Friday, May 16, 2008

Restaurant pet peeves?


My friend Hannah was lamenting the use of square plates at restaurants... a thing made worse when they trot out mini drinks to "complement" the meal... which usually means serving up some pine infused bullshit that tastes like a Christmas tree.

I don't like overly clever things. When bringing you the bill, Gramercy Tavern sends you home with a tasty muffin for your breakfast the next morning. Now THAT I love. Licorous here in Seattle brings your bill in a flat little white bag. Um, did I just buy a bunch of penny candy at the general store? No. I didn't. So bring me a bill in something a bit nicer than a paper bag.

So - let's hear it. Dining pet peeves? You know you have them.

59 comments:

pve design said...

We normally like to eat out at places that cook as well as we do but that being said, most are way too expensive. I do not like when the waiter returns to ask "How is everything" - when the plate is cold, the soup that they profess is "bouillibaise" - is tomato soup sans the fish? Then, you the simply spurt out, oh, it was ok. - because you had to wait 3 hours and at that point would have eaten the square plate because you are ravenous. Then they try to make it all up to you by giving you a free desert.

birdy said...

My all time biggest pet peeve is when they don't keep my %*$& water glass filled. Especially when I then see my server huddled up with the other servers gossiping away while I have nothing to drink.

Anonymous said...

I'm so grateful not to have to cook that I am pretty happy just to have other people provide me food--unless I find, say, a fingernail in my salad. Not that I have.

morrismore said...

When the waiter hands you his business card. This happened to me at Alan Wong in Honolulu.

What does this mean? Any way I interpret it, it seems wrong, very wrong: 1) he wants to date me? 2) he wants me to call him the next time I'm in town 3) he wanted to date my partner at that time(he can have him!)? or 4)he thought I might need a place to stay the next time I was in town?

I once introduced a date to someone who answered the door at a swanky party. The door person's response: "Nice to meet you. I'm the caterer."

I think of myself as moderately sophisticated but this throws me.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

ENORMOUS ROUND PLATES with a tiny depression in the center intended to hold a miniscule scoop of ice cream or whatever ... what is the point of that? You could land an aircraft on the rim ... I also hate large square, rectangular, geometric plates that take up more room than they deserve ... but a special circle of hell shall be reserved for waiters who ask you how everything is—just seconds after you've taken your first bite and couldn't possibly respond.

Anonymous said...

Waiters that aren't cute.

jozette said...

My biggest dining pet peeve is waiters/waitresses not writing my order down. I know they are trying to be all fancy by remembering what I told them. But you know what? You're not going to remember. You are going to walk back to my table and ask me what I ordered again. You may even ask me more than once. And if you don't come back and ask me, you're inevitably going to F something up. So, please, for the love of god. Just write it down.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when they clear plates before everyone is done. I know that some people have come to expect this, but it proper to wait until everyone has completed their meal before removing the plates. They aren't doing it to be nice, they are doing it to get you in and out quickly.

Decorno- have you ever been to the Ruins? It is a private dinner club in Seattle and it is fabulous. The best dining experience in Seattle hands down.

Anonymous said...

I hate rudeness, it is unnaceptablefrom the service side AND the patron's side. I think everyone should be required to wait tables for two years, so they would understand how difficult a job it really is. Then you would be more forgiving of human error, and appreciative of fine service. Don't even get me started on what it's like in the kitchen. When you eat out, you should be celebrating the joys of social contact, mistakes and all. If it's perfection on a plate you are looking for, you will have to wait for an all robotic staff.

decorno said...

The Ruins scares me, to be honest. The name, for starters. I've been there for an event and I thought the decor was tacky.

I like old-school restaurants. High-back booths, waiters who have worked there for 20 years, old men eating on expense accounts, women in heels.

I am like an 80-year-old man on the inside.

Jennifer said...

"How are things tasting?"

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:06: Best Comment Award.

Thaozle said...

Anything involving the word "foam".

Alex said...

Want to drive me freakin' crazy at a restaurant? When someone I'm dinning with or the waiter piles dishes on top of each other in front of you and or other guests. I'm not really interested in seeing the leftovers of a plate be squished out of the sides of the 'plate sandwich' this person is creating. Save it for the kitchen. Or another classic I've seen is if they scrape the food scraps all on to one plate so they can stack them all together creating the giant mish mosh of grossness.
Here is another pet peeve- children. Don't get me wrong I've got my own little one and I was once a child but it drives me nuts when they corral all the kids in one gross loud section. It is as if the parents give up in making their children behave in public -and don't even get me started on the ones who don't pick up after their kids! No wonder no one wants to see kids if you're the a-hole letting them behave like little hooligans and making a mess for someone else to clean up or to slip on. I love taking out my child to nice restaurants but I am not above taking his cranky butt home the moment he thinks he can misbehave -doggy bags are great and he can scream all he wants in the car.

Brilliant Asylum said...

This "new" trend of nice-ish restaurants in Atlanta with no wait staff. You stand in line for half an hour, order your food at a counter and then are forced to sit at whatever table is available at that exact moment. The second you sit, your food arrives. Don't even think about lingering after the last bite, because the hungry line is glaring at you to leave and nobody is bringing you another margarita. The food is usually good enough to keep you coming back, but it is never a totally enjoyable experience.

Oh, and having to pay for valet parking in cash before your meal. It's just bad taste in a city rich with parking space.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could find a restaurant where the children are corraled into one section.

Anonymous said...

Removing plates before everyone is finished, & stacking dirty plates at the table. Those 2 things irritate the hell out of me.

Jessie said...

Ha, anon 12:28, funny.

One of mine just happened a few hours ago at lunch... I was at lunch with 8 other co-workers (and YES I know big groups are a pain in the ass, because I have been a server before) and when the server came to bring us a bill he gave us this sob story about how it would probably take him at least 15 mins to make up separate checks for us, and that it was really difficult for him to so... we said to just go ahead and put them all on one and it ended up taking him 25 MINUTES to bring us the ONE check! Good grief, did you think you could fool us or something?

mrlfvl said...

I am a foodservice veteran, so I can't be too harsh, but my absolute biggest peeve is when my server calls me "hon" or "sweetie." I know we are in the south, but it is just so fake. It is also mildly annoying when you order a crappy bottle of wine at a marginal restaurant and they go through the whole showing you the bottle label, sniff the cork, swirl the wine, gargle then give the nod of approval. If I am ordering a bottle of wine that is in the neighborhood of $15, clearly I have no interest in the label, the cork, or the formalities. I just want to get cheap wine drunk. There should be a rule - no sniffing the cork unless the bottle costs $30 or more.

visual vamp said...

Who can afford to eat out these days?
But I hate talking waiters who genuflect at your table, tell your their name, and tell you what they like. I like old school professional waiters who are lifers, like the ones in Buenos Aires. I know you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

"The Ruins"!

Now I want to know what "The Ruins" looks like. Is it like a "Mad Max" set? Are there a lot of smoldering piles of burning tires, broken glass, soot falling everywhere, sirens going off in the distance...?

Anonymous said...

My Grandmother used to always roll her eyes when we sat down at a nice restaurant to find a napkin stuffed in the water glass. Her comment was always, "What is this a Holiday Inn?" Classy lady she was!

Anonymous said...

The Ruins is in an unmarked brick warehouse in lower Queen Anne, with various trees growing out broken windows. It is divided in the area which people can rented out for events www.theruins.net which is a bit garish, but there is also a members only area. You enter through a rusty door on the side of the building. It has 2 rooms -the "Elephant Corral" which features a lifelike mechanical elephant which many Seattleites may remember as being in the old Bon Marche (I think) kids department. The other room (which I prefer) is the library which is lined with book and fireplace. Traditional chairs have been replaced with big comfy wig back chairs and sofas. The service and food is fabulous -professional but relaxed. They only seat each table once a night so they let you linger as long as possible which makes you realize how rushed in and out you are at other places.

Anonymous said...

Underneath the plate holding the bill was an advertisement suggesting the purchase of a CD featuring the loud pulsing music which had been playing all through the dining experience. "Yours for only $9.99". Too much marketing for my taste. Tacky.

Carlene said...

Servers who squat down beside your table to take your order. All I can think of is "studies have shown that servers who squat down beside your table make 30% more in tips."

Not from me.

Anonymous said...

That's a good look for some waiters.

;-)

Tara said...

I hate when a restaurant won't take reservations for a party of 2-4. I'm sure there are one or more legitimate reasons for this, but I think that if planning ahead should be rewarded by not having to wait.

decorno said...

Ah. Ok - on the Ruins, you lost me with "private dining club." I don't like private clubs. College clubs, The Ranier Club here in Seattle, snotty gyms, private pools (WHY does Seattle have these? And people treat them like country clubs!), country clubs. Club-clibbity-clubs. Oy. I don't approve of private schools or private dining. I am just crazy that way, I guess. There are so many good restaurants in Seattle (and even roving, underground illegal ones!) that I can't imagine why I would eat on a plasticy gilded chair with toile and jabots all around me. I belong to my own club: Kick-Ass Bitches-Who-Are-So-Fierce-They-Don't-Need-Private-Clubs-To-Validate-Them.

(Or, at least that's how I see myself. In reality, I am more of a stay-home-and-order-Pagliacci-pizza kind of girl.)

Anonymous said...

"Are you still working on that?" Um, I don't "work" on my food, thanks... I eat it.

decorno said...

OH - - add this to my dining pet peeves list:

The Waverly Inn. Pu-lease. All this no reservations/need to know how to get the private phone number to get in/can't get a reservation unless you tell them WHO gave you the number.

I have experienced that before. It was called middle school. I'll be at Per Se instead, thanks. Or maybe Ray's Pizza. Such bullshit.

Decorno said...

Oh - - I hate it when they won't take reservations, will put you on the list, but REFUSE to take your cell phone number and call you when your table is ready. I mean... come on. I will just be next door boozing it up. You can't call me?

Tara said...

Yeah! And of course, they don't have enough room for all the people waiting so here in the Pacific NW you end up waiting outside in the rain October-June)! And true NWers don't carry umbrellas, of course.

Anonymous said...

I just can't get past that "various trees growing out broken windows" thing. Don't all kinds of rodents come in through the broken windows? What about rain? This is Seattle you're talking about, right? What about insects?

In(side) the Loop said...

I'm big on the don't take anyone's plates until everyone is done. But I also can't stand a massive menu. Like when it's so obnoxiously big it takes up 3/4 the table. Irks me to no living end.

Anonymous said...

Biggest pet peeve EVER: the restaurants which add gratuity to the bill automatically. I can't stand it! A tip is a GIFT, no? I work in retail and am on my feet for 8 hours (or more) a day, and I never get a tip. Also, I don't expect one because I chose to have this job, just like my server did last night at dinner. When I got the bill, for a party of 4, and noticed that she had added and 18% gratuity to the bill without asking me first I was pissed! Who does that? When I pointed it out she said "oh, my mistake" but she looked peeved that I had asked her to remove it. For the record, I did leave a great tip but was not happy.

I wish I could deduct 18% for everytime I had to ask twice for water, or bread, or warm soup....etc.

Anonymous said...

The broken windows are up high and it opens into a courtyard area. It might have netting around it, but honestly I have never checked.

It doesn't feel as snobby as it sounds. Perhaps one of the reasons I like it so much is that member simply signs the bill and it is added to their tab. As my brother is the member I can't pay. (payment for years of torture) He took my parents there and my dad tried to slip the waiter cash/credit card but they wouldn't take it. His money was literally no good there. As he always insists on paying he had a hard time with this - at first. Amazing how quickly he got over it.

Please don't think less of me for loving it...

Elizabeth said...

"Do you need change?" - bothers me so much!

fashiongirl said...

Mine is when the waiter takes away my cocktail when there's a sip left in the bottom. Never, never touch my drink unless I ask you to buddy.

Anonymous said...

you all are so... touchy!

Dayum!!

Decorno said...

Fashiongirl... I am with you. I will LICK the last bits of vodka off the ice. Don't fucking touch my drink.

But frankly... that goes for ALL OF YOU.



Ruins-loving-Anon... I don't think less of you. But I will say that any environment in which the your-money-is-no-good-here tone can be invoked is not my kind of place. It's silly. Because at the end of the day we all know that with enough money, you are welcome anywhere.

I just don't want to eat dry lamb and pasta at a place that won't let me pay. It's un-American.

Sneaky Chic said...

Anon 5:55 - You are sooooo right!

I worked in restaurants for 7 years, and as a server my wage was $2.13/hr + tips. I completely understand how frustrating it can be to work your ass off and get tipped poorly, but it happens. Adding gratuity to a bill is tacky and rude. Now, if it is a large party or catered type of event when it is part of the contract- no problem.

There are too many piss poor servers out there with entitlement attitudes, and frankly I am SICK OF IT!

Hard work = good tip

Gratuity: an award (as for meritorious service) given without claim or obligation. thefreedictionary.com

Sneaky Chic said...

oh yeah, and if I want $10 bottled water, I WILL F-ING ASK FOR IT!

Anonymous said...

give me decor porn...need...porn.

Decorno said...

8:32 Anon... I know, I know...

So little decorno lately. I promise I will post good shit this weekend. Maybe Sunday. For tomorrow will be 90 in Seattle which it a MIRACLE and I will be at Denny Blaine beach reading In Touch magazine, watching girls and boys smoke cloves and take their tops off and I will work on whatever version of a fierce tan an Irish girl can possible get while drinking from a 40 wrapped in a paper bag. I might also fining "A Moveable Feast" while I am at it... just to class it up a bit.

Reggie said...

OK here's my list of pet peeves -- and these actually only apply to upper end restaurants because that's where they really kick in for me:
(1) Snot attitude
(2) Clearing plates before everyone at the table has finished the course
(3) "please keep your fork and knife for the next course"
(4) Loud, pounding music so I can't hear any of the conversation at my table unless shouted
(5) Low, low lighting and menus printed in palest gray on similarly hued stock in 8 point font print that is IMPOSSIBLE to read without a magnifying glasses and a flashlight
(6) anything foam (agree with the other poster on this one) -- its disgustingly reminiscent of phlegm
(7) Rushing my table through dinner so they can turn it for the next seating.
(8) Initially being seated in "siberia" (I always ask to move and 99.9% of the time it works)
(9) Obnoxious, loud, drunk, and rude people at the next table and a management that does nothing about it

Decorno, again you get the juices flowing, thanks for a great topic!
Reggie

Anonymous said...

When you're banging the busboy in the bathroom and the waiters keep making these impatient throat-clearing noises outside and acting all irritable and everything. Hate that.

Decorno said...

Ha!

You may complain, but it sure sounds like you're getting better "service" than anyone at that restaurant!

Sparkie said...

I want me a "wig back chair" a la yesterday's Anon. post re: Ruins. Duh. I know it was a typo but I love those happy accidents. I'm picturing a 3 Stooges Moe wig sitting atop an ornate chair, all antimacassar-style.

Peeve: placing my glass on the table with your fingers all over the rim.

Anonymous said...

This is a menu thing:
Why do breadcrumbs now always have to be "Japanese"? Has anyone else noticed this? Are they really flown in from Japan? Are they that much different from U.S. breadcrumbs?

Anonymous said...

hey, i've eaten at gramercy plenty and never got a muffin to take home!

bah... veritas, across the street from GT, is much better anyway.

;)

Sacheverelle said...

Ok, weird stuff...
I never heard of Lillet until I read your blog this afternoon.
Then I was reading my e-mail & I got this ad for a vintage poster auction & the first thing I saw on the page was this vintage Lillet poster. Strange coincidence.

http://auction.goantiques.com/search/item_detail.jsp?id=1535587

Anonymous said...

reggie,

sorry to break it to you, but those do not sound like "upper end" restaurants you're dining at.

Meredith said...

First off, I am not a "guy." My husband is a guy, but I'm not. So my pet peeve is when servers call us both "guys," as in, "how are you guys doing?" are you guys ready to order?" etc. I believe a simple solution to this is to just leave off the word "guys." "How are you doing?" is fine with me. It is the collective "you" and we understand it means both of us. Or, if you must have another term of address, how about "folks." We are certainly both folks.

Anonymous said...

These complaints are starting to sound like "My Tide comes in a hideous plastic orange bottle and I must spend a good five minutes decanting it into a presentable crystal carafe."

Lisa Wilson (& Alfie!) at The Pickled Hutch said...

Being rushed to order when you just sat down. Our waitress phrased it this way friday night. "Would you like to order so I can take those menu's out of the way?" (What she really mean't was hurry your asses up and order so I can get you out of my way for the next party I am going to rush!) All night long, 3 different people were rushing our table w/ "attentive service" to get us to move quickly.
I also hate when they intentionally put 3 or 4 people on 2 top tables to squeeze in as many people as possible.
Lisa & Alfie

Reggie said...

To Anon 10:37 pm:
Oh, that's right now I remember you -- you're the snotty waiter from Gotham I was referring to, or the Maitre D' at Daniel that tried to seat me and my guests next to the swinging kitchen door when the joint was half full, or you probably were the waiter at David Burke and Donatella that told my table that we needed to hurry up and finish our just-delivered main courses that we had waited an hour and a half for because they needed to turn the table? But then again, you may have been the DJ at STK that decided to rock the house with ear-splitting dance music so my table of 8 couldn't hear anything else. Try getting out of any of these places without dropping less than $300 a couple -- and oh, by all means do go Anon 'cause you'll have the table that I won't need because I'm never returning to any of them when there are so many more pleasant options to choose from. Reggie

Anonymous said...

I loved the muffin "to enjoy for breakfast" that I received a Gramercy. I plan to copy that idea with my next dinner party.

franki durbin said...

oy. where to begin. here goes

- when you are asked if you 'have a reservation' even though it is clearly empty or close to it. always frustrating

- slow servers (meaning, when it takes ages for them to get to your table to say hello the first time)

- when you are asked how your food is before you've even tasted it (and they know it)

- disappearing when I'm ready for the check

- removing food too slowly. If I'm clearly done PLEASE take it away. Please. I'm begging you. :)

- when a server tries to blame YOU for an error they or the chef made. I'm allergic to cheese. I cannot tell you the number of times I clearly (clearly) state that I cannot have any cheese on an item at all due to an allergy and it comes out with cheese (romano or otherwise) and the server states that he would have made sure it was absent had you told him (or her)

gotta love that ;)

Lane said...

When I order a vegetarian dish, or even a dish with VEGETARIAN in the title (i.e. I'll have the VEGETARIAN lasagna, please), and I am brought an incorrect dish with some assortment of meat in it.

By the same token, I can't stand it when all the main ingredients of a dish are not listed on the menu. For example, ground beef in the tomato sauce. You'd think they'd mention it.