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Jan 2, 2013 10:13 AM

Why won't they put less dressing on my salad?

There are a couple of restaurants I like that tend to put too much dressing on their salads. I don't know about you, but I don't like getting my dressing on the side because it is almost impossible to get it distributed evenly over the salad. I don't want a dab of dressing with every bite, I want each leaf of my salad to be very lightly coated with dressing.

I have tried asking for my salad "lightly dressed", or "with half dressing", etc. Invariably the salad comes out with the dressing on the side. Is the kitchen unable to put half a dipper of dressing? Have I offended the salad chef? Or are they just too lazy to figure out what it is I'm asking for? I understand that asking for a light amount of dressing leaves things open to interpretation, but when I say 'half dressing', how complicated can that be?

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  1. I also like my salad lightly dressed--lettuce drowning in oil and vinegar is not appetizing to me.
    When I go to the make-your-own-salad place near my work, I've been saying "two teaspoons of dressing" and so far they have gotten it right. I've had one of the workers ask me "are you sure that's all you want?". Yes, I'm sure.

    1. ... Or are they just too lazy to figure out what it is I'm asking for?

      Bingo......or, I suspect the reason why they still send the dressing on the side is not to offend you or get it wrong as it relates to your personal preferences.

      1. For the same reason when you ask for just a half a cup of coffee you usually get a full one.I kow why, but one of my new years resolutions is to BE NICE!

        1. I'm with you on that. I hate an overdressed and soggy salad

          1. I asked a chef friend of mine this question and his reply was something along the lines of "It's the least risky proposal for the restaurant" and "you can't un-dress a salad"

            Essentially, if you ask for 'less dressing' and the salad still comes out with more dressing than you'd like, you may:
            1. Send it back
            2. Hate the salad

            Both of the above mean you don't like your meal and it's entirely the kitchen's fault.

            If, however, the kitchen gives you the dressing on the side, you control the amount of dressing. In this event:
            1. You probably won't send it back (underdressed > overdressed since dressing cannot be removed)
            2. Even though it requires work, you'll be more satisfied with the meal (you'll come closer to the amount you want)

            By sending you the dressing on the side, the kitchen gives you more control and reduces the amount of blame it can get for not satisfying your meal.

            13 Replies
            1. re: meatnveg

              I understand that, but it means the salad dressing won't be properly distributed. I can get a steak cooked to order, I can get an egg cooked to order, i can get extra, light or no mayo on my burger at a fast food restaurant, but I can't get a salad dressed to order? Bah Humbug.

              but thanks for the reply, i suspect its correct.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                Well, that's not really the same. There is a definition of a medium-rare steak. It's pretty universal. But if you asked for "light on the dressing", does that mean you want a teaspoon's worth? 2 teaspoons? 6 drops? There's no set definition for it. Unless you say "Can you toss my salad with just 1 teaspoon of dressing?", they won't know what you are expecting.

                1. re: boogiebaby

                  Just a hunch.....but I suspect he just wants he has his salad, he doesn't want the dressing pooling at the bottom of the plate or dripping down his chin.

                  True there's no definition, but the concept is not hard to understand or deliver when requested..

                  1. re: fourunder

                    meatnveg is right.

                    While it's easy to conceptualize "lightly dressed" it is much much more difficult to realize that concept with any degree of uniformity vis-a-vis a diner's expectations.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      no it's not...I've worked in many different places....when a salad was requested lightly was done and sent out. Not once has one ever come back to kitchen for either being too lightly dressed...or not enough.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            It's because you're too persuasive.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          Not least of all because they couldn't be bothered to screw around with salad dressing any longer....

                      1. re: fourunder

                        Yes,not exactly rocket science! For heavens sake, if you are paid to work in a restaurant and cook then you certainly can lightly dress a salad. I hate dressing on the side...I want my salad tossed,not tossed all over the table with my dressing on the side!

                    2. re: KaimukiMan

                      You are asking for the impossible. Unless it's a caesar salad that is tossed in the kitchen and then plated, you are pretty much always going to get a salad with the drssing poured on top. No matter how much dressing you order, it will be on top and not distributed. The only solution I see is for you to bring your own larger stainless steel bowl, dump the salad and dressing in, toss to coat, and then put it back on the salad plate/ bowl. I'm not really trying to be a smart ass, but that's the only solution I can figure out. The only other solution is what I actually do. Get the dressing on the side, put a little on the salad and add more of the dressing as needed.

                      1. re: John E.

                        I have been served non-Caesar salads with the dressing tossed on many occasions.

                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                          Of course you have and so have I. I probably should have worded my post a little differently but I am sure you understand the point I was attempting to make.