I don't know about you, but when I go out to a restaurant there are certain things that drive me crazy and can ruin the entire experience. Of course if the food is bad, it's not going to be a great experience. But what about those times when the food is great but the experience still stinks?
I would always give up a little food quality for great service compared to incredible food and mediocre service. We go out to dinner to enjoy the food, the service, and the atmosphere. I love trying new restaurants and having a good time enjoying someone else's cooking but it way more than that.
Besides the food, the decor, service and food all come together to create a memorable occasion. I started to think about some of my own restaurant pet peeves on this vacation and wanted to share them with you and find out some of your own dislikes.
Luckily, most of the restaurants we've dined at here at the Jersey shore have been excellent. Good food and good service. But there are a couple of restaurants that made me think about other experiences not so enjoyable.
Let me be clear, I understand there are some restaurants that are more casual and I don't expect white tablecloth service, but it still should be competent service, and the waiters should know what they are doing.
Some of My Most Annoying Restaurant Pet PeevesSo here are some of my personal restaurant pet peeves, and I hope you can share some of your own with me:
- Snotty greeters, maitre d's or hosts - Nothing can start the night off on the wrong foot like a host or hostess with attitude. You walk into a new restaurant excited about enjoying some incredible food and the host gives you attitude. Who knows if they are having a bad day or they hate their job but this is the first person you come in contact with and how they greet you will affect the rest of the night. Please maitre d's, smile and make your guests feel welcome.
- Waiters who stand over your shoulder reading your menu and telling you what they like and what you should order. And why is it they always like the most expensive items on the menu? Waiters, please don't tell me what you like on the menu unless I ask.
- Reading the specials from their ordering pad. It's usually one or two appetizer specials and one or two entree specials. The chef went to a lot of trouble coming up with these specials, so please take the time to learn what they are and what's in them. And if you do have to read them, please slow down and enunciate. I'm getting older and my hearing's not as good as it used to be.
- Pouring wine to the top of the wine glass. Red or white, I like to swirl my wine and I like my white wine chilled. I like to pace myself with a bottle of wine when I'm out to dinner with friends, make it last the entire meal. If a waiter overpours, I typically over drink and then there's none to enjoy with the main course and I have to order another glass or bottle. Most of the time after tasting the wine, I ask the waiter to let me do the pouring. Besides making it last, I enjoy the control.
- Expensive restaurants that require you to get up and order your own food. Haven't experienced many of these but on this vacation, we went to a pretty nice restaurant that wasn't cheap and you had to walk up to a window, place your order and then prepare a salad at the salad bar. A waitress then serves you your food and drink. I understand the concept, but if you have a wait staff to do the serving, why not let them take your order?
#5a. Expensive restaurants that require you to cook your own food (e.g. Fondue). Why bother? I mean, we can do that at home.
- Serving really good food in Styrofoam containers when plates, even inexpensive plates, would be so much nicer. There is a really fun restaurant that serves excellent local fish in a wonderful outdoor setting but I'm not thrilled to go there because the waiters serve everything in Styrofoam containers. Besides being a drag on the environment, I find it hard to enjoy local flounder, fresh corn and tomatoes out of styrofoam containers.Besides, for the amount of money the food costs, they could certainly afford to put it on a plate.
What Can A Restaurant Do?
So, that's my list. I rarely run up against #5 and #5a, but the rest of the issues happen frequently enough that it bothers me. And not wanting to be one who comes up with a list of complaints without proposing some solutions, it seems to me that a lot of my pet peeves can be remedied by good training. Managers really need to take the time to teach the hosts and hostesses that they are the face of the restaurant and to behave accordingly.
Whoever is in charge of training the wait staff should be very specific in telling the servers how and when to recommend menu items. Of course, especially with corporate restaurants, the wait staff may be instructed to suggest pricier items. If that's the case, I most likely wouldn't bother going back to that restaurant.
The same holds true for the specials. Both the front of the house manager and the kitchen manager/chef should collaborate in this area. The kitchen should make sure that the servers are knowledgeable about not only what is in the specials but also how they taste. That means that all servers should be able to taste all specials before service begins so that they can make informed recommendations.
The wine issue is a matter for the sommelier or bar/beverage manager. Restaurants make the most profit on beverages, by far. And pouring more than 4-6 ounces into a diner's wine glass can really affect the bottom line.
And, lastly, I would hope that restaurants that serve exclusively on/in Styrofoam and plastic would switch to a recyclable material, or at least one that is biodegradable. The way we take care of--or don't take care of--our environment is a huge issue. And with the trend towards green restaurants, it seems to me that the days of serving on Styrofoam are numbered.
So What Are Your Pet Peeves?
I gave you a few of mine but I would love to hear more about what are some of your restaurant pet peeves. Here's your change to let everyone know what gets under your skin when dinning out.