Author Topic: Ordering "off menu"  (Read 6618 times)

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purple

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2014, 04:03:58 AM »
I'm the Queen of "off menu" ordering.  I do it all. The. Time.

I just don't eat like everybody else!

I had not idea that there was a train of thought or a group of people out there who would think me rude for ordering off menu.

What I usually do is either make a tweak to a dish so that it suits my requirements or ask for something that takes an element from a few other dishes, so I know that they have the stuff to make it.  So, for instance, last time we ate out at FancyPlaceThatServesSteaks (I don't eat steaks), I asked for the polenta and vegetables that would normally come with the rib-eye plus the side dish of steamed vegetables, but both on the same plate, then also a piece of garlic bread as well, which was also listed on the menu as a side.  They did it for me, no problems.

I've had only one time ever in my life where the waitress refused my request of tweaking a dish, so I just said ok and left - I was by myself, so no biggie.

It's so funny that this would come up tonight as well, because just today I went out to lunch (by myself) and I decided to make an absolute point of ordering something directly from the menu and not doing one single tweak to it! And I did! And it was ok :).  I'm about to go out to dinner in an hour or so and I'll try to order with no tweaks tonight as well, but we'll see.  I've never been to this place before, so.....

perpetua

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2014, 04:19:09 AM »
I think in this specific case I might ask "Hey, what happened to that great X dish? I used to have it here all the time but I don't see it on the menu any more - do you still do it?" and then they can tell you whether they still make it or not. It also lets them know that there's still a demand for something they've stopped offering.

While I do lean towards the 'if you don't like what's on the menu why are you eating here?' train of thought, generally I don't think there's anything wrong with asking for something off-menu if it makes *sense* in the context of the place you're in. I mean, if you go to a pizza place and ask if they make gluten-free bases or if they have any olives when these things are not listed, then that's absolutely fair enough. But if you go to a Chinese restaurant and ask them to make you bacon and eggs, then that's pushing it.

Venus193

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2014, 06:55:18 AM »
I agree with Toots; if they have all the ingredients for what you're requesting I don't see a problem.

I ask for certain things to be tweaked.  At my Chinese place I ask for ginger to be added to their House Special Soup and at a bar I was in for brunch last weekend I ask for no blue cheese in the Cobb Salad.  No biggie on either.  At Red Lobster I ask for red cocktail sauce and no drawn butter (which is gross when it gets cold).  I've never been turned down.

Bijou

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2014, 07:11:10 AM »
I would absolutely ask.  I'm not sure that this is uncommon in Chinese restaurants.  I remember hearing about ordering off the menu, and sometimes that meant things that were not listed but that they could prepare and did, for themselves. 
I've never knitted anything I could recognize when it was finished.  Actually, I've never finished anything, much to my family's relief.

Ceallach

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2014, 07:15:31 AM »
I think it's fine to ask, and as PPs have mentioned is useful customer feedback.

I do have a rule though of not asking for anything special when a place is busy - I think it's unreasonable to expect them to deal with a nonstandard order during a busy time. 
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Sophia

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2014, 07:48:35 AM »
I don't think it is rude to order something that used to be on the menu.  Some places even encourage it by posting their "secret" menu on their website.  I think they come about from situations like the OP and the Sundae example.  Loyal customers don't notice that it is removed because they don't read the menu anymore. 

kckgirl

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2014, 08:33:59 AM »
There's a local Italian place that used to have a chicken Caesar wrap on its lunch menu. They took it off the menu, but they still sell wraps and they still have Caesar salad, so I know they have all the ingredients. I have never had a problem ordering one. They can tell me no and I'll order something else (everything is delicious there), but they never do.
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Bexx27

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2014, 09:39:57 AM »
Thanks for all the replies. I had decided to try ordering my dish "off menu" last night, but the anticlimactic update is that I realized the dish is still on the menu -- they just changed the name.  ;D
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Bijou

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2014, 11:57:55 AM »
I think it's fine to ask, and as PPs have mentioned is useful customer feedback.

I do have a rule though of not asking for anything special when a place is busy - I think it's unreasonable to expect them to deal with a nonstandard order during a busy time.
That's probably a good rule to follow, Ceallach. 
I've never knitted anything I could recognize when it was finished.  Actually, I've never finished anything, much to my family's relief.

Thipu1

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2014, 12:00:12 PM »
The only time I saw a problem with ordering 'off-menu' was in a new French bistro.  The place was small and a table of about six people were sitting next to us. We couldn' help but overhear their orders. 

Every single person at that table requested quite large modifications to the dishes.  The server that evening was the owner who was justly proud of the food his kitchen produced.  He finally snapped and told the table that, perhaps, they would be more comfortable eating somewhere else.   

Venus193

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2014, 05:35:38 PM »
The only time I saw a problem with ordering 'off-menu' was in a new French bistro.  The place was small and a table of about six people were sitting next to us. We couldn' help but overhear their orders. 

Every single person at that table requested quite large modifications to the dishes. The server that evening was the owner who was justly proud of the food his kitchen produced.  He finally snapped and told the table that, perhaps, they would be more comfortable eating somewhere else.   

I can only imagine what that entailed and I agree with the owner.

Possum

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #26 on: June 07, 2014, 07:37:03 PM »
I see nothing wrong with asking.  Some places will go off-menu at any time, some will do it only when it's not busy, and some will do it for you for a while, but then will stop doing it.  The best way to put it is, "Could I get Wahoo Chicken today?"  That leaves it open for them to say "no" if they're busy or policy has changed.

blarg314

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2014, 08:58:30 PM »

Ordering off menu is one of those things that works if done in moderation, as Thipu1's example shows. A restaurant can generally handle the occasional special request. If everyone starts demanding bespoke meals, the restaurant will be justifiably annoyed, and likely stop the policy completely.

If you are ordering off menu, I think it's important to be polite when requesting ("Is is possible to/can I get" rather than "I want"), and to be willing to accept no for an answer, or be willing to pay a surcharge for upgrading. Sometimes what's being asked is not possible (sauces and stewed dishes that are made ahead can't be modified), sometimes the restaurant is too busy, sometimes it's against policy, some requests will cut into their profit margin.

I think it's actually a good idea to ask about stuff removed from the menu, because it provides useful feedback to the owners.

jackie jormp jomp

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2014, 09:20:28 PM »
I've been a server, and I'll tell you that people trying to order off-menu is rather annoying... but if the cooks in the kitchen are the same as they were before, it's actually probably not that big a deal.
Try never to do it when the restauraunt is very busy--one weird thing can throw the whole line off for everybody...
« Last Edit: June 07, 2014, 09:23:17 PM by jackie jormp jomp »

Elfmama

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Re: Ordering "off menu"
« Reply #29 on: June 07, 2014, 09:21:50 PM »
What about saying "I don't know what I want.  Surprise me with something with chicken in it."  SonIL#2 does that in certain restaurants, and always gets the most amazing results.
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