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Jun 9, 2013 10:45 PM

"It's Too Big" -- And Other Bizarre Restaurant Complaints

I was at a restaurant yesterday in Las Vegas and witnessed a very strange exchange between a patron and restaurant manager, so I thought I would post about it.

This happened at Central at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. As with most hotels, food prices are high. The turkey club sandwich on the menu is $18. But at the same time, it is a big sandwich. Actually, it's huge, with a lot of turkey and a pretty thick layer of bacon strips. My friend ordered it in a half-sandwich with soup and we joked about the size. As we were eating, we noticed that the woman at the table next to us had ordered the full sandwich. She and the guy she was with were probably late-20s or early-30s and she was model-thin. We all laughed about the size of the sandwich.

Cut to the end of the meal. We weren't paying attention to them, but suddenly we notice that the guy is arguing with the manager. They have finished and she has half her sandwich left. The guy is complaining that the sandwich is too big. The manager suggests they take it to go, but the guy complains that isn't the problem. The sandwich is too big -- as in the physical size is too large.

(Yes, that did just beg for a witty, yet inappropriate comment, but I was too sleep-deprived and stunned to think of anything.)

In any event, the manager is totally perplexed. He says they sell 200 of the sandwiches a day and nobody has ever complained about the sandwich being too big. The woman says that they do and then points to our table and says we did too. My friend, who has finished his half-sandwich, pronounced it delicious, and picked clean every crumb off his plate -- is dumbfounded. Meanwhile, the manager offers to cut the woman's half-sandwich into two smaller pieces or to repack the original sandwich somehow so it is smaller. But the man and woman are insistent that won't work and it doesn't fix the problem that the sandwich is too big.

My friend and I quickly got our check, told our waiter that we had absolutely no problem with the sandwich, and beat a path to the exit. But we spent the rest of the weekend laughing about the scene. It had to be the strangest complaint I've ever heard anyone make at a restaurant. And it made me wonder about what other bizarre complaints people here have heard.

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  1. There was, may still is, a restaurant in San Diego called something like Hash House a GoGo. I think they had another restaurant in LV too. Anyway, their plates were huge. Not that there's anything wrong with that, unless you don't like a lot of food in front of you. Still remember the first time I went there and they served me a plate that was good for 2-3 people.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hankstramm

      I went to Hash House in Vegas and agree that the portions are huge. It first it was amusing, but then we started to feel badly because it felt like we barely made a dent in our food and with no fridge in the hotel room, it would have gone to waste. Had we known better, we should have split a dish but we still would not have finished. The food was great, butI I didn't like having to see so much food go to waste from the two of us, as well as manty of the people around us.

      I wouldn't ever complain to a restaurant about getting too much food, though. As for all of the people saying people should have seen the size of other people's plates, I usualy don't spend too much time food gazing at other people's tables unless something catches my eye and I want to order it, although I have usually ordered by then!

      1. re: aasg

        We went to Hash House a Go Go when we were in Vegas: OMG!! Enormous portions!! I wish we had a fridge in our hotel room. Actually they made me wish I lived in Vegas!!
        Three meals for the price of one.
        I NEVER would imagine complaining.

        1. re: Motosport

          Out in Henderson, our hotel/casino had a Hash House a Go Go. I had never experienced one before. The first morning, I spent time talking to my server. Still, the portions were overly-large. I ate there two more mornings, and finally got the "equation" correct. On that third morning, I got what I wanted, and in portions that I could actually eat, and not worry about "starving children in Bangladesh."


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            I grew up with "the starving Armenians".

            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              For me, growing up, it was "the starving children in China," originally.


    2. sometimes people say those things when they really mean to say, "i don't want to pay for the large portion you serve."

      personally, since i eat a lot, i LOVE big portions so that i don't need to order two entrees to feel full.
      also, if i like the restaurant well enough to go there in the first place, i normally would enjoy having left overs to take home

      9 Replies
      1. re: westsidegal

        The only point in engaging in that kind of argument has to be to try and get something comped. If eating a very large sandwich (and being surprised by the large size) is a reason you are unhappy with your meal and want something else - that's a valid point to bring up such a complaint. But at the end of meal like that it can only be done in the attempt of not having to pay the listed price.

        Most salad offerings in Israeli restaurants are essentially dinner salad size and as a side salad or appetizer, one easily can feed 4 people. While it's definitely a complaint of mine regarding restaurant trends in Israel, I would love to see what would happen in response to carrying on with an argument about how they're just "too big".

        1. re: cresyd

          Good luck on getting comped. They are basicaly complaing about getting more than they expected. OK, so don't eat it all or take it with you.

          1. re: cresyd

            OT, but related to the above post:
            my favorite israeli restaurant in los angeles serves an array of about 15 of all sorts of salads along with any main dish.
            for most of them, the dish is refilled for free during the course of the meal.
            i've been known to go through 4 or 5 refills of their celery salad and at least 2 refills of a couple of their eggplant salads each time i go there.
            they won't, however, refill the cucumber/tomato salad (the one that resembles a shirazi salad in a persian restaurant)

            1. re: westsidegal

              Ah - we are talking about two different types of salad in the Israeli culinary world.

              You have your "salad" which are the small dishes of pickled veggies, fresh salads, hummus, eggplant dishes, etc. mix of Middle Eastern and Eastern European fare. Though 'salads' in Hebrew, in Arabic would more or less be mezze. These options are found at certain kinds of restaurants.

              Then you have your "salad" which would be more or less how salads are perceived in the North American/European sense of the term. Bed of leafy greens, topped with other veggies, and then various mixes of nuts, seeds, cheeses, meats, etc. These salads are mostly found at cafes and other restaurants that do not typically have the salads as mentioned in my first paragraph. These are the "too big" salads of which I'm complaining. (Locally the way they'd be differentiated other than in context is that the first paragraph salads are typically refered to in the plural)

              As it's often in a cafe - and as an American - the idea of a soup and salad (or salad and small something else) is appealing. However, both in size and price this option rarely makes sense (unless you're sharing).

              1. re: cresyd

                <<both in size and price this option rarely makes sense (unless you're sharing).>>

                i can't figure out what you mean here.
                the AYCE aspect of it means that a person will get all the salads whether or not s/he is sharing.
                if the person IS sharing, BOTH people will be charged (i.e. there will be 2 charges) which is normal for AYCE option meals.

                i get all the salads whether or not i have a dining partner.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  I'm sorry you found my post confusing. I was trying to differentiate between the two types of "salad" in an Israeli dining context. The small AYCE many little salads and the huge entre sized single salad option often found at cafes.

                  The AYCE option was not what I was complaining about - but rather the classic "cafe" salad that you find in Israel. These salads are not AYCE and are not many dishes of different salads. Rather one huge salad. In Israel the restaurants that serve the AYCE small options are typically centered around either meat or fish main courses. The restaurants that serve the large entre-sized salads are typically cafes, dairy restaurants, and places that are modeled after European/American style restaurants.

                  So my complaint about "having" to share is based around the inability to order anything other than an entre sized salad that would make the Cheesecake Factory proud. In Israel at a vast majority of places, the meal option of "soup and salad" ordered in a restaurant could easily feed 2-3 and is a bizarrely large and rather expensive order for one. This has nothing to do with AYCE small salads.

                  1. re: cresyd

                    ok, now i understand.
                    thank you.

                    (speaking as someone who orders TWO cheesecake factory full-sized salads for one meal)

                2. re: cresyd

                  <<both in size and price this option rarely makes sense (unless you're sharing).>>

                  i can't figure out what you mean here.
                  the AYCE aspect of it means that if a person will get all the salads whether or not s/he is sharing.
                  if the person IS sharing, BOTH people will be charged (i.e. there will be 2 charges) which is normal for AYCE option meals.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    That part of cresyd's post is about an entree salad that is too big to order if you also want to have soup, because those two things together would be too much food, and too expensive, for one person to eat in a single meal. cresyd is not talking about AYCE side salads except to note that both types of salads exist.

          2. I once saw Michael Symon tell the story of a customer who praised everything about a meal at one of his restaurants, then said he was never coming back because the portion didn't leave him enough for leftovers to take home.

            1. Did he mean too high, as in hard to get your jaws around? I've had that observation about sandwiches in the past but never to the level of complaining about it (I just squish it down).

              Strangest complaints I've heard have come from people who know they don't like a particular ingredient, order it anyway, then complain that the dish tastes too much like the offensive ingredient. Mushrooms, tomatoes, cilantro, to name a few. Ingredients were clearly listed on the menu.

              14 Replies
              1. re: tcamp

                Seems like these people find something to complain about everything. They aren't satisfied no matter what.

                If my sandwich were $18, I'd expect it to be big. LOL!

                1. re: tcamp

                  This is what I thought also. On occasion, I've had to partially disassemble a sandwich in order to eat it comfortably (and/or without having its contents fall on my shirt!).

                  1. re: tcamp

                    The complaint was rather non-specific, but I suspect that may have been part of the issue -- that it was too large for her to get her jaws around (hence why I should have made an inappropriate remark). Somehow, she did manage to eat half of it though.

                    Also, as I said, the manager did offer to do the remaining half. If the size was too physically tall, they could have easily removed some of the turkey, bacon, and lettuce, plus the middle slice of bread to make the half smaller. With the removed portion they could have made a smaller sandwich. And I'll bet the manager probably would have even given them an extra quarter slice of bread to make an entire new, smaller sandwich.

                    1. re: Jwsel

                      There are some people you just can't make happy.
                      Some people are out to get any dish comped they can for any reason and will even brag about it later. I have no idea what to do about them. I lump them in the category of my friends that are bad tippers and arrange never to eat out with them.

                      1. re: Jwsel

                        Actually, I am clearly in the minority here, but if a sandwich proves difficult to eat due to its size (requiring one unhinge one's jaws, or attempt to rebuild the item to manageable proportions) that is something to take into account.

                        People here say they would throw a strop if faced with too small a sandwich for their $18. But wouldn't the requirement to make a new one just so one can eat also be aggravating at $18?

                        1. re: Lizard

                          "Actually, I am clearly in the minority here, but if a sandwich proves difficult to eat due to its size (requiring one unhinge one's jaws, or attempt to rebuild the item to manageable proportions) that is something to take into account."

                          How about using a knife and fork? That's standard procedure for open faced sandwiches.

                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                            A knife and fork is perfectly fine. I tend to use a set for most things (which was won me derision from 'hounds on other threads). However, this may not be ideal or desirable.

                            But I'm not sure why you all are so upset over the possibility that a too large sandwich, which yields difficulty in consumption, is such a horrible thing to mention or complain about. I don't support demands for compensation of any kind, nor do I support the apparently rude behaviour of the duo. But I'm not about to scoff at the complaint as if it were the most ridiculous thing I've heard.

                            1. re: Lizard

                              I think the main problem is that she had already ate half of it prior to complaining. It couldn't have been inedible or too difficult to eat, since she actually ate half of it.

                              If it was truly too difficult to eat, she could have notified the server prior to eating half of the dish. The kitchen could have then replated it more towards her suiting. Or, she could do what the vast majority of the population would do and figure out a way to make it more manageable to eat (i.e. take off the top half of the sandwich if it is a triple decker, eat with fork, remove some of the meat, etc).

                            2. re: Bob Martinez

                              or, even better, use that knife and fork to remove some of the filling.
                              this is not at all complicated.

                              i second Bob Marinez' take on the matter

                            3. re: Lizard

                              First of all I wouldn't throw a strop (not sure what that is but I wouldn't throw it) either way, especially if it was clear I was certainly able to gobble half of it down, and I didn't complain until after I ingested it. Second, I've had to take a fork and knife to several burgers in my past that were just too damn big/messy to eat. It didn't scar me for life.

                              1. re: Firegoat

                                I've done the same thing - used a knife and fork for burgers that got too sloppy to pick up.

                                At a local restaurant I've recently been ordering a ham and swiss club at lunch. The sandwich is normal sized but it *is* tall. Tall enough to make picking it up and biting into it awkward. Again, Mr. Knife and Mr. Fork were there to rescue me.

                                1. re: Firegoat

                                  "First of all I wouldn't throw a strop (not sure what that is but I wouldn't throw it) either way..."

                                  Never heard of it either until now. Learned something new!

                                  strop 2 |strÉ’p|
                                  noun [ usu. in sing. ] Brit. informal
                                  a bad mood; a temper: Nathalie gets in a strop and makes to leave.

                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                    Learn something new everyday! I thought I was going to have to sharpen some straight edge razors or something and then throw it!

                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                      I'd heard (read?) "stroppy" meaning ticked off, cranky, etc. Probably in some Anglo murder mystery...And I think the person so described was a woman, as in this dictionary def.

                                      Wonder if there's any implied link, as there is with b:tchy.

                            4. I seem to recall some article or news story over the weekend about this subject, but for the life of me cannot remember where I saw or heard it. One of the points brought up was a customer complaining the service was too good at a particular restaurant which meant he had to tip more than he wanted to.

                              Some people are never satisfied with anything in this precious life we are given.