Author Topic: When should server begin clearing off the table?  (Read 10781 times)

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Outdoor Girl

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #45 on: January 23, 2014, 04:32:34 PM »
A lot of places I've been to have a register at the bar so I've done that a few times.
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lowspark

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #46 on: January 23, 2014, 04:33:17 PM »
I would guess that about 30% of the restaurants I go to have a visible cash register where you should or can pay. The rest have computer touch screens in discreet locations or nothing at all that is in sight of the tables.

I have no qualms about flagging down anyone who works in the place if I need my check and my waiter has not been around for a few minutes.

Margo

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #47 on: January 23, 2014, 07:04:32 PM »
I'm definitely on the "plates should not be removed until everyone in the party has finished that course" camp - when we were growing up it as part of what we were taught as table manners - you don't leave the table while others are still eating*, you don't start clearing away while people are still eating. It makes sense to me, as it can leave anyone who is still eating feeling rushed.

When I visited my sister, who was living in Turkey at the time, I learned the opposite is true there- it's seen as rude to leave empty plates in front of someone (either you give them more food, or remove the plate) It takes a bit of getting used to!

(*exceptions coul be made for those who made a polite request to leave the table)

kherbert05

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #48 on: January 23, 2014, 07:56:47 PM »
Different countries do things differently. I really don't think that "I'm not used to this" means, "This is a terrible system." They're just different. In the US, unless you're in a nice restaurant (where there's a reasonable chance that both the patrons and the servers will know and use the formal signals and etiquette), it's really best to just communicate with your server what you want. No need to become enraged if they do things differently than you like. It's possible that the table before you just reamed them out for not doing exactly what you are getting angry at them for.
This is sort of what my family does. We have certain techniques that slow down service so we can enjoy our food.
Before you go - find an independent restaurant this doesn't work in national chains because of Corporate rules (Pappa's restaurants this can work sometimes)


1. Order drinks and appetizer only at first.
2. When appetizer is served order main course - if main course has two parts (taco plate with enchiladas after)specifically say - please have the chef wait on our enchiladas until after we have our tacos.
3. after the main course is cleared order coffees, BB or other liqueur and deserts if having them
4. Tip WELL acknowledge that other tables may have turned over 1 to 3 times during the time you ate.


When the restaurant responds become regulars. When I was a kid, I was good at not being noticed. I remember hearing seasoned waiters request us in their section. I know at at least 2 restaurants we were always seated in a specific senior waiter's section. (Mr. Sam at Los Tios back when the family owned it.) We might have taken all night for a meal but Dad regularly tipped between 20 - 30% and this was the 1970s so that was unusually high.


We did this at restaurants like Los Tios, Felix's Laundry's, Giados not just Warwick (AKA Glass elevator place say in spooky voice) or Brennan's. Pretty much any place with table service Dad did this and got service. Hole in the wall BBQ or seafood places or real Antones have a different set of rules.



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gmatoy

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #49 on: January 23, 2014, 08:38:04 PM »
The angriest I have ever been at a restaurant was when I, a slow eater, had my fork half way up to my mouth.  The waitress said, "Are you done eating?" I set my fork down and said, in an icy voice, "I am now." If I had been in charge of the tip, there would not have been one! She was lucky that my DH was in charge or the tip. I did manage to get him to not leave his usual generous tip, but to leave a more moderate tip.

Deetee

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #50 on: January 23, 2014, 10:50:19 PM »
The angriest I have ever been at a restaurant was when I, a slow eater, had my fork half way up to my mouth.  The waitress said, "Are you done eating?" I set my fork down and said, in an icy voice, "I am now." If I had been in charge of the tip, there would not have been one! She was lucky that my DH was in charge or the tip. I did manage to get him to not leave his usual generous tip, but to leave a more moderate tip.

I get the annoyance, but why, oh why would you stop eating at a restaurant just because of a comment? I don't like to pull this out often, but the people at restaurants are "servers". Their job is to serve you. You get to decide what to eat and how to eat it.

Library Dragon

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #51 on: January 23, 2014, 11:00:47 PM »
DH regularly tells waitstaff not to rush the meal. They should ask before whisking my plate away unless it's totally clean of food.  I've been at a few restaurants where I was chatting with a friend next to me, turned back to my plate only to find it gone.  Or, if I go to the ladies room and come back to no plate.

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m2kbug

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #52 on: January 23, 2014, 11:33:48 PM »
DH regularly tells waitstaff not to rush the meal. They should ask before whisking my plate away unless it's totally clean of food.  I've been at a few restaurants where I was chatting with a friend next to me, turned back to my plate only to find it gone.  Or, if I go to the ladies room and come back to no plate.

The meal disappeared after a bathroom trip!  This happened to me.  I was alone with two young children and trips to the bathroom happen as a group.  I told the server/busser, we were going to use the restroom, but we would be back, so please don't clear the plates.  When we got back to the table, it was cleared and ready for the next round of patrons.  Communication did not work very well.  We were provided new dinners.

MariaE

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #53 on: January 24, 2014, 12:43:42 AM »
I'd find that terribly rude of them.

But I've only heard of it happening in the USA.

In the UK, they'll wait till everyone is finished and then ask if they can clear the table. Also they don't bring the bill until you ask for it.

Ironically enough, the only place I've had this happening to me was at a restaurant by Russel Square, London. We felt incredibly rushed even though the restaurant was no where near full. And haven't been back since even though the food was amazing.
 
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wallaby

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #54 on: January 24, 2014, 12:54:36 AM »
Oh, how I wish everyone knew about silverware placement, and how it indicates where you are in your meal! The proper thing to do is to wait until EVERYONE at the table is finished eating and then remove all of the plates. This is so that one person who is a slow eater doesn't feel rushed.
I know this is proper, but, honestly, when I'm done eating, I do want the dish taken away immediately. But I don't mind when they do it the proper way.

POD about a million times. The table should not be cleared until everyone has finished eating.

Raintree

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #55 on: January 24, 2014, 02:03:28 AM »
This has been bothering me a lot lately and I don't know what the "rules of service" are about it.

When dining out, servers seem to feel it is necessary to whisk away dishes as soon as they appear to be empty.  Often times, this leaves DH sitting across from me with nothing but his water glass and a napkin while I am still in mid-meal.  Last night, they even brought the check while I was still eating (they did ask if we planned to have desert or coffee).  The restaurant was busy but not full at that time and we were on our way to another event right after so were not dawdling.

As soon as I took the last full bite of my side dish, it was whisked away while my fork was still on the way to my mouth.  Bread plates...gone even though there was still bread and butter on the table.

I was taught that the signal to that someone is finished is by placing the knife and fork in a certain direction--maybe also with the napkin placed to the left of the plate on the table.

I'm tired of fending off the hovering servers and would like to ask them not to remove anyone's plates until we are finished eating.  Am I being SS? How would others handle this?

I'd probably never eat there again. I hate feeling rushed.

Long ago, when I worked in a fairly nice restaurant, I was taught never to start removing plates until everyone at the table was finished eating. (It's probably different if it's a very large group, but I'm talking about a small group of 2-6 people). And I've always remembered that, because when I'm dining, I want the same treatment. I like to relax as I eat, and I feel rushed if everyone else's plates are whisked away. I get thoroughly irked if dessert is offered to my companions before I am finished, and when that happens I assume that management has not given their staff any training whatsoever. I probably want dessert too, and I want it at the same time as the others, so please wait!! Likewise, if I finish first, I am happy to sit and chat until EVERYONE is  finished and ready to move onto the next segment of the meal.

And please don't whisk away my plate before I've even put the fork down from my last mouthful.

I think it's fine, even good, to take away extraneous plates that are clearly getting in the diners' way, such as soup dishes still sitting there from the appetizer course (they should be gone by the time the main course arrives anyway, unless the diner has for some reason saved some to have with the main course). Or empty serving plates from shared dishes.

Last time I was out with two family members, and two of us were finished the main course while the third was still eating, and the server whisked away our plates and asked if we wanted dessert, we just said, "We might, but we'll wait till he is ready."  I just wonder if some of these people were raised in a barn.

Raintree

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #56 on: January 24, 2014, 02:46:14 AM »
I had a server do that once, but it was my wine glass he whisked away!  There was like an ounce left  :(   My husband and I instantly looked at each other in humor-shock.  It was such a no-no in our eyes, but it was kind of funny in a way too.  And no, it wasn't a case of being cut-off.  That was my only glass the entire evening   :)

The other night I was drinking a glass of Gewurstraminer (spelling?) and the server asked if I wanted another one. I said, "Yes, but I think I'll try the Chardonnay this time." I still had a few sips of Gewurstraminer left in my glass when she came back with the Chardonnay in one of those portion measuring glass things, and poured the Chardonnay in over my Gewurstraminer. I've never had a server pour the new wine over the old wine before, and especially not if it's a different wine!!  I didn't say anything though; it was a company outing on the company's dime, and I didn't think the result was TOO atrocious, though it did surprise me.

AuntyEm

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #57 on: January 24, 2014, 07:54:57 AM »
OP here again--I think another problem is random employees grabbing things from your table as they go by.  I'm sure they've been told to do it but other servers, bussers, etc. may not have a feel for where you are in the dining process.

The restaurant we were in is not terribly fancy but it is a mid-priced restaurant in the heart of the business district in downtown Chicago.  It is the oldest restaurant in town, I believe, and fairly well-known for its German cuisine.  I like to go there because it is a more traditional type of restaurant and it is relaxing to me sometimes to go where you think you will get a little more of a tradtional service. 

I have to also comment that I was really annoyed by the gum smacking maitre d'.

Teenyweeny

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #58 on: January 24, 2014, 08:01:26 AM »
The other night I was drinking a glass of Gewurstraminer (spelling?)

Gewürzt means (I think) spiced, so it's probably Gewürztraminer. Wurst is sausage, and you probably don't want sausage-flavoured wine!



123sandy

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #59 on: January 24, 2014, 08:05:40 AM »
I'm one who prefers all dishes to be cleared at the same time, after everyone has finished eating. However, I realize most people do not feel that way and I've stopped worrying about it. As long as they ask before clearing my plate, I'm ok with it. If they start to clear without asking, and it does happen, then that is reflected in their tip. It's plain rude. I've actually had to say, "I'm not done yet" before.

I've also stopped servers from clearing things like bread & chips/salsa when I'm still eating. It's one thing to clear others' plates away, but the communal food shouldn't be cleared till everyone is done. Now, this doesn't happen all that often but I think it's more common with inexperienced servers.

I want my plate gone as son as I lay my cutlery down on it. I hate being left with dirty plates in front of me.

Just curious about people who prefer to have their plates cleared as soon as they're done, even though others are still eating. How does that work at home? At a dinner party, for example, as hostess, I'm not going to clear plates until everyone's done. Especially if I'm still eating.

I hate having dirty plates sitting in front of me but I do mind my manners. If I came to your house for dinner and was left sat there with a dirty plate for an hour you'd never know I was screaming on the inside. I do know how to behave, for the most part... ;-)