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Restaurant practices you'd like to see become more common

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Last summer, we ate at an Italian restaurant in Santa Fe near the train station. The menu listed 2 prices for most entrees: when I asked the waiter, she explained that they offered smaller-sized portions for patrons who wanted a more reasonable sized dinner. A great idea, especially when one is traveling and doesn't want to eat large meals all the time (and can't take leftovers home) - I'd love to see more places adopt the practice.

What unusual restaurant practices have you seen that you'd like to see more often?

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  1. Basic manners. So many places have become so casual it borders on rudeness and disrespect. Its like no one is training the front of the house any longer.

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodieX2

      Speaking of casual I'd love to see waiters adopt more formal dress again - jeans at RN74, Ad Hoc - blech

    2. One simple thing. Decaffeinated iced tea.
      I don't want soda with dinner, I don't want lemonade all the time. I usually have to settle for water because everything has caffeine in it.

      1. Bring me a glass of water without my having to ask for it.

        15 Replies
        1. re: redfish62

          Most restaurant today will not offer to pour water automatically for every patron as a matter of policy to conserve water.....sometimes this policy is mandated by local or state government, especially in areas where drought conditions exist or in areas like the desert.

          For every glass of water served, it requires a minimum of two additional glasses of water to clean it..

          1. re: fourunder

            "For every glass of water served, it requires a minimum of two additional glasses of water to clean it.."

            Don't say it like that. *Any drink* a restaurant-goer gets would require "two additional glasses of water to clean it."

            1. re: pdxgastro

              True, but they are both asking and paying for that drink...and most likely consuming it....not the glass of water.

              1. re: fourunder

                And if a customer orders something else often the water sits there untouched. Unless it's someone like me. I seem to be incapable of leaving the table without taking a large gulp of water just as I get up.

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  For each glass of wine (especially true for reds), one should have one glass of water.

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    agreed. in fact thats a good rule of thumb for any alcoholic beverage. it does not leave you sober enough to drive home if you have several glasses of whatever it is, but it's sure a lot nicer way to wake up the next morning.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      Yes, it prevents dehydration, not inebriation. And unfitness to drive happens long before actual inebriation, with a slowing of the reflexes.

                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                      and I thought I was the only one who tried to do this...both with cocktails and wine!!

                      1. re: josephnl

                        I know this as a "spacer" or "pacer"

            2. re: redfish62

              I'm fine with having to ask for a glass of water. Many people I know never touch it when it's brought to them automatically. But I wish more places would follow the practice of bringing a carafe of water to the table once it becomes clear there are water drinkers in the party - so much easier than having to chase down the bus boy with the pitcher for refills.

              1. re: cookie monster

                Since you mention the carafe/bottle, you are just talking about when you are eating with a big group, right?

                In South Korea, finding a bottle of water on the table when you sit down is quite common, and dang is it good stuff. Just like what you're about to eat.

                I'll have to cycle through what I've seen out of the states to think of what might be nice here, and vice-versa. Japan and China, well the clear majority of eateries anyway (along with most other facets of life) don't call for tips, but that's another story.

                Oh, ok. Most places I've been, individuals get menus. In China, it's usually just the assumed host. But when it's a group of foreigners, isn't it less "obvious," so to speak? A table of five will probably be presented with one menu. Oh right, and the waiter hovers over you as if you already knew what to order. On the other hand, as usually the only foreigner in most places that I eat there, it's not hard to get their attention...

                1. re: BuildingMyBento

                  In South Korea, you're eating some of the saltiest food on the planet. They bring water 'cause they don't want you die of heart failure before you pay.

              2. re: redfish62

                Regarding a glass of water - without ice if it is January!

                1. re: CCSPRINGS

                  Never without ice!

                  1. re: CCSPRINGS

                    ALWAYS without ice, but chilled in summertime... (remember that these are regional/national preferences - no "right and wrong").

                2. I love a restaurant that sweeps the crumbs off of the table between courses.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ola

                    Yes a custom that is long lost in most restaurants, of course you have to find one what still uses table clothes!!

                  2. I wish more restaurants would offer non-alcoholic cocktails. I can't drink for health reasons, and I'm almost always stuck with water or herbal tea. It's such a pleasure to go to Jean Georges in New York, where they have a selection of wonderful, exotic mocktails on the menu. I wish this would catch on. It could be such a win-win. I'd get my festive drink, and the restaurant could make about $9 of profit by selling me a $12 cocktail instead of making nothing when I fail to order wine.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: CathleenH

                      If I was in your shoes, I think I'd round up some recipes for mocktails and then order them when I went out. If the bartender doesn't know how to make it, you can tell them how...like many people do who have their own favorite cocktail that is not likely to be on a menu.

                      1. re: CathleenH

                        If no non-alcholic cocktails are listed on the menu, I often will ask the server if the bartender could create an interesting non-alcholic cocktail for me, especially if I see the bar already offers interesting alcoholic cocktails.

                        1. re: CathleenH

                          Even if they don't have them explicitly listed on the menu, if you just ask the bartender or server for a "virgin" cocktail, they'll know what you're talking about and make it for you. Obviously, something like a "virgin martini" wouldn't really make sense, but stuff like daquiri's and margaritas are easily adaptable.

                          1. re: Atomic76

                            a 'virgin' martini would be the original source of the 'Gibson' - it was just ice water with a pearl onion. us drinkers corrupted it.

                        2. I love the smaller eater idea - I can't eat tons at a meal (and shouldn't) and I don't like wasting food, or eating nothing but appetizers.

                          I would also like to see salads as standard sides. Quite often, changing from fries to a salad costs extra.

                          A wider variety of drinks that aren't loaded in sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine and/or alcohol. I've been trying to cut out sugary drinks, and it's particularly hard at lunchtime, as lunch combos always come with pop.

                          If a restaurant has an online presence, having one that isn't total garbage. No flash or splash pages, immediately obvious links to map/hours/phone number, and if they include a menu, put the prices on it!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                            "If a restaurant has an online presence, having one that isn't total garbage. No flash or splash pages, immediately obvious links to map/hours/phone number, and if they include a menu, put the prices on it!"

                            my current peeve exactly.

                          2. I'd like to see more from-scratch cooking, rather than the opening of packets, bags, and boxes and the combining of such. Hey, how about some fresh vegetables while we are at it?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sandylc

                              Yeah, it gets me when I see Sysco food service trucks with the slogan 'Eat out more often'---and a picture of a *can* of peas!

                            2. I like it when servers plop down "share plates" when it's obvious you're there to share entrees and mains. I'm always interested in tasting food as opposed to ordering an entire main to myself.

                              Also, carafes of wine instead of the whole bottle. That way, I can have wine that matches my meal without having to pay the per glass premium.

                              Servers who don't back down on dishes that they truly love. I had a server convince me once to order a chocolate cake slice. Boring, simple, outdated you think? HOLY CRAP, it was one of the best desserts I had in 2012. Knowledgeable service is f'ing brilliant and worth every penny.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mayt

                                Great points. We often ask for such, or for extra silverware, when one of us orders, say soup.

                                For me, it is about the tasting, and seldom about any quantities. I cannot recall when I last left any restaurant hungry.

                                Hunt

                              2. Portion size is a big point with me.

                                We often do a "Chef's Tasting Menu," and greatly appreciate the smaller portions. However, we also see too many (for us) restaurants, where an order of a salad, an appetizer, and a main dish, will yield meals for six, and for two days.

                                I do not envy those, who construct "tasting portions," as many US patrons want to feed the entire neighborhood, for a week, just from one visit. We are not of that ilk.

                                We often travel to the middle of the Deep South, where all portions seem to be double-super-sized, and that goes double for the mains.

                                I have campaigned for smaller portions, but most CH's, per the replies, wish to feed a family of 12, for a week, from the leftovers. Obviously, I am in the minority.

                                Hunt

                                24 Replies
                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  +1, especially when I'm traveling and can't take the leftovers. I hate wasting food.

                                  Oh, and healthy options that are already available - besides a salad - that don't require creating a custom dish. Sometimes I'm watching my waistline and I hate to be a pain.

                                  1. re: latte4me

                                    The travelling issue is a good one.

                                    There are times when I go to a restaurant because I want a nice dinner out. I don't mind going going a little overboard on the amount/type fo food I eat.

                                    But I do have work travel. When I'm eating at a restaurant two meals a day for a week or two, I end up with intense cravings for good fresh veggies and salads, in the proportions I'm used to eating at home, where about half the volume of the dinner is vegetables. And I find work travel different than vacation travel - I'm on a per diem, and my eating schedule and options are determined by my work. One of my most common work trip venues is a city of about 40,000 which has a total of about three restaurants that are worth eating at, and one restaurant, not among those three, that's open 24 hours and on Sundays and therefore available when I'm working nights and need dinner at three in the morning.

                                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                                    +2 Nothing turns me off faster then a late that is piled high with food and not an inch of plate showing.

                                    1. re: Mother of four

                                      Maybe I am just a "visual person," but also love to see some plate. Also, that often means that the portion is more in keeping with what I will like.

                                      As most of our "meals out" ARE in our travels, we appreciate portions, that are humanly possible to enjoy.

                                      Just did a 19-course tasting menu, and I left full, but not over-stuffed. All plates were cleaned, except for one of my desserts (in a perfect world, I would have a "cheese course," and then one, tiny dessert, without six more dessert courses to follow, but that is just me). Many chefs/managers get that concept, and I appreciate it. A few diners might expect portions to allow for the feeding of the entire neighborhood for a week, but I am not one - even when dining in my home city.

                                      Hunt

                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        Yeah, Bill, the "cheese course" seems to be a thing of the past. Boy, did I like that! There are a few $$$$ restaurants in NYC that offer a cheese selection, but typically they're juxtaposed with "salumi" offerings and filed under "appetizers."

                                        Although in-between meals I've been known to eat waaaay more than my share of whatever desserts are hanging around, after a great meal I like the cheese, grapes or other fruit, and then a relaxing cup of coffee.

                                        1. re: shaogo

                                          We have a few places that still do traditional cheese. Most times it is in lieu of dessert. My SO doesn't consider this dessert so once in a while he will request it before the meal.

                                          1. re: melpy

                                            I love cheese, but really don't like to have it at the beginning of a meal. It's often really delicious, but because it can be quite rich and filling, I'm always afraid that I'll overdo and not be able to enjoy the rest of my meal. I much prefer having it after dinner as the French traditionally do.

                                            1. re: josephnl

                                              The restaurants are simply catering to the lack of sophistication of today's diners.

                                              1. re: law_doc89

                                                Or lack of funds.

                                            2. re: melpy

                                              For us, it is most often a "pre-dessert," or, if in lieu OF dessert, then I get it, and share, and my wife (more the dessert person, than I) will share her actual dessert.

                                              I have seen cheese-courses offered pre-dinner, only in the US, and then, not THAT often.

                                              I am more accustomed to seeing it as a "pre-desset," after the main, and especially in Europe/UK.

                                              Hunt

                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                Never had much of a sweet tooth, so I love me a nice cheese course with a glass of sherry or port. Fortunately, I have several eateries nearby with excellent selections of cheeses.

                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                  I am with you. While I have experienced some great desserts, a well-thought-out cheese course will ALWAYS get my attention. If I need a taste of "sweet," my wife always accommodates me, but then, she gets part of my cheese.

                                                  I do maybe 9:1 meals, without a dessert, but that is just me.

                                                  Hunt

                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                        Another for reasonable portions.

                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          Another vote for reasonable portions. One reason I love tapas restaurants is because I can taste a wide variety of foods, as each dish is usually just a few bites.

                                          1. re: Isolda

                                            While I love the idea of eating an assortment of tapas/apps, I wish there were more places that charged reasonable prices for those "few bites."

                                            Burns me up when I am charged an entree price for four bites of food!

                                            1. re: Violatp

                                              the issue is that it costs the restaurant almost as much to prepare the small plate as it does the large one. between labor and the cost of dishes, washing, etc, the difference in the ingredient costs become negligible.

                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                It's not something you think about much when you have to order three small plates, each at $20 or so, in order to actually have a meal.

                                            2. re: Isolda

                                              "Tapas," or other variations of "small plates" are very, very popular with us, as well. We want many "tastes," but not so much that we feel horrible guilt, at letting much of the food go to the trash can.

                                              Hunt

                                            3. re: Bill Hunt

                                              As Mr. Pine and I age, our appetites vary a lot from day to day. If we want to eat out, but aren't ravenous, we'll split a main. Occasionally I've had a waitress tell us you can order a 1/2 portion, altho' that's not in writing anywhere. We love that option, and just to encourage this option, we'll tip at the full ration price.

                                              1. re: pine time

                                                Just returned from London, and with several meals, we split some course, and that turned out to be perfect.

                                                Unfortunately, if one does not know the restaurant, and there is no "Chef's Tasting" available, one has to rely on the servers, to help out.

                                                For us, it is not so much about the total cost, but about not wasting a lot of food. Heck, we will pay more, so that we are not faced with guilt. Still remember my mother's admonition, "there are starving children in China, who would love to have that food - eat it all."

                                                Hunt

                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  Oh my goodness,thosee poor starving children in China,or maybe it was Russia! LOL! We must be from the same generation!
                                                  I too would gladly pay the same price for less,just hate wasting food.
                                                  Went to a wonderful restaurant in Philadelphia and had a five course pix fixed dinner that was fabulous...this is from one that can barely finish a salad and an entree...but each pate was small servings and beautifully plated. I managed to lick each plate clean, and I still think about that wonderful meal!

                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                    Yes, the starving children in China. Only once did I make the mistake of suggesting we send them the leftovers. I don't remember what punishment I got, but it wasn't as bad as seeing dad s-l-o-w-l-y putting down his fork and quietly growling out "What did you say young man?"

                                                    Fast and loud was bad, but slow and quiet were sure signs of impending doom. That may be my earliest open-mouth-insert-foot memory.

                                                    Getting back to restaurant practices, maybe they need more slow and quiet waiters instead of the fake cheerleaders found in so many 'family' restaurants.

                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                      Yes, that never played well for me either. Strong looks around the table.

                                                      Hunt

                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                        Send them the leftovers. Ha! Ours was the starving children in Africa, and we couldn't leave the table until finished. My poor brother would just sit and sit. He'd try to quietly get our Weimaraner to come eat some of his plate, but most times the dog wouldn't touch it either. Mom was a terrible cook.

                                                2. - telling you the prices of the "specials"

                                                  - tables proportioned the right size to fit the plates that the kitchen is using

                                                  - food served on plates that are room temperature and safe to handle (and not blazing hot to the touch)

                                                  - one wine list for each person at the table

                                                  - allowing me to pay for the privilege of parking my own car

                                                  19 Replies
                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    - telling you the prices of the "specials"

                                                    ----------------------------------------------------------

                                                    Yes. I got a nasty surprise recently at one of our regular places when I assumed the special I ordered was in line with the restaurant's other entrees. It was 3x the average entree cost, $60+ versus $18-$22. It was good but not that good.

                                                    My fault, I should have asked but on the other hand, the cost was so high in relation to the menu and other specials I have ordered there over the past 4 years, I can't believe the owner didn't have the common sense to tell the wait staff that they should make sure to disclose the price.

                                                    Sparkling clean glasses are one of my "things" In my bartending and serving days, wiping down the glasses and inspecting to trace lipstick residue was part of our prep. I would like to see better policing of glassware.

                                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                                      <<Sparkling clean glasses are one of my "things" In my bartending and serving days, wiping down the glasses and inspecting to trace lipstick residue was part of our prep.>>

                                                      I am a real stickler for my wine glasses. I do not want any hint of a cleaning product, any trace of a previous wine, and no lipstick, that I have made a major scene, when "dirty" stemware was used. Some restaurants got it, but some others did not, and could not imagine why I would not want to drink a 1er Cru Burgundy from a glass, that reeked of sanitizer. I mean, if the producer wanted the wine to taste of sanitizer, then they would have added that to the wine, right?

                                                      Hunt

                                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                                        You really didn't think you could mention a $60. special and not say what it was!?!?!?!?! Please do share !!!!!

                                                        Also steaming of glasses and wiping utensils should be mandatory.

                                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                                        to stay with the "Specials" theme... Why can't the restaurant print out a little addendum to the menu with the specials?
                                                        - the description of the dish will be detailed and correct without relying on the server's patience and memory
                                                        - we get to look at it again and again along with the regular menu items rather than trying to absorb and memorize one hearing
                                                        - we get to see the price rather than having to ask as you described.

                                                        There's no reason not to do this... we've all had laser printers for 20 years. Somebody has to write this out anyway to pass on to the servers, so just give it directly to the customers.

                                                        1. re: Dave_in_PA

                                                          +1 Dave-In-PA

                                                          An excellent point about having written specials particularly for the visual vs auditory people types like me!

                                                          1. re: Dave_in_PA

                                                            Agree with you completely, Dave. There are a few restaurants I frequent that will print out the specials and include it as an insert to the menu, but none of the higher end restaurants around me do this. It's frustrating because sometimes the specials sound good, but I never listen to anyone and my memory is garbage. So I rely on my dining partner/s to be able to tell me what they are. I wish all restaurants had the specials printed and readily viewable somewhere, optimally in an insert included with the menu...

                                                            1. re: MonMauler

                                                              I understand the specials may change over the course of the evening depending on how things sell. In places where they have one of those illuminated boards listing the specials I have seen them changed from time to time while I was dining. Printing out new specials in mid-service could become a nightmare.

                                                              But in general I agree that its nice when they are printed.

                                                              1. re: MonMauler

                                                                That is odd. In my experience, the higher the rating of the restaurant, the more likely they are to print the addendum.

                                                                In recent experiences, the only "verbal addenda," were related to truffles, and in each case (truffle season), the "extra" was clearly stated.

                                                                Hunt

                                                              2. re: Dave_in_PA

                                                                Yes to the printed special descriptions. Mr. CB will ask the waiter person to repeat the specials 3x and then turn to me and ask "now what is the special?" Drives me nuts.

                                                                1. re: Dave_in_PA

                                                                  2 very nice restaurants we go to- the french one has the specials printed and inserted into the menu, the spanish one has a strongly accented recital of the specials in a difficult acoustic room. I rarely remember or order the spoken specials.

                                                                  1. re: Dave_in_PA

                                                                    Just did a culinary trip to London, between Christmas and New Year. We dined at starred restaurants, and each did exactly, as you state - an addendum to the menu, where applicable. Not too much trouble for them.

                                                                    Hunt

                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                      Did you dine at any non-starred restaurants, and did they do that too?

                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                        Yes, we did three without stars (for dinner), though two chefs had them for other restaurants.

                                                                        One did a chef's tasting, which was new every night. One had a more "traditional" menu, with a chalk board for "specials," and one was also a combo - the regular, and then a page of the daily specials/seasonals.

                                                                        So it was rather a mixed bag.

                                                                        I did find it interesting that two of these three beat a 3-star, and in almost every way. Bad night?

                                                                        In the UK and US, I often see sort of a "regular" menu, then a changeable "Chef's Tasting(s), printed out, and possibly each night. It seems to just depend.

                                                                        Hunt

                                                                    2. re: Dave_in_PA

                                                                      In the effort to save paper this can even be a half or quarter sheet. Or one for the table. Our favorite restaurant does it quite classily for the oysters of the day. No plastic stands or leather tents. I agree since they are writing it anyway it would probably be negligible cost.

                                                                      1. re: Dave_in_PA

                                                                        Completely agree with this. I had lunch at a local nice Mediterranean restaurant today that does this: the lunch specials (with descriptions and prices) were printed and presented with the regular menu. At a more casual pub place I frequent, they write the specials (with descriptions and prices) on a blackboard. Since the pub has only about 20 seats, the blackboard is easily visible to all diners.

                                                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                        Not sure about that wine list, but then, "different strokes." I cannot recall a diner (hosted, or not), in the last 20 years, when the wine list was not passed to me. Even when the "duty" was passed to others, it always came back to me. That always meant more "work," as I needed to also know the orders of all others at the table, but that is just how it has been.

                                                                        The first point - "specials" HAS been a bone of contention, but usually not THAT often. As Cleobeach points out, there HAVE been "surprises," and they have never been welcomed. Let's say that the average main is US $30, one should be able to safely anticipate that any "special" will be close to that. I have also had a few, where their price was about 4x that of the otherwise most expensive dish on the menu - blindsided is the term that I would use, and not appreciated. To have one, with no price stated, at US $120 is not good, at least IMHO.

                                                                        The rest, I agree with.

                                                                        Hunt

                                                                        PS - Recently ate at a popular US steakhouse, where the plates came out at about 1800 F, and two things happened - wife cut into the steak, placed a small portion into her mouth, and was burned, plus by the time that she COULD eat the steak, it went from medium-rare to well-done. Bad move, and we should have known. A more frequent diner ordered "cold plates," to share her husband's main-course. I mean, who knew?

                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          Being a frequent steakhouse diner and knowing full well how hot some of the plates at some of the establishments could be there are two things:
                                                                          1.) The waiter should have given you full disclosure of the temp of the plates in advance of sitting it down. Most will use a wood plate under the normal plate because at those temps they can ruin the table linen.
                                                                          2.) The server should have absolutely told you to order down a temp or two in order to make up for the cooking on the plate. At the few steakhouses I dine at that serve in this manner I like my steak medium but will order rare for that very reason. As soon as I get he steak I slice it and lay the slices on the plate to complete cooking. This method of serving will ruin a Filte Mignon every time.

                                                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          The wine list, nowadays, often includes the specialty cocktails, with descriptions rivaling those on the menu; having it handed to one person just means, in my experience, that by the time the server comes around for the initial drink order, we've all decided what we'd like for dinner (as we all have menus) but only one or two people have figured out their pre-dinner apertif, because we're passing the menu around. And then it means very little time to savor those apertifs, since they often end up going in with the appetizer order instead of before it.

                                                                          Or they could put cocktails and wines by the glass on the menu, and reserve the wine list for bottles, where it makes more sense for one person to be doing the ordering.

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            Oooh. At least where I'm at (New England) they're gonna argue with you about the hot plates.

                                                                            Our customers (4 restaurants in this area over the years) never complain about the hot plates -- but woe betide us if we should not make a plate scorching hot to the touch. That's how the public seems to like it.

                                                                          2. Playing off of the theme of the dual prices for entrees - I also really like when there are the shot glass/martini glass/mini desserts. After a restaurant meal, I rarely feel hungry enough to warrant a full sized restaurant dessert. Unless I'm splitting that dessert with a few people, I never get dessert and even then I usually tend towards the flavors that I know I like because I don't want to order something large that I dislike. The mini desserts make me feel more open to being adventerous and trying something new, as well as just ordering anything.

                                                                            Also, a specific complaint to eating in Israel - there are essentially no such things as appetizer sized soups or salads. Salads are usually meal sized, and soups (in size and price) are usually so large that they fit in a strange place of not really being a meal on their own but being too large for just an appetizer. Also, since the salads are so huge, ordering a "soup and salad" would be an enormous order. BAH.

                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                            1. re: cresyd

                                                                              I've never seen mini desserts like that, but it sounds like a wonderful idea.

                                                                              1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                In the less inspiring twist to the shot/martini glass mini dessert, there was a period of time where I saw it at chain restaurants I'd be less interested in eating for other reasons (TGIFridays and the like). I think Starbucks also has some kinda 'mini-sweet' pastry options at some locations.

                                                                                I have a major sweet tooth and can easily be talked into dessert, but the majority of restaurants I go to - the size of the dessert is just preposterous. And also, usually the least appropriate course to be doggy bagged.

                                                                              2. re: cresyd

                                                                                A local Italian restaurant brought a rack to the table of four champagne flutes filled with choices of desserts like chocolate mousse parfait, RV cake parfait, something lemon, I think... DH and I each got one, and they hit the spot.

                                                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                                                  I agree on the small desserts. Unfortunately I've only seen this at chains (Mimi's Cafe and Cool Hand Luke's). I did have desserts like jmcarthur mentioned at an Italian place as well. I wish more places would do that, or at least offer lighter desserts like lemon ones, versus a ton of chocolate/ice cream ones.

                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                    Speaking strictly as someone uninformed and uneducated on the restaurant business, the high presence among chains, I would guess has to do with the fact that at higher end restaurants doing a "mini" version of a creative dessert is almost as expensive as the larger dessert. So making the dessert huge is the easier way to provide value. But still, when the feel the need to make it three scoops of sorbets to make it a similar size to the other desserts - I can't imagine why they can't just offer one scoop at a smaller price.

                                                                                    Not that a single scoop of sorbet/gellato/ice cream is really going to woo me the way a mini slice of cake would.

                                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                                      The ones I had were like a mini lemon bar (cut in a 1"x3" piece) or brownie with a small scoop of ice cream or sorbet. I'd imagine these types would work well since all they have to do is cut a smaller piece from the larger baking pan, much like they could with cake. Say a normal sized dessert brownie with a large scoop of ice cream costs $8, and one that is 1\4 size costs $3-4, they actually end up making more.

                                                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                        Well this remains something I strongly advocate for.

                                                                                        There was a post a few months ago or so about how restaurant desserts were all pretty generic/non-exciting. And I also think a mini-dessert would encourage people to try less usual flavors/combinations. I'm far more likely to spend $3 on a small risk, than if I'm splitting an $8 dessert with others where there's greater motivation to get a flavor that everyone will more or less enjoy.

                                                                                        I also think that house made truffles, macaroons, or other small sweets could be another approach. My parents are very big "coffee after a meal" in a restaurant. And if they had the opportunity to add a small, sweet bite - that would be lovely as well.

                                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                                          Applebee's has mini shot desserts, small, cheap and teasty.

                                                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                                                            I ate in San Francisco with a friend recently, at Prospect, and on offer was either a small,or normal portion of "ice cream sandwiches" As I recall the small was 2 small ones (normal was 4) for about $4. It was a great option for a small treat after dinner.

                                                                                  2. Manners.

                                                                                    "Good evening/afternoon," not "Hey guys!"

                                                                                    Solid, not overbearing, not upselling, normal voice-toned, service.

                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Dagney

                                                                                      LOL. My parents and grandmother, in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, recently had to ask a teenaged server at a favorite restaurant not to call them "kids". He obliged, and the situation seems to have been much more comfortable since.

                                                                                      1. re: Dagney

                                                                                        The "hi guys" is a real pet peeve of mine. When I was 9 months pregnant and looked like I was going to deliver any minute, a hostess greeted me and my husband with "how are you guys doing tonight?" I looked straight at her and said "do I look like a guy to you?" 26 years later I still hate being called a guy. How bout a gender neutral "how are you folks doing tonight?"

                                                                                        1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                          Ditto on that pet peeve! When anyone calls me a 'guy' it just rubs me the wrong way.
                                                                                          They don't say "How are you gals?" to a table of men.

                                                                                          1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                            EXACTLY! And the "guys" in my life don't get it.

                                                                                            1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                              You just don't hang out with the right guys....;-)

                                                                                            2. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                              you just don't hang out in the right places . . . ;-)

                                                                                            3. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                              even better than a direct question would be something like "I hope everyone is doing well tonight"

                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                Yes, that is certainly much more pleasant.

                                                                                              2. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                No "folks". What is wrong with saying how are you doing this evening? Honestly A simple Good evening feels the most classy and respectful. I'm goin to lie to you anyway about how I am unless there is something you can do to change it.

                                                                                                "Good evening, will it be bottled or filtered/tap water and would you like to order any other beverages at this or after you have a chance to look at the menu"

                                                                                                Also I want to know about specials sooner rather than later.

                                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                                  "folks" makes me feel like I'm at to TGI Friday's or the restaurant where Jennifer aniston worked at in the movie "Office Space".

                                                                                              3. re: Dagney

                                                                                                This +1

                                                                                                While it doesn't grate in me as much being only 28, I think that I automatically feel more well taken care of. It is more obvious in a fine dining establishment. Don't want to feel like I am at an Applebee's etc.

                                                                                              4. Any upscalish place that brings complimentary bread--it should be warmed...

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: lovethatdirtywater

                                                                                                  I was just thinking lovingly of the local place that brought out homemade warm papadums with a simply smoked yogurt. It wasn't an Indian place - it was just a place run by a young man who wanted to keep his foodie customers happy. They were something light and textural to handle and eat, and the gluten free folks (like me) were in ecstasies. It went nicely with whatever wine, too.

                                                                                                2. How about fresh butter that's served at room temperature instead of those almost frozen little patties that are wrapped in foil?

                                                                                                  Another pet peeve of mine is having to fend off the bus persons. If I put my fork down to take a sip of liquid or engage in conversation, there isn't really any need for a bus person to appear instantaneously to try to take my plate. And leave my plate alone if my dining companion hasn't finished hers.

                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: BrookBoy

                                                                                                    And, it should be sweet/unsalted butter.

                                                                                                    1. re: NE_Wombat

                                                                                                      Since I order coffee with my meal (rather than afterwards), I've taken to putting those ice cold foiled butters underneath my coffee cup to thaw 'em out! Has worked well so far, with no coffee cup tipping yet.

                                                                                                    2. re: BrookBoy

                                                                                                      I agree with you too, brookboy. Restauants should leave all the plates in front of diners until everyone is done. Some of my dining partners eat fast, finish up, and their plate gets taken away or asked to be taken away before anyone else is finished. It leaves them with nothing in front of them, looks tacky, pressures the other diners to finish, and frustrates me.

                                                                                                      1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                        This drive me nuts too. I'm a very, very slow eater and I usually end up being the only one with plates left on the table while the server comes by every 5 minutes asking if I have finished yet.

                                                                                                        1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                          Agree about the butter. Either that or provide a blowtorch.

                                                                                                          As for the plate clearing thing, that seems to be as much generational as anything else, it's been covered in other threads. Many people do feel rushed if they are still eating and everyone else's plate has been cleared. Many other people like the idea that they aren't going to accidently going to drag their sleeve or their tie thru the beurre blanc once they are done eating. Still others prefer it to be cleared as soon as they are no longer hungry so that they don't overeat.

                                                                                                          I tend to think it is done for the convenience of the employees who don't have to try to clear an entire table of plates, glasses and flatware at the same time, risking dropping the entire pile into a patron's lap. In the 'old days' there would be adequate waitstaff to have 3 or 4 people clear at one time. Now it is often just one, or maybe the server plus one busser at most. Restaurants can't afford to have that many people around just to clear and set tables.

                                                                                                        2. re: BrookBoy

                                                                                                          My pet peeve...removeing plates before everyone is finished eating,but it happens all the time and it amazes me all the people that want their plate removed as soon as the last bite was eaten!

                                                                                                          1. re: BrookBoy

                                                                                                            I agree, and will inform any busser that I am not finished, until I place my flatware at about 5 o'clock on my plate. Until then, leave me alone, unless I signal you otherwise.

                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                              Ooh....I HATE it when a server TOUCHES my plate without knowing for sure that I am finished.

                                                                                                            2. re: BrookBoy

                                                                                                              Amen to both!!!!!

                                                                                                              I disagree with wombat. Salted butter would make me very happy.

                                                                                                              1. re: junglekitte

                                                                                                                I do enjoy salted butter. I also enjoy whipped and easily spreadable.

                                                                                                                Honestly I am a sucker for anything we get to put in bread.

                                                                                                            3. Here's another one.

                                                                                                              No gratuity for cutting and plating a customer's own cake (or dessert).

                                                                                                              Yes, I know it puts a dent on the restaurant's final tab, but why not put faith and trust in the customer (read: me) that I will reciprocate your graciousness and tip accordingly.

                                                                                                              You extend me the courtesy, and I will repay you in kind (and in most instances 2x in kind).

                                                                                                              32 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                I sort of get the cake-cutting fee. It takes extra time, they have to find a place to do it, it uses their plates & cutlery, etc. Some of the fees are exploitative, though - I've seen as high as $6 a person, which is a bit ridiculous.

                                                                                                                There are probably also way too many people (unlike yourself) who don't see the service involved and would be all "why should I tip extra? I didn't buy the cake here!"

                                                                                                                1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                  I don't disagree that there is a cost to the restaurant for a cake-cutting fee. Totally agree with you on that.

                                                                                                                  But sometimes it seems so gauche to charge me $10/person, when my total bill is easily in the $500-600 range (because it's usually a large party), and you've already added the mandatory 18% gratuity, and when I purchased the cake myself.

                                                                                                                  I can see it more in the instance where it's a party of 2 or 4.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                    Sorry to disagree...but I'm on the restaurant side of this issue.

                                                                                                                    Rarely do I see any business offer free services after the fact of receiving. ...especially when it comes to professional services of a doctor, accountant or attorney in offering their time, knowledge, advice or services.....why should the restaurant not be compensated.

                                                                                                                    With that said, I would, and have comped service for good, repeat customers in the past . The policy of charging a plate fee seem the norm in most restaurants....with Chines restaurants being the exception.

                                                                                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                      Totally disagree.

                                                                                                                      Just as an example. Many doctors will give you a deal on certain procedures, esp. if you are paying out of pocket, and lawyers are known to discount their fees if they are already handling a large matter (read: $$$) for you. And having several friends who are CPAs, they will routinely do a free tax return for a friend of a client if said client is doing all of their taxes (personal and professional) with them.

                                                                                                                      All I am saying is that when a restaurant has charged me a cake-cutting fee it feels like they are nickel-and-diming me. Whenever I've actually brought a cake to a restaurant, it's because my party is usu. large (read: 10+) and the final bill -- before the cake cutting fee -- is easily in the $700+ range. On top of the final bill, plus the auto gratuity, you're then going to tack on another cake cutting fee? WTF?

                                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                        I see your point....but you're a savvy guy and I'm sure you have read about the issue in question. If you are aware, you cannot feel surprised or offended.

                                                                                                                        in this case it's cake but what if it were an appetizer not available on the menu....or if it were liquor, there would be a corkage charge if the restaurant had a liquor license.....either way, the restaurant has expenses and overhead and you pay for the privilege of entertaining there.

                                                                                                                        Finally, there is a big difference between a discount.. the main service is still in the hundreds or thousands of dollars to complete the discounted service.....and something expected as a totally free service because of patronage.

                                                                                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                          All I am talking about is cake cutting.

                                                                                                                          I'm not asking for a free app simply because my bill is large.

                                                                                                                          And if I was bringing my own dessert for the restaurant to plate and serve and it was only myself and one other dining companion, not only would I be sort of embarrassed in bringing my own dessert, but I would *expect* the restaurant to charge me a fee *and* I would tip more to compensate them for the loss revenue.

                                                                                                                          Just as an aside, more than once, I've had the restaurant comp me a bottle of wine simply because we had been very *good* customers that evening.

                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                            I don't see why spending a large amount at a restaurant entitles you to not be charged for something. I agree it would be a nice gesture for them to comp/waive the cake-cutting charge but you certainly can't expect it.

                                                                                                                            1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                                                                                              Who said anything about being entitled?

                                                                                                                              The post was about practices you'd like to see become more common.

                                                                                                                              I'd like to see a gratis cake-cutting service become more common for large parties.

                                                                                                                              That's what we are talking about here.

                                                                                                                              After all, no one is entitled to have the special printed (as opposed to verbally presented), no one is entitled to have the prices of the specials provided without being asked, no one is entitled to a half-sized entree, no one is entitled to really anything at a restaurant except what you've paid for.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                I don't mean to offend, it just came across that way due to phrasing.

                                                                                                                                In your original post you didn't mention anything about large parties and instead you suggest restaurants just rely on the graciousness of the customers to recoup the costs (i.e tipping).

                                                                                                                                Beyond that we could get into smaller arguments about what constitutes a restaurant nickel and dime-ing for services but in the end the restaurant is charging for a service provided just like any business would and I think that's fair. I think it's nice when businesses waive fees or comp services to good customers but it's not fair of customers to expect it.

                                                                                                                                1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                                                                                                  You miss the point.

                                                                                                                                  This is about good business practice and customer service. Sometimes you forgo a penny in order to earn a dollar.

                                                                                                                                  You waive the cake cutting fee for me this time, and I will come back again for another banquet versus you charge me a cake cutting fee this time and I go someplace else for my next banquet.

                                                                                                                                  You do the math.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                    I didn't miss the point. I simply don't agree with it.

                                                                                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                  I'm not sure these comparisons hold.

                                                                                                                                  In the other instances, these changes may help the restaurant move product and get return clients. It is to their benefit to consider these options.

                                                                                                                                  The problem with waiving the plating fee for cakes is that it reduces all possibility for income for the restaurant for a full course. Moreover, those who are festive may be more likely to linger. A tip is not restaurant income. And really, you are asking to bring in your own food and benefit from the space and resources of the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                  I think we might wish to discuss reasonable plating fees, but complete waivers don't make sense to the restaurant, only to the clients. And really, only to those clients bringing in a cake. I'm sure those waiting for a table aren't benefited by this practice.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                    As I mentioned above, I realize a BYOD deprives a restaurant's bottom line.

                                                                                                                                    All I'm saying is that this generates good will. You don't think some of the other suggestions on this thread undercut a restaurant's profit?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                      I appreciate that, but having done the maths, I'm not clear that the 'good will' generated will necessarily pay off here, especially given how many of us concede that a reasonable plating fee is fair.

                                                                                                                                      A restaurant could forgo this charge in cases of regulars, I imagine, and that would help, but it doesn't seem a significant loss. Indeed, I imagine that there are some customers a restaurant would be glad not to see return.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                    desserts are like the rodney dangerfield of meal courses at restaurants. i don't know why people think it's ok to bring a cake into a restaurant in the first place unless they don't serve dessert. i used to think it was ok but now i've changed my mind. if it's that important go to someone's house and eat the cake. desserts have high profit margins too. while i wouldn't go to a restaurant solely for their awesome dessert menu, i find it odd that people think it's ok to do so. no one thinks of bringing in their own appetizers? "oh we're just here for the main meal so we brought our own app. now can you take it and plate it for us?" that would be absurd. desserts get no respect!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                      You are absolutely right that "desserts get no respect"

                                                                                                                                      And this lack of respect is reciprocal.

                                                                                                                                      Just as diners do not respect restaurant desserts, many restaurants similarly do not respect their dessert offerings.

                                                                                                                                      Sure there are those that have an in-house pastry chef, but many simply offer up the tried-and-true cake or fruit tray that the regular chef is comfortable whipping up, or simply outsource their dessert offerings.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                        agreed. i'm sick of the molten chocolate lava cake that seems suspiciously familiar and probably had a previously life in a freezer. and some restaurants just don't have the resources to hire a proper pastry chef or a chef that can do pastry and something else. there are also places that just don't do desserts like most japanese restaurants with the exception of places like Nobu and many other Asian places. of course there's a huge exception to this rule.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                        My sister used to bring her own main meal. ;)

                                                                                                                                        We would go to the lovely Chinese restaurant. She would sneak her chicken nuggets from mcDonalds onto her plate and order a side of white rice. The waiter once did a double take tryin to figure out what she had. Same thing at the pit beef sandwich store. McD was next door.

                                                                                                                                  3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                    Now, I see things differently. I too have been comped wines, and even handed special bottles, when my meal has finished, but have never expected to have special treatment, when I provided any portion of a meal.

                                                                                                                                    There have been a few cakes, or similar, and never have I expected that the service of such, would be free. Maybe we just differ in our expectations?

                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                  The only thing I'd add is that a large party--while it does represent a lot of revenue--isn't quite as lucrative to the restaurant as you might think; they turn slowly, significantly stress the kitchen, and require more wait staff than small parties.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                    Maybe it is because I have had so very few similar requests, but I would never fault any restaurant, that charged me a fair "handling fee" for a bottle of wine that I brought (corkage), or a cake.

                                                                                                                                    Before I retired, for very special clients, I would agree to shoot their events, because I also did all of their ads, but would charge them for my time and materials, but shoot things that were not normal to me.

                                                                                                                                    Maybe I just looked upon things differently?

                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                4. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                  Yeah, I'll give you that one. It would be nice to waive the fee depending on the circumstances or maybe charge it on a case by case basis. And with some customers, to double the fee if they are asses! :-)

                                                                                                                                  There's a neighborhood place near me with a very nice back patio. A couple summers ago, it was basically taken over by a large group of late teens (think 17-20 years old) celebrating a birthday. All well and good, except that they had no proper restaurant manners, drove away any other customers from wanting to sit in the patio area, ordered the cheapest items on the menu to share, and then whipped out their own birthday cake that they wanted plated and served. After hearing that there would be a fee, they freaked out and proceeded, each and every one of them, to write terrible reviews of this very lovely place.

                                                                                                                                  I used to grumble about the cutting fee but after hearing and reading about this group? Yikes! I wanted them to double it!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                    a case by case standard won't work, unless the servers are extremely discreet. there has to be an across-the-board rule only broken at the manager/owner level.

                                                                                                                                    as for the ill-raised teens, uhh I can usually tell the source of the comment and would be glad that they AREN'T recommending the place to their friends.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                      Heh, I'm sure the owner was glad to not see them again! (at least until they grow up a bit and figure it out)

                                                                                                                                      As for case by case, yeah, I was thinking more like, since you generally have to arrange for a large party ahead of time, to see if something like that could be waived at the planning stages.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                      Some people feel entitled to "free." I mean, it IS the "American way," right?

                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                5. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                  There is you, who is courteous and generous when a restaurant doesn't charge a cake fee - and then there is everyone else who:

                                                                                                                                  -expects plates, utensils, napkins
                                                                                                                                  -expects cake to be refigerated
                                                                                                                                  -expects ice cream to be kept in the freezer
                                                                                                                                  -expects serving utensils for said cake and ice cream
                                                                                                                                  -expects candles, lighter
                                                                                                                                  -expects staff to clean all of the above up

                                                                                                                                  this is alot of running around for a restaurant/staff that will not only not make a dime off these desserts but money is being taken from their pocket in lost revenue and additional labor, materials, and table time as people linger over the brought in desserts.

                                                                                                                                  People generally don't understand any of the above and don't tip accordingly - hence why places charge plating fees.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                    not to mention that there may be some legal liability involved if the cake didn't come from a licensed commercial kitchen.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                    I agree on this, and on nickel and diming good customers in general. It's just not good business to create the badwill that results from tacking on $2 for one ounce of sour cream added to a $60 check, or whatever.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                      so they should raise the prices to include these extra's? I'd rather they nickel and dime here and there then me have to pay for items I don't use or want

                                                                                                                                      1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                        I think 10 cents worth of sour cream is pretty well covered in the profit margin. Call it insurance against people getting frustrated and eating elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                        i have never been nickel and dimed by a restaurant of which i was a good customer.
                                                                                                                                        (it HAS happened in restaurant of which i was NOT a regular)

                                                                                                                                        for the most part, in my experience, if you truly are a good customer that comes regularly and has tipped well in the past, most restaurants will bend over backwards for you.

                                                                                                                                        on the other hand, if you are a newbie, and you want the restaurant to give you a gimme for your maybe-possible future business, i would certainly not expect any restaurant with a client base to be open to this.

                                                                                                                                        in this dance, if the restaurant is good and has an existing client base, in my experience, the customer is expected to demonstrate their value to the restaurant first, before any special treatment is given to them.

                                                                                                                                        struggling, desperate restaurants, are a completely different story.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                          Your post caused me to really dig deeply. I cannot recall ever asking for a "gimme," but can recount many times, where we were offered wine tastings, a sample of a dish the chef was working on (including inviting my wife to enter the kitchen and work with a dish, alongside the chef), or perhaps some lagniappe from the kitchen. I could not recall asking for anything, beyond what we ordered, but might have missed something along the way?

                                                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                                                    2. - tell me the price of the special. Don't make me ask

                                                                                                                                      - I like when a waiter refolds a cloth napkin when I step away from the table

                                                                                                                                      - refill my drink the way I like it. Don't add ice if there's none in the glass

                                                                                                                                      - be respectful " hey you guys" is not a nice way to talk to someone...

                                                                                                                                      - offer a dessert menu, don't make me beg

                                                                                                                                      - be nice to my kid! We dined out recently at a casual place for dinner. The waiter went out of his way to bring her a small paper cup with a taped on lid and a straw that was firmly in place. Crayons and a placemat were brought with a flourish. The waiter even asked if we'd like her sandwich to be cut into triangles and brought before our food.

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                        Yes on the drink! How many of us got our coffee juuuust right with the cream/sweetener balance, only to have to messed up by a, likely, well-meaning server?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                          Never top off my coffee until I ask for it. I will not drink the refill and if you ruin my balance of extras I won't finish the original amount in the cup either!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                            My Mom's pet peeve! "Let me just heat that up for you', and pour without asking.

                                                                                                                                        2. Where I am, it's not common to have kids' menus. However, it is pretty normal for restaurants to have a few sets of unbreakable kids dishes, so that they can share the food but not have to worry about breaking stuff.

                                                                                                                                          1. There's a local chain called Egg Harbor which, as you may guess, is most known for breakfast. On weekends (not sure if they do it on weekdays, have never been on a weekday) they leave a couple carafes of coffee along with all the accoutrements near the front door. Free, unlimited coffee while you wait for a table! Then, they leave a carafe of coffee at your table! Then, after you pay the check, the server asks if you want a to-go cup of coffee!

                                                                                                                                            Honestly, the food there is only average, but I love the hospitality they show with the coffee and go there happily when the occasion arises.

                                                                                                                                            Maybe not every place can adopt this practice, but leaving coffee at the table is something I'd like to see more of.

                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                              This is a huge selling point for Egg Harbor for me as well. Love that they leave both a carafe of coffee AND a pitcher of ice water on your table automatically. Also doesn't hurt that it's Intelligentsia coffee either :)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mse924

                                                                                                                                                There are a few breakfast places I have been to that have the coffee carafe for the table. My favourite also does this for tea with separate, never-contaminated-by-coffee carafes.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                                                                                                  Oh, that is fantastic! I'd love that.

                                                                                                                                            2. Not spraying Windex all over the damn place while people are still eating.

                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                Oh God, yes! Spraying Windex in a restaurant is insanity! If they have to use something, vinegar works fine and isn't disgusting!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                  Windex®? Never had that one, but it does not sound like much fun, at least to me.

                                                                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                    I tend to dine early to avoid crowds. On occasion, I'll arrive while staff is still prepping for the dinner rush. That's still no excuse to slosh cleaning products all over the damn place. Seriously, if you open for business at 6pm, you should be ready to serve at 6pm and not cleaning up last night's horrible mess.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                  Clean discreetly...no matter what it is.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                    Yes , I hate the seeing the carpet sweeper being used while we are dining. Do another section without patrons or wait. I don't vacuum my house in front of the guests!

                                                                                                                                                    Once we were put in a back room at a Darden restaurant which slowly became the employee lounge as we aye. Te antics, language, prep and cleaning that went on made me feel like I was back at work with my high school students.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                      one of my teacher friends would urge you not look too closely at the faces, they probably ARE your students, or were recently.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                        Luckily we were two towns over. Very few students will drive that far for a job in this area. I have definitely had a student as a server, lucky thy are generally not a student with whom I have had previous altercations.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                    better than wiping the tables down with just a used wet bar rag.
                                                                                                                                                    windex has some disinfectant qualities.
                                                                                                                                                    i'd be positively inclined to a restaurant if i knew the table had actually been disinfected/cleaned rather than just having the dirt and germs moved around by a wet rag.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                      Sure, but just spray the cleanser INTO THE RAG and not ALL OVER THE CUSTOMERS. That's my problem. And I've seen this done in heavily crowded restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                  3. Though it is improving, I would love the staff to be trained well on food sensitivies. It is not a good sign when you ask what dishes contain gluten, for example, and you get a vacant look and "Uh...what's gluten?" Though I am proactive and contact the restaurant in advance every single time that I am able and speak to the chef, many staff have no clue. It is my hope in the future that the staff should be confident and well versed. Several restaurants are wonderful in this aspect and go above and beyond, offering gluten-free bread with bread service.

                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                      Or, if it's simply described (an oversimplification, but for the sake of argument) as a wheat allergy and the response is, "oh, it's not wheat toast; we only have white!"

                                                                                                                                                      *headdesk*

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                        Exactly! "You can't have bread but you can have the naan instead". Doesn't make one feel particularly safe eating at such an establishment.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                        Similarly, it's also a bad sign when you ask about food allergies, and they bring you the 'gluten free' menu.

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks, but I can eat wheat. It's other things that will kill me.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jw615

                                                                                                                                                          Though not even close to fatal, my wife has an allergy to bi-valves, and we always make note of that, when doing the reservations. Even if the restaurant has that in her dossier, I still mention it, and especially if planning on doing the "Chef's Tasting."

                                                                                                                                                          A call, a letter, an e-mail, or a FAX, will go a very long way.

                                                                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                          Yes! Also, I would love for restaurants to clearly mark gluten-free and vegan items (or provide the appropriate modifications to ask for inline) on their menus. I get terribly nervous when I call ahead and they just say, "work with your server" because not all servers seem to know or care how to address the issue.

                                                                                                                                                        3. Let me pepper my own damn food!

                                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HouseSparrow

                                                                                                                                                            I've been known to either snatch the pepper mill out of the server's hands or just relax into the mantra of "more, more, more...a little more"

                                                                                                                                                            but if you're referring to the lack of s+p on the table, that does smack of a certain arrogance in the kitchen. Yes, I'll taste everything first - I'm not THAT much of a butthead, but I do want the option.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                              I've been known to either snatch the pepper mill out of the server's hands or just relax into the mantra of "more, more, more...a little more"

                                                                                                                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                                              HA! you sound like my husband, a man that LOVES his pepper.

                                                                                                                                                              One time he asked the server to leave the giant pepper grinder on the table and she replied "no, people steal them" which made us dissolve into fits of laughter because the thing looked about 3 ft high and would have required considerable concelment.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                This is exactly why I carried my own mini peppermill for years. We'd order salads and be able to see a peppermill on the sideboard or serving station, but once the salad was plopped down, no fresh pepper was offered. So I pulled out my own. It got so frequent, that I stopped even trying to hide it.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                The "option," IS nice, and I avail myself of it, when necessary.

                                                                                                                                                                I also like having a couple of choices of peppers, and salts, but do not feel that bad, when I only see one of each.

                                                                                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                  Although I do like it when servers offer to grind pepper on my food, I also like it when additionally there is a pepper mill on the table. For me, the ideal is both.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: HouseSparrow

                                                                                                                                                                  Server: "You want pepper on that?"
                                                                                                                                                                  Me: "I have no idea. I haven't tasted it yet."

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HouseSparrow

                                                                                                                                                                    This would depend totally on what one is provided with. I like coarse-ground pepper, in many cases, and unless the table has such, I will agree to having the server provide that.

                                                                                                                                                                    If I do not need their pepper, I have found, over the decades, that a simple "No," will suffice. Not once, has any server insisted on doing the pepper grinder, after my "No." Maybe I just dine at different establishments?

                                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                  2. more gluten free and non dairy cheese options! I have horrible food alergies and would love to be able to eat out more.

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: adventuresinbaking

                                                                                                                                                                      i'll piggy back on to that:
                                                                                                                                                                      i'd like more vegetarian and vegan options.
                                                                                                                                                                      why does EVERY dish need to contain some form of dead animal?
                                                                                                                                                                      not going to happen, but as long as we're fantasizing.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. -Written specials, with prices
                                                                                                                                                                      -Taking reservations (alas not something I take for granted here in NYC)
                                                                                                                                                                      -Free refills on fountain sodas. It really kills me to pay $3/4 for a tiny glass of soda that costs them pennies.
                                                                                                                                                                      -There is one (somewhat upscale) resto in my neighborhood that has ample purse/coat hooks near every seat. Since the place is usually packed, it's a lifesaver.
                                                                                                                                                                      -An upvote for the water carafe on the table (if there are water drinkers)

                                                                                                                                                                      17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not a soda drinker, especially at restaurants. But soda drinkers please BEHAVE yourselves when dining with others. A while ago, I was out with friends at a very upscale restaurant. Friend orders soda, tells the waiter to keep refilling the glass every time it's empty. Waiter responds that he will have to charge her $4 for each refill, as refills are not free. Friend says ok, just refill it and don't tell me each time. Other friends followed suit. The bill came...and...$100 for sodas. Ugh. Sorry the the rant, but this just drives me insane

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                          That's not the waiter's fault; it's your friend's fault. The waiter was just doing what your friend asked. Maybe your gripe is really with $4 soda refills.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: taos

                                                                                                                                                                            Sorry, but if I was told I was going to be charged $4 every time he refilled my soda I would order water for free instead and they could just cry about the money they didn't make.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                                                                              Hey, sounds like my Montrachet, but with a misplaced decimal, or two.

                                                                                                                                                                              OTOH, I am glad to pay for what I use, and seldom have issues with the charges, so long as they are not hidden, and passed on at the moment of the check. Just tell me what it costs, and if I want it, I will pay for it. Simple, at least for this simple guy. "What do you mean that we needed an extra bottle of the Bruno Colin Puligny-Montrachet? I thought the next bottle was free!"

                                                                                                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: taos

                                                                                                                                                                              It's definitely my friends fault, and one reason why I no longer dine out with these "friends"

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                                I honestly don't get this, I mean I don't drink soda, think drinking that much of it is gross, and we don't generally have free refills in Canada anyway, but if my friends ordered it and paid for it, why would I care? Was the issue that you had to pay for it ie/ a bill-splitting issue?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                                  They split the bill. It wasn't the place or the time to start arguing.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                                    Ok. I'd be annoyed too then!

                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                              Guess that I am just always in the company of winos, as I cannot recall the last time that anyone had a soda, at least after breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                                              Now, if only my servers would refill my glass of Montrachet, with no extra charge... [Grin]

                                                                                                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                            4. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                                                                                              Ah, "reservations."

                                                                                                                                                                              We are big fans of reservations, and treat them accordingly. We very, very seldom will stand in some line, hoping to get a table, as our time (even on vacation) is sacred. Even at restaurants, such as Galatoire's (New Orleans, LA, USA), we will agree to dine upstairs WITH a reservation, in lieu of dining downstairs, without one. I make reservations 6 mos. out, when we know our travel schedules, and almost never just "show up," hoping to be seated.

                                                                                                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                              PS - If something changes, I will also call, to cancel, even if it's an international call. It works both ways, at least for me.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                                                                                                Absolutely agree that prices for specials should be provided, either on the printed menu, or when specials are recited by the server. I always feel uncomfortable having to ask for the price of specials and unfortunately have occasionally been burned when failing to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                  It amazes me how many people are embarrassed to ask the prices. I,on the other hand,feel if the restaurant is interested in paying for my meal that's fine,but if it's coming out of my pocket I certainly want to know the price.
                                                                                                                                                                                  It's funny but so many times the specials are what is on the menu, just prepared a bit differently, and the price has risen considerably.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mother of four

                                                                                                                                                                                    I've taken to a pro-active stance. When the waiter begins the list of the specials, I'll politely interrupt and ask for the prices of each as he reels 'em off. Hope to shame the restaurant on doing this without having to ask, but I don't get stuck with a $60 "special," either.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                      For good report cards we could go out to eat. When I was ten or eleven we went to Da Mimmo's in Little Italy of Baltimore. At the time one of their standard specials cost $42 or $52. Prices were not given I don't think, so I ordered this. The lobster tail meat removed from lobster and cooked with sherry and cream and returned to she'll over linguine. My family made fun of me for years being a little girl ordering this expensive meal but I enjoyed every cent of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                                        I see an auto correct. bet it was returned to shell not returned to she'll.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                          Indeed! Found the dish online too. It is called Lobster tetrazzini and they also provide the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Mother of four

                                                                                                                                                                                      It's primarily when hosting guests that I feel uncomfortable asking for the price of specials. When I'm by myself or with friends or family, it's not an issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. 1. Do not grab my plate away while I'm still eating. I don't want to have to tell you I am still eating.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1a. In your haste to grab my plate away, don't say "Oh are you still working on that?" We're not in a coal mine. I'm not working. I'm enjoying a meal, or was enjoying a meal until you interrupted me mid-bite to take the food away.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Keep the bathrooms clean. Nothing spoils the atmosphere at a nice restaurant than a filthy bathroom with paper towels all over the floor, scum in the sink, and stains on the toilet.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Don't patronize my elderly mother when she is dining with me. Don't call her "young lady" and don't ask ME if she'll have desert. She can hear, understand and speak just fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                  31 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: taos

                                                                                                                                                                                    YES!! to all of these, but especially #1. I am usually the slowest eater at the table (but not unreasonably slow) and increasingly find myself having to proactively guard my plate from being whisked away when I'm not even half finished. It is such an unwelcome invasion of my space (as they rarely ask *before* sticking their hand out to grab the plate) and makes me feel so rushed.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: antennastoheaven

                                                                                                                                                                                      I find that some establishments (and servers) are most interested in "turning tables." That might play at a Joe's Crab Shack, but with a Michelin star, or two, or three, not so well.

                                                                                                                                                                                      While we do not linger, we do enjoy every bite, or at least hope to. When I am finished with a dish, my utensils will be placed in a diagonal, starting at about 5 o'clock, and if you grab for my plate, before that, you must remember that I have pointed and edged implements, and am likely to hurt you.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: taos

                                                                                                                                                                                      I must say, I have never had a server grab my plate without asking if I'm done. But agreed, I cringe when asked if I'm "still working on that." As you say, I am enjoying a meal, I am not working.

                                                                                                                                                                                      And amen to #3. My mother is 84, and she cringes when a host or server refers to her as a young lady. Our local diner has some lovely diner waitresses. But there's one server we dread getting. He greets us, then looks at me and asks, "How's mama?" Uh, mom is sitting right there and can answer for herself, thank you very much.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                                        I've posted this before "I'm not working on it, but I AM still playing with it"

                                                                                                                                                                                        re #3 ""How's mama""? seriously?
                                                                                                                                                                                        "uhh still buried last we checked, why? what have you heard?"

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                          Damn you hill . . .you just made me snort merlot!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                                            I hate when THAT happens.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                                          We dine out with elderly relatives often. It drives me insane when the server asks my husband for everyone's orders. Um, hello?! We are all present and capable of ordering.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                                            On some occasions, it considered manners.....or in the case of family dining, a matter of practicality, e.g. Chinese restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.chow.com/food-news/55598/t...

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                              For the relatives, ok. But me? I'm young, I speak and hear fine

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                                                You don't like the idea of chivalry?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like the idea. What I don't like is being ignored. If I want to order something for myself- say a salad, no onions, dressing on the side, I should be able to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't think the waiter is trying to be rude, but rather his idea of being polite, or following house policy.......I would further add that I do not think it would be rude or impolite for you to interject into the ordering process at anytime you fell you need to correct or add to the order.....for you or others. I used to have a SO who at times would order for herself, or not....The one thing constant though was she could not stand parsley and hated whenever it was put on the plate.,...especially when it was chopped and strewn about the plat as a garnish. Even though she hated it, she never made the request to omit the parsley off her plate when she ordered or when we dined out...I always and to interject and mention it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    For the record. If we ever share a table....i have no problem letting you order for me....

                                                                                                                                                                                                    : 0 )

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                                              That is a bit of "old school," where the gentleman hosting the table would order for the entire table.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Even today, if it is just my lovely young wife and me, I WILL place the order, starting with "the young lady will have the ___," but seldom with others present.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                I love when a man orders for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                                                  but surely not without your input.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  a lady friend of mine was on a date where the man insisted on ordering over her polite objections. had he bothered to find out she was allergic, he probably would not have gone home wearing her lobster.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                    No. Conference IS required. Then, and only then, can the gentleman order for the lady.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Of course! Otherwise I would end up withe a hunk of meat and few vegetables insight from my fiancé. He also finds one thing at a restaurant and orders they same item every time. Life would be dull.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A great reason FOR a conference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Even after 43 years of marriage, I still have to discuss the menu with my wife. She is an omnivore, but leans heavily to seafood (that, which she can do). However, I have learned to not second-guess her, as about when I would bet heavily that she'll go with the Salmon, she choose the Filet - just to keep me guessing, and it has worked. [Grin]

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Am I to understand the lady allowed the lobster to be ordered....just she could throw it at him?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                                        four - I think your question is missing the essential word 'up'

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nice.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, she told the waiter what she wanted. He told the waiter "The lady will have the lobster also." She politely declined and told the waiter she preferred her original order. She went to use the rest room. While she was gone her date told the waiter to make the lobster thinking that she was being cost conscious. The lobster arrived at the table and she said but I ordered something else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          He then told her "You need to realize I'm the man and you will do as I tell you, when I tell you. You are making me look like a cheapskate and I won't allow that."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          THATS when he ended up wearing the lobster.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think I have a new heroine!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                              .....a few more questions please, did he at least get up from the table when she went to the bathroom and returned? Did she excuse herself first? Did she have to walk home?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Obviously, I'm only kidding and the questions are not serious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks.... : 0 )

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wow. At least I wouldn't have thrown up on him . . . I would have left as soon as those words left his mouth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wow. Just wow. Was that in this century? Or any year past 1950? What makes men do that? Do women do that? Ugh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i'd LOVE to date a guy who WANTED me to order the expensive stuff on the menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i agree that taking over like that was over-the-top, but after some of the cheapskate dates that i've had, the guy sounds positively refreshing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    it would be nice to order the GOOD red wine by the glass without seeing my date wince.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My fiancé is that guy. He plans on getting exactly what he wants no matter how much it costs am expects me to do the same. If I start looking at prices when I order he tells me that I need to get what I want. While I don't like to spend a lot on wine, many times he will choose the more expensive of two bottles. Sometimes this is to a fault. He once added a lobster tail to his dinner, to the tune of 75.00. I was quite taken aback. Them he proceeded to tip so handsomely that the waitress came over and thanked us (I think it was like 25%).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I find nothing wrong with that tack. We feel the same way. One only lives once, and food is very important to us, and to our enjoyment of life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wine is similar, though I do draw the line at a certain point. However, that line HAS been crossed in a few occasions. When I am her "live-in sommelier" for her business/board dinners, I stick to the budget. When it's just US, I can be tempted, and have been. Food? We have been known to really let it all hang out, and have seldom been disappointed. Now, we might have to skip the daily newspaper, to pay for such a meal, but we can get past that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Get what you want," is our philosophy, and it has worked so far, with few exceptions. I also get to smoke a few Cubans, and she never gets grief, when she visits the local jeweler. Maybe that is what has kept us together for all these years?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I would like to have some really good B-T-G wines, red, or white. Second choice would be a great half-bottle list, as it is often just my wife, and myself, dining, and a handful of halves can be great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I hate a wine list that is ONLY 0.75's, and then just big-names, that often do not pair well with the food, let alone every dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If we are cabbing it, or have a car waiting, two 0.75's can be done, but 4 half-bottles, that pair well, would be better. Having a "killer" B-T-G list, would be best yet!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        PS - regarding the prices on the menus, I cannot recall the last time that I ever even noticed what my wife ordered, regarding price, until the bill came, and it never mattered, so long as the restaurant charged us correctly. I also think (cannot be 100% certain), that she has even looked at prices, in over 40 years. At least I hope that she has not. Our dining is an orgy of culinary delights, with little care for how much that cost us - it all sorts out at the end of the year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: taos

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Seriously! "May I please take you plate?" would be sufficient. "Have you finished,ma'am/miss/sir?" Is also acceptable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        4. At Ethiopian restaurants they always bring a warm, moist cloth to clean your hands before eating. I wish all restaurants did this. Or at least offer wet-wipes. (I always carry hand-sanitizer just for that reason.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          For eating shellfish or wings I wish more restaurants offered a plate to discard shells/bones. It bugs me to have to figure out where to put them. Either I have to remember to keep an appetizer plate before they whisk it away, or pile them on my plate which gets crowded very quickly. Sometimes I just ask for an extra plate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Love it when restaurants recognize special occasions with a nice treat such as chocolate candy or complimentary dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          No styrofoam to-go boxes. Hot food melts into it and if the food has any liquid it will leak out. Grrr.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I’m getting very particular these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Spice_zing

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I absolutely hate t/o in one of those pointless compartmented styro clam shells (especially a stir-fry or curry - all the sauce ends up in the bag and dripping on the floor). I have learned to ask for a soup container as I'm just going to mix it all up anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                              That is exactly why I have ordered "all-weather" mats for the trunk of my wife's car, the backseat mats, and the same for my truck. They are much easier to hose out, than carpet is. All "takeout food" is designed to spill, and all over one's auto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                i've been known to bring my own empty pyrex covered containers to some of my regular restaurants when i know i'm going to be getting the food to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                they are happy because they don't have to pay for packaging.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                i'm happy because the food doesn't spill and i absolutely abhor styrofoam.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  While I have zero problems with leftovers (unlike several friends have), that is only in the very back of my mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We are more often in a hotel, when dining, so leftovers are seldom a real potential option.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  OTOH, both of us do not like leaving a bunch of food - guilt trip from our moms?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I strongly prefer smaller portions, that can be easily consumed, in the plating. I have had 19-course dinners, that were just perfect, and 2-course dinners, that could have fed a family of 6 for a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe, when we anticipate overly large portions, we'll stick containers into our luggage?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Spice_zing

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not sure I agree about the hot towels. All too often I've seen people practially give themselves a sponge bath. Not just hands, but face, neck, arms . . . pretty much any exposed skin. If people need to clean up, then go to the mens or ladies room and do a proper job of it there. Cleaning up is not a public event and too often becomes a public spectacle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sounds like the people around me, when flying First Class. They DO bathe with those towels, and it makes me weak. I mean, were they not the same people, coughing an sneezing in the International FC Lounge? What is their malady? Is it contagious? Will they live to complete the flight? Did the flight attendant's tong touch their towel, before it touched mine? Can I get a shot of something, before I turn into a mushroom, like they seem to be?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Nah, doing almost anything in public is a major hazard, and those towels are the root of most evil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Spice_zing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                this is very common in Japan, most restaurants do it with the exception of the very fast food gyudon places. Even the dive bar I go to gives me a warm cloth in the winter as soon as I arrive, and a cold one when I go in the summer. Some places even give you new towels in between courses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. I like:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                restaurants that send me home from dinner with a complimentary muffin or danish for breakfast the next day. This practice seems more common in northern California than in Toronto, where I live.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                mignardises

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Indian restaurants that offer thali, combo platters or half sizes for solo diners

                                                                                                                                                                                                                restaurant-made iced tea, rather than Nestea

                                                                                                                                                                                                                restaurant-made lemonade

                                                                                                                                                                                                                interesting non-alcoholic beverage options on their menu, and bartenders who will whip up something interesting and non-alcoholic on request

                                                                                                                                                                                                                restaurants that crumb the table between courses

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: prima

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Personally, I like restaurants that offer to NOT call the local police, so long as I quit doing whatever it is, that I am doing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now, there are some, at an even higher level, who promise to not call the US Embassy, if I will only stop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I love it when the wait staff washes their hands or uses gloves before packing my leftovers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lizzard913

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Would using utensils not do? I don't specifically wash my hands before packing up leftovers (although I wash them 30-40 times a shift), but I have never touched them with my hands either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. An adequate beer list w/ appropriate glassware.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A good saison will elevate almost any meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Proper stemware, whether for a brew, or for wine, gets higher marks from me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PS - Not all brews are Pilsners!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I personally love the non alcoholic cocktail suggestion, and I love it when the chef can make me a tasting menu that follows my dietery restrictions without excluding things, (and making the menu totally vegetarian) I like such as lobster.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Please replace dirty silverware after each course!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Pay the servers a real wage and abolish tipping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am not willing to pay an extra 20% for every restaurant meal if tipping is abolished. I like the option of rewarding servers for superb service and not rew100% depending on the service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              They do get paid a "real wage".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But servers say that they live on the tips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And, so?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The customer pays the sever's real livable income.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It varies by state, but here in Massachusetts servers get paid $2.63 an hour as base pay. The rest is tips. However, if total tips earned during a pay period do not add up to minimum wage by hours worked, the restaurant must make up the difference. Though I would definitely argue that minimum wage is not a "real wage".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Most places the waistaff does not get minimum wage. They need tips to make a living at their work. I don't see that entire system changing, and I'm not sure I want it to. Essentially each server is an entrepreneur, responsible to a certiain extent for his own income.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I haven't waited tables in about 15 years but I recall having this conversation more than once with my fellow servers. We all agreed that we would quit if we were paid $10-15/hr. and didn't receive tips. Even though that might be a great wage compared to the minimum wage of $5.75 (back then), for us it would be a pay cut.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For good to great service, I can totally understand. That is based on MY tipping scale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5. Good question and I sure hope some restaurants will read our suggestions. 1. clean the menus off, especially the dessert menus. 2. When filling water glasses, please do not touch the pitcher to the glass. I don't want to share my germs with everyone else in the restaurant. 3. Sure would like to get back to the "Relish Tray"-celery, carrots, olives, nuts instead of bread, bread and more bread. After all, isn't there a big push these days for leaner bodies?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: eramah

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wow. I'm not familiar with that, but what a good idea. Instead of rudely burying my nose in my phone to prevent myself from filling up on Whatever Free Carby Thing I Don't Really Want when I arrive overly hungry, I could be noshing civilly on pickled cauliflower.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Bread is a lot less expensive to serve than pickled cauliflower.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Children may scream and toss pickled cauliflower at the server.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Many of the rest of us would like to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bread is a lot less expensive to serve than pickled cauliflower.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not when you factor in real butter, olive oil and refills.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          : 0 )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Or any dough that has butter or eggs (or olives, or raisins . . .). Not to mention the amount of waste, if you're having to bake enough to cover you in case the restaurant is at capacity and everyone asks for seconds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pickling leftover vegetables keeps them from having to be thrown out- and vinegar is practically free.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: eramah

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Along with #2 don't touch the eating surface of my dinnerware with your hands, this means silverware and the lip of my glass. I am not a germaphobe but this grosses me out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. I'd like to see more of the casual restaurants I go to offer a few lighter appetizer options. One of my favorites does a veggie plate, and I love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I'd love to see restaurants drop the upsell. I eat out a lot, and therefore rarely order several courses. I'm sick of being offered an appetizer, the wine list, the dessert menu, coffee, etc. I don't need to hear a list of things I've already decided I'm not going to order. Especially annoying is the aggressive, open-ended "Have we decided on an appetizer yet?" I get that the waiters probably have to do this, but I wish restaurants wouldn't force this policy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I recently saw a manager nicely, but firmly let a table know that it was dangerous for their children to be running around like maniacs while waiters were carrying trays of hot food, glassware, knives, etc. I wish more places would take a stance on this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also? If I order fries, don't make me ask for ketchup. Seriously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          32 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "I'd love to see restaurants drop the upsell."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            At the very least, it would be nice if, when I say that I wouldn't like dessert, the server not respond with, "Are you sure about that?" I'm always tempted to say that I'm not really sure, but that I'll consult my Magic 8-Ball and get back to him or her with a firm answer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jax01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think those kinds of issues need to be addressed with management and not with the servers, who are just performing their job requirements. I would go nuts if I had to deal with snappy customer comebacks all day when I was just doing what the boss said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I completely agree that the servers are just doing what's required of them by the management. It's the way it's worded that rubs me the wrong way. If I weren't sure about dessert, I wouldn't have said no to it. Something like, "If you change your mind, we have a wonderful chocolate cake that I would definitely recommend" gives the server the opportunity to tell me about a dessert, push it a little, and not imply that I am incapable of making a decision.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree, too, that it would be maddening to hear snappy comebacks (most of which probably only come across as "snappy" to the person making the comment and sound lame to everyone who has to hear them) all day. That's why I don't give in to the temptation. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jax01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had a friend who worked in a large department store chain, and they were REQUIRED to push the store credit card at least three times per transaction. I get that the clerk generally isn't thrilled to have to do this, and that stores/restaurants train them to push, to phrase things so that it's hard to answer with a simple "no", etc., but it's such a turnoff for me. I actually moved my entire wedding registry from one department store to another because they kept subjecting me to time-share-like presentations about their store card. I told the management (nicely) why I was doing it. It comes from their corporate office - not from people who actually have to deal with customers. I feel bad for the waiters in these situations, I really do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I do, too. It must be so frustrating to try to find the line between doing what the employer demands and what the customer wants in situations like this. I imagine it can be embarrassing, as well. My friend worked at Little Caesar's in high school, and was required to answer the phone, "Thank you! Thank you! For calling Little Caesar's. Would you like to try our Meatsa Meatsa Pizza Pizza?" She told me that it got worse with some specials, which made her long for the opportunity to Thank! Thank! people for calling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As one, who has not had a "store credit card," in over 20 years, I just politely decline such offers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Jax01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree. As one, who more often orders a cheese course, rather than a dessert, I just decline with a "No, thank you," when offered more. It is easy, and seldom creates any problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Drop the upsell?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Then you have the people that come and pick up their food and say "why didnt you tell me I could get that???"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Restaurants are a business, business attempt to maximize revenue. Car dealers sell warranties, furniture stores sell scotch-guard, movie theatres offer "the large for only 50 cents more." Its business, 99% of the time "no thanks" works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i agree. more waitstaff need to take charge on this matter. it isn't safe for little kids to run around a busy restaurant. imagine dropping a hot plate of food or a glass of wine on a little kids head? i have a 4 year old and he sits thru the meal. if couldn't we wouldn't go out. i wouldn't accept him running around the table at home and i don't think most people do, why is it ok out at a restaurant? i feel it's even more unacceptable at a public place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also? If I order fries, don't make me ask for ketchup. Seriously.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      _________________________

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There are times when fries do not need ketchup, and should not be eaten with ketchup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And I say this as a devout ketchup devotee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        or at least auto-offer ketchup OR mayo OR malt vinegar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          you forgot gravy and cheese!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            oh go back to Quebec (Ha! Poutine has indeed found it's way down the Mississippi to the lower Midwest/Upper South)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i'm from bawlmer, hon! and we take our fries with either gravy or fluorescent yellow cheese sauce, not the fancy poutine! steak and cheese sub with fries and brown gravy, anyone!?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                hon. oh, I miss that. I always thought my landlady in DC (originally from Balto) was calling it 'Hun' country until I learned better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                that and "mm-hmm babe, what else you want with that?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i'm seeing cats-eye glasses, a beauty mark, and a beehive with a side of attitude. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    that's your inner John Waters speaking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, maybe more that we wished for?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        how'd you know i have a pencil mustache?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          oh it's in your syntax. but you are usually a snappy dresser.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            why, yes, this floral housecoat i got for christmas picks up the blue in my hair. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              oh we are going way OT but while I'm happy Waters is getting paid something after all these years, gotta say Travolta wasn't bad in Hairspray, he or you or I will never be Divine. as those are some BIG Cha-Cha heels to fill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm in the process of convincing my mother "Serial Mom" ought to be in the Netflix queue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, OT, but fun to read, none the less...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  tis true that i could never be divine...missing a certain part. :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  baltimore theme night: "serial mom" "natty boh" and steamed crabs/crabcakes, berger's cookies. with double-feature of original "hairspray". betcha that would work!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm from bawlmer too, but I like vinegar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i vary my condiments/toppings. i've found that cocktail sauce really gives fries a nice kick! but, sometimes, just need the comfort of gravy on fries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would absolutely love it if places that serve fries were *able* to provide malt vinegar to go with them. It's kind of sad when I get a batch of really good fries, that are simply crying out for a coating of vinegar, and the only thing the restaurant has is ketchup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm absolutely certain there are people who would disagree and believe that fries should always be eaten with ketchup, regardless of what they are served with, just as there are people who put salt on food regardless of any other considerations. I do know there are restaurants - as part of their 'schtick' refuse to allow ketchup under any circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In fairness to nonnie, i think in MOST cases ketchup should at the very least be offered if not automatically provided if french fries are served.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd love it if fries never came with ketchup, can't stand the stuff, but I do think it is kind of a no brainer in Canada and the US at least. We were served a burger and fries sans the red stuff at a pub/resto last night and I thought it was bizarre, even though I didn't want it. There were two other diners at the table who did. Didn't help that I had to go up to the till to have it brought to the table :-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To me (even if you are a ketchup+fries whore), in the pantheon of restaurant quibbles, I think this would rank pretty low on the totem pole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        True - it is just that - a quibble. Not a beef, a peeve, or a deal breaker. But it is a quibble. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "Offered?" Maybe not always. "Available, upon request," then always.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Just MHO,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. Real simple: I'd like to see ALL retail establishments, be they restaurants, coffee shops, or... follow one simple policy: the customer is right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The customer wants X, they get X... wants Y, they get Y.... not "we don't do that here" or "no"...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  HELLO, the "art" of customer service is almost extinct. Then again, there aren't that many people who are really cut out to work in retail, it takes a thick skin to put up with idiots and still maintain a believeable positive attitude... restaurant owners have to screen their people carefully to make sure that their workers who interface with customers understand this basic rule of retailing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  46 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Self-entitled jackasses who come in to restaurants solely to exhibit their arrogant superiority over the staff are not always right. "Gourmet" diners who insist in changing everything on the menu to their own particular and often peculiar standards are not always right. Parents who use a restaurant as a daycare are not always right. Customers who come into a business with their mouth turned down, arms crossed, and actively looking for a reason to be "comped" are not always right. Commerce is a contract between both parties, not a concession.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bravo.....I have just added you to my reader list....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I see this ending badly ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Saw that one right, you did. Who you got in the sixth race, ipse?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Samalicious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BRAVO!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I teach my staff that while the customer is not always right, they are still the customer. People can be down right ridiculous and obnoxious, and while we try to treat every guest with respect, they have to earn it at some point too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            well that's a novel retailing philosophy:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "... the [paying] customer is not always right..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And that definitely reflects the attitude of staff in alot of venues today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tombstone, clearly you have never actually worked in one of these types of industry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Years ago I once had a customer demand I substitute another side dish for the sprig of parsley garnish he didnt want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Another time I had to call the cops when a customer made a scene after I wouldn't return the $8 he lost in the stuffed animal crane machine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have people lose it when I wouldnt let them use a senior discount and a coupon on top of a daily special price (they basically wanted it for free).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have on numerous occasions "lost it" on paying customers who felt it necessary to belittle, yell at, swear at, and generally take their lives frustrations out on my staff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              then you have the:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "I want my steak extra well done, but don't burn it."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "I want a pizza with extra extra pepperoni, but don't make it as greasy as the last one I got."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "I want my food delivered - 10 minutes from my house in the middle of December - and make sure it's still piping hot, it was only warm the last time."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "20 minutes for take-out on a Friday dinner? That's ridiculous!"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Why is there mold in my (sealed from the factory) package of grape jelly, don't you people check this stuff?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "I want a rare burger - sorry our corporate doesn't allow it"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "I want over easy eggs but dont make them runny."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "This is a hair in one of these meals, so we want the entire table of 8's meal comped."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I could spend the next hour typing this reply and still not run out of outlandish, ridiculous, moronic things customers have asked/demanded. If the customer was always right, every restaurant and retail establishment in this country would go out of business. I treat every guest with dignity and respect, but if they cross the line and no longer deserve it, I have zero problem with telling them NO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Joe: Check the topic of this thread... changes "you" would like to see in the restaurant industry. I'm the "you" in this sub-thread... these are changes I'd like to see, based on my experience and I dine out alot...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ....sorry that you wouldn't like to see these changes but none of your outlier behavior examples persuade me that I have it wrong and we're really in the "golden age of customer service".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Since you can type for hours about the "ridiculous, outlandish, and moronic customers" you have to put up with then can I assume that you see a significant percentage of your customers in this light?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you are going to cite the thread title/topic....it does not distinguish between customer or house....so opposing thoughts are fair game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    BTW, a common thread in venues with deteriorating customer service: absentee and/or new owners. Example: a place I've enjoyed having breakfast for years, a neighborhood diner joint. For the past couple months the owner has been rarely present: I won't get into the nature of the deterioration but it's to the point I ask myself "I'm paying for this"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another example: my family has enjoyed coffee at a local roastery-owned place for nearly 20 years. Recently sold to an absentee owner. The loyalty cards were discontinued, a new barista came up to me while I was pouring cream in the coffee and said "I'm watching you, we may have to charge you a little extra for the cream", she said that just before I was going to order a $50 gift card as a present. Her myopic focus on a few drops of cream has ultimately cost the company alot more than $50 in revenue... then the other day a barista refuses to double-cup the coffee, as I always order a large and pour it into two cups to go. My sister visted recently and said she could "feel" a change in the place (I hadn't mentioned my experiences to her).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is the real world customers experience everyday. The fact is that these people aren't cut out to deal with the public... they are lacking that "effusive, bubbly retail gene" and I see it all the time, not just in restaurants but in all manner of retailing... they would make great accountants, or you-name-it, but they aren't cut out to be self-managing waitstaff...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    NOW, if the owners are there they can at least train the right behavior... and customers have someone to complain to. Where customers really get the &^%$#@ is when we have to deal with these types and there's no boss around to set it straight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      there are bad restaurants and bad customers as well.....I advocate both behave, act and conduct themselves better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "then the other day a barista refuses to double-cup the coffee, as I always order a large and pour it into two cups to go."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ___________

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Seriously, you do this???

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          many businesses inventory bottled drinks and paper cups.....if the counts in cups and sales do not match, the employee is told they are responsible for the missing sales revenue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And why shouldn't they track these things?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What I fail to understand is how a customer thinks that this is right... if a customer wants 2 coffees, order and pay for 2 coffees. When a business continually sees customers trying to take advantage like this, how can anyone blame the business for keeping track of a drop of cream?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm in agreement with you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well you're definitely in the minority then b/c virtually every other high-quality coffee establishment in this area GLADLY accomodates such requests, and this venue did for over 10 years until the recent ownership change (do you read posts?)...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Or ever see one of these? http://twicsy.com/i/6vPPub

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Would you sneak up on a customer who's in your POB at least 3x a week for years and tell them "I'm watching you"... can't believe you can stretch to try and justify this nauseating customer service...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I read the posts... I am surprised that you as a customer think that is OK to ask for such a thing. I would never think to do so. If I want 2 coffees, I order and pay for 2 coffees.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And while I may word it differently, I would say something to a customer who seems to be taking advantage of my business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There is a fine line between being accommodating to a loyal customer and letting that customer walk all over the staff. I'm sorry, but I do not think what you are asking the staff to do here is right. Maybe they do not handle it in the most professional manner, (I don't know, I probably have never been to this establishment) but based on what you are presenting here, I do not think that they are completely unjustified.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You are surprised that I think it's OK to ask for a double cup at a coffee shop? ... Ever see one of these: http://twicsy.com/i/6vPPub

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I presume then you also would never ask for a coffee refill, but would instead pay for a full coffee a second time, yes? Because "If I want two coffees I pay for two coffees"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Your line of thinking says that it's "incredibly selfish" for a customer to ask for any food order to be split for any reason. If, for example, a customer who orders a dinner and can't eat it all would be "incredibly selfish" to take the remainder home, because as you insist, if you want two meals, you'll pay for both everytime right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, I am surprised. It is not something I would ever do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My mom does. She likes the small size cup and lid at dunkin donuts, but she wants a large serving of coffee. So I'll order a large and ask for a small cup and lid on the side. Never once have I gotten a dirty look.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think we can all understand the economic differences between a small independent coffee shop and Dunkin Donuts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                At one time I owned my own business. I had a woman try to return an item (car navigation unit) to me 11 months after she purchased it. I politely told her that I would not be able to accept the return she got all upset and told me that Best Buy or Walmart would have let her return it. I countered with those are multi billion dollar corporations and can afford to take a loss like that, I am a small business just trying to make my mortgage payment every month! I would bend over for people where I could, and lost $ many times doing the right thing, but sometimes you have to make a business decision and sometimes some customers just aren't worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There are differences, and I definitely agree with you. But sometimes the pennies lost in giving a customer what they want benefits them in the long run.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A local coffee shop has my loyalty because they prepare my coffee how I like it, very light. I order a "small" coffee in a medium cup, filled to the top with milk. It was the counter guy who suggested this, not me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just for the record, I see nothing wrong with what you are talking about. Its pennies, if that. The "double coffee cup" is really borderline for me. You are talking a $2-3 transaction with a 15-20 cent (approx) cup/cover. you are talking somewhere int he neighborhood of a 5-10% loss. even at the lower end, the business is losing 5% of their revenue...that really adds up!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If it's the paper cup and lid she likes, they do have the larger paper cups that the lattes are served in. My local DD will serve reg coffee in that if asked. I usually get small coffees at DD mainly because I don't like the styrofoam cups, and was offered the larger paper cup as an alternative once. That was a nice gesture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    She likes the paper cup and lid with the pop up top. The DD in our area will give out an extra cup or a free munchkin but when I've asked, the answer is "those cups are for lattes."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    'The Customer is Always Right'....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Such an easy, easily executed business philosophy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Most people are sane and ration, but as pointed out on so many occasions on this site and contained in this thread, there are still MANY that are not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You just cant make broad general statements like "the customer is always right" because then you get the clown who says, i dont want a salad with my filet mignon, please substitute another filet. IT HAPPENS.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As I said above, the customer is NOT always right, but they are still the customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "then the other day a barista refuses to double-cup the coffee, as I always order a large and pour it into two cups to go."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  so why dont you order 2 small cups? I'm guessing because its more expensive that way? I just dont understand why you feel that by buying 1 large entitles you to 2 smalls and the extra cream, sugar, cup and lid costs associated with it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This has nothing to do with customer service IMO, I'm sorry and I mean no disrespect what so ever, but I feel that this type of behavior isn't the right thing to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There is no extra cream or sugar, check your chemistry... If I have 20 oz coffee with 2 oz. cream and 2 packets of sugar, or two cups each with 10oz coffee and 1 oz cream, and 1 packet of sugar, it's the same fluid concentration and the same total amount of cream and sugar: 2 oz and 2 packets...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Again, you make everyone who's ever ordered one of these out to have "behavior that isn't right": http://twicsy.com/i/6vPPub

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If in deed the lg is twice the size of the small, you would be correct, however from my experience that isnt usually the case, especially in coffee shops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You keep making the comparison to splitting an entree or getting a takeout container at a restaurant. The comparison isnt apples to apples. Many places have splitting fees, and all restaurants OFFER you a take out container, you dont need to ask its implied. Plus in a restaurant there is a much greater opportunity that beverages, appetizers, desserts will be added so it is much easier for a restauant to absorb the cost of a 20 cent container when the tab per person is $20-$50. This is not the case with the $3 coffee and the additional cup, lids, and possible condiments. You advised me to check my chemistry above, with all respect due please check your economics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Joe... what to make a fast billion ?? Here's how: find me the coffee shop chain (or fast food chain or ANYTHING) that will pay 20 cents per piece for bulk-lot disposable paper cups...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ....And a billion is on the low side of what we can make. Dunkin' Donuts sells approx. 1.5 billion cups per year. Since your price estimate per cup is exaggerated by at least 10 cents, .10 x 1.5 billion = $150 million per year from this single customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 billion if everyone asks for 2 cups

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    <I'm wathing you, we may have to charge you a little extra for the cream">

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No way!! I'm not sure what my response would be to that kind of remark. I know it wouldn't have been too kind, to say the very least. Good way to drive away business. Without the oversight of an owner alot of places, I've frequented, have gone under within a few months. To which my response is...see you later, stupid. Any owner who doesn't think their presence is important, deserves whatever happens to them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Survival of the fittest is alive an well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  to answer your question, no I do not see a high perctntage of my customers as mentioned above, its a small percent - but as the old addage goes....one bad apple....and sometimes all it takes is 1-2 bad customers to really ruin your day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do I feel that customer service is lacking at times today? yes I do. However, if your definiton of the "golden age of customer service" is "the customer is already right," that is gone and will never return because people abuse it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am sorry you work in such a horrible place! Any chance you can find a better class place or at least a place with better clientele?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Actually, the more expensive the place...the more demanding the clientele becomes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was just listing the incidents that came to mind over the past 15 years, a few different restaurants, different types of places too (chain to fine dining, pizza to breakfast). The place I work at now have some of the nicest customers I have ever had, but then there at that 5% that are a**holes and think they are entitled to all their heart desires because "they are always right."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      thanks foodie for your concern, however!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "I could spend the next hour typing this reply and still not run out of outlandish, ridiculous, moronic things customers have asked/demanded."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And I could pick up for your after that hour. I like to think I deliver some pretty good customer service, but after you've worked in it long enough you can almost identify -those- customers as they come in. The behavior, requests, and comments people think they can pull off because they're the customer and they're 'right' is ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The cashier/waiter/server/etc is usually not saying 'no' to spite you. Often it's due to policies put in place at a level above them or purely beyond their ability (so please stop telling me I'm a "thief" or you're going to get me fired or sued or complain- for things I have zero power over and requests that are often selfish and irrational to begin with).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Samalicious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well said! The only thing the customer always is is the customer. This thought helps me with my temper and my response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Do you mean that if I go to a steakhouse, as a Level 5 Vegan, I should not be able to change everything to suit me? I do hope so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        completely agree with you Samalicious,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        fwiw, in Los Angeles there are now some successful restaurants that WON'T allow changes and substitutions to be made to the menu items. either you order the item as it stands, or don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        those restaurants, imho, tend to serve some of the best food and have some of the most interesting menus. (gjelina, father's office, lukshon).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Businesses should make every effort to accommodate a reasonable customer. key word = reasonable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately for all, there are many unreasonable customers that make demands out of the scope of the business. For instance: Should the carnivore be able to demand a steak at a vegetarian restaurant because in your opinion they shouldn't say "we don't do that here"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        People should be treated respectfully- and that's a two way street. I think you have confused the term "service" and "servant".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Interesting that almost NOBODY agreed with me that following a policy that "the customer is right" is the correct way to conduct restaurant business...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          One derisive reply after the other, which is fine, everyone's welcome to their opinion...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BUT... those of you who don't understand this concept would do well to watch the Food Channel's new program "Giving Them the Business".... this is a situation where the owners of large franchises watch 4 managers with hidden cameras to see who's management style they like the best... and the winner receives... get this... THEIR OWN RESTAURANT !!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The first edition of this program was for a Famiglia Pizza franchise. The 4 managers were tested by one rude customer after the other... one customer who paid for a slice, took one bite, then continuously asked for another slice FREE (one after the other), then a bowl of pasta... kept saying he just didn't like it and wanted something else, another destitute customer who came in and asked for a meal with no money, a bunch of kids who came in disorderly and screaming... you get the idea: Very difficult customers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well guess who won their own restaurant? The manager who "cracked the whip" and put the customers in their place? The manager who got visibly upset at these customers? Or the manager who bent over backwards to satisfy these customers?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Many of the replies in this thread call customers "jackasses", and you wouldn't even double-cup a coffee... don't worry, you won't be winning your own restaurant franchise anytime soon :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sorry, but you are way too gullible for a TV moment. Let's try this. You open your own restaurant, hire me as your restaurant manager and for every pain in the ass that walks in demanding free items and replacements.....I'll be happy to give away your food,unconditionally based on your premise you believe the customer is always right.....I'd bet you change your tune in a second when you realize that belief will challenge you making your overhead and jeopardizing your investment. and putting food on the family table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've always been firm believer that the phrase "The customer is always right" is so very wrong.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Instead, it should be changed to "The customer isn't always right, but they DO come first."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. On-Topic WaPo piece:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifesty...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One thing that that article reminded me of ... I want properly spaced tables in restaurants. I am neither cattle, nor sardine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                something I saw the other night on a food network 'rescue' show, apparently in FL in some places a minimum # of seats are required for a full liquor license. and then I suppose some places just don't consider proximity in pursuit of the ROI.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                once at RIS on a slow night with my ex we received our bread at the same time as a couple 2 tables away (and they do have a decent spacing) it was awkward as we could all hear each other compare it (favorably) to that of Central's and simultaneously felt creepy, exchanging mutual glances of chagrin and had to pointedly increase the density of the 'cone of silence'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No kidding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Especially in a city like DC you would think restaurants would know better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good call Ips... part of the problem of course is rising real estate costs...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Restauranteurs (any retailer for that matter) should really put effort into their R.E. negotiations: build-out assistance, free rent, caps on annual lease and CAM increases, and several multi-year options after the basic lease expires.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now, that would be on MY list too.,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Went to an up-scale, absentee famous chef restaurant, and the tables were so close, that when the servers were at either nearby table, their posteriors "cleared" the wine glasses on my table. Give me room!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I guess for you and me its either properly spaced tables or servers with svelte derrières.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        and let's face it, one only finds those reliably (servers with svelte derrières) in cities with lots of aspiring stage/screen/catwalk talent...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, let's just say that some of the worst "offenders," due to table placement, have been in Las Vegas, NV, USA. Maybe the svelte servers were all in on of the Cirque du Soleil performances?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I opt for the former, but should that not work, then the latter...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Doesn't matter how svelte the derriere is if it's owner is using a walker!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd like more restaurants to acknowledge that people with less than perfect bodies, or in less than perfect condition, occasionally want to enjoy a meal out. Now, I understand that sometimes there are problems getting everything on one level, especially in older buildings, but when I call ahead of time to make sure a place can accomodate my elderly, mobility-challenged mother I want the person to I talk to to understand that "Yes, we're fully wheel-chair accessible" and "Only a couple of steps" do not mean the same thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tardigrade

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When my late M-I-L was with us, we took her out to dine, quite often. She was wheelchair bound, and I always made that known, and asked if the restaurant could accommodate her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In most cases, they could, and they did. In one, four beefy bussers arrived, grabbed her chair, and carried it up to the dining level. They were there, when it was time to leave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              At another, after assuring me that all was OK, we arrived to find a very narrow spiral staircase, leading down to the dining room. Her chair would barely fit, and there was no room for anyone to help her. I explained our problem, and also that we had been assured that she could enter. The response was, "well, she could get out of the chair and walk!" Not so good, and we canceled, taking her to a near-by steak house, that had adequate entry for a wheelchair.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have to admit that I had never paid a lot of attention to such things, but when M-I-L fled Katrina, I began to pick up on some things. If nothing else, my awareness was enhanced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This reminds me of a time when I was leaving a local beach bar called Donovan's (sea bright NJ which is a victim of Sandy and after 20+ years no longer exists) well me and a buddy were leaving and we for lack of a better word were hammered. There were some pretty steep stairs from the parking lot to the deck which led to the beach and the bars. (Indoor /outdoor bars). Well my buddy and I are each 6'4 300 lbs ex football players and as we get to the bottom of the stairs leaving there is a young man in a wheel chair who asks us if we can carry him up the stairs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I got a pit in my stomach knowing we weren't in a proper "state" to be doing something like that but few other people around were as physically capable as us and how do you really say no in that situation. So with great care and very deliberate footing we carried him up those stairs!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  while growing up I never saw my Grandma out of a wheelchair, and even a few paces were out of the question. but at an early age (8 or 9? - luck would have it a family favorite banquet room was on the 2nd floor, a steep second floor) I learned how to get her up and down staircases with minimal help (but then she was only at most 80# wet) I have full support for ADA compliance in all new construction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  jrved - you and pal definitely earned your 'good sport' marks that night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Once, ADA was not even in the back of my mind. After ten years with a wheelchair, I changed my tune, and greatly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I also learned to inquire about such things, and in great detail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wife had two hips replaced, and suddenly my entire house became ADA compliant. Just never thought about it before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nice move, and glad that you made it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Even on my best day, a wheelchair up, or down stairs, is not something to be taken lightly. Narrow those stairs, and ALL bets are off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nice move!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Seems like this post has transmuted into things people hate about restaurants XD But I have to say, I wish every restaurant would do what my fave local place does.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They are a weird bistro run by a French couple whose menu not only offers delicious French specialities like perfect salmon en croute but also equally delicious Thai curries, Greek salads and lasagne. It's a bit eccentric but always fantastic food, and the nicest thing is that for every dish where it is appropriate, you are offered a choice of buttered new potatoes, mashed potatoes or fries, and either a fresh salad or fresh steamed vegetables included in the price of the meal. It's the only place I know where this is the case, whereas usually (unless you order a side of potatoes and a side of salad with your tuna) you end up being presented with an empty plate with a single quivering slab of tuna, unaccompanied, in the middle of the plate, all for the extortionate price of what is meant to be a complete meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Elster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I would love to see more restaurants offer a choice of sides like that, especially more steamed veggies!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Elster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            there's a chain restaurant in my area that does offer a good selection of sides that are included in the price of the meal:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Houston's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            it is owned by a restaurant conglomerate called, i believe, the Hillstone group.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, it is Hillstone who owns Houston's, Bandera and other excellent "chain" restaurants. They are all terrific spots serving consistently very good food. What separates them from many "chains" is their outstanding service and customer orientation. Yes, all of their entrees and sandwiches come with a side (or two), and they are very open to substituting one side for another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My husband takes clients to Hillstones often. I've never been, but according to him, the service is excellent, you get what you ask for, and they are very accommodating to any special diets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. not a very popular topic on CH...but we go to a pizza restaurant in town and they mark allergens with an asterisk. * = contains nuts and • = gluten free. the only other restaurants that do this are chains. Red Robin, PF Changs and Maggianos are just a few that come to mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Never seen this discussed here. One of my big pet peeves about going out to eat is being inundated with cologne or perfume aromas while trying to enjoy a meal. Some people use way too much and can stink up an entire restaurant. Depending on the severity, it interferes with my ability to taste and enjoy a meal. We have asked to be moved to a different table because of this. I am not sure what restaurants can do about this but perhaps having a cologne/perfume free zone would be a good start.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Offer them a wet wipe or hose them down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  THIS! My boyfriend is fragrance-sensitive, and I just hate having others' perfume invade my space. Taste and smell are very aligned senses and perfume can really detract from my dining experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, I wish more restaurants would use fragrance-free soap in their bathrooms, for the same reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you think I'm being special-snowflake picky, try eliminating all scented products from your life for a couple of weeks...you'll be completely amazed at how pervasive and invasive it is. I was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: antennastoheaven

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When going out to dine, I use an un-scented shaving cream, and then after-shave lotion, just to not affect my nose, or that, of folk around me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: antennastoheaven

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Since working for several years in an environment where scents were not allowed, I have a new appreciation for how nice their absence is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I like when beers are listed in the menu. I hate having the server list them for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      +1 for beers listed on the menu. I love having the chance to look over the list before the server gets there to take the drink orders. It's nice to be ready with my choice instead of making the poor server repeat the list because I've forgotten the beginning of the list before he or she gets to the end. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. As a second practice I'd like to see become more common: stakeholders present in the restaurant. Either the owner(s) or a strongly incentivized manager on the premises while open for business with paying customers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If I have a problem with the premises, food, or service; or a suggestion for something I'd like to see, nobody is going to be more concerned than a stakeholder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        to borrow a line from ipsedixit.....I see this ending badly...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The problem is that some owners have no idea how to operate a restaurant and make things difficult for the manager who is trying to do their job. There's a thread about restaurant owners/managers giving "regulars" or VIPs special treatment at the expense of all the other diners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Would love better access to the “Secret Menu” dishes. Once I asked about a dish not on the menu and the server recommended a “Secret Menu” dish that was wonderful. Unless you have insider info or get lucky, you may miss a winner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Spacing for sure as ipsedixit said---physical space attentiveness. Don't serve our salads on platters if your two-top is the size of a chess board.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My second wish is that courses be timed better. In many places we visited, our main course would be coming out when we'd barely begun to enjoy our soups.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Finally, I'd like to see reason applied to the "no substitutions" rule. If I am at a BBQ joint, and ask to sub one low-cost option for another (for example, a tiny paper cup full of cole slaw rather than a scoop of mashed potatoes), I don't think a federal case needs to be made. I understand not subbing fresh asparagus for canned green beans. But reason should rule.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              <<Don't serve our salads on platters if your two-top is the size of a chess board.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              At many restaurants around the globe, our dossier tells the FOH to seat us (just a simple couple), at a full 4-top, or larger, as we often have a half-dozen wine glasses each. One San Francisco restaurant seats us at a 6-top (special table), just because of all of the wine glasses. Two other restaurants now seat us at a full 4-top, because of the wine glasses (one in London, and one in Paris).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Another SF restaurant seats us at an 8-top, in anticipation of our normal wine orders. That works for us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "At many restaurants around the globe, our dossier ..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Could you elaborate on this dossier thing? Is that something you or your assistant sends ahead to restaurants you plan on visiting? Similar to band requests as to how the green room is to be stocked?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In any event, it sounds very exclusive & special!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood