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Restaurant Pet Peeves

What's the thing that restaurants can do that really get under your skin? We're not talking inedible food or an experience so bad you'll never darken their door again, but those small things that mar what could have been an impeccable experience?

Recently, celebrating a special occasion at Gramercy Tavern, we were seated more than 15 minutes past our reservation time. Adding to that irritation was being "invited" to wait with a drink at the elbow-to-elbow, almost three people deep bar. Somehow, one of my favorite restaurants hit both my pet peeves in rapid succession.

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  1. Not being able to read via my smartphone. Completely understand about restaurants "no photos" policies, but exactly who am I hurting/bothering if I want to read/take notes via my smart phone (Blanca I do mean you!).

    11 Replies
    1. re: ellenost

      I wonder if they would balk at an ereader? Solo diners shouldn't have to just sit in silence staring at the other patrons.

      1. re: melpy

        Other than not taking photos, I couldn't understand why there was a prohibition on reading/taking notes on my smartphone. The restaurant "allowed" me to take notes with paper and pen (how antiquated :-)). Not sure whether they would permit an ereader.

        There's a rrestaurant in Brooklyn (NY) that won't allow its guests to take notes at all (and they won't accept solo diners--guess I won't be going there).

          1. re: ellenost

            No solo diners? That's really....dickish.

            1. re: LeoLioness

              Just so you know the name of the restaurant; it's Brooklyn Fare (a Michelin 3 star restaurant, and probably the only restaurant of which I am aware that forbids solo diners).

              1. re: ellenost

                Thanks--I've heard of this place, but not this policy.No thanks. Most of my dinners in NYC are solo (or with people who would be less interested in this sort of meal) so I guess I may have to go without. I'll live.

                1. re: ellenost

                  Is the Chef's Table the only restaurant at Brooklyn Fare?


                    1. re: ellenost

                      If the pictures I've seen are correct, everyone sits at a counter. If so, you'd think single diners would be very welcome. What a shame that they -- you -- are not.

                      1. re: Jay F

                        Silly policy at Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare.

                        Two of my most favorite restaurants: Momofuku Ko and Atera (both in NYC) are extremely welcoming to solo diners.

                      2. re: ellenost

                        If that's the only table then it's not so much 'the chef's table' really being more 'the table'.

          2. I can't stand when restaurants make waiters tell you how the menu works. Like we can't figure out how small plates or what primi means.

            Ohhhh and do not serve me Champagne flat or warm. And when I tell you it's warm, don't feel the cold bottle and tell me it's cold, try drinking it. In fact, I wish every time I was served flat Champagne or bubbles, I wish the employee had to drink it and pay $15 for it. Things would change. (insert evil laughter)

            7 Replies
            1. re: waitress

              "Have you eaten with us before?" just shits all over a meal I was really hoping to enjoy.

              1. re: monavano

                This just happened to me at a restaurant in Savannah. I always brace myself because I feel like if I say no then there's going to be a list of rules: answer the jesters riddle, if you get it right you can pick two sauces with your main, else the sides come with butter, got it?
                However, when I do actually say no they just nod as if I said yes, so what's the point?

                1. re: blackpippi

                  I love letting my server know this is my first time there, if it is. I feel it as an ice breaker and it makes you more vulnerable so if it's a good server, they will take you under their wings and guide you. Maybe give you some knowledge they wouldn't ordinarily volunteer if you had just said yes I've been here before. I've experienced it myself before to know.

                2. re: monavano

                  "Yes, I've eaten here before but my partner wanted to dine here" would be an interesting way to answer.

                3. re: waitress

                  There are folks who don't know how a menu works but I would prefer "Do you have any questions?" instead.

                  1. re: waitress

                    Yes because when a bottle isn't to your liking it's exclusively an employee's fault. Faultless logic.

                    1. re: bonesplosion

                      I thought Faultless was a brand of spray ironing starch. not logic.

                  2. I don't want to sound like a wet blanket, fraff (!), but I wonder if the opinions you're soliciting wouldn't find a more revealing and popular forum somewhere else on CH. Restaurant customs are different throughout the US and the world, and I for my part would appreciate hearing from diners everywhere about what annoys them -not only what prickly Manhattanites think.
                    ("Tap or sparkling?")

                    EDIT: It's hard to believe this subject hasn't been raised before.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Phil Ogelos

                      It has been http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/286424. I'm sure there are others, but that was the first I found.

                    2. Tiny water glasses and not replacing used utensils.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: viperlush

                        I feel like water should always be served with a pitcher. I drink a lot of water and am always trying to steal the unused waters of those around.

                        1. re: melpy

                          That's one of my favourite things about eating at our usual Korean BBQ place - they bring me a cute little water pitcher that is a little more than I need for the entire meal - so civilized! And I loved it in Paris when they started up the "drink our tap water" campaign and all the restaurants were given water pitchers to serve their customers (order une carafe d'eau).

                      2. Not offering a second drink. Dude, that'll increase your tip! I do however live in Latter Day Saints territory. Maybe some naive LDS servers think I'm going to go from zero to falling down drunk if I have two glasses of wine. ;-)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: UTgal

                          DH just complained about this after a lunch on Saturday.
                          He goes through a lot of iced tea or diet coke, so servers who stay on top of things get a better tip.
                          Our server seemed in a bit of a dour mood, too. DH tipped 15% which is extremely rare for us.

                          1. re: UTgal

                            Servers that comment on the amount I am drinking whether it be water or an alcoholic drink. Two glasses of wine (heck even three) when I am walking home is nothing worth commenting on.

                            1. re: cleobeach

                              We live right around the corner of a really nice place. I once told the waiter (only semi-joking) "I could crawl home if I needed to" (we had walked there anyway--no way I'd pay for a valet for there).

                          2. "... Adding to that irritation was being "invited" to wait ..."

                            At least you got invited for a drink; it would have been worse if they just let you stand there.

                            Current peeves :
                            - Too dark restaurants where you need to use a flashlight to read the menus.
                            - Too noisy restaurants where you cannot hear yourself think.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Maximilien

                              Current peeves :
                              - Too dark restaurants where you need to use a flashlight to read the menus.
                              - Too noisy restaurants where you cannot hear yourself think.

                              Damn straight!!!!!!!!!!!

                            2. " Hello, my name is Tom and I am going to be your server tonight" No, REALLY?

                              21 Replies
                              1. re: drsmoke

                                After getting that once ("Hi. I'm Elliot and I'll be your server") I responded by introducing everyone at the table to Elliot by name. It was worth it just to see his face.

                                I've never done that since but it was fun to give it a try.

                                  1. re: monavano

                                    I will admit to having a cocktail or three before I pulled that stunt.

                                    To be fair, the management makes the servers go through that ritual. They didn't think it up on their own so it really isn't fair to give them a hard time about it. I'll never do it again.

                                  2. re: Bob Martinez

                                    Why demean a man for doing his job? Do you like to be made fun of at work by your clients?

                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                        I'm sure Elliot thought it was hilarious and treated all your food with care afterwards....

                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                          We occasionally eat out with a friend of a friend who, if the wait person doesn't introduce him/herself, will ask for their name. Sometimes he uses it later in the meal, but often not. He's a stock broker and I think this must be part of their sales training. But it is so annoying! We really don't need to know the waiter's or waitress' name.

                                          1. re: Red Oakley

                                            Wondering why you think this is part of a stock broker's sales training..... its just common courtesy. And really, there's no harm in knowing the server's name. If you need to get their attention, its much more polite to address them by name than, say, snapping your fingers (yes, people still do this) or saying "hey, you!"

                                  3. re: drsmoke

                                    Actually I don't mind my server introducing him/herself (he/she already knows my name by my reservation as I mostly dine solo). It makes it very easy to praise the server to management or write a report on CH making special note of a great server. There have been a few times when I've received bad service that I wish I knew my server's name so I could do the opposite.

                                    1. re: drsmoke

                                      I don't mind my server having a name - they are fellow humans after all - often they are my neighbors. A good server like a good bartender knows who needs chatting and who should be left alone - I cannot stand an overly invasive faux-friendly server - but a basic first name introduction is fine - why create a wall of formality.

                                      my parents are the type of people who will walk out of a restaurant knowing a server's life story - often returning to restaurants specifically because they are friendly with the server - they are also very generous tippers - perhaps it comes from having a working class background and never presuming that a server is somehow beneath you.

                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                        Yeah, I don't get this one. I thought this was standard fare and it makes sense to me. If its an informal restaurant and I can do it without being a nuisance, I find it helpful if say "Josh" has just started to walk away from my table and I forgot to ask him for something, I can be like "oh, wait, Josh...." It's easier and more polite to get somebody's attention that way by saying their name. As for a bar, I find it even more helpful to know my bartender's name, especially if the bar is crowded and I need to get their attention. In this case I will sometimes ask my bartender's name if I'm not automatically given it.

                                        1. re: JTPhilly

                                          Not wanting a server to be too familiar does not imply that I think they are beneath me. I resent that implication.

                                          1. re: sal_acid

                                            then why be annoyed by the mere fact that you now know his/her name? You can sill address them as "Waiter!" or "Sweetheart", just give them the Philly "Yo!" whatever suits you. I don't expect a server to pull up a chair and sample my fries by to simply mention ones given name being offensive I just don't get. We are all bothered by different things I suppose so agree to disagree on this.

                                            1. re: JTPhilly

                                              Of course I don't mind knowing the name. It is even helpful (if I remember it.).

                                              I said "being too familiar"

                                              I don't want them squatting down in my face...telling me about their issues (yes, some do this)...talking to the table like we are all BFFs...etc. You know what I'm talking about. Unless the guy is another Robin Willliams, it isn't fun, its annoying.

                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                agreed on that my comments were directed at the annoyance and subsequent "mocking" of "Ethan" for the mere mention of his name.

                                                as I said a good sever or bar tender senses who needs chatting up and who needs privacy

                                        2. re: drsmoke

                                          I like to know the server's name.
                                          Also if serveral people will be handling the table it is nice to know who is the main person in charge. Plus if the sommelier or someone else comes over this creates less confusion.
                                          They shouldn't have to say I am going to be your server though.

                                          1. re: melpy

                                            i like to know the server's name as well. Particularly if you have really spectacular service - it's much more efficient to tell the MOD "We had a great dinner tonight, and the server <insertname> was particularly helpful" :)

                                            1. re: melpy

                                              My father always asks the server their name if they do not introduce themselves. I recently took him to a doctor's appointment. We then went out to lunch. He asked the server her name and she said 'Victoria'. My dad then told her there is a large waterfall in Africa named after her. She then got the entire experience my father has with anyone serving him. He called her Rachel when she returned with the drink orders. I then had to explain to her that the nurse at his doctor's office is Rachel and we had just come from there. He found out that Rachel had lived for a year in my hometown where my parents lived for 25+ years (200 miles away).

                                              My father can have a ten minute conversation with a person calling the wrong telephone number.

                                              1. re: John E.

                                                John E. at that point it's like surfing or skateboarding, just wondering what curve or wave is coming up next.

                                          2. Lighting. Don't make it so dark that you need a flashlight on your phone to read the menu.

                                            Loudness. Don't decorate so sound bounces off the walls and back at the guests. I don't want to shout to be heard by my tablemate(s).

                                            1. Only real problem besides bad food is when I can't carry on a conversation with somebody across the table from me due to noise. Before you say I'm old; I'm 25...
                                              If I can't have a conversation it doesn't matter of Thomas Keller is cooking and I get my entire meal for free. If I wanted it to be deafening I'd go to a concert or something.

                                              1. My two biggest Pet Peeves were already mentioned: lighting that is too dim to read the menu, and a noise level that's so loud that you can't have a conversation.

                                                My other peeves:

                                                Not having menu items available. I don't mean that they have run out, but that they don't serve the item anymore but have decided to leave it on the menu anyhow.

                                                "Seasonal" pricing instead of a fixed price or a list of today's price in the menu.

                                                Uncomfortable seating. Either a chair that was chosen for it's design only, or a booth that maybe needs some re-upholstering so your behind doesn't sink way down into it, until you are neck-level with the table.

                                                Restaurants where your entrees come out before you've had a chance to finish your appetizers. This one really annoys me, to the point that I will now order appetizers and avoid ordering the entree until the appetizers arrive at the table.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: mwk

                                                  I always feel that I'm rolling the dice if I order app & entree at the same time.

                                                  1. re: mwk

                                                    Ugh! I hate when they can't get the pacing right. My husband gets really angry at this too. I don't want my XYZ to get cold/warm because I am enjoying another portion of the meal and I don't want to crowd the table unnecessarily. Some items can obviously wait. Soup isn't made to order!

                                                    1. re: mwk

                                                      This is due to poor server training. The server should alert the kitchen when to "fire" the entree.

                                                      1. re: mwk

                                                        One restaurant we went to had, oh, maybe five or six pages of menu items. In reality, they served three dishes. Total.

                                                        1. re: SamuelAt

                                                          I prefer this over simply reaching! some tables are designed that it is impossible to serve appropriately without reaching.

                                                        2. After the noise and lighting issues I'd have to go with the "specials" read to me without prices.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: bobbert

                                                            Agreed. There is technology to create a simple menu insert listing today's features and prices.

                                                            1. re: beevod

                                                              Me too!

                                                              And I really hate it when they chase you down the street to do so….

                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                Some people are just SO rude, sometimes.

                                                            2. I don't know if such animals still exist, but wandering musicians ruin it for me. If I am having dinner conversation, I consider it an intrusion.

                                                              20 Replies
                                                                1. re: Michelly

                                                                  Beware the Rose Lady on first dates. It's a date killer, for sure! ;P

                                                                  1. re: Michelly

                                                                    An older fellow used to sell roses weaved in and out of restaurants by M and 19th in NW DC a few years ago. Maybe his progeny have taken over?

                                                                    In any event, it bothered me too.

                                                                    1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                      Ha, that's were I used to work and I remember the flower guys!

                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                        Oh really, was it an Italian restaurant? The guy weaved in and out of places around 19th and M, no?

                                                                        1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                          You're probably thinking about Luigie's and Rumors.
                                                                          Wow, Rumors...

                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                            ugh on both. the other customers felt like office workers who wanted to feel like they were still in college and college kids thinking they were playing 'grown-up'.

                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                              Luigi's was my favorite DC pizza place for years. My favorite was with pesto, Mediterranean olives, and bulk sausage. I haven't thought of it in ages. I know it closed recently.

                                                                      2. re: Michelly

                                                                        I wonder if that rose-selling-in-restaurants thing isn't unique to DC -I've never seen it anywhere else in N.America.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              Sorry, Linda, but I've never seen it in New York, nor in Boston. Ours are different worlds, maybe, or different eras.

                                                                              1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                                I have definitely seen it in NYC I remember being distinctly annoyed by it - but I do not recall running into this recently - perhaps restaurants have run them off or t his city has cracked down on them as illegal vendors (NYC of today holds a much tighter grasp on power than it did in my youth)

                                                                                In my memory they target places like touristy Little Italy restaurants and places with sidewalk seating and open doors and the like were they can weave in and out.

                                                                                1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                                  North End in Boston - can't recall which restaurant. And I've not been in NYC in quite some time, but I do recall it.

                                                                              2. re: pamf

                                                                                "Flores? Flores, por la senorita"

                                                                                it gets the Edward Albee up in me: yeah "Flores. Flores para los Muertos?"

                                                                                I know they're just trying to make a buck. but could do better than carnations and such.

                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                  the vendor may be making a point. If you don't buy flowers for your girlfriend / wife, they will want to going to kill you. :)

                                                                              3. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                                Syracuse, NY. We have a flower lady and a flower man. However, they don't go into restaurants, only bars.

                                                                                1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                                  Lexington, KY. It's a plague. There are also people selling glow sticks and necklaces at outdoor theater events. SMH.

                                                                                2. re: Michelly

                                                                                  It has been years since i have seen it, but...

                                                                                  Worse than roses are the clowns (literally) selling* balloon animals at Luby's. Because i can tell a rose guy to shove off, but i can't tell the balloon clown in front of my little kid to beat it.

                                                                                  * not selling, but you are expected to tip.

                                                                                  1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                    Sorry I am allergic to Latex...
                                                                                    My mom has "thing" about balloons ...I was 10 before I realized she wasnt realllllllly allergic to latex she just didnt want us to have balloons and didnt want us to think she was the meanest mom in the whole world.... now we know she is just crazy

                                                                              4. I must have missed something here. How is it the restaurant's fault that someone stayed longer at their table than expected? And what is your preferred alternative to being asked to wait with a drink at the bar? I'm thinking that if they were 3-deep at the bar, those chairs that I think were once there near the door at GT were full, too?

                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                1. re: lemons

                                                                                  One of my restaurant CH thread pet peeves is that the people who get upset that their table isn't ready the moment they walk in tend to be the same people who believe, that once seated, they own the table for the night and would bitch if it were suggested they retire to the bar for the next drink as there is a reservation waiting for them to leave the table.
                                                                                  No indication the OP is one of these and once the restaurant starts going past 15 minutes it starts to get into "someone messed up" land but your post touched a nerve.

                                                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                                                    In the OP's case, it could have been a matter of piling on.
                                                                                    Special occasion so they made a reservation + MORE than 15 minutes late+ standing around like lemmings?
                                                                                    I'd say that was a less than auspicious start.

                                                                                    No reason to lose it, or be rude and make a scene, but enough piling on for one person's taste.

                                                                                    I can see it.

                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                      Actually I'm quite mindful not to linger. It's one of the reasons I prefer later reservations — so I don't feel guilty about taking the table from waiting parties.

                                                                                      But yes, I do expect to have a table very close to the time of the reservation. I book early, arrive on time, drop cash and repeat visits. Perhaps I'm a little entitled to my own experience, but I wouldn't want to impose on someone else's.

                                                                                    2. re: lemons

                                                                                      About 10 years ago the BF and I were on time for an 8 pm reservation at one of Bmore's more expensive restaurants. Table wasn't ready and we were told to wait at the very crowded bar. One very expensive martini and 30 min of standing in high heels later we were squeezed into the back room. Then and now I feel like it was because of our young age. In hindsight we should of just gone home and skipped the meal. As a non drinking female in cocktail attire I would have preferred somewhere to wait other than a crowded bar. And after this experience was repeated there a second my preference was to travel to NoVa for our special meals.

                                                                                      1. re: viperlush

                                                                                        You've almost described perfectly my experience at Tio's. To add insult to injury, they asked my husband to put on a jacket as they sat us next to a mega-bleached blonde in acid washed jeans and white thigh high boots.

                                                                                      2. re: lemons

                                                                                        It was especially busy that night. But it's been just as busy on other nights I've been there and no issues.

                                                                                        And I think it is the restaurant's fault — a place in that high demand that holds the experience of dining in such high esteem should know how to manage its tables while still delivering on experience.

                                                                                        15+minutes past reservation time (10pm) for a two top is pushing well past "lingering over coffee."

                                                                                        And yes, no chairs, barely room to stand. And it was more the flippancy of being invited to the bar — with no recognition that perhaps the situation could be uncomfortable or unpleasant.

                                                                                        These are things that irritate me. I'm not bothered by dim restaurants or not being told the price of specials. I own that this is my pet peeve.

                                                                                        1. re: lemons

                                                                                          It also works both ways. There are plenty of restaurants where they reserve the right to give your table away if you are 15 minutes late, so really, they should be seating you within that time.

                                                                                        2. Like many others mentioned, I don't like really loud places - put in some sound dampers. One of my medications makes me more sensitive to sound, so the loudness is actually physically painful.

                                                                                          The other thing that really bothers me is if the restaurant has an outdoor seating area where smoking is allowed, and the smoke comes in to the indoor dining area when the doors are opened. Usually the restaurant is nice about moving me away from the door when this is an issue, but since I have refractory asthma, sometimes the meal is ruined by this.

                                                                                          1. i hate all of these things.

                                                                                            1) upselling ("are you SURE you don't want a nice glass of wine to go with that pizza?"

                                                                                            2) touching me. (i am not your friend, nor a relative. invading my personal space is not appreciated.)

                                                                                            3) crouching/squatting down to speak with me (i am not a 2 year old. normal adults in the normal world don't do this with each other--maybe caretakers for the elderly do it, but nobody else in the adult world does it--it weirds me out)

                                                                                            4) writing cutesy things on the check especially with exclamation points (happy easter!!!,, thank you!!!)
                                                                                            also, i don't need to have you write your name on the check. we are not building a personal relationship here. by the time the check arrives, the connection is practically over) i prefer a little dignity. when servers act like over-enthusiastic cheerleaders at a middle school sporting event, it diminishes the experience, imho.

                                                                                            17 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                              I agree about the cutsey comments on the check. At a favorite place on the shore I received a note on my check "Hope you enjoyed your meal, you have been my best customers today, best wishes!!!". It sounded pretty contrived,

                                                                                              1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                And yet on the other side, both yesterday for lunch AND back on Easter Sunday while eating out (Easter with a big party of 12), I went out of my way to thank the server upon leaving for their , well, service.

                                                                                                It's not a money or tip thing. That's easy and a given. Putting up with people is the hard part on the server end.

                                                                                                "Be nice" is my karma/mantra baybeee.

                                                                                                1. re: jjjrfoodie

                                                                                                  expressing verbal appreciation, especially in conjuction with a generous tip, is fine.

                                                                                                  it is the overly enthusiastic "cheerleader/ preschool teacher" approaches by servers that turn me off.

                                                                                                  i don't like it when a restaurant experience resembles a spirit-rally at a middle school football game.

                                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                    Yes, I also hate it when the waitperson assures everyone they have made a "great choice". When they say it about everything you have to wonder. Also, what are the "not so great" choices anyway???

                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                      Or places where the server's banter tries to reinforce the theme. At one place with a tropical theme, the server introduced herself as "your Islander" and said "welcome to our island." I guess it's cute the first time, but the kind of thing where the novelty wears off quickly after repeated visits.

                                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                    I can usually ignore the cutesy messages from the wait-person, unless it's something like "Have a blessed day!" For me, that is a call-the-manager-to-the-table offense.

                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                        I bust out the pepper spray when someone tells me 'Goodbye,' which is, of course, just a contraction of 'God be with ye.'

                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                          Having once lived and since escaped from a part of the country where I was routinely greeted with "How's your walk with Jesus going today?", I find 'Have a blessed day' to be too presumptuous [sp?] for comfort.

                                                                                                          MY peeve; it's OK with me if you dont share it.

                                                                                                            1. re: Fydeaux

                                                                                                              Calling it a 'pet peeve' tends to imply that you realize it annoys you out of proportion with the level of offense. Yet you call the manager over.

                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                1) Because although I really dislike the word, I feel it to be tremendously inappropriate in any kind of public setting.
                                                                                                                2) Because I want to make sure management knows this is occurring and is aware that at least one customer finds it offensive.
                                                                                                                3) Because if management IS aware and doesnt disapprove of the practice and act to end it, I can eat elsewhere in the future.
                                                                                                                Over-reacting? Maybe. Still, MY peeve. And I still dont mind if it's not one of yours.

                                                                                                        2. re: Fydeaux

                                                                                                          This isnt something I would get peeved about. But surprised - oh yes.

                                                                                                          On our last trip to the States, we stopped at a small place in Virginia for lunch. Turned out it was a local mini-chain. We were very surprised to see biblical quotations in several places on the menu. Simply wouldnt happen in our culture - but that's one of the joys of travelling to foreign places - they can be so different to your own country.

                                                                                                            1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                              No, not quaint. Just surprising. Where I am in the world, businesses do not annouce their religious faith, politics, etc in their literature.

                                                                                                            2. re: Harters

                                                                                                              I know what you mean! I find it absolutely charming that public radio and television in the UK broadcast explicitly Christian services. So cute what you find when you live in other countries!

                                                                                                        3. No salt on the table really, really irritates me. I don't mind if the server tells me their name (or not), hey it's a tough job, whatever they want or are forced to do in that regard is cool with me. And I can handle the dark if the food tastes good. But the salt thing - it makes me not go back. I have to make the server work harder/be an unnecessary PITA by ordering it, put myself out by waiting for it, on and on. Also, I want a freaking salt shaker or a cellar with a salt spoon, not an afterthought cup I have to pinch salt out of.

                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Teague

                                                                                                            I’m with you on the salt issue. Tells me that the chef thinks their palate is perfect and diners should not correct his/her seasoning. I think the diner should get to make that decision.
                                                                                                            There is a blog post on the Times webpage about the trend of restaurants not serving water and bread. The comments are echoing much of what is being posted on this thread. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/din...

                                                                                                            1. re: Teague

                                                                                                              I hate it when the pepper shaker is clogged and won't dispense any pepper. I have to remove the cap to get at the pepper.

                                                                                                              1. re: Teague

                                                                                                                I have taken to carrying my own salt. I tend to have lunch out everyday at work and many places do not salt the food at all. High end, drive thru, all the same. If no salt is provided I just reach into my pocket.
                                                                                                                It's what ALL good chefs do. Chefs have a higher tolerance for salt than some salt sensitive diners and ALL good chefs carry their own salt.
                                                                                                                I don't want to see a salt shaker at the table, and especially not a pepper shaker that has 100 year old black powder that has no flavor at all. (and watch someone shake black powder on their plate, get two little flecks and proclaim it "spicy", UGH!)

                                                                                                                I suggest carrying your own salt with you at all times. I do. ALL good chefs do. And ALL good chefs would not be upset at all if you did this. They do it each other ALL the time. They have to cook for the masses. What's underseasoned for us may be way too salty for the 'special occassion' diner that doesn't eat out much.

                                                                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                  And ALL good chefs are special snowflakes with their own special snowflake salt and pepper pots.

                                                                                                                2. re: Teague

                                                                                                                  Teague (and I sure hope you are not the Teague married to a friend of mine) ... you're really put out by having to wait for them to bring you salt? Asking for it is a PITA? Does waiting for your food really stress you out as much as these other things do? Why not just automatically ask for salt when you order your food, if you don't see any on the table?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                                                    "Why not just automatically ask for salt when you order your food, if you don't see any on the table?"

                                                                                                                    While this is certainly possible in theory, you have to be a pretty serious sodium addict for it to work in practice. For a lot of people, sitting down at a restaurant table involves a lot of stuff. The drinks you ordered are just arriving, you are debating with your dining companions what to order and maybe what to share. For a lot of people, the absence of a salt shaker may not register until the food arrives and you actually need it.

                                                                                                                    And that's the point. Restaurants are in the hospitality industry and the key to being hospitable is what works in practice, not what might work in theory. People's sodium preferences are all over the map. Anytime I go to a restaurant that doesn't have salt on the table, I attribute it to arrogance on part of the chef and restaurant since salt is not particularly expensive. On the other hand, I don't think asking for salt is a particularly big deal.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                                                      No, -I - am forced to be a PITA to the waiter by asking for it. And I do order it with my meal now if in a nice (sic) place that has no salt for me. Just in case I want it, so I don't have to wait while my food gets cold.

                                                                                                                  2. If the restaurant was too loud, or if that became an issue, I'd either leave or take it up with the manager.

                                                                                                                    Taking my order without writing it down...or in Wagamama's case, transmitting it to the kitchen through a tablet.

                                                                                                                    In China, my biggest pet peeve was that, at many Chinese restaurants, regardless of how many people were in your party, one menu was distributed. OK, I get it from a certain POV, but when I'm with another Westerner, who's the "head honcho?" Also, the waiter would stand there impatiently waiting as soon as the menu is placed on the table.

                                                                                                                    Perhaps the most important pet peeve for anywhere? Nowhere (and/or no soap) to wash hands. There have been many occasions where my waiter would yell across the street to another place to let me use their powdered detergent to tidy up.


                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                                                                      If they get the order correct without writing it down, why do you care?
                                                                                                                      If there is a mistake, I can see the frustration.

                                                                                                                      1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                                                                        Is it a Chinese norm for the waiter to stand at your table until you order? My mom and I go to a Chinese place and that's what they do. I had assumed they were trying to hurry us up but now I wonder. The staff are all elderly Chinese men for what it's worth.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                          Seems a bit odd to me, and I'm of Chinese descent (3rd gen). But maybe... if the elderly Chinese men are anything like my day... they don't want to be wasting any steps ;)

                                                                                                                          1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                            Haha that could be. They don't say anything to hurry us up, just hand us the menu and hang out until we decide.

                                                                                                                      2. I hate when I go to a restaurant that is not built or meant to accommodate live music, and they have live music where the performers are playing over a too-loud P.A. such that I can't carry on a conversation (and often times cannot even hear myself think). If I want to hear loud live music, I'll go somewhere where there's supposed to be live music. If I want dinner, I don't want the music-- which I didn't come to hear-- to drown out my conversation.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: ickymettle

                                                                                                                          We recently wrapped up a dinner much earlier than planned when we saw a group setting up their equipment to play about 2 feet from our table. this restaurant has no stage, and i think is hoping to appeal to a younger crowd than what their known for. They were also in the process of revamping their menu, so that evening they were out of several entrees, and part of the wine/beer list. We haven't been back.

                                                                                                                        2. I just read this article, which describes mine: too loud by design. I don't need it to be a museum, but if I'm spending $100 on dinner, I don't want to be hoarse from screaming at my friends across a four-top (which happened at one of the restaurants mentioned in this piece).


                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                            I'm so glad that article came out. I wish there were more like it so I'd know which restaurants to avoid.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                              There is a pretty long thread on the Boston Board listing noisy restaurants.

                                                                                                                          2. This may have been mentioned, but if I order sparkling water (which is never cheap) don't top off all the glasses like we're dying of thirst just so you can sell a second bottle!

                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                              And don't top off my wine glass either.

                                                                                                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                Both cases where it might behoove you to tell the server to leave the bottle at the table, and you'll be the one topping off.

                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                  It can be intrusive when they come back ALL the time to top off glasses. Aside from clearly wanting you to buy more, it disrupts conversation. Same can be said for still water being offered from a pitcher every few minutes. On the other hand, not being there to pour wine when it IS wanted can be bad too...it's a fine balance.

                                                                                                                              2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                And a related one, if I order mineral water, don't bring me some "house-made" sparkling water. It isn't mineral water, it's tap water that you've put CO2 into to make bubbles. Mineral water is more than bubbles, it's flavored with the minerals at the source of that water.

                                                                                                                                1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                  And while we're on the subject of water, I can't stand it when servers act like you've asked for hemlock when you say you want the tap water instead of the bottled kind.

                                                                                                                                2. I really find it uncomfortable when the waiter comments when as he clears the table "oh my, we were hungry today" or even the opposite "you didn't eat much, not hungry or was there something wrong." Either way it just makes me feel like I hate to much or I insulted them.

                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                    Yeah really. STFU if I licked it clean.

                                                                                                                                    If I didn't eat much do ask if food was OK. Do not ask if I wasn't hungry

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                      I think it's fine to gently ask if I'm done or "still working on that?", but commenting on the result of my effort, be it mighty or weak, if off limits.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                        I don't like the "working on" phrase. "Are you finished, miss?" is fine. Working on sounds like I am gnawing on bones or something.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                          Eh, I don't mind the vernacular. Metza-metz.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                        On the other hand, on a local food chat, people are *constantly* bitching about servers not intuiting that the diner was displeased with his dish, as indicated by left over food. They have a very fine line to walk.

                                                                                                                                        Agree STFU if I licked it clean, however. That is usually me.

                                                                                                                                      3. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                        Big peeve of mine.
                                                                                                                                        Someone did that to DH when he polished off a pretty big pancake breakfast one time.
                                                                                                                                        He was mortified.

                                                                                                                                        I just see no way to make this practice a good or positive thing.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                          I agree that servers should keep their mouths shut when you pig out (or order a third alcoholic beverage!), but if you leave half the food on your plate, they may need to know if you disliked it so they can tell the cooks. A simple, "Was anything wrong?" will do.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                            Very good point to suss out whether the diner was less than satisfied, but didn't want to mention anything.
                                                                                                                                            I think that's good follow up.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                              As a server, I find it can be frustrating if people don't like their meal, but don't tell me when I quality check them. But wait until
                                                                                                                                              The table is Finished. Then I don't have the opportunity to rectify the problem.
                                                                                                                                              As a diner, I don't often complain, and I've never sent something back. I do understand if you are "less than satisfied" and just don't eat much. I guess there is a difference between hating a dish and wanting something else, or just not enjoying it that much.

                                                                                                                                      4. People who are overly loud and overly self amused.

                                                                                                                                        Tables of cackling drunk people.

                                                                                                                                        People who smell like they took a bath in cologne or perfume.

                                                                                                                                        Condescending or grouchy waitstaff.

                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ridge

                                                                                                                                          +1 on people whose fragrance (or lack thereof) is too strong. Same with people who "reek" of cigarette/cigar smoke. Ruins my appetite every time!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: ellenost

                                                                                                                                            Especially if it's the server- their hands, clothes or breathe.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ellenost

                                                                                                                                              Oy! Especially if the server is the one smelling of smoke.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                Yes to both the smoke and fragrance.

                                                                                                                                                As a former smoker, I think I am insanely sensitive to the smell of second hand smoke.

                                                                                                                                                With the past month, we were at a restaurant and a female patron walked in and sat two tables away from us. Her perfume was so overpowering, people where coughing and sneezing as soon as she sat down.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                  I mentioned the smoke above, but the fragrances are just as bad. Either typically means an abrupt end to the meal for me. My husband pays the bill and I hurry out to the car where I have an inverter to run my breathing machine.

                                                                                                                                                  I have actually had a person wearing WAY too much perfume make a comment about my coughing before - how people like me shouldn't go out. Thanks, but I'm not contagious (just severely asthmatic) and I was fine until you came along to pollute the air.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jw615

                                                                                                                                                    Perfumes used to be my biggest trigger.
                                                                                                                                                    I'm a bit out of the loop, but I think the perfume and cologne baths are a bit better than before.
                                                                                                                                                    I remember the days of Poison and CK1.
                                                                                                                                                    Gawd, that swill could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jw615

                                                                                                                                                      Don't suffer, ask to be moved to a different table. The overwhelming aroma of perfume/cologne can interfere with taste perception and can trigger allergic reactions. If it's over a certain level, I politely get up and tell the waiter I am sensitive to perfume/cologne and ask to be moved to a different table. So far the restaurants where this has happened have been very accommodating. Last time the offender asked "was it something I said?" to his companion as we were being moved. I almost told him but felt strange about scolding a stranger for overuse of cologne. Maybe I should have been honest?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ridge

                                                                                                                                                        I have asked to be moved before, and have never been told no. The problem is that for me, sometimes it only takes a whiff or two for a severe attack. I stay home on days that I know that I am hyper-sensitive, but there isn't always a warning.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jw615

                                                                                                                                                          During our recent encounter, we were in the process of eating our entrée when she arrived. My husband called the waitress over and asked her to turn on the AC to get the air pulled up away from us. (we were "upwind" of her.)

                                                                                                                                                          The waitress baulked at this and he gave her a choice, get the air moving or ask the stinky table to move. She turned on the AC.

                                                                                                                                            2. Server/bartender calling me "buddy"
                                                                                                                                              I ain't yo buddy....

                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: petek

                                                                                                                                                Yeah, don't call me "buddy" and I won't call you "Chief".

                                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                  So annoying and very unprofessional!
                                                                                                                                                  This just happened to me yesterday at a very new and popular café/restaurant not some dive sports bar..

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: petek

                                                                                                                                                    Maybe respond with a "hey, Sam Malone!"

                                                                                                                                                2. Restaurants who bring out dishes "as they're ready". This is an epidemic in Miami right now. Multiple times I've orders 5 or 6 small plates for two people and had all 6 dishes sitting on my table at once while I try to eat them before they get cold. This isn't a style of dining, it just means you're too lazy to properly pace the meal.

                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ajh05004

                                                                                                                                                    So why not do what I do at my favorite tapas restaurant? (And what they recommend that everyone does!)

                                                                                                                                                    Order them in "courses" - order 2 or 3 the first course, and wait to order the 2nd group of small plates when you're done.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                      But these aren't necessarily tapas places. They have both small and large plates, and sometimes I'll end up with everything I ordered at once including entrees. Should I really have to train the staff not to do this by staggering my order? Last week we had two plates on our table before our cocktails which we had ordered 5-10 minutes earlier than the food.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ajh05004

                                                                                                                                                        They don't have to be tapas places. You had said you had ordered 5-6 small plates for two people, and they all came out at the same time. So that is what I was specifically addressing.

                                                                                                                                                        Now, to your second comment, if that's the case, just TELL them that you want things staggered. No, I agree, you shouldn't have to train them. But if that's the way you want things, just tell them to ensure your dining experience is the way you want it.

                                                                                                                                                        "I'd like the salad and appetizers first. Please ask the kitchen to wait to fire the main entrees until we're done with this."

                                                                                                                                                        And if they show up with the entrees before you're done, ask them to take them back, telling them you're not ready, and ask them to fire a new plate in XX minutes.

                                                                                                                                                        And I rarely order any food before drinks have been served, so I guess I'd never have that problem.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: ajh05004

                                                                                                                                                      Poor pacing of any kind. Especially when it leads to cluttered tables and servers rushing to clear dishes before they are done.

                                                                                                                                                    3. Two more:

                                                                                                                                                      You order dinner and when it arrives you hear a waiter telling people at the next table about tonight's specials which sound delicious. Except your doofus waiter never told you about them.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Not the restaurants fault but dinning with friends who are overly fussy eaters. I eat everything. And I am sensitive to people with food allergies (I have some myself). But I can't stand dining with relatives and friends who are extremely picky and unadventurous eaters and make requests like "could you leave out the curry powder".

                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ridge

                                                                                                                                                        Second the "picky eaters". If you have dietary restrictions, then it's YOUR responsibility to read the menu and double-check with the server in regard to the ingredients and presentation of the dish.
                                                                                                                                                        And I know I'm going to get angry replies from vegans and vegetarians, but I do wish that if the restaurant you are at does not have eggless pasta, or 95% of their dishes have some form of meat, please do not act like it's some sort of personal insult. I was in a nice pasta/pizza place and the woman at the next table was extremely vocal throughout the entire meal about how she could NOT believe that the place had no vegan dishes other than salads with balsamic vinaigrette ("All they have is REGULAR Caesar dressing! What about the people who don't eat eggs??") I don't know why her companion did not just suggest that they go somewhere else (he was very soft-spoken, so I don't know why he didn't). By the time I got to the point that I was going to say something, they finished their [his] meal and left, with her still shaking her head and voicing her disappointment.
                                                                                                                                                        Now please do not think I'm talking about all veggie/vegan people; a lot of you are very nice and just deal with what options you have, and I'm NOT saying that you can't request that the restaurants you go to increase their number of veggie offerings. But honestly, the ones that get all ANGRY at everyone for not fully providing for their self-imposed diet...
                                                                                                                                                        Oh, and this also goes for the ones who are appalled that they can't bring their dogs into the restaurant. I know that, to you, it's your little baby, but unless it's a service dog, you can't bring a dog into a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                        OK...here comes the hate mail!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Michelly

                                                                                                                                                          These days, I'd be kind of surprised by a restaurant that had zero vegan options - vegetarianism is pretty common, and it's not that hard to have one item. Something like a Brazilian BBQ place I could understand not being vegan friendly.

                                                                                                                                                          But I do agree that if you have serious food restrictions, it's a very good idea to check in advance if the restaurant can feed you - look on the web, make a phone call when you make reservations, even check the menu quickly when you arrive.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Ridge

                                                                                                                                                          One of the funniest (to me) overheard exchanges was in a coastal California restaurant, involving the very delicious dish I was scarfing down.

                                                                                                                                                          Lady in the booth behind me: What's "chorizo?"

                                                                                                                                                          Server: It's a somewhat spicy pork sausage.

                                                                                                                                                          LITBBM: Ew. That sounds terrible.

                                                                                                                                                          Server: Yes, ma'am. The linguini with clams and chorizo is probably not the best dish for you.

                                                                                                                                                          LITBBM: And clams...I really don't like them. Can I get the linguini with chorizo and clams without the chorizo and clams?


                                                                                                                                                          Honestly, I have a lot of respect for servers who have to "manage the dining expectations" of such a diverse range of customers.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: heavysnaxx

                                                                                                                                                            The part that got cut:

                                                                                                                                                            SERVER: You want me to hold the clams and chorizo!?

                                                                                                                                                            LITBBM: I want you to hold them between your knees!

                                                                                                                                                            Sorry; couldnt help myself!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Fydeaux

                                                                                                                                                              oh lord a friend is a guard at an art museum and recently a visitor couldn't understand why any museum didn't have dinosaur fossils...

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Fydeaux

                                                                                                                                                                If I had to put up with LITBBM on a daily basis, I'd probably end up ditching her at a truckstop, ala 5 Easy Pieces.

                                                                                                                                                                Betweeen yer KNEEES. god, that ever gets old.

                                                                                                                                                          2. It's more likely me than the restaurant. When reading the descriptions of menu items I envision of what it is. I look down at the plate when it arrives . Is that what I ordered? Not what I thought.

                                                                                                                                                            1. I hate tables that are too small for everything to fit. I shouldn't have to rearrange furniture to fit my wine glass, utensils, candle and a giant honkin' plate on a 2 x 2 table (intended for 2).

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Christina D

                                                                                                                                                                Me too! We have a very popular crab shack place on the water in my neck of the woods and the last time I went there after waiting 45 minutes for our table, they tried to seat my friend and I at a table that looked like a small cocktail table. Too small in my opinion for a normal plated entree, but definitely way too small for trays if crab legs that you have to crack, as well as any other food you have and drinks. We choose to wait an additional time for a larger table.

                                                                                                                                                              2. I lunch alone sometimes. Some restaurants HATE that. And they make it very obvious. No matter how empty a place is.
                                                                                                                                                                I guess lone diners are supposed to eat in their car from a paper bag after going to the drive-thru...

                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                  I know of one restaurant in San Francisco that's downright rude to single diners. Luckily, there are a number of much better places on the same block that treat single diners - even old ladies like me - as if they were people with money to spend: those get my repeat business and generous tips. I've even gone as far to ask to see the manager and tell him or her when I've had particularly good service.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tardigrade

                                                                                                                                                                    I once read that Danny Myer believes (and trains staff as such) that solo diners should be treated as VIPs, since this person went out of their way to come to your place, he/she was not dragged along as part of a group.

                                                                                                                                                                    Ah, maybe someday this will catch on....

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                      And that's why many of the most enjoyable evenings I have had eating solo have been at his restaurants! Especially at the bar at Union Square Cafe.
                                                                                                                                                                      My only problem with solo dining relates to the light level issue mentioned several other posts. I like to read between courses (as well as being able to see the menu) but I have been to a few places where that was impossible.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: tardigrade

                                                                                                                                                                      I recently heard a podcast interview with Ruth Reichl, former food critic for the NY Times (among other things) who spoke about her restaurant experiences when she visited upscale Le Cirque in NYC disguised as an older woman and another visit to the same restaurant when she went as herself. Her experiences were markedly different and her conclusion was that Le Cirque is two "different restaurants" offering two vastly different dining experiences -- one to celebs/VIPs and the other to "everyday folk." The worst treated restaurant guests, across the board,are older women, which Reichl considered reprehensible.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                      One of my favorite solo-dining meals while visiting Sydney, Australia, was at Bistro Moncur. Spectacular service, including tasters of the various possibilities for wine pairings. The table of 6, seated next to me, was very curious :)

                                                                                                                                                                    4. Some places require you to order all at once. (Traif, I am looking at you!) I hate this because I don't know how hungry I will be if I don't know what the portion size is like. We also typically can do 3-5 small plates per person depending on the size. Sometimes we want to repeat things that are amazing. If I can put in a decent number and keep a menu I am all the happier.

                                                                                                                                                                      Traif did allow us to do this "on the sly" because the "regular" waitress allows my friends to. We were generous tippers that night.

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                        My pet peeve is a variation on this theme regarding "small plate" places where the actual smallness of the plates is a bit dubious. I've found more often that amongst a general order, a few items truly qualify as a "small plate" - while others more or less qualify as a reasonable appetizer/entre meal.

                                                                                                                                                                        If the plate size is going to vary that wildly, just leave us with a menu and take orders a few dishes at a time.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. <<"If you have dietary restrictions, then it's YOUR responsibility...">>

                                                                                                                                                                        YES!!!!!!! YES!!!!!! YES!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Menus, specials menus, tables tents, wine menus, beer lists, binders of specialty drinks, more table tents advertising desserts/drinks, etc - all placed in the center of the table. It's like trying to watch a 24-hour news channel with all the graphics hogging the screen.

                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                            I've been known to scoop them up and put them on the table next to me.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chileheadmike

                                                                                                                                                                              I do the same. If my husband is particularly frisky, he tells the server to remove it all from the table.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. I get irritated when the server brings the check before everyone at the table has finished eating.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. my biggest pet peeve which hasn't been mentioned yet.

                                                                                                                                                                              - Servers who don't know the menu, specifically what is included in a dish. And then if you ask them about a specific allergy item, they ask like you have asked them to reveal the codes for nuclear fusion.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DukeFan

                                                                                                                                                                                At the very least, the server can be trained to respond with, "I'll double check with the kitchen about that."

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Restaurants that can't grasp the concept of mobility-impaired or otherwise handicapped people. "Yes, we're wheel-chair accessible - there's just one step". Um, that means you're not accessible, unless you have a team of strapping young people to carry someone up. And suggesting to the old women with the walker and the cane that they can have a table upstairs (with no access other than stairs) is spectacularly clueless.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I take my own butter to a local breakfast place that has tiny tubs of whipped spread. Real grits demand real butter.

                                                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                    Does this place also offer butter? Only offering "whipped spread" is not very customer friendly. Whipped "spead" does not appeal to a great many people.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                      <<"Whipped "spead" does not appeal to a great many people.">>

                                                                                                                                                                                      I thought the same. Then I was told that many only knew oleo and just called it "butter". And when I see peopel reaching for the "butter" that is oleo, I just ask the waitress for some butter. She will usually be snippy and point at the oleo, but I'll clarify with something like, "Hotel butter" or something, but James Cristinian is right...

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                        I guess...but where do they just serve Oleo? I find butter to be the norm. I have seen olive oil for dipping with bread, but never seen a butter substitute as the norm in a restaurant. Where do you find this when you dine out?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                          as James Cristinian stated, "local breakfast place".

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm here in the suburbs of New York City. The "New Jersey" style diner is ubiquitous. And so is margarine in them.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                            Oleo, margarine or "spread" is the normal in many mom and pop style restaurants in my area of PA. Most homes consider any of those to be "butter" as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                            Olive Oil was Popeye's girlfriend and I've never seen her at this small Houston chain. They also make delicious made from scratch biscuits, and I've got my sights on the chicken fried steak also freshly made and available for breakfast. The place is called Franks Grill, by the way.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                        A butter corollary: ice cold butter. If it comes wrapped, I put it under my hot coffee cup to soften/semi-melt before I can spread it on my bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                          Reminds me of the Seinfeled episode where they bring their own Maple syrup to the diner, and the manager threatens to confiscate it if it happens again.


                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I recently had a hip replaced, a mere 57 of age, and while not in a wheelchair or walker two steps without a handrail is a deal killer. Progressing out of that stage until the knee gets done.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My pet peeve is online menus that don't include prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't restaurants understand that if they don't specify the prices, I'm going to assume they have something to hide and guess the prices are higher than they probably are.

                                                                                                                                                                                            And don't give me the "prices can change" excuse. Online menu prices cane also be altered in seconds -- easier than changing the prices on the hard-copy menus. And yes, some seafood items are going to be "market price."

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Restaurants which do not list the phone number and street address on EVERY PAGE of the website. Really. A good designer can figure out how to incorporate one line of text into the footer of each page. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                                                                                Not a peeve, but it would be helpful (here in L.A.) if the website specified parking information -- Is street parking usually available? If you have valet, how much $$? Do you have a parking lot?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Went to a diner last week and was going to sit at the counter. They had yet to clear a previous diner's dishes, and there was a coffee mug with lipstick around the rim. Total stomach churner for me. I walked out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ebchower

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maybe the previous person had just left and they hadn't had a chance to clear it yet?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm sure that was the case, and I'm not saying it was the fault of the establishment. I just didn't feel like eating there after seeing it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: genoO

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not sure, but I once had a fly go counterclockwise in some sort of fly dance around the rim of my wine glass. It made it almost all the way around before keeling over and doing a header into said glass of wine. Kinda funny. really.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I have a HUGE problem w servers not writing down orders, and committing it to "memory". Without fail, there is ALWAYS a problem or mistake with the order.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I know it's trendy or kitchy when they do this, put it ruins my dining experience when I have to point out an error or ommission on my order and just delays me eating my food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Another one....

                                                                                                                                                                                                        When ordering a beef or burger dish...
                                                                                                                                                                                                        "How would you like that cooked?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Medium Rare"
                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Sorry, we only do medium to well done"
                                                                                                                                                                                                        " *sigh* "

                                                                                                                                                                                                        THEN STATE SO ON THE MENU, OR TELL ME BEFORE ASKING!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Dinermite

                                                                                                                                                                                                          why would a restaurant only serve overcooked burgers? fear of liability? I question their meat source or already cooked? - bleh

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                                                                                            When the server tells me "It's the law that we cannot cook a burger under medium well" I just stare at them for a moment. Then I point out that I am a Serv Safe certified restaurant manager and I can definitively say that they are mistaken. I don't blame the server. Most of them are young kids who are only parroting what their managers tell them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kimmer1850

                                                                                                                                                                                                              no not the servers fault at all - the fault of an over litigious society with a 24 hour news cycle and too many crackpot experts who have turned food into something scary. UGH I like my burger bloody and if you are afraid to serve it that way I am afraid of your meat source.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It does not signify an inferior source of meat, only an abundance of caution. Cooking ground meat to medium is a reasonable policy even if the most trustworthy supplier of meat is used. If you think medium is "overcooked," you can get your hamburger elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In NYC almost every place will serve you a rare or medium rare hamburger. We have a hyper-vigilant Dept. of Health who constantly monitors restaurants and food safety standards. So far they haven't found health hazards with rare burgers. (Plenty of restaurants get cited for legitimate food safety violations.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That fact is not relevant to my post, so I don't know why you posted it as a response to mine. I suppose you intended it to be directed to "Dinermite."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No, my post was directed at your "abundance of caution" remark. New York City has over eight million people and the restaurants here manage to serve rare burgers without anyone getting sick. There's such a thing as too much caution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We have a place in Houston that advertises fresh angus burgers. I saw a guy in their uniform buying a bunch of those chubs/tubes of meat, the kind that lasts 10 days. They even post the meat supplier on their website. I won't buy that stuff, I like a medium rare burger, but not with that stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    and I would - why pay good money for ruined beef. No need for an over abundance of caution if you know your product and handing are both to the highest standards. Please cook my chicken through by leave my beef a bit bloody. I have never encountered a medium mandate and hope not to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Dinermite

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Of all the pet peeves mentioned, that one tops my list. A hotel w/ restaurant opened up near my office and it was much-awaited due to lack of suitable business lunch spots. First time there, the "medium to well done" thing came up. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. When another server drops off your food and no one comes back to check on you. I don't want to wait 10 minutes for ketchup, or to let someone know the steak is overdone or I didn't get the correct side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Unless you're a celebrity "regular" at Gramercy Tavern, one usually has to wait at least a few minutes past their "reservation time" (were you on time?) As far as waiting in the bar, where else were they going to put you? And its an extremely popular place - why would you be surprised to find so many people there?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I hate when a restaurant's "opening" time is really the time when they start preparing to open. I went into a place recently as soon as they "opened" because I had a movie to catch. I got sprayed by the drink dispenser because the nozzles hadn't been put on. I had to wait for the computerized register to boot up. The cashier had no change. The chairs in the dining room were all stacked and the kitchen was just starting to get things ready. All things that should be addressed before letting customers through the door.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Lighting so low I can't read the menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Uncomfortable chairs (don't they realise we old folks all have bad backs?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        American style service

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tables so close together you feel almost intimate with the adjacent party

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Customers using flash for their blog photos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Restaurants that don't leave the jug of water (and the wine bottle) on the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What's American style service?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Water jugs - not done at all in parts of Asia I've been to (Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai) unless you ask for bottled water, which, of course, you have to pay for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The whole thing of the constant "is everything OK" checkbacks. The whisking away of plates before everyone has finished. The bringing of the bill before you ask for it. The feeling of being rushed. I could on. And on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I understand why these things happen but, to me, American standard restaurant service is the antithesis of hospitality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That's not "American" service; that's simply "bad" service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ellenost

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I was confused by the 'American' service reference. To me that means plated in the kitchen, as opposed to family or French or Russian style.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ellenost

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It is more American style. In places in Europe and Mexico where i have been there is no rush to turn tables, upsell, etc., as waitstaff don't exist on tips only.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Being seated fifteen or twenty minutes after the reservation time is nothing to be peeved about. Someone who is on such a tight schedule should be getting fast food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I wouldn't agree with you about that. Tables not being ready on arrival, at the appointed time, is such a rare occurance where I am that a delay of 15 - 20 minutes is definitely going to be peeving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. The worst for me is when the waitstaff grips the top of my water/tea/glass/cup with their fingers. I can't believe how may waiters do this. Totally repulsive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: taste test

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I enforce what is called "The 50/50 rule". The top 50% of the glass belongs to the guest. The bottom 50% can be touched by the server. It matters not if one is serving or clearing glassware. It should never happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. In 'first come, first served' restaurants [place that dont take reservations], seeing someone who came in after me [with the same sized party, of course] get seated before me. I can forgive most anyhing else, but that will turn me off to a place forever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. My pet peeves, servers taking your used silverware off the salad plate and putting it back onto the table to be re-used. I'd like a clean set.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Asking if everything is good BEFORE you've eaten one mouthful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Constantly checking up to see if everything is fine, I get that they should check back but not every 5 minutes. And then the manager does a walk about too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dirty tables when you're seated, or having it wiped with some disgusting filthy cloth as you sit down, then your table is still wet.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dirty silverware in the roll-up. Please check when you're doing the roll-ups.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Okay, this is a corporate policy BS thing, but when the server stops by to check on you and asks something like, "Is everything tasting wonderful?" I always reply "Fine, thank you." I feel like this is some sort of psychology nonsense where they're planting the idea of "wonderful" into your head. I'd prefer a simple "How is everything?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Servers stinking of cigarette smoke is my peeve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. The biggest one I have is taking the check from the table before we leave. Most people don't view it as a huge faux pas but I have always felt the check should be left until the patrons leave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The second one is poor wine service (warm wine, incorrect stemware, etc) at a restaurant that seemingly prides itself on wine. Happens a lot and paying $100+ for a bottle that comes out warm and/or poorly stored is no bueno. Same goes for arguing about corked wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: QuakerInBoston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm opposite about the check. I'd rather they take it while I am there. I hate leaving money or credit card slip on the table unsupervised when I leave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is why I call the waitperson over to give it to them when ready as I share similar concerns.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: QuakerInBoston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I can be daft, but I'm confused by this. If they bring the check to you, it needs to be paid. If you are paying with a credit card, they need to take the check while you are still there so that they can process it and bring it back to you to sign. Even if you pay cash, you may need change back. Like I said, I'm sure I'm just missing something.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, sorry. I meant post pay. So, your CC receipt (or cash tip) is sitting in the holder and they take it while you're still sitting/chatting/coffee-ing/etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are two reasons I dislike it:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1) It feels like I'm being rushed out the door. Often, I think this is actually the case.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2) If service was brutal and the tip reflected that, it can be uncomfortable to sit there while the server gets it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              While #2 is rarely ever the case as I tip well even on uneven service, it still stinks and was why (at least I thought why) leaving the receipt/tip on the table until the guest gives it to you/leaves was "proper form."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Maybe I'm off, but I've never, ever had the bill taken from me at a place that is well-known for top service. Happens all the time at more casual places, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Am I way off here? I know it's likely just me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: QuakerInBoston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I work in a somewhat casual restaurant in Boston, and prior to that I worked in a white tablecloth restaurant on the North Shore. On the NS I was taught to leave the bill on the table until the guest leaves, but when I transitioned to the more casual restaurant, I was told that I would be on the hook for the bill if the table walked out without paying it, etc. (to be fair, I have been there 7 years now and have never had a table walk out, and another server who did was not asked to pay for it, but I think it was happening quite frequently prior to my working there). If I may be on the hook for that money, I am definitely going to grab the check if I see that you're done with it to be sure. Also, we had a rash of counterfeit $100 bills this spring, so we'd have to give them to a manager to check with the pen...If the bill was around that and I thought there was a chance a $100 would be left, I wasn't going to take a chance that it would be fake and not check it until the party left...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kateeats

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Its illegal in this state for an employer to "have you on the hook" for an unpaid bill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Locutus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Which is probably why the poster, kateeats, said the other employee wasn't left holding the bag and have to pay for the unpaid bill. The restaurant threatens (probably because they know that most waitstaff won't know it cannot be enforced), but can't force them to comply.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. My pet peeves with restaurants are the exorbitant prices on cocktails - incredibly weak cocktails with well liquor no less. I'm sorry, but I can pick up an entire 1 Liter bottle of Kamchatka for about $7.50 - don't charge me $6-$7 plus tip for one damn vodka and soda with just a 1.5 ounce pour. By the time I tip on that, it will have literally cost me more to buy one drink than buying a whole bottle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. In fast food places when the cashier wants to take your order while the previous customer is fumbling around and still occupying the space in front of the register. I know they want to keep the lines moving, and it's an indirect way of prodding the other customer to get moving, but I don't feel like yelling my order from 8 feet away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ebchower

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I concur. It would be so lovely if the cashier/order processer would just wait 3 more seconds for the previous patron to move along.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. When I was trained decades ago by a lovely older waitress, her two major rules for me were; 1) Never go to the kitchen empty handed and 2) always keep your head up. Servers rarely practice these anymore. I don't know why they love to have to take thousands of extra steps, painstakingly handling one request at a time. I get so irritated when a server walks right past my table, with their head down, not noticing I'm trying to get their attention.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I also HATE when a server has just smoked and then handles my plate. That disgusts me and puts me off my food. Keep your smoke hands, breath and beard the hell away from me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Hate when a waitperson interrupts conversation mid-sentence to ask if everything is alright. If it wasn't, I would have gotten their attention.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Daisygirl009

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not that this excuses the behavior, but sometimes your server has a timed response that has to be relayed back to the kitchen. It's a management thing that states you need to check on a tables satisfaction before they're half finished. I try to emphasize the absolute uselessness of this tactic, but sometimes it's out of their hands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Daisygirl009

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't mind this at all. It is better than having to look for them, and get their attention

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Clearly I'm a server. But what really rustle my jimmies is when a server cops serious attitude. I usually dine alone, ask for the tiniest section and take no more than 30 mins, but for some reason people get up in arms about these things. I guess my whole life philosophy is tied up in 'be not a butthole, lest I be a butthole to you.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My greatest restaurant peeves: (1) specials that are recited rather than appearing in print along with the menu; (2) specials that are recited without including the price; (3) stacking dishes on the table just prior to removal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Regarding #1 and #2 -- there's no excuse for not printing the specials with complete descriptions AND prices. I've learned the hard way (the costly way) that specials are not necessarily priced in line with the rest of the menu items. And as for #3 -- to me it speaks of inexperience, shoddy service and general ignorance of how to clear a table. I never want to see a bunch of dirty, food-laden dishes stacked in front of me. It's not acceptable at home and it's certainly not acceptable in a restaurant. Not in ANY restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Only a 15 minute wait time at Gramercy you were lucky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Oh -- I just thought of another one that's become part of the standard "service" in a local chain -- the server comes by shortly after we've begun eating, and while we're still eating, to ask if we'll be wanting boxes for our leftovers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Off the top of my head...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I hate when I order an Ice tea and I get green tea instead of black tea. Totally undrinkable for me although I'm sure some like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ADD: Since someone else mentioned it "Have you eaten with us before" I always say yes even if I haven't. Made the mistake of saying no and getting obnoxious tours of the restaurant or long winded explanations of how highly the restaurant things of themselves. LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: worldrunner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have many many many. I won't bore anyone with them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When I find I must go to a restaurant b/c of travelling I walk in and am seated , usually.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I then walk into the restroom. If it smells like pee I walk out of the restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The only exception is when I go to a Chinese restaurant. I don't go into the restroom b/c I know it will smell of pee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You leave a restaurant because some guy had bad aim?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lemons

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I suspect it's more that the pee has had time to fester and start to smell (it takes a little while for enough bacteria to grow so you can smell it) - so no one has cleaned the restroom for at least a day. Yecch!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: khh1138

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If they're not cleaning the bathroom, and the public can see the bathroom, what are they NOT cleaning that the public CAN'T see?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Sometime last spring, I was on the road with my father and we stopped at a restaurant. There were maybe 4 or 5 tables occupied. We were seated at the table closest to the kitchen door. I was a little annoyed but chose not to say anything. The thing is, I cannot remember the name of the restaurant, the food we ate, or where the restaurant was located. It was that memorable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I met some friends at a restaurant this week; the place had just moved to a larger location, so we did expect it could be crowded. However, what once was a nice bistro truly now is a bar & grill--incredibly LOUD (yes, shouting kind of loud). When we left, one friend actually said her throat was sore, just from trying to converse with the rest of us. I felt like I used to in high school upon leaving a football game--tired from the over stimulation and screaming. Don't think we'll go back, sadly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Recently was at a dinner with a largish group on the east coast. This was an overhyped glitzy Italian restaurant owned by a well known (in the DC area) restauranteur. Food ranged from good to mediocre. Service was abysmal. Apparently there was a minimum per person amount we were supposed to spend. We actually ordered what seemed like a ton of food (everyone had apps, main and dessert) and ordered two bottles of wine. Apparently we still were under this price and at the end of the dinner the waiter informed one of us that we had to order a bottle of champagne to make sure we were over the minimum. It would have been nicer if he told us this earlier in the meal so we could have ordered some more food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Strange. Was it a private dining situation? Then I could see a minimum applying, but the organizer would have known about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Assuming a solo diner is waiting for someone to join them.