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Unusual restaurant requests - and responses

f
ferventfoodie Jul 7, 2013 11:10 PM

Have any of you ever made a somehat unusual request at a restaurant
and received an amusing - or annoying - response? Here's an example
from my experience.

We had become friendly with the chef/owner of a small, upscale French
restaurant near our home. Because of its prices and sophisticated
menu, it was considered by many to be a "special occasion" spot
meaning it was often packed on weekends and holidays and almost
empty during the week, when we preferred to dine there. The chef often
used the "down" time to experiment with new dishes and would ask us
to sample them.

Arriving on such a slow night, we were greeted by a waiter we did not
know and never thought to mention that the chef liked to be told when
we came in. The place was otherwise empty as we were finishing our
entrees and a group of six entered and was seated near us. While he was distributing menus, the waiter mentioned the chef had just added a
special appetizer - sauteed foie gras and fresh figs with port wine sauce.

My husband must have seen my eyes light up as I contemplated the
possibility of three of my favorite things on a single plate. When the
waiter cleared the plates, he asked if we would be having dessert.
"We'll have the foie gras", my husband replied. The server laughed and
repeated his question. My husband repeated his response - which sent
the waiter scurrying down the steps to the basement kitchen.

I could see the stairs at the back of the restaurant from my seat and
soon a toque began to appear on them. While only the chef's head was
visible to the diners, the waiter began to point at us nervously.

As soon as the chef recognized us, he laughed and waved - and returned to the kitchen to prepare our "dessert".

Anyone else care to share?

  1. Bill Hunt Jul 8, 2013 08:28 PM

    Yes. We had an upper-mid-level restaurant, that fancied themselves a full level above. Dined there with friends, and encountered a rather oddly mixed menu. Still, we managed to put together an order, with one exception. My wife took a fancy to the main, and the app. on the Chef's Tasting Menu, but could not do it completely, due to some scallops.

    When the server came over, we all gave our orders, with my wife just sitting there. At last, the server inquired, and I told him that she wanted the app. and main from the Tasting Menu, but then the soup course, or whatever, from a la carte. He told me that was not possible. I suggested that he charge me for a full Tasting Menu and then her a la carte, and just hold the scallops. He stated that it could not be done, since the entire table had to have the Chef's Tasting Menu. I pointed out that my guests, and I did not want it, hence our orders. I pointed out that since the chef was already doing the dishes for his Tasting Menu, he could make up the price, and charge me whatever. The server insisted that the chef would ONLY cook for the entire table. I looked around the half-full dining room, and asked, has any other table ordered the Chef's Tasting Menu? He pointed to a 4-top, and said, "they just did." "OK, then tell chef that you missed a patron at that table, and that it should be FIVE Tasting Menus. I will eat the scallops, and just charge whatever." His reply was, "chef will only cook for a single table, and not any others." We finally got something, and none of it was that good. This restaurant, though only about 3 mos. old, closed within the next month. Good riddance, IMO.

    Hunt

    15 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt
      porker Jul 9, 2013 09:57 PM

      We were at a newly opened Portuguese, grilled-chicken place. Their menu included chicken and ribs, but no type of combo. I asked for a grilled chicken with a couple of ribs thrown in and "I'll pay the difference"
      "We don't have chicken and ribs"
      "You have chicken?"
      "Yes."
      "You have ribs?"
      "Yes."
      "Can you make chicken and put ribs on the same plate?"
      "No."
      "Can I order the chicken plate AND a rib plate?"
      "Yes."
      "OK, give me a chicken plate, For the rib plate, don't add any sides. In fact, just place the ribs on the fries of the chicken plate."
      "Uhhh, OK."
      They served me two whole plates sides and all.....
      OK, I ultimately got what I wanted, but total inflexibility at a mom & pop place seems grating.
      They lasted 6 whole months.

      1. re: porker
        Bill Hunt Jul 10, 2013 07:05 PM

        That sounds like the classic scene from "Five Easy Pieces."

        My poor wife ran afoul of similar, when she was in New England. It was early Autumn, but after Labor Day. She ordered ice-tea. The server told her that she could not order that, since it was "out of season." OK, wife ordered a hot tea, and a glass of ice. No problem. When presented, she poured the hot tea into the ice, and smiled. Easier that the "where do you want me to hold it?" line, in "Five Easy Pieces." If you have never seen it, do so now.

        Sounds familiar.

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt
          i
          Isolda Jul 11, 2013 12:42 PM

          Yep, that sounds like my neck of the woods! A similar thing happened to one of my cousins, who ordered "tea' without specifying that it should be iced (in July!) and got hot tea. The waiter was really affronted when she asked him to replace it. "You should have told me you wanted it iced."

          And the iced tea that finally arrived was instant or bottled or some other nasty concoction....

          1. re: Isolda
            t
            travelmad478 Jul 11, 2013 01:05 PM

            Where I'm from, "tea" means hot tea and "iced tea" means iced tea, no matter what month of the year it is. Where Mr. travelmad478 is from, "tea" means iced tea year-round. And it generally has about 8 tablespoons of sugar in it.

            Several years ago I was in Austin, TX in the summertime and ordered tea at breakfast (it's what I drink every day instead of coffee). The waitress stared at me for a couple of seconds and then said, um, hot tea? Um, yes! I've since learned to be more specific when traveling in the South.

            1. re: travelmad478
              suzigirl Jul 11, 2013 01:09 PM

              Yes you must be specific. And remember the unsweetened part unless you like tea flavored simple syrup. Southerners like it sweet y'all.

              1. re: suzigirl
                n
                nikkihwood Jul 11, 2013 10:47 PM

                Agree about 'hot tea.' I always specify.

                Forty years ago, in way suburban LA, we went into a Kresge's - predecessor of KMart - in our new home town [moved from suburban Boston, home of unsweetened ice tea and ice coffee. Not iced. Ice.]. Ma asks for ice coffee. She gets a cup of hot coffee, a glass of ice, and a pitcher of cream. Oh well. haha.

              2. re: travelmad478
                Jasz Jul 16, 2013 04:41 PM

                When visiting my sister in Texas for the first time I was initially taken aback when the server asked if I wanted tea with my meal as I, a Canadian, thought "hot tea." I took a few moments to realize the true meaning. And I loved the Texan tea, albeit unsweetened.

              3. re: Isolda
                n
                NicoleFriedman Jul 12, 2013 05:19 PM

                In NYC, I've always assumed that "tea" means hot, regardless of the weather. I actually prefer hot tea or coffee, as long as there is good a/c.

                1. re: NicoleFriedman
                  suzigirl Jul 12, 2013 07:02 PM

                  In the south hot tea means hot. Sweet and unsweet tea is cold. At least where I am. That's FL.

          2. re: Bill Hunt
            c
            cresyd Jul 10, 2013 01:24 AM

            This was a low end diner, but a similar exchange. A plain hamburger came with only ketchup and a cheese burger was served relatively loaded.

            "Can I get the hamburger with pickles and mustard and no ketchup"
            "No, we can't add items to the hamburger."
            "Can I get the cheese burger but with only the pickles and mustard and nothing else"
            "No we can't remove items from the cheese burger"
            "Can I order a side of pickles and side of mustard?"
            "You can get mustard but not a side of pickles"

            I ended up ordering the hamburger and deep fried pickles to get close to my original request - but the whole exchange was just infuriating. It's one of these late night diners that get a lot of after bar patrons, so I'm sure the rules have to do with what I imagine are difficult customers. But this was a bit above and beyond.

            1. re: cresyd
              w
              wasny Jul 10, 2013 11:10 AM

              This reminds me of the classic "hold the chicken" scene from Five Easy Pieces, with Jack Nicholson:

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wtfNE...

              1. re: cresyd
                Bill Hunt Jul 10, 2013 07:08 PM

                Again, sounds like "Five Easy Pieces," and the holding of certain aspects of a menu item.

                For the "youngsters," see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wtfNE...

                Hunt

                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  w
                  wasny Jul 10, 2013 07:16 PM

                  It sure does.

                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                    porker Jul 11, 2013 08:20 AM

                    So I just watched 5 easy pieces and thoroughly enjoyed it!
                    I must have seen it years ago, but being a 47 year old youngster, forgot about it. {;-/)
                    I dunno, Jack Nicholson comes into my place, I give him what he wants, hehe.

                    'scuse me while I hit up Youtube again
                    .....BETWEEN your knees...

                    1. re: porker
                      PegS Jul 11, 2013 08:30 AM

                      My story is similar. I used to visit a cafeteria style place in our building. At the time I got a hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich every so often for breakfast. On the breakfast menu was a breakfast sandwich (bread, cheese, egg) that was something like $2.75, so I'd essentially order that minus the egg. However, on the lunch menu a grilled cheese sandwich was $6.50.

                      Usually I got the person who was smart enough to charge me for the breakfast sandwich even though I had them hold the egg. One time, though, I got a cashier who kept trying to charge me for the lunchtime grilled cheese sandwich and I had to talk him through why he could just charge me for the breakfast sandwich instead.

              2. 4
                4Snisl Jul 9, 2013 11:04 AM

                I was at a restaurant that I've frequented fairly often with a friend. There were 2 smaller dishes (a raw brussels sprout salad and duck rillettes) that looked interesting- I decided to order both as my meal. However, the salad was garnished with bacon, which I do not eat. I asked the server if he could ask the kitchen whether the bacon could be left out of the dish.

                The kitchen is open, in plain view of the entire dining room. I saw the server walk away, handle some silverware and consult with another table, and then return to me and say that the kitchen would not be able to honor the request.
                Not a word spoken with the kitchen.

                I nicely said, 'Oh, Chef ___ isn't able to leave out the bacon?' and he said, 'No, he says that it can't be done for that plate. May I suggest [big upsell dish]?' I replied that it was fine, I could just have the rilletes as a light meal, not a problem.

                The baffled look that flashed over his face was priceless. He stood there for a moment, then said, 'Wait, let me see if I can talk them into it.' I then saw him walk over, talk with the chef (a very even, calm guy) and point aggressively at us. The chef looked over at the table, smiled and waved. The server returned and said, "Well, I was able to convince him to do it this once!'

                Not only was the salad served without the bacon....the chef went an extra step and made duck cracklings to fill in the crunch, salt and savoriness for the bacon void! I'm quite certain the cracklings was all due to the initiative of the server..... I'm not sure that the 20% tip was enough to reward his valiant efforts. :)

                7 Replies
                1. re: 4Snisl
                  Bill Hunt Jul 9, 2013 09:10 PM

                  At least your request (sounded perfectly reasonable to me - though I love crisp bacon) was honored, with but a bit of work. Kudos to the chef! Glad that someone understood.

                  Thanks for sharing,

                  Hunt

                  1. re: 4Snisl
                    porker Jul 9, 2013 10:15 PM

                    Cajun was barely heard of in Montreal when dating Mrs. Porker in the '80s. We were at a somewhat pricey resto called Cajun House.
                    The waiter took our food order first and I ordered gumbo or jambalaya which was "garnished with a crawfish". I asked the waiter if the kitchen could maybe throw in extra crawfish. Looking down his nose at a coupla 19 year olds, he replied that no, the kitchen just can't do it.
                    He walked away and the future Mrs. Porker rolled her eyes saying "He thinks we're just kids, huh?" (which we kinda were...)
                    We ordered a coupla cocktails and a pricey bottle of wine before the food came (we were celebrating something, but alas memory fails me).
                    The waiter's attitude did a 180. Lo and behold, when my jambalaya arrived (or was it gumbo?), it was heaped with steaming crawfish.
                    My hot date and I chuckled knowingly.

                    1. re: 4Snisl
                      Midknight Jul 10, 2013 06:33 AM

                      Wait...the waiter tries to jerk you around by lying to your face (twice) and you still "reward" him with a 20% tip? Am I missing something?

                      1. re: Midknight
                        boyzoma Jul 10, 2013 07:00 AM

                        I probably would have gotten up and walked over to the open kitchen and given the chef a tip directly! JMHO

                        1. re: Midknight
                          4
                          4Snisl Jul 11, 2013 03:45 PM

                          I'm pretty sure that the place pools tips, and the other staff there are awesome. This was the first and the last time I saw this fellow. The chef there was also one of the owners, so I spoke with him discreetly afterward.

                          I always have wondered about tipping the kitchen directly.....been seeing a lot more of these 'buy the kitchen a round after work' options straight on the menu....

                          1. re: Midknight
                            babette feasts Jul 11, 2013 08:53 PM

                            Yeah, I sincerely doubt the duck cracklings were due to the initiative of the server. Is there some sarcasm I'm missing? I hope you thanked the chef.

                            1. re: babette feasts
                              4
                              4Snisl Jul 12, 2013 10:09 AM

                              Yes, the last line about the "valiant efforts" was definitely sarcastic. Sorry I didn't express that clearly enough- probably confusing because there was a decent tip left at the end (as I explained later, the other staff there are wonderful, and the pooled tips influenced my decision.)

                              The chef/co-owner and I were able to speak at the end of the meal. I thanked his for his graciousness, and explained briefly this was the only blip I'd ever had in the otherwise stellar service from everyone there.

                        2. porker Jul 9, 2013 10:34 PM

                          This from "the other side of the fence". I think I mentioned it on another thread somewhere.

                          I was working the line when a young waiter came into the kitchen with a strange request;
                          "Hey porker, this customer wants 'farmer john' cheese."
                          "He wants WHAT?"
                          "Farmer john cheese."
                          "farmer.....john.....cheese?"
                          "yeah."
                          "What the hell is that"?
                          "I dunno, but that's what he asked for..."
                          "Wait a minute, whats he eatin?"
                          "The jambalaya pasta."
                          groooan
                          "Just possibly, coulda he said PARMESAN cheese?"
                          "I dunno, maybe.".....
                          yeah it was Parmesan.
                          (I see the waiter once in awhile 14 years later, a grown man with a family of his own, waiting tables long past. I always say "HEY FARMER JOHN!" and we laugh)

                          A young waitress walks in. "Hey porker, you see the striploin, med-rare, with veggies and a baked potato that just came up?"
                          "Yeah?"
                          "Well, he asked for a shot of Jack on each side of the steak."
                          "He wants WHAT?"
                          "I dunno, I guess two shots of Jack Daniels on the plate, one on each side of the steak..."
                          "OK, get a couple of shots from the bar, just put it on his bill."
                          I was in the weeds with little time to think, so just went with her suggestion of garnishing the plate with two shot glasses of Jack Daniels.
                          When served, the guy asked what the hell was that and laughed his ass off. He wanted it poured on the steak while cooking....

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: porker
                            BobB Jul 16, 2013 10:30 AM

                            The farmer john cheese incident reminds me of the time I was at a fairly upscale restaurant in NYC a few years ago. The food was excellent and the service attentive, but our very young server, in attempting to tell us of the day's special (magret de canard), announced it as Margaret Duck Breast.

                            1. re: BobB
                              porker Jul 16, 2013 08:23 PM

                              Ha, I think I knew her (Margaret, not the server...she grew out of it in later years...)

                              I made a seafood soup which featured Old Bay seasoning. I decided to call it Chesapeake Bay Chowder. The same Jack Daniels waitress above spent half a day describing our soup special as "Cheapskate Bay Chowder"

                              1. re: porker
                                k
                                kpaxonite Jul 17, 2013 02:23 AM

                                Considering these stories I hope she was stunning.. hahha

                          2. p
                            Pwmfan Jul 10, 2013 12:52 AM

                            This would probably not be considered unusual these days, but this incident occured many years ago (pre-"foodie" days).

                            My best friend and I were on vacation in Mexico and decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal. We dressed up and went to a lovely restaurant with a menu of many dishes which sounded tempting. After deciding on two entrees to share we still looked longingly at a third dish. We decided to order all three for the two of us. The waiter who took our order never batted an eye but the runner who arrived with our food was another story. He offeredx the first plate and I nodded; likewise the second plate with my friend. He then stood there with the third plate in his hands and a look of utter bewilderment on his face. He kept looking around our table for a third diner and, not finding one, tried to return to the kitchen with our food. Since neither of us spoke enough Spanish to remedy the situation we had to flag down our waiter and, after much conversation in broken English (his) and fractured Spanish (ours) the runner reappeared with our third dish, set it down between us and gave us a "crazy gringas" look I will always remember (fondly).

                            Doesn't sound so funny now, but at the time we totally cracked up.

                            1. m
                              MelMM Jul 10, 2013 07:15 AM

                              Mr. MM is a big of half pints in pubs. Usually because he has already had a pint, wants some more, but another pint is too much. Or because he was drinking wine, with me, and then decides to have a beer to leave more of the wine for me (I can't have beer due to celiac disease).

                              Anyway, one time we were in a pub where he has gotten half pints in the past. In fact, we had been there a week earlier, and he had gotten a half pint. So Mr. MM orders one and the waitress says, "We don't serve half pints." We point out that he got one at that very establishment just a week earlier. She doesn't know how that can be, since they don't serve them. We point to the half pint glasses behind the bar. She says they can't serve them, because there is no way to ring up a half pint on the register. We tell her the waitress a week ago figured out a way. We point out said waitress who is working other tables. No dice. Mr. MM gives up and orders a full pint. A week later, back at the same place, he gets a half pint again, no problem.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: MelMM
                                porker Jul 10, 2013 07:53 AM

                                "because there is no way to ring up...on the register"
                                This excuse always kills me.
                                Once in a while I try to cajole the server: "doesn't your register have an 'add-on' feature?" or "can't you ring up another item with a similar cost?" etc. Sometimes it works.

                                1. re: MelMM
                                  j
                                  julesrules Jul 17, 2013 04:16 AM

                                  Yeah - I order a lot of half-pints. I don't even care if they have the proper glass - just fill the glass halfway!
                                  The last time someone said no was quite a while ago, and granted not a beer place or pub, but it was a restaurant-with-night-life. I'd already paid cover to see amateur belly dancing friends, had one full beer, and it was Sunday night. I really did not want another whole beer and felt I'd paid for my seat. She was surprised when I said, oh no half pints? Nothing for me thanks.

                                2. t
                                  travelmad478 Jul 10, 2013 11:29 AM

                                  At a diner-y kind of place near our house a few years ago (this is copied from my post from that time): Mr. travelmad478 loves patty melt sandwiches, and since the sandwich menu listed hamburgers as a sandwich option, asked the waitress if she knew what a patty melt was. She said sure, he said he'd have that, and she wrote it down. Next thing we know, we hear the cook loudly complaining from the grill that there is no patty melt on the menu and he won't make it. She comes back to report this, and Mr. travelmad478 then orders a cheeseburger sandwich on rye with grilled onions (a.k.a. a patty melt, and available from the various sandwich options on the menu). I felt like I was in that scene from Five Easy Pieces. He got his sandwich, but the rye bread wasn't toasted. He contemplated sending it back, but then thought this might be risking more wrath from the cook.

                                  Thank goodness, the waitress's good humor and good service saved the day on this one. We left laughing rather than aggravated.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: travelmad478
                                    Bill Hunt Jul 10, 2013 07:23 PM

                                    Ah, once again - "Five Easy Pieces."

                                    Guess that Bob Rafelson, or Carole Eastman, must have dined, where some of us have had the misfortune to dine?

                                    Hunt

                                    1. re: travelmad478
                                      meatn3 Jul 13, 2013 06:27 AM

                                      I had a similar experience when I lived in the middle of nowhere in Tn.

                                      The restaurant had a ham sandwich. They also had a grilled cheese. I asked if they could make a grilled ham and cheese.

                                      I received ham and a slice of cheese between toast. All attempts to convey my desire for the sandwich to be made like a grilled cheese were met with blank stares and the type response you give to someone you suspect is demented.

                                      1. re: meatn3
                                        j
                                        JulesNoctambule Jul 14, 2013 12:32 PM

                                        I experienced the 'order grilled cheese, get cheese-between-toast' phenomenon once myself - and at a place that had the nerve to call itself a diner, no less! I wasn't sad at all when it closed.

                                    2. cookie monster Jul 10, 2013 11:47 AM

                                      This happened about 15 years ago, in a touristy part of Mexico at a local (i.e. not part of one of the big resorts) casual restaurant. One of my travel companions, whom I'll call R, was a super healthy, clean-living, fitness model type who stuck to his strict food regimen even while on vacation in a foreign country. He ordered an omelet and asked if for it to be made with egg whites and no cheese (not an unusual request on the westside of Los Angeles even 15 years ago, but this was Mexico). The waiter, who spoke some English, nodded yes. When our breakfasts were served, R's omelet didn't have any cheese but was clearly made with whole eggs. He reiterated that he wanted egg whites only and sent it back. New omelet arrived, looking exactly like the previous one. By this point R was irritated, waiter was consternated, and I was embarassed, thinking just eat the $#%*! omelet - a couple egg yolks would probably be good for you. Waiter then went back to the kitchen and returned with a bowl of whole eggs in their shells to demonstrate that these were indeed egg whites - huevos blancos - for the crazy American who apparently had something against brown eggs. At that point R finally laughed at the miscommunication and ate his omelet, yolks and all.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: cookie monster
                                        porker Jul 10, 2013 03:31 PM

                                        Likey

                                      2. j
                                        judybird Jul 10, 2013 01:17 PM

                                        Homer, Alaska, 1993. We'd had dinner, been out for a long hike in the late-evening summer sunlight, then decided to stop in a local diner for dessert. DH ordered pie, asked if he could have it a la mode. Response - "no, we don't do a la mode". Okay, then just the pie.

                                        A moment later another customer came in, sat at the counter and ordered a dish of ice cream. DH said to the waitress "You said no a la mode, did you mean I can't have a scoop of ice cream on my pie?' You can guess her response: "Oh sure, you can have ice cream, we just don't have any a la mode."

                                        1. i
                                          INDIANRIVERFL Jul 11, 2013 02:28 PM

                                          Heading up I 95 through central Virginia, I decide to pull off and get my last southern breakfast of biscuits and gravy with a couple of sunny side up eggs on top. Hot sauce only if there is not enough pepper.

                                          By the time I find a place with a bunch of cars, I'm 10 miles in the boondocks and ready for a Howard Johnson's. Small placed is packed. I ask for biscuits and gravy. No biscuits. No gravy. When did Virginia leave the South? But they have Texas toast and will make up some gravy for me. Great. And please put a pair of snotty eggs, over easy, on top.

                                          I got two slices of untoasted Wonder Bread, brown gravy out of a can, and a single hard cooked egg.

                                          Looking around, I noticed that it seemed to be the coffee spot before heading to work. Very few plates. The coffee was great.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                            porker Jul 11, 2013 03:57 PM

                                            It wasn't unusual for us, but the folks behind the counter, well...
                                            Driving back to Quebec (birthplace of poutine, the decadent cousin of fries w/ gravy) from FLA on the I-95. We're passing through GA and want a quick bite to eat.
                                            Its been awhile and fries with gravy would be good. We stop into KFC (previously known as Kentucky Fried Chicken), I walk in and order two fries and two gravies.
                                            "Two fries and two biscuits & gravy?"
                                            "No, two fries and two orders of gravy."
                                            "No biscuits?"
                                            "That's right, no biscuits - just two fries and two gravies."
                                            "So you want two fries and two gravies, but no biscuits?"
                                            "Yeah, that's right."
                                            Up to then, our little conversation was just between me and her. It changed fast.
                                            She turned around, faced the back cooking area and bellowed, in full southern drawl, "Hey Edna, this feller here wants gravy, but with no biscuits!"
                                            "What's that you saying?" came from the back.
                                            By now, every eye in the place, worker, customer, drive-through-guy, was on me.
                                            "I said, this guy wants GRAVY with NO BISCUITS!"
                                            "You kiddin or WHAT!?"
                                            "No, I'm not kidding, that's what he ordered."
                                            She turns back to me, "Well if you want gravy with no biscuits, I guess you'll get gravy with no biscuits..." still not really believing.

                                            After I sheepishly pay and grab my order, she asked "Whattayagonna do with the gravy?"
                                            "Put it on my fries."
                                            I'm walking out and I hear "Hey Edna, that feller is gonna put the gravy ON HIS FRIES!"

                                            1. re: porker
                                              s
                                              small h Jul 11, 2013 05:38 PM

                                              Related, sort of, in that I didn't think the request was so odd, but the server, well...

                                              The place: A diner in Solon, Iowa
                                              The year: 1987
                                              I order a grilled cheese & tomato, which I consider to be a perfectly ordinary sandwich. The server cocks her head. Grilled cheese? Yes. And tomato? Yes. Like, together? Yes. On the same sandwich? Yes. Ooooookay. She walks off, shaking her head, but in a few minutes, I get my sandwich. It's pretty good. And I see the server watching me from across the room, still pretty amazed that anyone would eat such a thing.

                                              I sometimes get the same reaction when I order a potato, egg & cheese on a roll, but I know that's a NJ thing and not everyone realizes its greatness.

                                              1. re: small h
                                                porker Jul 12, 2013 04:44 AM

                                                Not so much these days, but asking for a cold coke or pepsi at breakfast usually brought disbelief (and needed convincing the server).
                                                Imagine the joy (OK, "joy" is a bit strong...) when eating early morning street food in Mexico for the first time: drinking cold coke out of a glass bottle was de rigeur.

                                                1. re: porker
                                                  Firegoat Jul 13, 2013 09:32 AM

                                                  At my favorite diner in Tulsa (which I miss dearly) my regular waitress would have a cold iced diet coke on my table before I even ordered.

                                                  1. re: Firegoat
                                                    porker Jul 13, 2013 01:45 PM

                                                    As a side, until recently, asking for diet soda (Coca Lite or Pepsi Lite) in Mexico got you unbelieving, vacant stares.

                                                    1. re: porker
                                                      linguafood Jul 13, 2013 02:04 PM

                                                      Perhaps that explains why Mexico is now #1 in obesity world-wide.

                                          2. meatn3 Jul 13, 2013 06:57 AM

                                            There used to be a 24 hr. diner-ish place near my home which served the best hash browns in town. Only problem was that I like mine with onion...

                                            One day I had a waitress I had never dealt with. I order my regular breakfast plate:
                                            2 eggs, bacon, toast, grits or sub hash browns with an up charge. (upcharge is the a la cart price of HB's less the a la cart price of grits).

                                            I ask for rye toast - they are out so I say skip the bread. I ask to sub HB for grits. OK. I ask for them to add onions to the HB. Very blank stare....I tell her I order this all the time and that the cook will know how. She grudgingly trudges off.

                                            She comes back with barely toasted white bread and a slice of raw onion on a plate. I explain I want the onion cooked with and mixed in with the potatoes and that I did not request white toast.

                                            Eventually my eggs, bacon and HB with onions is served and it is great.

                                            Now to the inconsistency's of their menu. The breakfast a la cart side offers HB' and HB's with onions and cheese. No offer of HB with just onions. On the lunch/dinner side of the menu sautéed onions are offered with the hamburger, with the chopped steak and with the patty melt. All three are as an upcharge. All three upcharges are priced differently, ranging from 45 cent for the burger, 65 cent for the steak, and 1.25 for the patty melt - which is beyond puzzling.

                                            My bill comes with a charge for the breakfast plate. And a charge for the full price of HB w/ onion and cheese.

                                            I point out that I did not receive the full plate since I was subbing grits for HB and did not receive grits PLUS HBs...
                                            Incredibly long conversation involving me showing the mathematics with a pencil and the paper place mat.

                                            I said I felt the price should be the plate plus the hamburger price of sautéed onions - which is how every other waitress had always charged me. She leaves, very big discussion with the cook, manager(?) with lots of stares at me.

                                            Comes back and says they have to charge me for the HB with cheese and onions.

                                            I grab the pencil and show HB with cheese and onions price, minus the a la cart price of grits, minus the a la cart price of cheese which by the miracle of the menu gods is the exact amount of the original upcharge for subbing BH for grits plus 45 cent...

                                            All three of them look puzzled. I finally say that this is what I always order and this is what I always pay and this is all I am going to pay and put cash on the table and leave.

                                            It was so f*cking exhausting that I never could bring myself to return. Now the building has been torn down and there is a oil change place in the spot. I still miss the hash browns though....

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: meatn3
                                              k
                                              kpaxonite Jul 13, 2013 11:13 AM

                                              I think you were being far beyond petty...

                                              1. re: kpaxonite
                                                meatn3 Jul 13, 2013 01:55 PM

                                                ???

                                                By her calculations I would be paying twice the usual price for the meal and getting less (no toast). Plus the total lack of math skills coupled with the bizarre inconsistencies in the menu pricing - none of which is acceptable in my mind.

                                                The principal is the same whether it is an $8 meal or an $80 meal. I'm happy to pay the correct price for the correct order whether I'm in a dive or a multiple star restaurant.

                                                1. re: meatn3
                                                  k
                                                  kpaxonite Jul 13, 2013 02:25 PM

                                                  Oh sorry- it sounded like after you explained things to her she was just going to give you a different upcharge than what you usually pay and you were pissing her off arguing over fifty cents or something. Restaurants often have inconsistent upcharges. Either way, if it something that isn't on the menu I dont think it is right for you to just decide how much it ought to cost ... restaurant sets price and you pay...it is unfortunate that different waitresses charge differently though...one of the benefits of POS systems is this is far less likely to happen now.

                                                  1. re: kpaxonite
                                                    meatn3 Jul 13, 2013 06:06 PM

                                                    I had seven years of every other waitress calculating the exact same order in the same way at that place. Years before I had asked (out of curiosity) about the differences in the sautéed onions since there were 3 different prices. The manager, who was over chatting with me, laughed and shrugged. She said it was the same size so they always just charged the lesser price.

                                                    So I wasn't setting the price. I politely inquired why my check was double the usual amount and tried to explain why her particular take on the bill was unexpected. She obviously had very little grip on logic or mathematics. She was just in a bizarre mental loop and couldn't find her way out of it.

                                                    I've never had any other restaurant have an issue over adding onions to hash browns. It is a fairly common request and 80% of the time there is no upcharge. When there is a fee it is known and stated.

                                                    1. re: kpaxonite
                                                      porker Jul 14, 2013 08:25 AM

                                                      The POS system is often blamed on not meeting a customer's request. The establishment can many times accommodate, but the waitstaff'll say something like "I would, but I can't enter it in the computer."
                                                      As I said above, POS systems can have options to handle these situations.

                                                2. re: meatn3
                                                  porker Jul 13, 2013 01:42 PM

                                                  The only thing is, at the new place, your oil change comes with generic, made-in-China oil filter and recycled oil. You want a Fram filter, upcharge...you want Mobil oil, double upcharge...you want onions in the filter, weird stares.

                                                3. fldhkybnva Jul 13, 2013 07:23 PM

                                                  I usually request my drinks with no ice and most waiters/waitresses are baffled and it seems like the most difficult request in the world to fulfill.

                                                  1. r
                                                    RosePearl Jul 14, 2013 04:28 AM

                                                    Seriously, what the hell do they care what you order? If you are willing to pay a bit more, whatever. Since when did servers become so emotionally involved in their customers' food choices?

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: RosePearl
                                                      Firegoat Jul 14, 2013 04:30 AM

                                                      AGREED!

                                                    2. r
                                                      RosePearl Jul 14, 2013 04:30 AM

                                                      And yeah, I spent some years waitroning. I could give a flying fish what you want. Duh. I'll bring it to you, on a sparkling silver platter.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: RosePearl
                                                        Firegoat Jul 14, 2013 04:34 AM

                                                        I like flying fish.

                                                        1. re: Firegoat
                                                          j
                                                          James Cristinian Jul 14, 2013 01:34 PM

                                                          I don't think there is much meat on them, I've seen them out in the Gulf. Kinda like hummingbirds, are true delicacy by the way.

                                                          1. re: James Cristinian
                                                            porker Jul 15, 2013 10:59 AM

                                                            I sometimes buy frozen packages of flying fish fillets at Caribbean markets. 4 fillets (a litle smaller than salt herring fillets) for about $5.

                                                        2. re: RosePearl
                                                          k
                                                          kpaxonite Jul 14, 2013 05:11 AM

                                                          Let me guess- you wrote the menus too!

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