Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Katana_Geldar on January 06, 2013, 07:03:19 PM

Title: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 06, 2013, 07:03:19 PM
The recent thread about the display houses and Swales staff got me wondering about this, particularly how our expectations from different parts of the world.

But I also had a bad experience myself, that I'd like to relate.

There's a Chinese restaurant in a complex part of several restaurants and I've wondered what may be like and I have seen good reviews. So, New Years Eve we went there, and it was a huge mistake...

For starters, the service was shocking. Thought mot in a bad way, but in an overly helpful way that was rather intrusive. Every five minutes there was someone at our table replenishing water, tea, filling up our teapot, asking if everything was ok.... All you had to do was so much look in their general direction and they came rushing over. Just after we ordered drinks, for instance, we were asked if we wanted to order drinks by a different staff member.

Everything was rushed, food was out before we'd even had a proper conversation and. My food arrived just as quickly. With the exception of FH which didn't arrive until it was halfway through my meal. And we had to ask three different people where it was.

Food was ordinary, not worth the wait or the price we paid for it.

But it has got me wondering what is it people expect when they eat out. One of the things I like is to be left alone to enjoy my meal and the company of my FH.

Yet a particular howler was the waitress who did not know what gin was for a gin and tonic and asked if we wanted them served seperately.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: AmethystAnne on January 06, 2013, 07:21:16 PM
I don't like over-attentive waitstaff either. It's so intrusive..

The meals you and your FH ordered should have arrived to your table at the same time.

About the G&T, it probably was irritating at the time.....but I gotta tell you, it makes for a good story now.  :)

My DH and I went out for supper last night to a local Italian restaurant. It is good thing that nobody can read minds because  this sentence was in my thoughts, "Boy, I'm so glad that Kathy is not working tonight." Kathy's DD and my DD were in Scouts together many years ago. I guess she's a good waitress, but she sure is attentive! Gets on my nerves.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Annoyed in America on January 06, 2013, 07:58:02 PM
This too is a pet peeve of mine.  Just seems you are getting into a good discussion and the waiter(ress) rudely interrupts you.  Are there any commentors who have been a waiter and what is their take on this?  I hate getting the bums rush out of a restaurant and my tip will reflect it.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Yvaine on January 06, 2013, 08:00:57 PM
Unfortunately, most times I've gone out on NYE, I've either been rushed out because the place was so crowded, or gotten slow service because some employees called out "sick" (i.e. they wanted to go out) and left the rest short-handed, or maybe both. I'd try the restaurant again on a normal night before writing it off, because NYE is just sort of inherently chaotic as far as I can tell. It doesn't make it right, but it just is.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: snowdragon on January 06, 2013, 08:04:05 PM
How new is this restaurant? If this is their first season, I would give them a heads up so to speak...if this is an established restaurant, let them know you didn't  enjoy the experience, but I hold out less hope that it will change. IF you don't think you'll be back - let them know that, too.
 I have an issue with either overly or underly attentive wait staff, it's a hard line to walk but if it's you job - you need to learn how.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Bijou on January 06, 2013, 08:08:50 PM
A warm, comfortable atmosphere (warm as in not a chilly room).
Efficient servers, who are not intrusive, but are aware of taking care of the table.
Good food.
Fair prices.

We were out of town last week and had a run of three atrocious restaurant experiences.  The one for lunch was band enough, food wise, but the one we went to for dinner was so bad I couldn't eat it so we stopped at a favorite place for soup and pot stickers.  The PS were OK but the soup was inedible. 
We barely touched it and while we usually greedily bring home every leftover morsel, we left the nearly full soup bowl sitting on the table.

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Thipu1 on January 06, 2013, 08:10:56 PM
NYE is always a problematic time for any restaurant.  The place usually has reservations for late evening with a premium price for a limited menu.  Those who dine earlier without reservations are likely to be rushed a bit.  This is often done by providing over-attentive service because waitstaff are edgy about setting up for the slam to come.   

I would also suggest that you give the place another chance on an ordinary night.  The food might still be ordinary and the service uneven but at least you can say that you gave it a fair trial. 



 
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: guihong on January 06, 2013, 08:11:23 PM
The over-attentiveness might have been cultural, or an effort to be good servers but trying too hard.  I'd give a pass on that.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 06, 2013, 08:14:18 PM
It's not new, it's been there for about two years and the owned had a restaurant before that. They have no excuse.

And we did have a reservation, and it wasn't that busy. People were walking in.

It's not the only one in the complex that has something wrong with the service, two others have as we'll.  The Thai place where they don't seem to care and this diner sort of place run by an Asian family that has no idea how to serve western food.

The G&T place we are willing to forgive as they have wonderful food for fantastic prices and have fair priced takeaway too. We should have gone there for NYE. Aside from the G&T, the only other Poole, was they forgot our bread, but they promptly delivered one over plus an extra for the trouble.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: DottyG on January 06, 2013, 08:23:09 PM
Leave me alone!!!!

I want to yell that sometimes.

I often go out to eat alone. I time it such that I'm not taking up a table that would be needed by others; I go at slow times. Since I'm alone, I don't want to sit there staring at the walls, so I usually bring something to read or sit there with my phone and read (often EHell). I'm not taking any more time than someone who's there with other people and talking. In fact, I'm there less time. But I hate being bothered every few seconds. "How's your meal?" "Are you still ok?" "Do you want this?" "Do you want that?" "How's your meal now?" "Wait. You just took another bite. Still taste good?" "Oops. Been 3seconds since I came over here. You doing ok?"

Dang it. Ask me once, if you must. And I'll respond to you cheerfully that the meal is yummy. After that, you'll start to notice that I'm still nice, but starting to look a bit annoyed. When you get me to the "frosty, curt 'yes, I'm fine'" response, realize that the generous tip I usually leave (because I know I'm just one person, and I do compensate you a bit for taking up your table) is starting to reflect my annoyance.

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: misha412 on January 06, 2013, 08:41:38 PM
UGH...overattentive is just as bad as inattentive service. >:(

We have a Chinese buffet a couple of towns over where the food is great. But I didn't go in there for several years after the wait staff was consistently OVERattentive. I would go in with my party, everyone would place drink orders, and go get the first round of food, come back and sit down. Everything would be normal. Then the fun would start. Every few minutes one of the wait staff would come by to top off drinks. They would not ask if you wanted your drink topped off. They would grab the glass and top it off from a pitcher.

When I say every few minutes, I mean every 5 minutes or less. You would see this hand come across your line of vision and it would grab your glass. Or it would take a dish you just emptied. I got to the point I wanted to put a fork into the hand of anyone who just grabbed a glass off the table to top it off.

I went back in there for the first time a month or so ago. Their service is much better and I didn't feel like assaulting the wait staff with my fork. (stuffing EvilMisha back into her box).

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 06, 2013, 09:04:20 PM
It is funny what different people expect when dining out. For example, my parents and I don't like "overly chummy" waitstaff. Of course they should smile and speak in a pleasant tone, and it's expected that they might push their daily specials unasked or something like that. But we don't want several lines of actual small talk--"How's your day been? Are you guys out shopping? Are you celebrating a special occasion?" or rapturous paragraphs about multiple dishes in a row. Greet us, bring our drinks, and let us have a few minutes of peace and quiet to look over the menu. Generally we are not the type to have many questions.

My friend Amy's family, on the other hand, is quite different. They love the small talk. They'll initiate it. In a college town where a lot of servers are students, they'll ask them what their major is, for example, and chat further if it's anything they know about.  And, they ask a lot of questions about the menu, like what the server's favorite dessert is, or if X soup goes well with Y salad.

I don't think either way is wrong; but a server going too far in one direction could easily alienate customers who are expecting the opposite. My dad gets really irritated with chatty servers, for example, and those who don't bring the bill the instant we're done eating; and since he usually pays, it can be reflected in the tip. Sometimes I feel bad for servers, having yet one more thing they have to juggle in addition to all the other stuff.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 06, 2013, 09:16:47 PM
Well, they do need to judge what sort of service the customer needs. Whether they want a chatty server or not. That can be tricky but needs to be done.

I don't mind a chatty server as long as they go away. And not be at my elbow every five minutes.

One hotel I stayed at they took your plate e minute they trout you were doe with it, even if you still had a half eaten piece of toast on there!
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Yvaine on January 06, 2013, 09:24:39 PM
Well, they do need to judge what sort of service the customer needs. Whether they want a chatty server or not. That can be tricky but needs to be done.

At some places the demeanor is mandated, if I'm not mistaken. (Think "flair.") Obviously someone who's really excellent can probably find a way to adapt to the customer and still stay within the rules to an extent, but some places you're required to be bubbly, just like at some stores you're required to pester the customer exactly 3 times, that sort of thing. (And these tend to become restaurants I don't go to often, because I'd really rather have calm service!  ;D )
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 06, 2013, 09:51:31 PM
There's a restaurant that FH went to only once, but it's my favourite place to go. The service there is flawless, but you pay for it! They have all sorts of freebies too, bread roll and small glass of soup. My meat wasn't completely cooked, but they took it back to the kitchen and gave me a new plate, including new potato treats that I gobbled up before I finished my meat.

They even got the atmosphere right, realising that a lot of the customers were going to be in full sun but also wanted to appreciate the stunning views the restaurant have.

I want to go back, but it's so expensive!
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: gmatoy on January 06, 2013, 10:24:02 PM
We were out of town last week and had a run of three atrocious restaurant experiences.  The one for lunch was band enough, food wise, but the one we went to for dinner was so bad I couldn't eat it so we stopped at a favorite place for soup and pot stickers.  The PS were OK but the soup was inedible. 
We barely touched it and while we usually greedily bring home every leftover morsel, we left the nearly full soup bowl sitting on the table.

Just tell me that you weren't in Portland, Oregon.  We recently went there and had one bad dining experience after another! Even at a restaurant that we have always loved.  Didn't matter what type of place it was, we had a bad experiences at fast food, casual dining, and up scale restaurant.

What makes this surprising is that we love Portland and go there several times a year.  And we never had this kind of problems before!
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: kareng57 on January 06, 2013, 10:57:46 PM
For me - it depends on the type of restaurant.

When late Dh and I decided to treat ourselves on the rare occasion to a "premium" restaurant - great view, great menu, etc. - we'd expect fairly-attentive service.  In other words, about every ten minutes checking-in, after the meal had been served.

But there's one branch of a local Chinese-food chain in the neighbourhood.  Very good food, very reasonable prices, very quick service, and almost constant attendance by staff.  In other words, they want you to eat fast and get out of there!  I only went with Dh and sons a couple of times - along with everything else, it was very crowded, and I'm a mild claustrophobic who does not do well in crowes.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 06, 2013, 11:37:29 PM
Every ten minutes? That's excessive for me. Sometimes we do require attention and will let staff know if there is something. But if there isn't, it isn't nice to be c stanly hovered over.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: DottyG on January 06, 2013, 11:53:36 PM
Quote
about every ten minutes checking-in, after the meal had been served.

That is way more attention than is required - even in a very high-end restaurant. In fact, for a really nice place, that would be very inappropriate. At those places, I expect to be able to eat in peace. And anything done by the waitstaff should be so discreet that I don't even really notice it. If they bother me every 10 minutes asking how I'm doing, I'd be more than extremely annoyed and would be talking to management about it later.

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: kareng57 on January 07, 2013, 12:01:28 AM
Quote
about every ten minutes checking-in, after the meal had been served.

That is way more attention than is required - even in a very high-end restaurant. In fact, for a really nice place, that would be very inappropriate. At those places, I expect to be able to eat in peace. And anything done by the waitstaff should be so discreet that I don't even really notice it. If they bother me every 10 minutes asking how I'm doing, I'd be more than extremely annoyed and would be talking to management about it later.


And again, that's why I didn't like the particular Chinese restaurant that late Dh loved.  Their prices were pretty low, so they made their profits on quick-turnover.  I didn't like the place (too noisy and crowded) - but obviously plenty of other people did.

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: DottyG on January 07, 2013, 12:07:20 AM
That's one of the dangers, I think, of such over-attentiveness. It gives the impression of trying to move people too quickly and not fostering a peaceful, relaxing environment. Granted, there are some places where that is the case understandably. But for a premium place, it's not the atmosphere you want to suggest to customers.

(I'm agreeing with you there, in other words. I just didn't agree with the "every 10 minute" thing.)

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: kareng57 on January 07, 2013, 12:13:55 AM
That's one of the dangers, I think, of such over-attentiveness. It gives the impression of trying to move people too quickly and not fostering a peaceful, relaxing environment. Granted, there are some places where that is the case understandably. But for a premium place, it's not the atmosphere you want to suggest to customers.

(I'm agreeing with you there, in other words. I just didn't agree with the "every 10 minute" thing.)


I do agree that sometimes this is simply cultural.  While I detest sushi, I used to work with a lot of people who loved it, and there was a sushi restaurant nearby.  I heard quite a few stories...

And the owner had no qualms about approaching people at tables saying  "you have stopped eating!  You need to go!  People waiting!".
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: DottyG on January 07, 2013, 12:19:56 AM
Yikes! I'd go! Wouldn't bother him again, either! :D

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 07, 2013, 12:33:51 AM
That's one of the dangers, I think, of such over-attentiveness. It gives the impression of trying to move people too quickly and not fostering a peaceful, relaxing environment. Granted, there are some places where that is the case understandably. But for a premium place, it's not the atmosphere you want to suggest to customers.

(I'm agreeing with you there, in other words. I just didn't agree with the "every 10 minute" thing.)


I do agree that sometimes this is simply cultural.  While I detest sushi, I used to work with a lot of people who loved it, and there was a sushi restaurant nearby.  I heard quite a few stories...

And the owner had no qualms about approaching people at tables saying  "you have stopped eating!  You need to go!  People waiting!".

Ladies and gentlemen, we ave the sushi nazi!
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: DottyG on January 07, 2013, 01:11:57 AM
"NO SUSHI FOR YOU!"

:D

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: cicero on January 07, 2013, 02:17:51 AM
i hate over attentiveness too, but i also hate under-attentiveness, when you need a refill or the check and there is nary a server to be found (or they are there, but just standing around looking at their fingernails or just looking pretty).

I dont' mind if a server is chatty - as long as they are chatty and then leave me to eat in peace.

And I do hate it when the servers don't know the food in the restaurant - when you ask them what is in a certain dish,  and they have no idea. I do like it when they do show *some* knowledge - once a friend and i ordered dessert (that we hadn't planned on) just bec the server was so enthusaistic and honest - he didn't say "yes, it's all great", but he did say "i tried this and that and that and they were amazing. I didn't try that and that but based on the other ones that I did try, i'm sure they're good"
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: CakeEater on January 07, 2013, 03:24:51 AM
I did a three week tour of China a few years ago, and the service in restaurants everywhere was like this. I must admit that after three weeks of it, I snapped and told a waitress who attempted to refill my glass from my can after I took one sip that I could manage that myself, thankyou.  They also did things like adjust my cutlery back to straight if I bumped it, and put bowls back in a symmetrical pattern if we passed them around during a buffet.

They also had greeters standing at the door of every restaurant just saying hello as you walked in. Not so strange? Often there were up to 6 greeters. 6!

I found it very stifling, but perhaps that's just normal for them, and that's what you're seeing.

They also had some odd ideas about drinks. We went to a bar one night and DH ordered a beer, which was fine, and I asked for a vodka and orange juice. No, they don't serve single shots of spirits. You buy a whole bottle and drink some that night, then you leave it there with your name on it and drink some more tomorrow night.

Plus, no-where we went had cold drinks. It was winter when we were ther, so it was cold outside, so obviously you should be drinking hot drinks. Our cans of Coke were always served out of fridges that weren't turned on, so were always room temp, and on a couple of occasions, they actually warmed them. Warm Coke, not yummy.

Although since we were in their country, perhaps we were the strange ones!
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Emmy on January 07, 2013, 06:50:22 AM
I realize that it can be tricky because different people want different things.  Often time the server can pick up cues from the patron.  If the patron engages in small talk with the server he/she probably prefers somebody more chatty, if not, then they would probably not appreciate conversation unrelated to the meal.  I also dislike over attentive service, especially if they keep asking questions for which an answer is expected when I am in the middle of a conversation or chewing my food.  It diminishes the experience significantly for me.  DH and I went out a while ago and every time we got into a conversation, there was always somebody checking on us asking if the food is OK and we need more drinks.  This happened several times during the meal.  I like friendly, but not overly chatty servers.  For example, I'd be happy to hear the specials or get their opinion on a favorite dish, but I don't really enjoy them asking if we are out for a special occasion.  I also don't like the check dropped off while we are still eating or the second we are finished, we usually enjoy relaxing for a few minutes and that feels like rushing us out.

Ideally, I think servers should check that the meal is OK 5-10 minutes after it is served, then only come back when it appears drink glasses are empty to ask about refills.  I hate being thirsty with an empty glass and no waitstaff is in sight.

I expect more from a higher end restaurant.  Ideally, all meals should come out together,  but if my companions and I are paying a premium for the dining experience, we would be especially unhappy if one person was left without a meal for a while.  I went out with DH and my family to a nicer restaurant.  My mother's meal didn't come out until we were halfway finished ours (she insisted we go ahead and eat).  It was disappointing, but the restaurant was nice enough to comp her meal without us asking for anything.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: cabbageweevil on January 07, 2013, 07:28:39 AM
I did a three week tour of China a few years ago, and the service in restaurants everywhere was like this. I must admit that after three weeks of it, I snapped and told a waitress who attempted to refill my glass from my can after I took one sip that I could manage that myself, thankyou.  They also did things like adjust my cutlery back to straight if I bumped it, and put bowls back in a symmetrical pattern if we passed them around during a buffet.

They also had greeters standing at the door of every restaurant just saying hello as you walked in. Not so strange? Often there were up to 6 greeters. 6!

I found it very stifling, but perhaps that's just normal for them, and that's what you're seeing.

I'd reckon that the "over-attentive" aspect is indeed often a cultural thing. I find, quite frequently, something akin to (though less wildly over-the-top than) your Chinese experiences, in Indian restaurants in the UK. It would seem that in the culture of the Indian sub-continent, "dancing attendance on people" tends to be seen as something which will please and flatter the recipients; but Brits, overall rather reserved and undemonstrative and big on self-reliance, often find it embarrassing and irritating.

My greatest hate in this general line, is that way that in Indian restaurants here, the waiter often tries to put initial helpings of rice and the main accompanying dish, on your plate.  Tempts me to yell at them, "I'm not two years old !  For heaven's sake, let me do this for myself, and in the way that I want !"
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: siamesecat2965 on January 07, 2013, 08:04:08 AM
I think there definitely is a fine line between being over attentive, and under attentive. Kind of like retail, where you go into a store, and are followed and hounded, or another, and there is no staff anywhere to be found!

For me, I don't mind a bit of chit chat, but once you've taken my order, or come back to check on me, then please leave me be to enjoy my meal!  My mom and I went out twice while i was there for the holidays, to one of our favorite restaurants.  Its small, and both times we were some of the only customers, yet the waitstaff was friendly, pleasant, but not overly so. They gave us their opoinions of certain items on the menu, although everything there is fabulous, and we chatted a bit, but then they left us in peace to eat and enjoy.

I think it may be a cultural thing as I've been to any number of aisan restaurants, and experienced overly friendly and efficient service. 
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Thipu1 on January 07, 2013, 08:13:05 AM
"NO SUSHI FOR YOU!"

:D

We did have something like that happen at a Dim Sum place.  The dishes we liked weren't coming out and the manager came over to tell us that we weren't ordering enough and had to leave.  That was the first and only time that happened. 
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 07, 2013, 08:30:50 AM
On Sushi Nazi, we used to go to a Thai restaurant for lunch.  Very good and very popular.  The owner would fret about the lines of people waiting because he felt he was a bad host making his guests wait.  And to him, someone taking up a table once they were finished eating while others waited to eat was rude.  So he would also tell people they needed to leave once their tab was paid.  Once you understood why he did it you weren't offended anymore.  And if you didn't like the feel of being rushed after you finished, then you were free to dine there at dinner or somewhere else.

I also expect completely different service styles based on the ethnicity of a restaurant and the price point.  The OPs description of the Chinese restaurant would have been what I expected.  In many Chinese restaurants, dishes are to be shared, so the concept of everything hitting the table at the same time is not as important.  And my DH and I are always suprised when our tea glass ever gets below half full when eating Chinese nor would I be suprised that a gin and tonic wasnt common. 

Now when I encountered the bar tender at a high end US steakhouse who hadn't heard of a sidecar, I was suprised.

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: sunnygirl on January 07, 2013, 08:56:17 AM
That level of service and attentiveness is very much the norm in many parts of China; it's considered rude not to pay that much attention to guests. I've worked in China and it made me uncomfortable too.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 07, 2013, 10:13:26 AM
There's a little hole-in-the-wall sushi place my friend and I like to go to sometimes. We used to order two rolls each, plus a couple of starters, but once it was too much food and we each left one piece of the rolls on our plates. The waitress was very concerned that we hadn't liked our meals! She didn't chastise us, but she definitely commented on it worriedly. So from now on, unless we're starving, we get three rolls between the two of us, just so we can be sure to eat it all. Otherwise the service is great there and they tend to give us free stuff like bowls of soup or fruit for dessert.

On another topic, I have often thought about what makes a server intrusive or not... I eat at the same places a lot, and sometimes you get an intrusive server and sometimes you don't. I think maybe one thing is if they ask if they can refill my glass, rather than just doing so quietly and moving on. It's funny, you would think asking is more polite, but it can definitely interrupt the flow of conversation. But, there's more to it than just that; some people are quite subtle and others, though doing nothing that I can pinpoint, just aren't.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: VltGrantham on January 07, 2013, 10:54:06 AM
Quote
But it has got me wondering what is it people expect when they eat out. One of the things I like is to be left alone to enjoy my meal and the company of my FH.

Maybe I should have read this thread before posting my own.  Here's what we like--but rarely see.

Friendly host/hostesses who take you to a table and help you get seated, remove coats, etc.

Attentive, but not intrusive, wait-staff.  They show up promptly to take your drink order and meals.  Deliver food, ask for feedback, and silently deliver refills, etc., but don't hover.

A manager who walks the dining floor and will assist in the prompt clean-up of tables, seating guests, and resolving problems.

Things the restaurant staff can't control--parents who allow poorly behaved children to disrupt the restaurant and will neither remove them nor calm them down.  Diners who behave in a raucous manner and disrupt others.  Cell phones constantly going off.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 07, 2013, 01:42:54 PM
Personally, I find drink refills to be intrusive but that might be because its common practise here to leave the jug on the table and let us fill our own glasses after the first one. At the Chinese restaurant they were constantly refilling our teacups and teapot, tongue point where I had to tell him to stop when he was getting the third pot of tea.

Somehow it does always seem to be Asian restaurants. However, it hasn't been as bad going to yum cha for some reason. But that maybe bscause of the different atmosphere for it and its specific 'rules'. But it is fast without it ever being rushed and the places I've been to never give you the impression you're occupying a table.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 07, 2013, 02:07:37 PM
I'll tell you what I don't like in the form of our dinner out as a family recently.

We were told the bar area was 21 and up* (we had an 18 and 16 yr old with us) so we could not wait for our table there and was no other place but right in front of the door was suggested.  *While this is within their right, I've never encountered this policy in our city. 

Once seated the waiter came to take our drink order, I said  I hadn't decided on a wine yet so to just bring me water.  He left without asking DH or kid's their drink order.

Waiter asked if we were ready to order.  DH said he thought we'd start with an appetizer. Waiter asked if we'd like to hear the specials and DH said sure.  We expected to hear the appetizer specials, not the mains and desserts in such incredible detail that we forgot what the appetizer specials were.  Special we had just been told about was no longer available and they did not let us know that until they brought the other appetizer we had ordered. 

Two of us ordered the same main.  One was perfect the other practically inedible.  I split mine with my son.  We tell to the waiter the problem when he finally comes back to check on us when we are done eating.  He comes back and tells us the chef said they were having a problem with one of their grills and that must be why the second one was "off".  So why were they using the grill if they knew it was having problems?  But no worries, they are going to comp us a $7 dessert for a back $25 entree.

We decide to order 3 desserts for the four of us (since we had split 1 appetizer and 3 mains we were hoping to get at least 2 edible desserts  ;)).  Our waiter brings all 3 at once and while setting them down, spills cream sauce down my shoulder, arm, into my lap and the table in front of me (I also found some in my hair when we got home).  I use my napkin that has some cream sauce on it to clean up my arm shoulder.  Waiter uses a paper napkin to clean up the table.  I hand him my dirty napkin thinking he is going to bring me a new one and come back with a wet cloth to get the sticky mess off the table.  Nope, the next time we see him is to bring the check, but again, no worries because now they are comping 2 of our desserts. 

I go to the restroom and try to sponge out as much of the sauce as possible and end up with a pretty wet sleave and still smelling of sour milk.  We scrap the rest of our evening.  So for our $160 dinner we ended up with 1 very good appetizer, 2 very good and 1 ok entree , 1 good 1 ok and 1 bad dessert, a great story and the ability to tell a friend who recommended the place that she is nuts.  Not a bad deal all in all. 
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: VltGrantham on January 08, 2013, 09:35:15 AM
Quote
So for our $160 dinner we ended up with 1 very good appetizer, 2 very good and 1 ok entree , 1 good 1 ok and 1 bad dessert, a great story and the ability to tell a friend who recommended the place that she is nuts.  Not a bad deal all in all.

Wow--there is no way I'd have paid for an entree or dessert that was bad or "off".  After all the mistakes, your entire meal (or most of it, excluding any alcohol you may have had) should have been comped and there should have been an abject apology made by the manager plus a gift certificate asking you to give them one more chance to get it right.  Wow.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Venus193 on January 08, 2013, 09:54:50 AM
When I dine out (as in a sit-down restaurant) I expect the waitstaff to be knowledgeable about the menu, willing to answer a reasonable number of questions (no more than three), and for the food to be served in a reasonable amount of time.  If I am with others I expect the food to be served more or less at the same time. 

I expect the place to be kept at a reasonable temperature so that if my companions' meals are served three minutes later than mine they are all still at edible temperatures.

Waitstaff should be available but not hovering over us.

If there are disruptive customers I expect this to be addressed.

What I find consistently irritating is when they insist on refilling half-empty coffee cups.  I use Splenda packets and hate it when the sweetness level is thrown off.  So many people use artificial sweeteners so I wish they'd stop this.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Auntie Mame on January 08, 2013, 02:09:37 PM
Wow, servers really can't win, can they?
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: DottyG on January 08, 2013, 02:21:55 PM
Quote
What I find consistently irritating is when they insist on refilling half-empty coffee cups.  I use Splenda packets and hate it when the sweetness level is thrown off.  So many people use artificial sweeteners so I wish they'd stop this.

YES!  Thank you!

And it's so easy to remedy on their part - just ask before automatically refilling the glass or cup.  Or at least give us a moment to notice you before you refill it if you don't say something.  I don't want a hand reaching around me out of the blue regardless of whether I have my tea sweetened or not.  It's eerie.

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 08, 2013, 03:43:15 PM
Wow, servers really can't win, can they?

This is what I think sometimes. Apparently a lot of people don't like to get the check right away, because they feel like they're being rushed out. As I mentioned, my dad is just the opposite--he wants the check available not long after he takes his last bite, and the whole transaction finished quickly. He doesn't like to sit around and linger. I would guess he's not in the majority, but I doubt it's as rare as 1% of diners or something like that. So someone who thinks they're doing a good job of leaving us alone towards the end of the meal--what many people want--is actually just irritating him.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: CakeEater on January 08, 2013, 04:01:06 PM
Wow, servers really can't win, can they?

This is what I think sometimes. Apparently a lot of people don't like to get the check right away, because they feel like they're being rushed out. As I mentioned, my dad is just the opposite--he wants the check available not long after he takes his last bite, and the whole transaction finished quickly. He doesn't like to sit around and linger. I would guess he's not in the majority, but I doubt it's as rare as 1% of diners or something like that. So someone who thinks they're doing a good job of leaving us alone towards the end of the meal--what many people want--is actually just irritating him.

In that case, I think Dad needs to indicate to the server that he would like their attention, and ask for the check. Server needs to be aware enough of what's going on that it's easy to catch their eye.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: DottyG on January 08, 2013, 04:07:23 PM
I think this just indicates that a server's job isn't just something anyone can do well.

To be a good server, you do have to do more than just take orders and carry food; it requires paying attention to your table to read what the people there require.  Are they wanting someone chatty?  Are they wanting someone more curt and to the point?  Does it look like they want a lot of attention paid to them and someone's coming around every few minutes asking how they're doing?  Are they indicating that, by doing that, you're being annoying?

Reading people is a huge part of being a good server.  And no one is saying that talent comes easily.  I don't think I'd have the knack for being a good one.  But the ones who know how to do it tend to be excellent and make people want to return to the restaurant.

Yes, it may seem like you can't win.  But many do.  And it's because they've read their tables well that they do.

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: LilacRosey on January 08, 2013, 04:38:26 PM
Me too on waitpersons who hover over me when I'm trying to eat but I also like to have my water refilled frequently and sometimes they never come back much.  I also don't like to give my name if they ask because I'm very private and they don't need to know my name but it's hard to say no without seeming rude. Luckily it doesn't happen often., LilacRosey
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 08, 2013, 05:11:59 PM
Lilac, would you prefer the jug or bottle left on the table for you to refill at your leisure?
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: CluelessBride on January 08, 2013, 06:51:58 PM
Me too on waitpersons who hover over me when I'm trying to eat but I also like to have my water refilled frequently and sometimes they never come back much.  I also don't like to give my name if they ask because I'm very private and they don't need to know my name but it's hard to say no without seeming rude. Luckily it doesn't happen often., LilacRosey

You can always make one up. You don't even have to lie about it, just answer their question, "You can call me Lilac."  I can't recall ever having a server ask my name, but I do have a stage name I use for karaoke. It's kind of fun to have a pseudo-secret identity.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: JeanFromBNA on January 08, 2013, 06:53:43 PM
I was once welcomed back from the restroom.  Awkward.  ::)
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: snowdragon on January 08, 2013, 07:26:51 PM


I was once welcomed back from the restroom.  Awkward.  ::)

I come from a HUGE family. Absolutely huge - grandfather on my father's side had 21 siblings,  we knew all of them growing up and slowly lost track of them as adults. My mom's side was smaller but not by much.
 So I have cousins, upon cousins running around the area - some I have never met.  Last Thursday my best friend and I  went to the local diner to eat and the waitress was kind of looking at me strangely, through the whole dinner, at one point she said " feel like  I know you from somewhere" and kept hanging around being extra solicitous to myself and everyone around us.  Annoying. 
  At the end of the dinner she brings the check, and I leave my credit card there, intending to take it up. She comes by offers to take the card and comes back with your name is longPolishnamethatmostpeoplecan't pronounce, pronounces correctly ( which usually means she's a food and knows the local chef by the same name) and asks "do you know Irene?" I repsond with that "That's my mom" and she introduces herself as my cousin's kid whom I have not seen since she was in those sacks that folk put babies in...literally that long.  She was a really sweet kid ( high school aged) - it's not something I expect when I eat out, and it was kind of weird.
 
 I think that sometimes waitstaff can't win, but I do expect that things like customers who are out of of control = no matter why they are out of control, or their age, will be dealt with, I expect my water glass will be kept full and that questions will be answered honestly, beyond that I am easy
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 08, 2013, 07:30:53 PM
Wow, servers really can't win, can they?

This is what I think sometimes. Apparently a lot of people don't like to get the check right away, because they feel like they're being rushed out. As I mentioned, my dad is just the opposite--he wants the check available not long after he takes his last bite, and the whole transaction finished quickly. He doesn't like to sit around and linger. I would guess he's not in the majority, but I doubt it's as rare as 1% of diners or something like that. So someone who thinks they're doing a good job of leaving us alone towards the end of the meal--what many people want--is actually just irritating him.

In that case, I think Dad needs to indicate to the server that he would like their attention, and ask for the check. Server needs to be aware enough of what's going on that it's easy to catch their eye.

Oh, I agree. I always start looking around for the server, too, because I know he's going to get impatient. I feel like 85% of them completely disappear right as we are finishing our meals. This happens in lots of different restaurants, so maybe we're giving off some kind of vibe opposite to what we want?
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: VltGrantham on January 09, 2013, 08:40:05 AM
Quote
I can't recall ever having a server ask my name, but I do have a stage name I use for karaoke. It's kind of fun to have a pseudo-secret identity.

Reminds me of that scene from Friends:

Phoebe:  Hi, I'm Regina Filange!
Joey:  Ken Adams, nice to meet you!

Quote
Wow, servers really can't win, can they?

Like most jobs working with the general public, I imagine it's a pretty thankless task.  Everybody has their own preferences and it does help to communicate them in advance to the server (that is, if they are willing to listen and heed).  If you want the check on the table as soon as your entree is brought out, then say so.  Personally, I want a to-go box the moment my meal is served.  That is because I automatically put half in the box -- sometimes 2/3 depending on what it is.  This is done for dietary reasons so that I will not overeat.

I always ask for the box in advance--at the same time that I place my order.  However, I can count on one hand the times that the server has actually complied with my request.  If they can't bring it out at the same time, in a few moments is fine, but the box needs to arrive quickly.  And I've sat there, waiting, because I know if I start, I'm gonna eat too much.  It's just easier to scoop the food out and get it out of sight, out of mind.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Thipu1 on January 09, 2013, 08:55:32 AM
I was once welcomed back from the restroom.  Awkward.  ::)

I may be able to go one better on this.  At the extra tariff restaurant on the Millenium, I was escorted to the rest room and escorted back to the table by a server in a tail coat, striped trousers and white gloves.   

I was not drunk and the seas were calm. Still, it was hard not to break into giggles.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Venus193 on January 09, 2013, 08:56:59 AM
 ???  Egad; that's excessive.   :-[
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Thipu1 on January 09, 2013, 09:37:45 AM
???  Egad; that's excessive.   :-[

We have an idea what may have been the rationale behind this and it makes sense. 

The extra tariff restaurant cost an additional 20 USD per person.  The place had a set menu.  Think of the last First Class Dinner served on the 'Titanic'.  There was course after course of very rich food. 

Cruise lines also know that some pax can be extremely cheap.  It just could have been possible that I would go to the rest room and disappear while another woman came to take my place and eat the rest of the meal.  Stranger things have happened on ships. 

My 'escort' was there to make sure that the same woman who left the table returned to the table. 

Yes, it was excessive.  No, it was not irrational.

Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 09, 2013, 09:46:30 AM
Personally, I want a to-go box the moment my meal is served.  That is because I automatically put half in the box -- sometimes 2/3 depending on what it is.  This is done for dietary reasons so that I will not overeat.

I always ask for the box in advance--at the same time that I place my order.  However, I can count on one hand the times that the server has actually complied with my request.  If they can't bring it out at the same time, in a few moments is fine, but the box needs to arrive quickly.  And I've sat there, waiting, because I know if I start, I'm gonna eat too much.  It's just easier to scoop the food out and get it out of sight, out of mind.

This reminds me of how, when I order water to drink, the servers will often ask if I want a lemon in it. I don't, so I say no. Usually, the people I'm with do want one. I am always impressed when the server actually brings out my water with NO lemon, and everyone else's WITH lemon--that is, correctly. It is NOT a big deal if I get a lemon in my water; but when they get it wrong, I always think--you're the one who asked me about the lemon. If you weren't going to take special note of the answer and try really hard to get it right, why bother to ask? Just bring everyone water with lemon like it's not optional and be done with it.

With a to-go box ordered that early, you'd think it would be novel (and EASY!) enough that they would remember it and bring it on time...
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: chigrrl1 on January 09, 2013, 10:08:57 AM
I don't think I've ever been the victim of over attentive service.  Maybe it's just our local culture here, but casual chatting with waitstaff is the norm when me and Hubs go out.  I like to get to know the workers at places we frequent regularly, it just seems the friendly thing to do.  Obviously, interrupting business or visibly "serious" conversations for unnecessary service is impolite, but I like to establish a good rapport with the people who handle my food.  In fancy schmancy restaurants (40$ entree dealios), a more formal attitude is generally the norm.  But, if you're going out for a sandwich and drinks, I like to talk to staff about the food, local events etc...not to the point of taking a busy server away from their job, but just for pleasant (and often informative!) interaction. 
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: LilacRosey on January 09, 2013, 04:34:37 PM
Lilac, would you prefer the jug or bottle left on the table for you to refill at your leisure?

Yes that would be perfect for me!, LilacRosey
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Lady Snowdon on January 09, 2013, 09:00:10 PM
When I dine out, I expect the staff to be courteous and helpful.  I'd like it if they knew the menu well enough to answer any questions I have.  It'd be really nice if the server knew what beers were on tap, or if there were any special drinks available.  I do expect servers to check on me every so often, to make sure everything is still fine, or to remove items I'm no longer using.  I absolutely hate it when someone drops my food off and disappears for fifteen to twenty minutes, sometimes even longer, before reappearing to ask how everything is.  I know I eat fast, especially when I'm really hungry, but I shouldn't be finishing my meal before the server shows up again!  I also think that, if a restaurant offers dessert, dessert should be offered as a choice.  Showing up with my check while I'm debating if I want dessert is going to decide me in favor of no dessert, and thus lose the restaurant and server money. 
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 10, 2013, 09:47:03 AM
Interesting experience eating out last night that reminded me of this thread. My dad ordered a special that included two meats--like lobster and steak. When it came out, one was fine, but the other was kind of cold. He put the good one on a separate plate and asked the server to warm the cold one up. In terms of textbook hospitality management, I think the restaurant did exactly what they were supposed to (and maybe even more)--the server apologized, the manager came over to apologize, they made my dad a whole new piece of the meat he sent back which was easily twice as large as his original, and they gave us a free dessert.

Of course, what my dad really would have preferred was that they just zap his original piece of meat in the microwave, and bring it right back out. He finished his other meat and then just sat there with nothing to do while Mom and I ate; and then when they brought his new meat out, we had to sit and wait for him to eat it all. And it was more than he had wanted to eat. And he's trying to lose weight, so he had one or two bites of the dessert and that was it. (Of course my mom and I polished that off for him!) And, we didn't know that they were planning to make him a whole new piece of meat or give us a free dessert--if they had asked, he would've just said to warm up the meat somehow, it's no big deal.

So I'm not saying he was mad or anything, and I think we were all impressed with the service on a certain level, but it was actually almost too much for what he perceived as a minor problem that could've had a quick fix. Yeah, they just can't win, can they?  :-\
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: CakeEater on January 10, 2013, 05:17:15 PM

So I'm not saying he was mad or anything, and I think we were all impressed with the service on a certain level, but it was actually almost too much for what he perceived as a minor problem that could've had a quick fix. Yeah, they just can't win, can they?  :-\

I agree with your dad in this situation, and no, I guess they can't win. Because lady Snowdon said above that she wants the waitstaff back before her meal is finished to ask how it is. I would find that excessive. There's really no way for the poor waitstaff to know who would like which kind of service.

I know it's a difficult, thankless job, so I try to be extra nice, regardless.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: JeseC on January 11, 2013, 07:49:43 PM
I got some advice from a friend on a related issue once, in dealing with clothes shopping and overly helpful sales associates - I personally *hate* being asked if I need help finding something.  But the advice I got was to say, politely, "No, thanks for asking, but it's just so hard for me to concentrate if someone else is working with me.  I'll find you if I need anything, ok?"  Could be modified for waitstaff:  "Thanks for asking, but I find it so hard to concentrate with people dropping by to check on me.  Can you come back in 20-30min with the dessert menu?"  Simple, polite, indicates that you know they're doing their job and it's just a bit overwhelming.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: violetfire on January 11, 2013, 09:57:33 PM
The best service I ever had was with a server who could either read people very well, or was not very good at their job!  Haha, that makes no sense, but I'll explain:
I like to be left alone at a restaurant.  I like to eat my food and leave.  I don't like small talk, especially with strangers, and I'm not huge on dinner conversation in restaurants - I have social anxiety issues and prefer to have my conversations in private places.

We had a waiter who was polite, but not overly friendly, did not make small talk, and was very efficient.  He took our orders, refilled our drinks and brought extra napkins with the food (so we didn't have to ask), left us to eat for a few minutes, and brought our check.  No nonsense.  I loved it.  I left a $20 tip (probably 80%).  I never saw him again.  I told this story to my sister, who has a lot of serving experience, and she said most people would find him to be an awful waiter.  He made no attempt to be "friendly," converse with us, and many people would have complained about his "attitude." I hope he was just able to read us well instead of treating everyone like that.
Title: Re: What do you expect when dining out?
Post by: Thipu1 on January 12, 2013, 09:47:21 AM
Apart from cruise ships, we haven't had much problem with overly-attentive servers. 

However, it slightly irks me when a server squats down to present the specials.  This means that his face is at the same level as the seated diners.  I can understand this if the place is very noisy but, in a quiet restaurant, this seems a bit intrusive.