Friday, May 27, 2011

The Do's and Don'ts of Being a Customer

I'm taking a small break from the kitchen talk today, so I can instead write about restaurants from the customer side of the equation. There are a lot of things that are ok to do in restaurants, there are some things that are acceptable, and then other things that are not so acceptable. So, in the interest of everyone enjoying your next night out (waiters included), here are a few things to keep in mind when eating out. This may not apply to chain restaurants, and some less formal places, but when it comes to nice restaurants keep em in mind.

Don't Be A Dick - It's great that you like things a particular way. You shouldn't eat things you don't like. This gives you the right to ask your waiter for your steak rare or well done, dressing on the side for your salad, and the occasional ingredient omitted from a particular dish. What it doesn't do though, is give you the right to treat your waiter like shit. Most restaurants will cook a steak to medium rare if the customer doesn't specify a doneness. If you didn't tell your waiter how you wanted it cooked, you can't complain about a medium rare steak when secretly, you wanted it well done. Also, shame on you for wanting a well done steak. Personally, anything past rare is a waste of meat, time, and energy (that's just me though).

Ask Questions - A lot of servers who work in fine dining restaurants either care about what the restaurant is doing, or enjoy being a server. They don't enjoy a barrage of inane questions like "How much ice comes with a soda", but if you ask about the food, they will take note of a few things. The first one is how you ask the question. Ask it nicely, in a manner that conveys your interest. The second thing is how technical the question is. If you ask about where the fish you're eating came from, then you sound like someone who only cares about the latest food news (currently that news is local/organic/sustainable, and around the Portland area in Oregon, gluten free). If you ask what region of the world a particular dish is from or inspired by, then you sound interested in the cuisine as a whole, and it gives the impression that you want to expand your horizons, food wise.

Make Reservations - If you're planning on going to a nice restaurant that is fairly popular, make reservations. Try to make them a day in advance, and 2-3 days if you're going out on the weekend. Obviously this only applies to places that take reservations, but it is the easiest thing you can do to make your night smooth. When the restaurant is expecting you, they will seat you time and time again, without fail. When you show up at 8:00 on a Friday night with 3 friends and ask about getting a table and are turned away, you shouldn't be surprised. As a side note to this one, call the restaurant if you cannot make your reservation, or if you are running late. Made a reservation for 7:30pm for 4 but can't make it? The staff might be a bit unhappy when they have to turn away 4 regulars at 7:35 because they're expecting you, instead of seating them because you called at 7:25 to apologize and say you won't be able to be there.

Finally, there is one last thing I'd like to remind you all of before you go out to eat again. It's the Golden Rule for eating out.

Don't fuck with the people who cook your food.

We won't do anything to your entree, or your appetizer or your salad. In this kitchen, we don't have problems with customers. They might start out problematic, but the food fixes that all on it's own. At restaurants that aren't aspiring to 3 Michelin stars though? It might not be the same.

That's all for today! Be nice to your servers, the happier you are the happier they are.


  1. This tip "Don't fuck with the people who cook your food." is a very very good one ;)

  2. most of them should be common sense, but some people just...

  3. "Don't fuck with the people who cook your food."

    too true... too true