The Worst Restaurant Traits

A friend posted a link to this article on Facebook: The 44 Worst People in Every Restaurant. It’s about the worst traits of restaurant customers and we’ve all seen these people. Some of us have been these people, or one or two of them at least. Some of them are pretty funny. A few of my favorites:

The Ethnic Menu Over-Pronouncer

Do you really think that by calling prosciutto “pra-shoot” that the Italian waiter will go back to the kitchen and regale the chefs with praise-filled stories of the man at table 16? Also, you’re from Wayland, MA.

I do make an exception for this, though. If you’re of Latino descent, you get to do that trilling R thing. Mostly because I can’t do it and it always impresses me.

The Defiant Phone Caller

“No, don’t worry about it, I’m not busy. I’m just sitting at dinner with three other people in a restaurant, so obviously I feel like this is the right time to talk openly and loudly about why divorcing Doug was the best thing I’ve ever done for my sex life. Hold on, I’m getting another call.”

Seriously, this person needs to be euthanized. Preferably on national television as a warning to others.

The 18-Way Check Splitters

“We’ll do $39 each apiece these 10 cards, the debit cards are all $20 and we wrote down the pin numbers in alphabetical order, then the remainder is in Canadian dollars, and the steak knife is for you to murder us all when this finally causes you to snap.”

Yeah, that will make any server get stabby.

The Ruiner

Did the words “well done, and please bring ketchup” really just come out of your mouth? That’s a $60 rib eye! The waiter looked like he wanted to cry.

Okay, you can order it any way you want, of course. But as Anthony Bourdain pointed out in Kitchen Confidential, the cooks usually have this one piece of gnarly steak that they keep throwing to the back of the drawer just for those who order steaks well done. And that’s the one you’re going to get. And you’re not going to notice it because it’s been turned into shoe leather anyway. And this is totally my dad, by the way. His steak is done when there’s no moisture left within a 50 foot radius.

But this has inspired me to create a similar list for the worst traits of restaurants as well. I love dining out and I’ve had extraordinary meals in $150 a plate restaurants and in BBQ joints in an old gas station. But there are some tendencies I’ve noticed in some of them that drive me batty. In no particular order:

The diner pretending to be French Laundry

Really, you’ve got a “Kobe beef London broil” on the menu for $19.95? I’m sure that will go over well with gourmands in Greenville, Michigan. And while we’re on the subject, if you pay $75 for a burger because it’s made with “Kobe beef,” you’ve got far more money than taste or good sense.

The exaggerated fame

No, I’m not buying the idea of “Chef Dave’s world famous cole slaw.” Especially since you’ve been open for all of three weeks. These first two, by the way, are from a real restaurant in Greenville, Michigan, about 15 minutes from my house. I swear, the owners must have a copy of Shitty Restaurants for Dummies.

Could you be more pretentious?

No, I’m not paying $80 for dessert because you’ve sprinkled it with gold leaf. Why the fuck would anyone want to eat gold leaf anyway? Patton Oswalt nailed this perfectly:

Food with cute names

I blame this all on Denny’s and their Moons Over My Hammy breakfast. Just. Fucking. Stop.

Guy Fieri

‘Nuff said.

Happy bloody birthday

This is my biggest pet peeve of all, restaurants that send their poor humiliated servers out to sing happy birthday to some poor schmuck who clearly does not have enough attention in his life. Seriously, this should be a felony. And if anyone ever pulls that shit on me, they’re going to take a steak knife in the temple.

Your turn.

66 comments on this post.
  1. Al Dente:

    I hate it when I’ve just taken a mouthful of food and the server comes along to ask: “How is everything?” Do they train servers to wait until the diners’ are chewing to ask this question?

  2. Michael Heath:

    The Defiant Phone Caller
    “No, don’t worry about it, I’m not busy. I’m just sitting at dinner with three other people in a restaurant, so obviously I feel like this is the right time to talk openly and loudly about why divorcing Doug was the best thing I’ve ever done for my sex life. Hold on, I’m getting another call.”

    Ed’s position:

    Seriously, this person needs to be euthanized. Preferably on national television as a warning to others.

    If only that would work. These people are oblivious; so attempts to get their attention, even with threats, won’t change the fundamental cluelessness of their nature. Better just to shoot them on sight until their genes have left the pool.

  3. kacyray:

    Happy bloody birthday

    This is my biggest pet peeve of all, restaurants that send their poor humiliated servers out to sing happy birthday to some poor schmuck who clearly does not have enough attention in his life. Seriously, this should be a felony. And if anyone ever pulls that shit on me, they’re going to take a steak knife in the temple.

    As a waiter, it was mine too, particularly since 90% of the time it wasn’t really anyone’s birthday at all, it was a couple of dipshits who thought it would be funny to prank their friend. The worst part was that, even when we knew for absolute certain that it wasn’t legitimate, we still had to go through the motions … spend the time making the dessert, stand by the door for 5 minutes while the rest of our tables wondered where the hell their server was and beg as many staff members as we could to go out there and sing a stupid song with us, and then watch the astounded patron laugh and say “It’s not even my birthday!”.

    Well no shit. We just didn’t have anything better to do.

  4. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne:

    Wait staff who hand you your check, say “I’ll take that whenever you’re ready”, and immediately disappear for 10 or 15 minutes. (Note: it takes me about 15 seconds to read over the check and get my credit card out, but that’s much too long for the server to wait. Meanwhile I can wait for them to go out and have a cigarette or two, or whatever it is that they do when they disappear.)

  5. Reginald Selkirk:

    But as Anthony Bourdain pointed out in Kitchen Confidential, the cooks usually have this one piece of gnarly steak that they keep throwing to the back of the drawer just for those who order steaks well done. And that’s the one you’re going to get.

    Thanks for the tip, I will know to avoid Anthony Bourdain establishments in the future. Some people do not understand that the food business involves customer service, not opportunities for passive aggressive condescension.
    I like my steak well done because
    1) I’m from the Midwest
    2) I’m a molecular biologist, and prefer to deal with bacterial cultures in the laboratory, not in the emergency room.

  6. Michael Heath:

    The Joined-at-the-Hip Couple
    So you’re really going to sit on the same side of that booth and feed each other food and make cooing noises the whole time, huh?

    This doesn’t bother me, but I raise it here because I used to do a lot of business in Italy. There you’d you see this behavior in the nicer restaurants by people deep into their middle-age years, the older they were the more charming I found it.

  7. kacyray:

    @4 – They’re probably busy trying to find people help them sing Happy Birthday to someone whose birthday it isn’t.

  8. Michael Heath:

    The Couple with a Baby in a Place Where There Shouldn’t Be One
    We salute the fact that you’re not letting a baby get in the way of you living your life, but maybe don’t bring little Brayden to the extremely crowded restaurant opening party, yeah?!? We do like his ironic Ramones tee, though.

    We don’t frequent a particular restaurant nearly as much as we used to; that’s not because this happened to us but instead due to the reaction from management when I complained. This restaurant has two dining areas, one is perfect for groups with small kids – brightly lit with a more dinerish feel. The other side has the bar and is dark, a very nice atmosphere when its sans kids screaming. We always dine in the bar-side.

    After the last screaming kids episode (two of them at the same table right next to us), I complained in the restaurant’s email solicitation for feedback about how our experience was ruined due to two brats who never stopped screaming during much of our meal. I.e., they emailed me asking for my feedback, so I gave them my feedback.

    Management defended not restricting the bar-side to non-babies only, for no good reason and in spite of me preemptively raising how easy it is for them to accommodate people in their diner-side so they don’t have to turn-away anyone. OK, we’ve got two other local restaurants whose food is equally good and whose atmosphere doesn’t include brats. So now we predominately go to those two other spots.

  9. Michael Heath:

    The Group Dinner Freeloader
    Thank you for ordering a martini when everyone else got beer, and that extra soup that no one else got, and then realizing you were late for something vague, and hoped it was “chill” if you just left $20.

    I’ve always found that golf reveals people’s character, where I’ve yet to get over how many people cheat while acting as if their score fairly compares to one’s own. This is particularly revealing when there’s money on the line.

    The group dinner freeloader is another forum that reveals some people’s character.

  10. Larry:

    Restaurants who put pictures of their food into the menu to remind us what pancakes look like. And then, when the food appears, it looks nothing like it did in the picture.

    Yes, I know we’re talking Denny’s-quality establishments, but still…

  11. alanb:

    I would ask for an exception to the Happy Birthday ban for customers under the age of 10 or so.

  12. magicthighs:

    Patton Oswalt nailed this perfectly

    David Cross has a nice bit on eating gold leaf: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=tVMcAO5TYzk#t=207

  13. pacal:

    “Okay, you can order it any way you want, of course. But as Anthony Bourdain pointed out in Kitchen Confidential, the cooks usually have this one piece of gnarly steak that they keep throwing to the back of the drawer just for those who order steaks well done.”

    Regarding the above and Reginald Selkirk`s comments at no. 5 about well done steak. There are other reasons for having well done steak; in my case it is because I like my steak cooked, if I wanted it raw or barely cooked why would I go to a restaurant.

  14. Menyambal --- inesteemable:

    I was in an over-priced theme restaurant, in a hurry, mad at the person who had picked the place by ignoring our schedule and my finances and my allergies, and had just handed the waiter my credit card, when he was dragged away to sing at a birthday party. I kept thinking that they weren’t even singing “Happy Birthday”, just one of those dopey alternatives, when I recalled that the person who had dragged us there hated the fake songs with a passion. He was grimacing, and I felt slightly revenged.

    They sing the fakes as there is a copyright claim on the real song, but that’s supposedly been ruled against. I just wish they would quit altogether.

  15. TGAP Dad:

    I have to take issue with the contempt shown for by chefs and others for well-done steak. I can’t eat meat that isn’t fully cooked. It literally makes me nauseous. I can’t even stand to WATCH someone eat a rare steak. And here’s the part most people miss: you can have a steak well-done (i.e. cooked all the way through) that is still juicy and tender. Trust me; I can do this myself on my backyard charcoal grill. It annoys me that you can so heartily endorse a chef deliberately ruining a steak, and a diner’s meal for ordering it in a way he disapproves of. Would you also agree with him/her pissing in a bowl of soup for a diner who orders it without mushrooms or salt?

  16. sundiver:

    Al Dente: I suspect there’s some kind of regulation that requires waitstaff to ask “How’s your meal?” when you’ve got a face full of food.

  17. joelperkin:

    The person (or sometimes table) that doesn’t remember the difference between indoor and outdoor voice. And they are still sober. Related to party people, but just obliviously loud with no occasion.

  18. Jeremy Shaffer:

    In relation to the birthday song, there is Johnny Rocket’s where they have to drop everything to do this song and dance when customers play certain songs on the table jukeboxes. An ex-girlfriend worked at one of those years ago and it was one of the many reasons she quit after just a few months. The jukeboxes kept getting “accidentally” broken but it still happened enough. Just as there are jackasses that will tell the staff that it’s someone’s birthday when it isn’t, there are the same types that would drop several dollars into one of those jukeboxes just to mess the staff.

  19. Matrim:

    While I would agree that you can have good, juicy well-done steaks; I would also argue that the world’s greatest well-done steak is inferior to a middling medium-rare steak. Seriously, the flavor and the consistency don’t even compare.

  20. jnorris:

    Larry at #10: Restaurants who put pictures of their food into the menu
    I go to one restaurant that has pictures. I overheard one water telling a customer that their chocolate cake doesn’t look anything like the picture and no one at the place knows where the picture came from or what is actually is.

    Their menus are falling apart so maybe they will replace the pictures when they make new menus. Or better still just do without pictures since I am sure the desserts are not made in store and the wholeseller can’t have the same cake all the time.

  21. matty1:

    Al dente, to be honest I don’t much care for the interuption anyway. I know it’s meant to show the restaurant cares about customer satisfaction but I am either eating or talking with with my dining companion(s) I do not need someone two inches from my elbow going “Everything alright sir, can I do anything else, can I just interupt again” all through the meal.

    As for the well done steak thing I suspect there is some feedback going on here.

    First time in a restaurant someone asks for well done on a whim
    Chef disaproves of order for well done steak so serves up tough burnt leather
    Diner concludes that is what well done steak is and before long they are joining the chefs contempt for it
    Then one day they are cooking for friends and someone asks for well done so they repeat the trick “That’ll show you” without even realising the same thing was done to them.

  22. matty1:

    Photos on menus is a tourist thing isn’t it? A way of getting around the fact that some customers don’t have a word in common with the waiters and giving them at least a fighting chance of not ordering ice cream with chilli sauce and king prawns.

    Why this spread to places off the tourist routes I don’t know.

  23. Reginald Selkirk:

    joelperkin #17: The person (or sometimes table) that doesn’t remember the difference between indoor and outdoor voice…

    There are establishments which build their rooms to be deliberately loud; architecture includes harsh acoustically reflective ceilings, etc. These are places which advertise based on social experience rather than food quality. I suspect this is carefully researched and that there is a customer base which believes that louder = more fun.

  24. David C Brayton:

    @Al Dente–Gawd, how I hate that. It’s worse than having your dog stick his cold nose in your ass crack while making sweet, sweet love to Heidi Klum.

  25. ArtK:

    I agree with a lot of these. I’ll admit that “Moons over My Hammy” at Denny’s never bothered me as much as “Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity” at IHOP. Makes me feel like a cheerleader from the 1930s.

    In defense of the check splitters, sometimes you don’t have a lot of choice. When I traveled for business at a previous employer, we had to expense the meals on our individual corporate credit cards. Dining out with a dozen colleagues meant either 12 separate checks or one check split evenly, 12 ways.

    @ Micheal Heath, re Babies

    Did you complain to your server or the manager while the babies were crying? Banning babies is not the right way to approach this, because some (quite a few, but you’ll never notice them) are fine. If someone is disrupting your dinner, whether it’s the babies or the guy discussing his gall bladder surgery in excruciating detail, you deal with it then and there. Ask to be moved. Ask to have your dinner boxed and then leave, telling the manager on the way out. The restaurant needs to deal with disruptions on a case-by-case basis and if they’re not willing to ask the parents to take the babies outside for a minute or two, then they need to know immediately that you are unhappy.

    The restaurant’s dilemma is this: They know that if they go to the parents and ask them to do something, the parents will be unhappy and they may lose the parents’ business. They won’t do anything unless it can be made very clear that they’re going to lose *more* business by not doing anything. E-mailing corporate just isn’t effective enough, and demanding solutions that may not even be legal isn’t going to get you anywhere (ask me about lawsuits and adults-only swimming pools at condo complexes.)

    When they were small, we took my sons to a number of nice restaurants. You can be sure that as soon as either one of them showed signs of being disruptive, either my wife or I would take the unhappy boy outside away from the other diners. The result: The boys know how to behave in nice restaurants. They’re teenagers now and I would be comfortable taking them to any restaurant. Sadly, the parents who let their babies scream, or their toddlers run around under the staff’s feet are raising the next generation of cell-phone talkers and gall bladder-reciters.

  26. Trebuchet:

    If you’re of Latino descent, you get to do that trilling R thing. Mostly because I can’t do it and it always impresses me.

    I can’t do it either. The great frustration of my two years of high school Spanish, which I’m always afraid to try using in a Mexican restaurant.

    Our great frustration with restaurants, until the laws changed in this state, was non-smoking sections. We had more than one place take an ashtray off the table and tell us it was non-smoking. Completely surrounded by people puffing away. When they were going to make smoking illegal in bars and restaurants, there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth about how they’d all be put out of business. Hasn’t happened.

  27. karmacat:

    It is frustrating to watch parents not do something about their children. Sometimes you just have to let them run around outside for a few minutes. Bringing an ipad also helps. However, I do like conversations about gall bladder surgeries and other kinds of surgeries, medical topics. I was at a bar talking about my gall bladder surgery which I guess no one wanted to hear. Fortunately, I found someone who was willing to talk about his kidney surgery. Ah, that was a good night

  28. Karen Locke:

    Noise in restaurants is a pet peeve of mine. Yes, a room filled with groups of people is going to have noise. But does it have to be a room that has noise-enhancing architecture? And does the restaurant really need to play music at a conversation-interfering level? My favorite restaurant is a little hole-in-the-wall Japanese place that serves good food at decent prices. But it’s a storefront in an old shopping mall, with no noise-enhancing architecture, and there’s no music played. I’ve never been there when the place wasn’t packed, and never had trouble holding a conversation.

  29. joelperkin:

    Yeah, I have to accept that some restaurants design for noisy environments, or when they are packed there just will be a lot of noise. It’s those people who, in an otherwise quiet-ish dining room, have their volumes turned up to 11.

  30. timgueguen:

    I too prefer my meat actually cooked, and not looking like it’s just fresh from the cow, and they just rubbed a bit of dirt on it to make it look cooked. Having said that I don’t actually eat steak in restaurants anyways, only at home.

    Deliberately noisy restaurants are a pain, especially when you’re with people who have a bit of a hearing problem.

    How about places that serve fish and chips where the fish is pre-made “fish triangles?” If I wanted those I could buy them at the local supermarket and cook them myself.

  31. savagemutt:

    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne said:

    Wait staff who hand you your check, say “I’ll take that whenever you’re ready”, and immediately disappear for 10 or 15 minutes.

    The waitperson can’t win with this one. If they just stood there a lot of customers will complain that they’re being rushed. Especially in a large group with a lot of conversation going on.

    Unrelated to that, the worst incident I ever saw involving children occurred in a fancy seafood place at lunch. A group of soccer moms were having a birthday party for a kid about five years old. It was obvious that the kid’s mother had chosen the place for her own pleasure as there was nothing on the menu that would appeal to most children. So the kids spent the entire time running among the tables laughing and screaming as the adults enjoyed their meals. It was quite a display of selfishness and obliviousness.

  32. Michael Heath:

    ArtK to me:

    Did you complain to your server or the manager while the babies were crying? Banning babies is not the right way to approach this, because some (quite a few, but you’ll never notice them) are fine.

    Reading comprehension, please.

    As I noted earlier, this venue has an area perfect for families with babies. So there was never any suggestion by me to, “ban babies”, nor any reason for the restaurant to prohibit serving groups with babies.

    And no I did not complain at on-site; it was frickin’ obvious – everyone noticed – including the wait staff and the manager. Plus as I also noted earlier, I didn’t stop frequenting the place as much because of that particular event, but instead because of how the restaurant manger responded to my suggestion, which was, “tough shit”. In spite of the fact they had a way to accommodate both two types of crowds.

    ArtK writes:

    Ask to be moved.

    Now you’re treating me like a moron. The bar area was full, there were no more tables to move to instead. There was ample space in the diner area, where there was even more screaming babies.

    ArtK writes:

    The restaurant needs to deal with disruptions on a case-by-case basis and if they’re not willing to ask the parents to take the babies outside for a minute or two, then they need to know immediately that you are unhappy.

    As I note in my post here, the restaurant manager (who is also the owner), also experienced what I experienced. I’m not sure why you think I’m the problem here. Nothing I wrote previously suggests I’m the one behaving poorly here.

    ArtK writes:

    The restaurant’s dilemma is this: They know that if they go to the parents and ask them to do something, the parents will be unhappy and they may lose the parents’ business.

    More reading comprehension failure on your part. Again, I raised this issues after the fact, so I never requested the mgr. confront the family. My suggestion was about process, not any one singular event. I suggested, in the future the mgr. restrict groups with babies to the diner-area, which is a good venue for such groups. He resonded that ain’t going to happen. His choice; it’s my choice where I go.

    I stopped reading your post at this point since every point you note misrepresents what I previously wrote.

  33. Michael Heath:

    Trebuchet writes:

    Our great frustration with restaurants, until the laws changed in this state, was non-smoking sections. We had more than one place take an ashtray off the table and tell us it was non-smoking. Completely surrounded by people puffing away. When they were going to make smoking illegal in bars and restaurants, there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth about how they’d all be put out of business. Hasn’t happened.

    When California passed their no-smoking act, I recall newspaper reports that this change increased the volume of business. I have a hunch on why. The less people that smoke, the more people are bothered by second-hand smoke (it doesn’t bother me in spite of my never being a smoker). So

    We passed a no-smoking law here in Michigan some years ago. Some state legislators, Republicans, are now sponsoring a bill hoping to allow smoking in outdoor areas where there’s wait-staff present.

    I point out the latter given that libtards and unfortunately straight-news journalists often attempt to make this a controversy between owner-operators and customers, which is a big lie. The dynamic also includes employee safety where this is obviously the most challenging premise to consider when developing policy.

    Science reveals the acute danger to second-hand smoke, even to those who also smoke. So even if your bartender smokes on his off-time, that doesn’t completely alleviate the owner’s obligation to provide a safe work environment. A danger which still has a significant impact when the second-hand smoke exposure is outdoors.

  34. John Pieret:

    I confess to being on the side of the rare steakists (I usually order by saying “rare, rarer, rarest” and sometimes “in serious condition but possibly able to recover”). On the other hand, my late wife was uncomfortable with more than the slightest pink at the very center. It required some careful planning when cooking at home.

    But there are no excuses for restaurant staff deliberately serving food that is not as good as they can possibly make it under the constraints of the cutomer’s preferences. If I knew a restauraunt deliberately served inferior steak or deliberately cooked the food to make it unpalatable just because they didn’t like the customer’s preferences, I’d never go there again. Not only does it show contempt for the people who are paying them but how could you ever know when some preference of your own wouldn’t trigger some culinary assault on you?

    I, too, have complained about the wait staff seemingly timing the “Is everything allright?” question to when your mouth is full but, when you think about it, if two people are dinning, how much time is there when one or both don’t have food in their mouths? If they wait until both have finished eating, they might miss an opportunity to correct some problem or bring something else the customers want that, in turn, would result in customer resentment.

  35. ArtK:

    @ Michael Heath

    Please, leave the “reading comprehension” insults off. No, I’m not treating you like a moron, I’m trying to explain the most effective and polite way of dealing with the issue, based on my experience and the experiences of others. Dealing with it after the fact has much less effect. Raising the issue, then and there, makes it immediate for the restaurant. “I’ll never darken your doors again” kind of e-mails get a “meh” response. Business walking out the door is a lot more effective. My point was about being the most effective squeaky wheel. Most people are unwilling to take that step, though, not wanting to make waves.

    I don’t think that you’re the problem. I never said that you were and certainly didn’t mean to imply it. My point is to make it the manager’s problem. He may feel he has to put up with it because he’s afraid of losing those customers, not realizing that he’s about to lose many more. I’ve actually discussed this with servers and many have said “My manager won’t let me deal with a crying child unless some other diner complains.” The staff may be miserable, but their hands are tied. Very few restaurant managers can think beyond the people who are in the restaurant at that moment. As far as that manager knew, on that day, everybody was fine with the babies crying.

    I should also note that parents who let their kids disrupt other people’s meals are also the kind who will throw major hissy fits about “child haters” and “discrimination” if asked to actually parent. That makes it even less likely for a restaurant to do something.

    @karmacat

    I was more referring to the guy four tables over whose loud discussion of his gall bladder is intruding on my dinner. I was trying to point out that babies aren’t the only ones who can disrupt a meal and to single them out, by banning them or restricting them to one area isn’t really the right solution to a wider problem. I’m married to an OR nurse; discussions of gall bladder surgery are mild in our household.

  36. Michael Heath:

    Wait staff who hand you your check, say “I’ll take that whenever you’re ready”, and immediately disappear for 10 or 15 minutes.

    savagemutt writes:

    The waitperson can’t win with this one. If they just stood there a lot of customers will complain that they’re being rushed. Especially in a large group with a lot of conversation going on.

    Competent wait-staff handle this task well. Getting down the rhythm of waiting distinguishes competent waiters from the incompetent.

    The only time I’ve encountered waiters I know are competent not handle this well is when they’re tasked with more tables than they can handle, where that’s either a management problem* or due to an outlier uptick in business where we customers should show some tolerance.

    *Not sufficient staffed, or not sufficiently staffed with reliable wait-staff.

  37. Michael Heath:

    ArtK writes:

    Please, leave the “reading comprehension” insults off.

    I will when you stop misrepresenting what I write and what happened, which you continue do in the post I quote here.

    ArtK writes:

    No, I’m not treating you like a moron, I’m trying to explain the most effective and polite way of dealing with the issue, based on my experience and the experiences of others. Dealing with it after the fact has much less effect. Raising the issue, then and there, makes it immediate for the restaurant. “I’ll never darken your doors again” kind of e-mails get a “meh” response.

    Here you once again imagine something on your own that simply didn’t happen. I never received a “meh” response to my email. I know the owner, he knows me. He didn’t blow-off my email – which was very polite I might add, he considered my advice and decided to do otherwise. That in spite of suffering through the noise the same as me since he was there and observing this behavior.

    He made his choice and I mine where I’m comfortable with how I responded. I think there’s a certain fair expectation for standards to fine dining that need to met in order to charge fine dining prices. Here that standard would include the type of atmosphere one’s patrons will encounter. If I’m having a candle-lit dinner where I’ve spent $40 on a bottle of wine and $60 on the food for my wife and I, I don’t expect two relentlessly screaming babies at the next table. Especially when the restaurant offers another area that accommodates families with small kids.

    The owner doesn’t agree and continues to seat babies in the fine dining section rather than just his diner section. So fine – I have other choices that don’t make me suffer through that when I spending this amount on a dinner.

  38. democommie:

    “Ask to have your dinner boxed and then leave”

    Not fucking likely. I know how to cook, if I’m in a restaurant it’s not because I can’t make my own dinner. Paying $20 for a burger and a couple of beers or $80 for a steak, a couple glasses of good wine, a salad, dessert and coffee isn’t something I can afford doing very often. I am damned sure not going to walk away with a doggy bag and pay like I ate off of a white tablecloth.

    As for wait persons bothering me while I’m eating, I find that answering them with a mouth full of food discourages their coming by before I’M ready to have something else done.

  39. leni:

    Babies never bothered me too much because they don’t usually make too much of a mess and they’re usually strapped into a chair. But do not bring your 5 horrible children (who won’t eat anything but pizza and burgers) into a mom and pop Thai restaurant and ask for the children’s menu with “American food” on it.

  40. Ed Brayton:

    John Pieret:

    My stepfather loved very rare steak. He used to tell servers he wanted it “so a good vet could still save it.”

  41. Area Man:

    2) I’m a molecular biologist, and prefer to deal with bacterial cultures in the laboratory, not in the emergency room.

    As a molecular biologist, you should know that the inside of a steak is aseptic, since cows have an immune system ‘n shit, and that only the surface has significant risk of carrying pathogens (hence, you cook that part).

  42. wilsim:

    I come from a very loud family. My sister, by far, is the loudest person I know or have ever hear about. It isn’t intentional – her regular speaking voice is a nigh shout on anyone else, and it isn’t for attention. She is also wont to order the most expensive thing on the menu every single time if you do not give her a budget.

    I also have 2 children with ADHD, and while we do bring their androids along sometimes nothing can be done to keep them quiet. We’ve done the taking them outside thing, but that usually only lasts as long as the next upset when we are back inside. We end up, usually, eating fast food because of the looks we get from stodgy a-holes like some of you appear to be. Try saying something to me in person, like “control your child” or “can’t you make him shut up” with get you a fist in the face, and I am not joking.

    If you are in a public place you are forced to deal with all sorts of people, complaining about it is only making yourself miserable.

    ((I’m the always underdressed guy. T-shirt and shorts or jeans, everywhere))

  43. Area Man:

    The Substituter

    “I’d like the salmon, but instead of the corn, can I get the braised cauliflower from the steak dish? And instead of the frisee salad, can I get that appetizer you used to have in the ’90s, but with a different type of aioli? And instead of the salmon, can I get thrown through the plate glass window in the front of restaurant?”

    Ah, yes. This was the worst type of person to deal with when I was a server. What made the annoyance even worse is that they’d inevitably hate their meal anyway. Part of it is because, by definition, someone who pulls this crap refuses to be satisfied. But mostly it’s because they fucked with the chef’s creation to the point where it was unrecognizable. People, the chef gets paid for a reason.

  44. Dr X:

    The Ethnic Menu Over-Pronouncer
    Do you really think that by calling prosciutto “pra-shoot” that the Italian waiter will go back to the kitchen and regale the chefs with praise-filled stories of the man at table 16?

    An exception in my mind. Growing up I only knew Italian pronunciations and where I grew up they were used by all Italians. And where I grew up, Italian was the most common ethnicity. The Italian pronunciations weren’t intended to impress anyone. We didn’t even know American pronunciations because they probably didn’t exist in many cases. Many Americans weren’t exposed to more than a few pasta dishes.

    We still use those pronunciations within our family, I use them with my Italian-American friends and my mother, a bilingual, can’t bring herself to pronounce the names of foods ‘incorrectly’ under any circustance. It took me years to stop feeling self-conscious when using American pronunciations. It felt like I was trying to remember to say the word the wrong way. I still find I sometimes have to think about how I’m going to say some words to be understood in present day Italian restaurants not run by Italians. I don’t know, for example, if there is an American way to say capicola, which is something I grew up eating. I don’t think non-Italians heard of it until a few years ago. I couldn’t tell you if non-Italians typically pronounce gnocchi the same way I’ve always pronounced it. In any case, many food names tend to automatically come to mind with an Italian accent..

    By the way, that pronunciation of prosciutto is Italian-American dialect, not standard Italian. Good chance if you hear that you’re hearing it from someone who came by it honestly. How am I supposed to say it to not look like I’m trying to impress the waiter? I say it with the correct Italian pronunciation, but is that wrong?

  45. Dr X:

    By the way, the American pronunciation of ricotta is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Manicotti was that way for years.

  46. cptdoom:

    I would add one to the list – the real industry insider. I have a good friend who is a chef, he has his own restaurant in Baltimore. He cooks amazing food and every restaurant in which he was head chef was amazing because he really cares about good customer experiences. However, he is the worst possible customer in any other restaurant. He has never, in my experience, had a decent meal produced by anyone else and most of his industry friends were the same. The service was never right, the food could always have been done better – it was like watching models call each other fat when out to dinner with them.

  47. Trickster Goddess:

    I hate that they always seem to ask me how everything is before I even have taken my first bite.

    A chef that can’t tell the difference between well done and overdone won’t get my repeat business.

    The thing I hate most about group checks is that when people who leave early and leave money on the table for their food and share of the tip, there will inevitably be someone in the last group leaving to use that tip to subsidise their food order. If I am one of the ones to leave early, I leave money on the table for my food but will always give my what of the tip directly to the server.

  48. coffeehound:

    Happy bloody birthday

    There are restaurants now that refuse to do this. I’m now trying to make a short list of these places to request as restaurants to go on my birthday, because I friggen hate this.
    Oh, and the kids-running-around thing; my wife and I went through great pains to watch and discipline our kids so they wouldn’t ruin the experience for others. Then we would go out with my sister-in-law and watch the staff dodge her kids in the aisles the whole time. Made me want to clip them on the head with a salad plate,mom and kids.

  49. Reginald Selkirk:

    Area man #41: As a molecular biologist, you should know that the inside of a steak is aseptic, since cows have an immune system ‘n shit, and that only the surface has significant risk of carrying pathogens (hence, you cook that part).

    As a person who has a brain and is well-informed, I know that meat is no longer aseptic once you handle it. Want to make a wager on some culture plates? And I won’t even mention antibiotic resistance.

  50. Rick Pikul:

    Area man #41: As a molecular biologist, you should know that the inside of a steak is aseptic, since cows have an immune system ‘n shit, and that only the surface has significant risk of carrying pathogens (hence, you cook that part).

    Let me tell you about this little thing called “mechanical tenderization”.

    It involves taking a piece of meat and piercing it all over with metal needles. This nicely makes it far more tender than it would otherwise be.

    It also pushes any pathogens which are on the surface into the middle and causes cross-contamination.

    Unless your favorite restaurant is doing something like buying beef by the side and doing the butchering themselves you have no way of telling if this has been done or not.

  51. suttkus:

    Annoying restaurant traits:

    “Do you want change?” Yes, I want my change. I might choose to say “Keep the change”, but it isn’t for you to suggest it. And, related, waiters dropping off the bill and leaving the table for a good long time so you’ll get frustrated, leave a large bill and walk out, letting them keep the change.

    And anytime I see a busboy use his rag to wipe off the seat and then wipe the table, I want to scream.

  52. dingojack:

    Recently I went to a refurbished pub down the coast. The loud patrons also shoved into the same small, blank room as us didn’t bother me (they were old school friends who hadn’t seen each other in nearly 40 years. I could understand and forgive that), it was the idiotic waiters.
    This was the kind of joint where they force you go up to a counter to collect you food (or to the bar for drinks). So what now, you want me to pay you for the privilege of acting as a waiter?. And for the prices they were charging one would expect at least a 5 star food and matching service.
    Instead the waiters kept wandering into the room and asking vaguely ‘is everything OK?’ Finally (I confess) I snapped and asked ‘what’s it to you? You can’t (or won’t) bring a plate to the table for an old guy who needs to walk with a stick, or a drink for a customer who clearly has difficulty seeing in your establishment (and what’s with the single 30W globe lighting the whole place anyway, frightened of your power bills or that the customers will actually see how crummy this place actually is?)’ It didn’t go down well.
    So what kind of terrible diner am I?
    Dingo

  53. Gwynnyd:

    I once sent a quite expensive, tenderloin steak back NINE times to get it cooked enough to stop bleeding all over my plate. In my defense, the idiot waitress would take it away, walk into the kitchen, wait ten seconds, and bring it back out again. There was NFW it had time to get put back on the grill much less cooked through. The thing was inches thick. Every time she brought it back, I said, “It is still rare enough to be considered raw. Please tell the chef to butterfly it, so it can cook more thoroughly.” And of course, it was still a brick of lightly seared, cool in the center, raw meat when it came back. Now if you like your steak that way, go right ahead and ask for it that way. You are paying for it and should get to eat it the way you like. That’s NOT what I ordered. If I am paying a ridiculous price for a cut of steak, I damn well want it cooked to the doneness I prefer. After the ninth time I sent it back, the chef himself came out and told me that I should not eat it cooked more than rare. Seriously? Should not! Who is eating that steak, him or me? I held on to my temper and repeated my request for a steak that had actually been cooked and asked him, again, to butterfly it. He told me he could not guarantee that it would not be burned and dry. I stared at him and put all the incredulity I could manage into my voice. “Do you seriously call yourself such an incompetent chef that you cannot cook a simple steak to a requested doneness? I think you can.” By this time, of course, every eye in the restaurant was trained on the drama, and they were all starting to look suspiciously at their plates. Some minutes later, I had an actually cooked, butterflied steak of perfect and delicious flavor in front of me and it was not a bit dry or burnt. I tipped well, too.

  54. democommie:

    One night when I was in the USAF, stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, a friend and I went to the “Amelia Earhart”, a DoD owned hotel run by USAF Special Services. They had really good Mexican food at least one night of the week (rumor had it that one of our local spook outfits–the 497th Recon Tech Group flew planeloads of film back to Randolph AFB in Texas and filled up with Mexican fixins’ for the return trip). We arrived about a half hour before posted dining hours would expire. We were seated in a dark corner and given desultory service by a waiter who was more concerned with other matters than waiting on us.

    When my friend asked for a glass of water, the waiter ignored him. After about five minutes, I saw the waiter forty or so feet away and snapped my fingers–THAT got his attention. He raced over and informed me that he was not a dog. I told him that he was not much of a waiter, either. My friend got his water*, we got a check, paid it–with a reasonable tip for less than good service.

    I went to the front desk, asked fort a pad of paper, a pen and an envelope. I wrote a note to the OIC of Special Services, telling him what had transpired and telling him that if I didn’t have a reply from him in three business days that I would be calling “The Overseas Weekly”, a non-sanctioned military news tabloid.

    I got a call from some officious asshole E-8 the next day. Instead of addressing the issue, he threatened me, telling me that he was going to have my stripes. I told him he should do what he thought best and hung up. The following day I received a call from the OIC of Special Services, he told me that he would like to see me about the matter. I went to his office and he and I discussed what had happened. He apologized for the incident , offered that his office would ensure that the staff of operations that they ran were better trained and supervised and asked me if that was satisfactory. I said that it was and asked about the threat from the NCO. He said, “He’s not going to be your problem.”. The guy was gone about 48 hours later, transferred out of our area.

    @42:

    You sound as if you might be #45 of the “Worst People in Every Restaurant”.

    I have every sympathy for persons forced into situations where their children with ADHD are expected to not be their “normal” selves. I have ADD (according to the two different guys who diagnosed me, I am likely to have had ADHD when I was younger) it is not an excuse for acting out in ANY situation and certainly not in a situation in which I have willingly placed myself. Your kids bear no blame for your boorish behavior–that’s all on you. Your costuming, btw, says to me that you think other peoples’ rules are for, well, other people. Your childrens’ ADHD is, I presume, clinically diagnosed. You might want to get a referral from one of the providers to get yourself some anger management counseling–or not.

    * No way of knowing if it was spit into before he received it.

  55. Trebuchet:

    @46:

    I would add one to the list – the real industry insider.

    Off topic a bit, but that’s not restricted to the food industry. After I’d worked in aerospace for a few years, nobody wants to sit next to me on a plane. Slightly more on-topic, I once had a Chinese-American coworker who refused to eat at Chinese restaurants, because, he said, he’d been in too many of their kitchens.

  56. caseloweraz:

    @Suttkus (#51):

    Here in California many restaurants have a checkbox at the bottom of the bill: “Check here if you want change returned” or some such wording.* The first time I encountered this I didn’t notice the box. I sat there for a long time after finishing the meal. Finally I asked for change at the front desk and was given the approximate amount in a rather surly manner. It ruined an otherwise good restaurant for me.

    *It puts people without a pen in their pocket in a bit of a dilemma.

  57. caseloweraz:

    @Wilsim (#42):

    I presume, when your kids have grown up and left your home, you’ll be fine with eating in a restaurant next to a booth with noisy, obstreperous kids. Because rules of decorum are for “stodgy a-holes.”

  58. democommie:

    @57:

    Never mind going to a play, movie, ballgame or any other activity that allows humans to congregate.

  59. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :):

    While I would agree that you can have good, juicy well-done steaks; I would also argue that the world’s greatest well-done steak is inferior to a middling medium-rare steak. Seriously, the flavor and the consistency don’t even compare.

    The consistency of all beef resembles a mix of rubber bands and hair.

  60. ildi:

    I used to eat my steak well done until I started eating sushi and the textural and taste differences translated into ordering my beef done rarer (still don’t like rare, though). If you like it well done, why pay the extra money when you can get the same juicy well-done piece for less $$? I didn’t bother ordering filet mignon when I ate beef well done.

    Reginald Selkirk:

    As a person who has a brain and is well-informed, I know that meat is no longer aseptic once you handle it. Want to make a wager on some culture plates?

    Bummer for you, not feeling comfortable eating salads or eggs or tuna in restaurants, either! (I’m sure sushi is right out.) I had a friend who worked for the department of health inspecting restaurants and we never liked to eat out with him, either.

  61. NitricAcid:

    I stopped ordering eggs at restaurants after I’d have to send them back two or three times to be cooked. You’d think explaining to the waitress that you want the yolks cooked solidly would be fairly clear, wouldn’t you? Nope- she prefers the yolks barely warmed, so that’s the only way she’ll serve them. Send the plate back, she flips them over, and brings it right back out. That’ll fool me, or at least make me stop bothering her, right?

    And waiters who bring you your bill and flee when you try to hand them your credit card. Surely they can see you reaching for your wallet as they bring the bill? Our meal is done, and I’ve specifically said that I wanted the bill so that we can go, so it’s run! Run away!

  62. Stacey C.:

    I have to say the one I hate is when you’re clearly finished eating and there is no sign on the waitstaff in a restaurant that isn’t particularly busy. Pretty much for every five minutes I have to sit staring at the empty plates the tip I am prepared to give goes down. If I have to put on my coat before you come over or I’ve taken out my card and just set it on the end of the table I’m really peeved. Unfortunately, since I usually tip at least 20% on the full bill (with tax) they probably don’t even notice.

  63. democommie:

    @61:

    The waiter brings the check and disappears? Pick up the check, get your other shit together and walk to the front desk or the bar, hand your credit card and the check to a barkeep or manager and tell them to process the bill. If they can’t do it and you have to wait? Leave no tip, never come back to the establishment. Cruel but effective.

  64. nichrome:

    @democommie

    I hope I never have happen to be in the same restaurant (or any public facility) as you. It appears you have the ability to make any situation worse with your sense of entitlement and bullying attitude.

  65. Tony! The Queer Shoop!:

    suttkus:

    “Do you want change?” Yes, I want my change. I might choose to say “Keep the change”, but it isn’t for you to suggest it.

    At 38, I’ve worked in restaurants for the last 22 years, and this continues to top my list of things servers do that annoy the crap out of me. I have always said “Sir/Ma’am, I’ll be right back with your change.” That allows the guest to make the choice as to whether or not the change is mine.

    ____

    re: steak temps
    Why no love for steaks cooked *medium*?

  66. Tony! The Queer Shoop!:

    Cruel but effective

    Effective for what?
    All that is going to do is deprive an employee of rent money, and leave the staff thinking you’re a complete asshole whom they wouldn’t want back in the restaurant to begin with. I’m not defending the server who fails to return in a timely manner. They’re supposed to keep an eye on their section and frequently check on their tables*. A better choice would be to inform management of the problem. That way you have a better chance of your concern being addressed.

    *That doesn’t mean they have to actually interrupt the dining experience. I frequently walk by a table slowly, glancing at guests who are eating, looking for signs they might need anything. One doesn’t *always* need to speak when ensuring the guests are having a pleasant dining experience.

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