and they asked, she'd tell them why, in diplomatic terms rather than saying it was horrible, just horrible! .

                                                                                                                          2. As I'm enjoying the status of an invited guest in a restaurant, it's not my place to be trashing their food while I'm there. I'm more apt to chime in about an item I think is particularly well done there, if the feeling is right to initiate or continue a brief dialog with stranger(s).

                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                              "invited guest"?? not "paying customer"??

                                                                                                                              Although i think the situation/proximity/vibe would have to be just right for me to jump in with a warning as in the OP's hypothetical, in the right circumstance I WOULD , and I don't think I would owe the restaurant anything more than courteous wording.

                                                                                                                              I find it intriguing that so many on this thread, denizens of an opinion site like CH, would be shy about voicing discontent w/ a restaurant in person.

                                                                                                                              1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                I agree. If "paying customers" equals "invited guests", then no bad reviews would ever be written. It's just as rude to bash a host after a meal than during.

                                                                                                                                I think the "shyness" comes here from whether the person wants your opinion or not. If I had ordered the salmon, and someone asked me if I liked it, I'd tell them how I felt. But, if I'm not part of the conversation, it's generally not my business.

                                                                                                                                1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                  Shyness? How about rudeness? MYOFB.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                    Sorry, Veggo, but there's an enormous difference between "invited guests" and "paying customers".
                                                                                                                                    If somebody else is paying for your food, especially if they're at your table, keep your piehole shut, period. That said, restaurants are in business of providing food for money, which makes you a customer by definition. Doesn't make it right for you to go trashing their food to anybody who'll listen, however. If they ask, you can get your point across but don't be nasty.

                                                                                                                                2. I do it all the time...

                                                                                                                                  Some times people are looking at what I ordered and I'll tell 'em if I think it is good or not. Or if I overhear them considering something I know to be bad, I'll gently recommend something else.

                                                                                                                                  1. I might. It would depend on how much I thought my view of the unloved dish was personal vs. universally applicable.

                                                                                                                                    This reminds me of Ruth Reichl's story of her 'Brenda' disguise. People in NYC restaurants would give her unsolicited advice about what was great and she found it charming. Personally I like interactions between strangers, especially when concern for others' welfare and enjoyment is involved. I think we've become all too good at keeping ourselves to ourselves.

                                                                                                                                    I'd be more likely to offer unsolicited advice in a grocery store than a restaurant. I do most of my shopping at a foodie grocery store where interest in food tends to run high.

                                                                                                                                    14 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                      I agree w/ all your points, and I've had MANY nice conversations w/ strangers in Whole Foods. (of course, i'm there so much the guy at the cheese counter asks me for dating advice regularly)

                                                                                                                                      This thread has been an eye-opener for me...i never realized how many people saw mind-your-own-business as an important rule to follow. I don't think I was ever schooled that MYOB was an issue. It smacks of apathy and borders on unfriendliness to me.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                        I disagree with the apathy and unfriendliness, but I see where in extremes this can be the case. I don't think most people just don't give a sh*t about you wasting your money, most folks will leave you to your own evening.
                                                                                                                                        That said, I've had plenty of chit chat with a close by table, but I try to police my chatty self.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                          monavano said "but I try to police my chatty self"...I plan to be a little more careful with the policing myself after reading this thread....

                                                                                                                                          ....on the other hand, Veggo's "crowded world" makes me wonder if this is somewhat a regional thing...it's not that crowded where I am . Come to think of it, I was advised to wear sunglasses all the time before my 1st trip to NYC so people wouldn't think I was looking at them ;-)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                            I agree with your regional difference observation. I have lived in small CT and TX towns, plus Manhattan and Mexico City, and my behavior changes.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                              Yeah, many cultures are represented on this thread I think! I was thinking it would be fascinating to see the hometowns of posters on this thread listed. (but I guess I'm being nosey...ha!) A couple of unscientific spot checks turned up the MYOFB faction to be solidly Northeast. I love to look for patterns in culture, so here goes with some generalizations. It's my impression having lived in texas, boston, and NYC, that in the northeast, MYOB is the order of the day. But actually not MYOB'ing here has also resulted in some friendships that never would have happened otherwise. I won't say "don't order that", but maybe will say "this place is great" if they're examining the menu outside as I'm leaving. Or "where'd you get that creme ice? looks good" in the park. Or maybe say something is really good while standing at a counter or if someone's sitting next to me at a communal table...would probably never call over to people at another table though.

                                                                                                                                              Within the northeast, there's variation too, culturally, right? It seemed esp. in New England (well, Boston), you just do NOT talk to strangers. In fact they can be very put off if you talk to them (I even got a dirty look once from an older middle aged woman in Boston for saying "excuse me" after she bumped into ME!!!)

                                                                                                                                              And yet even though lots of NYC folk are MYOBers, I noticed that my first summer in new york I had random people come up to me while I was outside working on a project, chatting me up and eventually telling me their life stories. I think a lot of people move to (or stay in) New York because they actually love strangers, and love a reason to talk. Others, not so much...they like the big city anonymity which lets them avoid eye contact and all that stuff you gotta deal with in smaller towns.

                                                                                                                                              Curious what it's like in other countries. I've heard Germany is big on unsolicited advice about what to wear, how to lose weight or treat your acne. That sounds fairly annoying. (And yet, I'd bet the same attitudes about social control are behind the sparkly clean train stations and prompt orderliness. ) I kind of feel like food is a safe topic to talk to strangers about (in a non-obnoxious way, of course), but then from this thread, maybe not!!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowaholic

                                                                                                                                                You'd be pretty far off-base to believe that any of the European countries are big on unsolicited advice. Europe is rather solidly in the MYOFB category. If you ask, they'll be VERY free with their opinion, but if you don't ask, you're very much on your own.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                  Interesting. It was all hearsay--I knew a girl who had lived in Germany as a teen, and was always receiving comments from strangers on various things she could do to help her skin/wardrobe/weight, etc. Maybe she just attracted the nosies!

                                                                                                                                                  But yeah, my experience with Ireland is that you'd never butt in there. My parents, who grew up there, found it nosey when people in the U.S. would ask what they do for work, or why they moved to the states, all things they considered personal, but are fair game for small talk here.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: danna

                                                                                                                                              I was thinking it was a regional thing, too. My friend from England was talking about a cliche where the same gentlemen rode on a train for 30 years, same seats, but never met because they had never formally been introduced. I'll bet the shades of gray are wide (haha, maybe more than 50).

                                                                                                                                          2. re: danna

                                                                                                                                            Through a different spectrum of a prism, MYOB shows diligent respect for others' privacy and space, in a crowded world. In this hypothetical, you are not witnessing a mugging.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                              I'm all for the mantra "it begins with me" but sometimes V, people are a-holes
                                                                                                                                              In a crowded world I'm careful where I sit.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                Be especially careful where you swim!

                                                                                                                                            2. re: danna

                                                                                                                                              "I don't think I was ever schooled that MYOB was an issue."

                                                                                                                                              THAT IS THE PROBLEM IN A NUTSHELL. You never learned about boundaries.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChillyDog

                                                                                                                                                Exactly! There is a reason the term mind-your-own-business exists and that there is even an acronym for it that most people are familiar with. It strikes me as odd that one would find keeping your opinions to yourself as apathetic. To me, unfriendly = letting the people at the next table feel like every word they say is being eavesdropped on. But, I am a private person, known for my outward friendliness, but private. Sometimes, I wish I ordered something else, but I have never wished to feel like my dinner conversation with my husband was being intensely listened to by other diners. Even if they do hear us, I prefer they pretend they don't.

                                                                                                                                          3. Let's change it up a bit:

                                                                                                                                            Family sits down next to your table. Mom reminds dad about Junior's shellfish/seafood allergy (waiter not nearby to hear). Family orders paella for all to share. Do you say something?

                                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                              That's eavesdropping, so no I wouldn't be listening to begin with. But, food can be sent back if ordered incorrectly. Discussed with your waiter at any point if you have a child with an allergy . Mom reminded Dad..Dad tells waiter.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                I'll be devil's advocate here. Valencia Paella does not contain seafood; however, if you're going for the authentic touch, Thumper makes an appearance.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                                No.

                                                                                                                                                I can't imagine a mother, with a child who's allergic to shellfish/seafood, ordering a paella.
                                                                                                                                                It's the same as a mother ordering a peanut butter sandwich and her child's allergic to peanuts.
                                                                                                                                                Doesn't seem possible.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                  It's just a hypothetical question. I'm assuming they are unfamiliar with the food; an accidental choice. You can substitute another less obvious food in the scenario. Or not. :)

                                                                                                                                                2. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                                  Paella doesn't have to include seafood. Only the rice.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                                    If there's a diagnosed seafood allergy, and Mom doesn't know what paella is (and it inexplicably has no description on the menu) - she'd ask what it was and what was in it before ordering it. .

                                                                                                                                                    Perhaps Junior had dinner at a friend's house (or is on his way somewhere else) and isn't going to eat, anyway.

                                                                                                                                                    Just as likely as anything else in this somewhat-tenously-balanced hypothesis.

                                                                                                                                                    Besides...when it shows up, the appearance and the aroma will remove any question whatsoever.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                                      No, mother tells the waiter about junior's allergy, waiter says there's shrimp in that there paella, ma'am.

                                                                                                                                                    2. If the fellows at the other table are having difficulties expressing their questions/orders to the waitstaff because they do not speak the local language well, and I could use my language skills to help, then sure.

                                                                                                                                                      On the flip side of your question, I've been asked a slew of times what was going on on my plate, and if I could recommend something. If I look like a local everywhere, that's a fine compliment.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Back in the last century, I was dining In a London restaurant. The vegetable of the day was courgettes. There was an American family adjacent who weren't familiar with the word, so,the waiter suggested "marrows." They were horrified. I wish I had whispered "zucchini" to them.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. Depends on the situation. Some people spend a lot of time on the menu and you can tell that their choices are important to them. Others are in conversation and barely glance at the menu, either because they know it or they don't care. I would leave that second group alone. But if I were at a restaurant, for example say Sotto Mare in San Francisco, and I overheard a group considering whether to order the Cioppino or the Sand Dabs, I would lean over and tell them that the Cioppino was amazing. I am usually disappointed when I order Cioppino, so I would be glad to know that it was wonderful if I were choosing my meal. It was everything a Cioppino is supposed to be, and more. (The Sotto Mare Cioppino recipe can be found on line, by the way, and it is almost as good as the restaurant's). It happened that my son had ordered the Sand Dabs that night, and they were excellent but just paled in comparison to the Cioppino. OMG. I would fly to S.F. just for Sotto Mare's Cioppino. The broth heavenly, rich sweet tomatoes, a hint of fennel and thinned just right with fresh fish stock. The dungenuss crab was sweet, fresh, the best I had ever eaten. Tender squid, mussels and clams. A little perfectly cooked penne pasta in the Cioppino, and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley, completed the dish. People need to know about this dish before they order! It was one of my favorite food experiences in life (age 54)!

                                                                                                                                                          Now if I were at an oyster bar with a lively crowd, I would not hesitate to tell someone, (unless they looked like they were tuning the rest of the world out) what I had learned about the various oysters available. People who love oysters do want that information. Flavor. Texture. Size. Varieties are different from place to place, day to day, season to season.

                                                                                                                                                          Bottom line, generally MYOB but in exceptional circumstances, or where you sense your advice would be appreciated, a word or two to other guests is fine and often a really nice thing to do. I hate it when I order badly.

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                            That sounds like excellent advice for people with common sense, Willa. I like it.

                                                                                                                                                            *Not that I'm the epicenter of common sense, much as I like to think I am.*

                                                                                                                                                          2. If you intruded on me and over stepped your boundaries by pushing your opinion on me like that while I was seated at a restaurant I would let you know in the most direct manner possible that you should just stop being downright rude and MYOB..please!!!!! I would then ask the wait staff to seat me elsewhere far away from you.Just saying that intruding on strangers is both needy and highly inappropriate on your part. People dine out to have pleasure not deal with potential "food police" stalking them.

                                                                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                                              Point taken. I'll just let you eat the fish with worms. See above Willa post.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                                                Yeesh! More and more restaurants are introducing the communal table where one actually sits with strangers and has a good time! The reason for this is that many people enjoy the social experience of dining out. It's often part of the experience. Remember Babette's Feast? One can approach a neighboring diner in any number of ways if one feels that a comment might be appreciated. One way would be to stop at the table of strangers, ignore any sense of timing and interrupt their conversation to start talking about the menu as if your opinion is worth money. That approach might be described as needy and inappropriate, as well as socially awkward. Even then, I don't think it would require a re-seating unless you feel that the interruptions will not stop.

                                                                                                                                                                Another way would be to play it by ear. In the ever more sociable dining climate, there are plenty of times and places where a quick smile and remark about an excellent dish would be appreciated very much. It is pretty easy to tell when it might be okay to make a comment to a stranger dining near you, and when you should stay well away. There is nothing rude or inappropriate about offering a helpful comment to a fellow diner in the right circumstances, and certainly such behavior is not "highly" inappropriate in almost any circumstances except where done in the most obviously ill-mannered and obnoxious way. My guess is, Lillipop, that you have a "stay away" aura about you that would alert most people to your preference for privacy.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                  "does this (shirt, pants, skirt, pair of socks, haircut, car) make my ass look huge?"

                                                                                                                                                                  "nope, just right sweetness"

                                                                                                                                                                  never offer and if asked stay neutral-ish

                                                                                                                                                                  <edit> that was supposed to be a reply to the general thread, not willa

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                    To me manners are manners. Unless you are part of my dining party or you are George Clooney bringing me a bottle of expensive champagne and a French kiss then please just leave me alone:)

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                                                    Two scenarios:

                                                                                                                                                                    One, a person at an adjacent table says, "Excuse me. I heard you considering the salmon. I just had it and it was absolutely incredible/terrible."

                                                                                                                                                                    Two, person considering the salmon says, "Stop being rude and mind your own business." Then calls for wait staff and asks to be moved to a different table.

                                                                                                                                                                    In my eyes, much worse manners are on display in the second scenario than in the first.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                      Both are poor manners. The degree of difference in badness is not as consequential.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                        I find it absolutely staggering that anyone considers "one" to be poor manners. I respect your opinion and will try to remember that some people feel that way, but you might also want to consider that reasonable people find your stance unfathomable.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                          Many reasonable people feel that way, as demonstrated on this board. I am surprised you are absolutely staggered by that. I don't find the situation unfathomable, either. Giving unasked advice to strangers has long been classed as poor manners.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                            agreed
                                                                                                                                                                            one unsolicited intrusion does not cancel out the other,no matter how well intended

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                              "Giving unasked advice to strangers has long been classed as poor manners."

                                                                                                                                                                              Not by me. That's my point. We have both learned on this thread that our opinions on this topic are not universally shared.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                I didn't say it had been classed as poor behavior by everyone. That was the subtle point...

                                                                                                                                                                    2. To paraphrase what was said by a great person: Be very careful giving advice because most wise men don't need it and fools often don't heed it !

                                                                                                                                                                      I think it was either Rodney Dangerfield or Pee Wee Herman!

                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bacchus101

                                                                                                                                                                        I would like to make the point that when I typed what I would do IF some pushy consumer interrupted my dining experience to give their negative opinion many of you accused me of demonstrating poor manners. Let me say that IF that person were interacting with me in a pleasant manner with a polite smile and greetings of good will that would be welcomed BUT come on this Debbie Downer wants to regale me with horror stories about her perception of the "bad" fish she perceives being served.AND unless she was eavesdropping HOW did she hear me discussing MYpossible selections given that I speak in a very polite quiet voice? I stated that I would let that person know in a direct manner that I felt they were rude intrusive and to MYOB please. Setting boundaries with inappropriate intrusive human beings is within my right if and when I dine out. Why should I stay there and feel irritated with someone who just intruded on my space in a negative manner? I believe that some of you believe it is ok to be that pushy with a stranger are the same folks who believe there is nothing rude about interrupting a celebrity whom you see dining out or out with their family and asking for a photo op or autograph. Because after all you are just that important and entitled to bother other people.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                                                          I don't think anyone was saying it is okay hang around eavesdropping and then offering personal criticism of food that someone might perceive differently. But I'm glad you clarified your response, Lillipop. And why accuse fellow Chowhounders of being so rude that they would probably bother celebrities for a photo? Why go on as you did when you said that some of us are "that important and entitled to bother other people."? Miss Manners defines manners as a practice designed to make other people feel comfortable. It is that simple, and what constitutes good manners often can be flexible provided the behavior accomplishes that goal. Be nice to people. Miss Manners has never been flexible about the rule that it is rude to call other people on their rudeness.

                                                                                                                                                                          When I think of appropriately offering glowing praise of a menu item to a diner at a restaurant, I think of it as no different than enthusiastically offering an endorsement of a roller coaster while standing in line with strangers at an amusement park. No different than mentioning to someone in a crowd at the Fourth of July fireworks -- who is obviously devastated when the finale occurs -- that the next town over has even better fireworks and they go an hour later? Do you think that would be rude as well, Lillipop?

                                                                                                                                                                          As Veggo so aptly said, be cordial and brief.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                                                            <.AND unless she was eavesdropping HOW did she hear me discussing MYpossible selections given that I speak in a very polite quiet voice? >

                                                                                                                                                                            If your "polite, quiet voice" matches the tone of your posts, I doubt that anyone needs to eavesdrop to hear your conversation. Also, most restaurants have tables placed so closely next to each other, that the only way that one can be assured of not being overheard is to mouth the words without actually speaking.