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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?

                  http://www.brooklynfare.com/pages/che...

                    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).