A few weeks ago I offered a list of resolutions for my friends in the restaurant trade. It was a condensed list of common annoyances found while dining out. In other words, a rant of my (and many others as I have discovered) dining pet peeves.
In order to be fair, I have turned the tables focusing on the patron. Yes, you are the customer and when dining the lion’s share of the responsibility to conform to a minimal standard falls on the establishment, the management, and staff. However, you – the patron – are not immune to the laws of common sense and civility.
Unruly children in restaurants… Too many parents view the restaurant as a safe and confined zone to allow their offspring to run wild, vocalize empathically or worse yet, both. Don’t calmly chat with friends and family while your little one is terrorizing neighboring tables and tripping busboys. Unless you are prepared to pick-up the check and for each and every patron in the dining room; leash the little rascal. Well-behaved children are delightful and sadly scarce.
Meager tipping. Everyone who has worked the front of the house or behind the bar is convinced that the really favorable neighborhoods in heaven are reserved for good tippers. Of course, it is your prerogative to leave a poor tip, or in extreme cases, no tip, if the service is truly below par. Otherwise, you need to realize that the person who has just attended to your needs is working for, and living off of, your tip. If you believe that a 10% gratuity is generous, just stay home or try the local buffet.
Mobile phone talkers. Most of us have been in situations where an incoming call must be taken. In all other instances, the call can go to voice mail or the call can be taken in private. There is a certain segment of our population – and you know who you are – that routinely subjects all around you to your second-hand chatter. You annoy us on trains, in the grocery and worst of all, while seated in a restaurant. If you could summon your miniscule powers of perception to somehow extend beyond your nose, you would perceive that your dining companions are shrinking in horror. (The same is true for loud talkers – you are not nearly as interesting as imagine yourself to be.)
Inattentive ordering… The restaurant is a great place to meet friends and enjoy a long conversation while enjoying a meal. Frequently, diners come out of the blocks on fire, chatting at break-neck speed at the moment they are seated ignoring the other mission at hand – the meal. An experienced waitperson knows when to approach the table and when they do, give them 60 seconds of your time. By doing so your server won’t be forced to recite the daily specials, soup of the day, and salad choices six times! This is not only rude to your server but other diners as well who may be in need of service. I’m sure that this is done with no malice, but a little awareness on your part goes a long way.
Reservation violators. If you can make the effort to make a reservation, you can take a moment and cancel as well or give the restaurant a ring when running late. This seems like a simple thing, however common courtesy is often quite simple.
On the side… What is it with American diners that they want everything on the side!?! Ordering pastas with sauce on the side is simply crazy and reveals that you know nothing about preparing or eating real pasta! A Caesar Salad with the dressing on the side is NOT a Caesar Salad. If you feel the need to be involved in the preparation of your meal get to your kitchen.
Vegans. That one word should be enough but I can’t let this one alone. If you are a vegan dining away from a vegan centric restaurant you have to be willing roll with the punches. Most of us like meat, cheese, eggs, and fun… Worst yet in our tech savvy world is having to sift through restaurant comments/reviews written by vegans. A vegan’s thoughts on dining are as useful as a nun’s essay on dating.