Sunday, March 18, 2007

Top Ten Dining Out Pet Peeves

I admit, I have high standards, but it’s because I know how restaurants work-or should work. Sometimes, I wish I didn’t know the inner tickings of the friendly neighborhood bistro, the popular breakfast joint, or the ever-so-snooty fine dining establishment. It’s like every time I eat out, I am filling out my very own comment card in my head. I can’t help it. The higher priced the menu, the higher my standards.
But shouldn’t it be that way?
If I am paying good money for this dining experience, I expect to have a satisfying outcome in return.

Sadly, that is seldom the case.

Top 10 Dining Out Pet Peeves:

1. Waiting... for the menus, for the food, for the bill. Just waiting for a long time. Waiting for food really gets me squirming. There are times when I know I could hit the kitchen, single-handedly slap out the food for each person at my table and sit back down in about seven minutes. Why the huge waits? And don’t even think about serving the table next to me, who ordered after me, before you bring my food.

2. Bad Waiters: the Snooty, the Sloppy, the Slacker, the Snoopy! They really deserve their own top10 pet peeves, but I won’t bother. Besides, as a chef, it’s kind of like our motto to hate waiters. Sorry, but in the professional kitchen they are the enemy and we have our reasons.

3. Cold food. Cold food makes me boil with annoyance. I know it’s not that hard to get a hot plate out. Be it the kitchen’s shortcoming or the waiters oversight, it makes me want to get up, march into the kitchen and start a grease fire.

“Oh! This is your deep-fry fat, right? Well, take that!” Boom.

4. Mixed up orders: Waiters. This is your job. How hard is it (especially when you are writing it down) to convey what I am saying to you back to the kitchen? Kitchen’s fault? Then why did you bring it out to me? If you think maybe I won’t notice, then you’ve got the wrong customer.

5. Annoying Customers around you. This can’t really be helped. As people watching is one of the many great perks to eating out, you kind of have to take the wheat with the chaff. Still, irritating can-only-speak-at-100-decibels-into-my-cellphone guy at the next table should only be allowed to eat take out Chinese. At home. By himself.

6. Stupid Rules: Like you can only eat if you drink or drink if you eat. You know the places I’m talking about. You’re out at the pub with a few friends and you just want an iced tea and a basket of crab cakes. “Sorry Madame, I can only bring you those crab cakes if you order some alcohol” Are you kidding me? Guess the costumer is not always right.

7. Cheesy Theme Menus or items with stupid names like “The Prune Pit-for people on the go” or whatever. Menus with ‘funny’ or ‘cutsy’ names annoy the heck out of me and I have a theory that abuse of the English language usually leads to abuse of food. Also, I have issues with absurdly lengthy menus. Longer is not better.

8. Bad Tables: Every restaurant has them. The drafty one near the door; another one next to the kitchen’s swinging doors (that give glimpses into a world you really, really didn’t need to know about); the one in the middle of the thoroughfare where you can count how many times the pregnant chick goes the bathroom because she bumps your chair every time….Bad tables can ruin a night out.

9. Overpriced Menus: I’m not talking about expensive menus, as those are often justified by high quality food, but the place that has no special view, no celeb chef, no prime location, but still decides they can charge $18.95 for Penne Arrabiata and $27.95 for a chicken breast a la blah blah blah.

10. Pushy Sommeliers: I like to choose my own wine when I go out. I know some sommeliers can be very helpful, but they are generally pretty snooty and always trying to steer me toward the pricier bottles. There should also be no eyebrow raising if I just decide to order by the glass- or not at all.

With all the possible things that could go wrong during a meal out, you would think I would be inclined to save my money and stay home; however, it may surprise you that I DO enjoy most of my dining experiences, and when I don't feel like taking the risk, there's always take-out.


Michelle said...

I love reading about your pet peeves - probably b/c I've usually thought about most of them at some point! Too funny. It's definitely more interesting to hear it from the perspective of someone who's been on both sides.

Anonymous said...

What I hate is when the meals dont come out at the same time....and you have your food in front of you but you cant eat it because the rest of the table isnt served. By the time the other dishes arrive, you food is cold. arg!


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