Saturday, April 9, 2011

Check Please

We eat out alot.

In my profession, it comes with the territory. And now that the kids are grown, Deb and I enjoy trying out new restaurants (and frequently visit ones that we enjoyed in the past). We appreciate great food and have little patience for the bad stuff. Even when the food is okay, there are some things that the staff does that drives us crazy.

I put together a list of my pet peeves for restaurant owners that care what their diners think (maybe it's just me ... but here goes) ...

- Choice of table. Ever go to a restaurant when the place is less than half full and get offered the table that squeezes you in the middle of the only section that is full? Sure ... there are a dearth of servers and/or the hostess is supposed to seat people according to the server rotation. We get that! But what about comfort, ambience and not having to look at the fat people whose elbows are in your food? If you question the hostess and ask for another table, the staff avoids looking directly at you ... and you worry what might be swimming in your iced tea.

How you are seated. This happened just this morning. The hostess showed us to a booth designed for vertically and horizontally challenged people (Debbie just told me I shouldn't say fat people again ... midgets would be out of the question).  Just before we sat down, she opened the menus and slowly read the latest food items they were pushing that day, blocking our seats. We stood there (close to the kitchen) being bumped and pushed ... hearing the servers scream "Corner! Right! Coming out!"

Silverware. This one is simple. It's nice to have silverware BEFORE you get your food. When you do get silverware ... it's also nice to get them clean.

Excuse me ... Do you know where my waiter is? Serving staff is key ... of course ... to your dining enjoyment. We laugh about a waitress that had the highest pitched voice you every heard. It was childlike and sometimes so hard to hear that you could swear the dogs out back were barking. The "in your space" servers are the worst. They sometimes pull up a chair or scoot into your booth and sit nose to nose with you making sure you hear every word. And why is it that the servers continually ask you how the food tastes every 3 bites and then disappear when you really need something ... like your change!

Tonight's Specials. Servers take pride in memorizing them and recite them at your table. Some are so long and involved that you can't remember the one that was said an hour before that you really liked. CAN'T THEY WRITE THEM DOWN?

- Turn on the lights. How about the menus that you can barely see because the type is microscopic, in some font that resembles bad handwriting and the restaurant is almost completely dark. We now use our iphone app "flashlight" to read (I also use it to find my way to the men's room).

Food presentation.  Probably me ... but does anyone else like their food stacked on top of each other. Like ... veal on veggies on sweet potatoes on a bed of sticky rice. Is that some weird thing a chef did by accident and then became the coolest thing to replicate. That's how "blackened" happened. Chef Paul Prudhomme dropped a redfish in the skillet too long and called it blackened.

Tapas. If I'm gonna spend 15 bucks ... give me some real food ... not a shrimp and a Passover dinner.

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