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Jan 13, 2014 09:20 AM

Am I idealistic, old-fashioned, out of touch, a romantic, or just plain wrong? (Multiple choices allowed)

The more I think about this, the more it bugs me. It's one of those things like the tune that keeps running through your head that you can't identify and can't shake off either.

Here is the issue, question: It has been my belief that when dining in a restaurant of some stature, that the check is never presented until requested. It has always been my impression that that is standard restaurant etiquette and that to do otherwise is tantamount to telling the diner that your time is up, leave now.

Recently, four of us were at a Michelin 3 star in NYC and right in the middle of my Fernet Branca, the waiter laid the check down on the table. Now I have been in dives and diners where the waitress walks from table to table passing out checks as an expediency, always explaining such and also explaining there is no hurry, just getting the job done.

In this case there was no explanation, just "plop" here is the check.

Am I so out of touch with today's concept of etiquette to have suffered a sense of umbrage ( there were also multiple phones on multiple tables multiple folks using them, but I acknowledge that that is a battle clearly lost.)

Thanks for your opinions.

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  1. IMHO NYC and etiquette don't mix together well.

    7 Replies
    1. re: kagemusha49

      No, it's just faster, because everyone is in a hurry. As Amy Poehler pointed out, you just say 'Hey, great to see you, thanks for the kidney, gotta run!'

      1. re: kagemusha49

        In my actual experience NYC is the most friendly and courteous city in the world.
        Unless someone actually asked for the check or indicated that there was "nothing else." It would seem premature to receive the check.
        In one of the finer restaurants I would not have felt rushed and would have lingered if that fit my comfort level.

        1. re: Motosport

          "In my actual experience NYC is the most friendly and courteous city in the world. "

          Thank you! One of my dearest friends moved to NYC from Minnepolis and was nervously riding the subway late at night in his first couple of weeks here. He got up from his seat in the sparsely populated car and was moving toward the door to wait for his stop - and as soon as he did he noticed the two young men seated across the car look at each other, look at him, look again at each other and then get up and walk toward him. As he was trying not to display his panic, one of the guys reached out his hand and said, " Hey, buddy, you dropped your wallet."

          1. re: ratgirlagogo

            I have to agree, I've run into more random kindness from strangers in NYC than anywhere else I've ever been.

            1. re: ratgirlagogo

              That happened to my wife on the bus.

              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                I live in the Minneapolis area. Compared to here, New Yorkers are gregarious, outgoing, and effusively friendly. They will actually TALK TO A STRANGER, which is, I believe, forbidden in Minnesota.

                I do have to say that this seems to be changing here, maybe as more people move in from other states/countries. You know, to sort of offset that Scandihoovian standoffishness.

                1. re: sandylc

                  This morning I struck up a long conversation at Maison Kayser with an out of towner comparing croissants of Paris and NYC. Great fun!!

          2. I don't see any reason for angst.

            3 Replies
                1. re: kagemusha49

                  No you're not because it isn't like that.

              1. Yeah.......I don't know if this ruffles my feathers. If they served you the Fernet Branca, or anyone else and asked as they served "will there be anything else" or made any other comment to which you/someone responded no, I would expect the check to be dropped. I don't know......if I wanted something else I would have ordered it and made him re-print a check.

                9 Replies
                1. re: jrvedivici

                  It's always been my belief, probably erroneously, that in a restaurant of any standing the check is never presented until requested. Maybe I was wrong to think that in the first place.

                  1. re: singlemalt

                    It's a fine line, trying not to insult anyone!

                      1. re: EWSflash

                        Actually, insulting someone is a finer line if done creatively.

                    1. re: singlemalt

                      I agree. Someone was probably ending their shift. Heck, they don't even do that at our local brew pub! I'm with ya, singlemalt.

                      1. re: sandiasingh

                        I hate waiting for the check, I'd rather have the option. As long as you don't feel like they are rushing you, which I can't say I've ever felt.

                      2. re: singlemalt

                        No, not at all erroneous. I was taught as you were. Even though I find *not* being able to get the check in a timely manner frustrating, I am keenly aware of the pushy/insulting implications of an unrequested check. Old fashioned? Count me in.

                        1. re: singlemalt

                          I'm not remotely saying your belief is erroneous, you are certainly correct that should be the normal practice.

                          I guess I'm just jaded or predisposed to disappointment in the finer neuances of proper service. Like holding a door for a lady, saying please and thank you, it just seems we live in a more casual world these days.

                          1. re: jrvedivici

                            Just another reason to reduce a tip.....

                      3. I have to go with just plain wrong. In my experience it is only outside of the US that you ever have to ask for your check. Why would you need an explanation? You were enjoying your digestif, dinner was finished, you were given your check to pay at your leisure.

                        I am happier NOT having to request my check. If the server has been attending to my needs all evening, s/he should know that I am not going to order more food and may even desire to leave. I don't want to linger at a restaurant all night, I get tired of sitting in the same place for more than about 2 hours.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: babette feasts

                          I don't like having to ask for the check, either. My preference is for the server to say "Can I get you anything else?" Then I say "No, just the check." The end.

                          1. re: small h

                            But, are asking for your check.

                            1. re: mwhitmore

                              It's a subtle but (to me) important distinction. I'm being offered the check at my table, rather than having to flag someone down to ask for it. That makes me feel as if the server is anticipating my needs.

                        2. I'm aware of the differences about presentation of the bill between America and what I'm used to here in Europe.

                          Now, I have to be honest and admit to being prejudiced against the American way - it just seems to be the antithesis of my understanding of "hospitality". And, yes, I understand why it happens - but I don't like it. But, even in America, I would also have taken umbrage at that sort of attitude in a 3* place.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Harters

                            Totally agree with Harters. I would expect three star etiquette along with the service and food.

                            The petty, little snot of a boy side of me would undoubtedly come out and I would order one more item.

                            And leave it at the table.