Adam Roberts, who has “been eating at restaurants [his] entire life, having grown up to parents who didn’t cook and who love eating out more than life itself” is here to tell you how you’re totally fucking up your fine dining experience, you idiots.
1. Accepting A Table That You Don’t Like.
Have you ever found yourself ushered to a table in the dark, gloomy corner of a restaurant, next to a table of screaming children and you thought to yourself: “Oh boy, this is not what I had in mind?”
No. Next bullet point!
2. Listening To Your Server Instead of Your Craving.
Don’t get me wrong: your server is a fabulous resource for finding out what’s good and fresh on the menu. Often a server will espouse their favorite menu items. That’s very helpful, but it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is knowing what you’re in the mood for and sticking to that instinct.
When I was a kid, I knew a kid who would only eat tuna fish sandwiches. Only thing he ate, swear to God. Don’t know if he ever grew out of it, matter of fact. Point of the story: LISTEN TO THE WAITER INSTEAD OF YOUR CRAVING, TUNA FISH MAN!
3. Not Asking Questions.
Where your server does play an important role is in explaining words on the menu that you don’t understand. There’s no shame in asking “what’s quinoa? And am I pronouncing it right?”
“What’s chocolate? Am I pronouncing it right?” “What’s steak? Am I pronouncing it right?” At a certain point this slope gets slippery. Do yourself a favor and try something new. Unless you’re allergic to peanuts or something. In which case, ask away!
4. Not Thinking The Meal Through From Beginning To End.
If you are getting a steak for your entrée, is it wise to order the bacon-wrapped dates as a starter and then a foie gras terrine as your appetizer?
That sounds like a perfect meal, perfectly encapsulated in rhetorical question form. How is that at all effective as a counter-example?
5. Ordering A Bottle of Wine When Wine By The Glass Makes More Sense.
If one person orders fish, one person orders steak, one person orders pork and one person orders crayfish risotto, it might be very difficult to choose a bottle of wine that appeals to everyone (and would go well with all that food). So keep things simple and do wine by the glass: one bottle is about four glasses anyway and if you do the math, it often works out the same.
I just order a bottle of wine for myself. It’s never been an issue.
6. Salting Your Food Before You Taste It.
If you’re at a good restaurant, the seasoning, like everything else, is carefully scrutinized by the chef before it reaches your table.
Jesus Christ. NOT ALL RESTAURANTS CAREFULLY SCRUTINIZE THE SEASONING BEFORE SENDING IT THE FUCK OUT TO THE FRONT OF THE HOUSE, BECAUSE NOT ALL RESTAURANTS ARE GOOD! That said, I follow this rule. So. Moving along.
7. Asking The Kitchen To Leave Off An Element.
…[I]f there’s a dish on the menu that has, as a component, something that you don’t like or that you’re allergic to, you’re better off choosing a different dish than asking them to remove that component. That component is there for a reason: it’s meant to balance out the other elements on the plate and if you throw that balance off, your dinner will be disappointing.
Customer: “Can you sub the spinach for the mashed potatoes?”
Waiter: “I could, but I must warn you that your dinner will be disappointing.”
Waiter: “The spinach is meant to balance out the veal.”
Customer: “I want the potatoes to balance out the veal.”
Waiter: “But that’s not how it works.”
Customer: “What do you mean?”
Waiter: “You’ll be disappointed is all.”
Customer: “I didn’t come here to get a lect–”
Waiter: “I’m not trying to lecture you, sir.”
Customer: “Then what are you trying to do?”
Waiter: “I’m just trying not to disappoint you.”
8. Going To The Bathroom Right Before They Serve Your Next Course.
You may not know this, but at many fine restaurants, they carefully watch your table before they bring your food out to make sure everyone is seated. If not, they’ll wait. And if the wait is too long — and this is at the most serious places — they’ll sometimes throw out food that’s gotten cold and re-fire your dishes. How awful!
I have never been to one of these “most serious places,” and as someone who has worked in a kitchen at a fine restaurant, I have my doubts about the veracity of this urban legend. We will serve you slobs anything.
9. Sharing One Dessert.
Sure, if you’re on a budget or a diet, sharing one dessert is a fine way to go about things. But if you want to seriously experience a restaurant, you have to give the pastry chef their due: order two desserts and share them.
1) Guy: “I’m kind of full, let’s just split one dessert.”
2) Girl: “You know the rule…”
10. Keeping Your Dissatisfaction To Yourself.
Though it may seem rude, at first, to tell your server that the asparagus frittata was over-salted or that the white wine wasn’t properly chilled, it’s far more galling for a restaurant to read an anonymous review online that complains of these things without a chance for them to correct or address what went wrong.
I have complained precisely once at a restaurant, and that was when I was in Varanasi, India and I’d just been served chicken biryani that was raw in the middle at an establishment whose sign read — and here I shit you not — “Yes, we are less dirty.” EVEN THEN, people, with RAW FUCKING CHICKEN ON MY PLATE and a RATHER WITTY REJOINDER TO THEIR SLOGAN on my tongue (to wit, “NO YOU’RE NOT!!”), I felt kind of gross doing it. Don’t be that guy, is what I’m saying. Nobody likes that guy. Just brood about your problem all through dinner, go home, sign in to Yelp, tear them a new asshole on the Internet, and call it a day like a normal human being, would ya?