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Feb 25, 2013 10:10 AM

Odd waiter request at Sportello for dinner?

So a group of us, I believe 10 total, went last Wednesday for our friends birthday, it was most of our first time there, at least for dinner, and had made reservations, so they knew the large group would be there.

Our waiter made a rather odd request when I tried to order some appetizers for our side of the horseshoe. I asked if I could order some appetizers and he requested that we order the appetizers AND our entrees at the same time. I said we were not ready to order our entrees yet, and wouldn't mind getting the appetizer order to get some food in front of us more quickly, he responded by saying he would prefer us order both at once, but that he would take our appetizer order.

I've never been asked this at a restaurant of Sportello's pedigree, or of any restaurant for that matter, so I was a bit taken back. The rest of the night the service was excellent, and when we were the only ones left in the restaurant he spent more time with us, chatting with a few of us about the food and beer choices, which was nice.

Is this type of ordering S.O.P. at Sportello, or anywhere for that matter? Have I missed out on some trend that is developing?

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  1. Something similar was suggested when we dined at West Bridge recently. We were planning on ordering a half-dozen or so small plates for us to share, followed by big plates. We hadn't quite made our final decisions, but we knew a handful that we definitely wanted.

    We asked the waiter if we should order that first round while deciding on the rest, or wait until we had finalized everything. He suggested the latter so that they could group the small plates effectively and to improve the pacing from the kitchen.

    I'd guess waiters/restaurants request you order everything together so that your meal doesn't drag on. They probably figure that an extra two minutes deciding on entrees will balloon to 10 minutes or more if you've got appetizers to linger over.

    1. The waiter probably wanted to make sure that every entree option was available and also to place a holder on the entree selection so no one else could order it if the ingredients were getting short. I'd say the waiter wanted to ensure that you and your guests had a delightful evening.

      1. i have worked for more than one chef who insists on getting guests to do this. however, it may be something specific with some places for big parties because getting the order takes so long anyway.

        most servers need to fire your entrees as soon as the apps are on the table, and they certainly don't want to be badgering you to order while you are eating. so you eat the apps, they need to be cleared and THEN the next round gets ordered. this could add 30 or more minutes to your next course arriving.

        1. The wait staff will approach a party of ten differently then a party of four or fewer. Maybe he should of explained himself better, but I'm sure he had your best interest at heart. As you said the rest of the night was fine.

          2 Replies
          1. re: libertywharf

            I'm pretty sure the waiter had his own and/or the restaurant's best interest at heart, not the OPs.

            I have seen this policy/tactic before. I don't love it, but am OK with it as long as the courses don't get jammed out right on top of one another. If that happens, we've got an issue.

            1. re: Gabatta

              If you've seen this before then maybe there is a good reason for the practice. As long as the wait staff isn't too pushy, then I'm fine with it. Handling parties of ten isn't always easy and sometimes following the "handbook on waiting" is best.

          2. Not at Sportello, but the same thing happened to us last night. We were dining out before a concert in a place that was packed. Our server--who was fabulous--took our entree orders with our apps orders, and assured us that he would time them so that we wouldn't be rushed. He was true to his word and timed the rounds of drinks, apps, entree, dessert and coffee perfectly, and was tipped handsomely for doing so.
            Long story short--I don't mind if they ask for both at the same time, but timing is EVERYTHING with food presentation.

            2 Replies
              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                The Chophouse in Manchester NH, pre The Who.