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October 19th, 2011 WW Editorial Staff | Restaurant Guide
 

Restaurant Guide 2011: How to Eat in a Restaurant

A primer by real-life chef Jeff McCarthy.

rg2011_how_to_eat
The blogosphere is inundated with the musings and lamentations of the service industry: servers bitching about customers, cooks bitching about servers, and customers bitching about it all. There are stories we’ve all heard before: the guy on table 11 stretching his glass of syrah over nine courses and then leaving $10 on $200; the surly cook, flinging pans and obscenities, furious as the menu is cut-and-pasted into oblivion. None of it is new, and there is probably nothing that can be done to stop the cycle of diner-server-cook angst, but fear not! Here are a few tips to ensure that you avoid an auto-grat or an application of “special sauce.”

1. Show Respect.
The person bringing you your food is not your personal whipping post. Sure, they work in a relatively entry-level field. They may not understand the intricacies of patent lawyering or whatever it is that you do, but does that mean they deserve your embittered scorn for suggesting a dry Riesling with the fish? And that cook? That cook is working harder than you ever will for less than you pay your housekeeper. So give him a smile, not for sympathy but empathy.

2. Order From the Fucking Menu.
Contrary to popular belief, a menu is not a guide. You want it your way, right away? You know where to go. The chef did not envision “holding the boquerones,” or “subbing grilled veggies” on a dish he spent weeks perfecting. Where do you even see “grilled veggies” on the menu, anyway? And have mercy on your server, because any substitution or off-menu ordering on your ticket is going to get him or her straight reamed for letting it happen.

3. Be Reasonable.
If something is wrong with your food, or the service, or the gangster-rap soundtrack playing, let someone know! No one is benefiting from your scathing Yelp review, and it’s a surefire way to ensure that your issue won’t be fixed but become yet another reason cooks, servers and restaurateurs hate you. So your cornbread was cold. So your steak was overcooked. So your server reeks of cigarettes or worse. So you say something, or you don’t go back. Don’t go online and badmouth the place out of existence. They want to make you happy—it’s their business. 

 
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