Restaurant Wars

I’m not surprised culinary school made me into a total restaurant snob.

Granted, I know I’ve got a weird food history, but even with that, when you work in food, you can’t help but get peeved sometimes when you know it all little too well. Like I said in my last post, ignorance is bliss.

As a chef, I get asked where the best places to eat around LA are. To be honest, I’m not the best source.

A) I visit the most restaurants when I’m out-of-town, because frankly, I love my cooking and if I can cook, I will!

B) I’m broke

C) I’m a chef (a private chef, but a chef nonetheless) and I work during traditional meal times. So when my friends invite me for lunch or dinner, Im usually at work

D) did I mention I’m broke? and a jew, so I’m cheap!

Ok, so you get the idea. But to be honest, I’m also super picky. Culinary school taught me the ins and outs of how restaurants work. So I have many pet peeves lined up from both as a patron and from the back of the house:

1)  Background music that is blasting. I want to eat, not go to a night club. While euro trash techno beats are cool for a spin class or whatever, they make me uneasy as I chomp on my roast quail. Somehow, loud, obnoxious music stresses me out when I eat!

2) Care to comment? Its awful when waitresses/waiters feel the need to comment on your eating habits when they clear your plate away…”Wow, you ate that fast; you must be hungry!” or “All you’re having is a salad? You must be trying to eat healthy!” or “You must have really liked that burrito, do you want dessert now?”. Why not just say “Oink, oink, ya pig” and be done with it?

3)  Toilet paper dispensers in the restrooms Why do they never work right?? I guess the owner/manager never takes a crap.

4) Custom Menu: I suppose this is more from the food service point of view: don’t try to make up your own menu. The menu is there so you don’t HAVE TO customize your own meal. We don’t have time to change every little thing you don’t like about a particular dish… chose something else than!!! Or if you are going to modify, keep it simple, please. (dressing on the side, no mushrooms, broccoli instead of mashed potatoes are OK, but don’t ask me to create something completely new for you.)

5) Tables that are too close. I don’t need to hear Trixie & Chad break up right next to me while I try to enjoy my salad.  Thats what watching Millionaire Matchmaker is for!

6) Snapping: Just dont! What are you, a king?

7) Tip-Off: The filthy rich people who have the black American Express notoriously tip 10%

8 ) Too Tiny Plates: although a completely minor annoyance, I dislike side salads that are served either on the plate with the entree or in a small bowl, with no room to toss it and the dressing on the side. Trying to get the dressing to evenly coat the salad is futile.

9) Price check? Reciting a loooooong list of specials without mentioning the prices. Gee, I’m sorry, but had I known the salmon was going to be $55, I may not have ordered it, no matter how deliciously it was lapped in a fragile basil reduction.

10) Sticky tables. enough said


Lets have it! What are YOUR pet peeves (welcoming both from a patron and server perspective)

22 thoughts on “Restaurant Wars

  1. I’m cheap too. I’m Asian, what can I say? But I still LOVE dining out. I just am not working yet, so it’s not appropriate for me to dine at Sushi Roku or Palms. But once I start working and earning my own money, I shall dedicate about $200-300 per month on dining out. Yup, I just LOVE dining out!!! But right now, I’m keeping to cheaper places.

    I HATE dim lightings. OMG. Major pet peeve!!! Urgh! Why do restaurants do that? Vegan/any restrictive dietary restaurants are another irritation of mine…but that’s a personal thing. But it’s okay if it’s gluten-free restaurant, because that is a legit necessary diet.

    I’m also not a fan of all-you-can-eat places. I just am so suspicious of buffets. Also, I’ve read enough to know that buffets are rip-offs.

    Here’s another major pet peeve of mine: miserly tippers. Seriously. I’m cheap, but I still at least give 20% tip if it’s dinner, and the service is satisfactory. Waiters seriously NEED the tip…that’s basically their wage! Help a poor server out a little. I get so infuriated and embarrassed when my friends start taking out their calculator and haggle on the tips. Urgh.

    Oh! And bathrooms that are just ONE single stall. Grrr….I have an overactive bladder and I need to pee, but I hate it when I go to use the bathroom and there’s a line of females outside. By the way, why is it that only the female bathroom is always occupied? Do men not need to pee?

    ANOTHER big pet peeve: Babies. I know I sound horrible, but I’d rather parents not bring their wailing kids to a restaurant that isn’t fast food or casual establishments. If I’m paying $18 for my sandwich, I’d rather not have a blabbering, drooling kid stare at me while I chew, thank you very much.

    Rant over…kind of. 😉

    • Ha, yes, kids and babies should be at chuckecheese or at home. Sorry, but if I wanted to go to a playground or gymboree, I would. I too don’t like those restrictive dietary stuff. Like I told you, its not terribly difficult to go gluten free because most places offer rice and potatoes. But i guess this is coming from someone who lives in LA where everyone is ether vegan or fasting…. And I hate dim and super harsh lighting. Makes me feel like I’m at a drug store or something.

  2. Ok, I do the custom order thing… I also HATE it when the waitress is like, wow, you ate all that food? I want to be like, well since I didn’t feel guilty enough, I have an eating disorder–thanks a lot.

  3. OH I hate tables too close. I get antsy and I don’t want to hear other people’s conversation. My biggest pet peeve is when the hostess sits you by the bathroom or kitchen when there are several nice booths or tables available. For some reason, hostesses don’t like me. Hey, I am paying! I want to sit where I want to sit!!
    okay, done venting.

  4. I don’t eat out unless I’m traveling and have an expense account, as I would much rather spend $20 on a couple bags of produce and groceries to take home with me instead of an overpriced sandwich that lasts 10 minutes. I’m cheap, but I’m also practical (and have a mortgage.)

    However, I do try and enjoy myself when I do have to eat out. It can be fun, but I totally agree with all your gripes (except the special request thing, as I modify. However, minimally.) Anyway, do not comment on how much I ate or on what I ordered. This is not necessary. Also, I do not want my table to be on top of the person next to me or asked if I want to eat at the bar because I’m by myself. I like booths. If I only drink water, do not roll your eyes or assume I want lemon. I don’t. And although it can be entertaining, I don’t need to hear the staff complain about their job.

    As a server, I hated it when people would special request a bunch of things and then not touch any of them (especially women who wouldn’t eat anything.) WTF? Tipping is a big deal, especially if you were super nice and commented several times on how great the service was. Separate checks were a bitch, as were people who would clean out their whole purse and leave crap on the table to be bussed.

    That said, I had great service a couple times on this last work trip and made it a point to tell the managers that I was super happy with the food and service. They were surprised that I took the time, but I wanted to let them know how stress-free they made the experience 🙂

  5. I could have written this post!

    I LOVE going out to eat but I am insanely picky about it. Like you, I’m strapped for cash, so unless someone else is paying, I’m not shelling out five dollars for a mediocre burrito, or twenty for a bland pasta dish. Sorry!

    And after waitressing for many years I have a pretty jaded view of the industry. I never order lemon for iced tea or water anymore. Eww sticky tables!

    On the other hand, when you get an awesome waiter who is super accomodating and helpful and clearly goes the extra mile for you, it can be amazing!

  6. I’ve worked in many restaurants and I love eating out.

    Pet peeves from working in the restaurant’s perspective:
    -someone saying they didn’t like something after eating most of it
    -someone using up a lot of your time, giving them amazing service, then getting a shitty tip
    -arriving with a tray of drinks for a big party and someone asking where theres is “I only have two arms, sorry”

    Pet peeves from a customer’s perspective:
    -being given a table near a door that is opening and closing in winter
    -getting stink eye or bad service for ordering cheaper items or not getting wine (I will still tip nicely, treat me well)
    -waiters pushing expensive wine (I’ll take the house wine please)
    -restaurants being all out of the specials you came for

  7. I have a major one! I don’t drink a lot during a meal when I go out to a restaurant. (I mean beverages in general not alcohol). So I HATE it when I take a couple sips from my glass and I have that overeager waiter that wants to refill it EVERY time they come around. I just think they should have a rule that it has to be almost empty or empty before they can do that! Am I right? 🙂

  8. Pet peeves from server’s perspective:
    – Having an armful of dirty dishes and people keep handing them to you. Hello, all these dishes are about to come crashing down, I can’ take another plate loaded with skins of potatoes, butter wrappers and sugar packets with a small bowl precariously placed on top.
    – When I ask someone if I can take their plate and they say “sure” but don’t even move over the slightest bit… especially when I have a handful of plates.
    – People asking for items that are not on the menu, then getting royally hacked because we don’t have that particular item.
    – People who get hacked because I don’t refill their water within 2 seconds of them asking for more when they can see I am obviously not just standing around twiddling my thumbs; rather, I’m running around delivering food to other tables.
    – Asking someone if they’re ready to order and they say yes, but it takes them 10 minutes because they really don’t know
    – People asking what the sides are. They’re listed on the menu. This is especially irritating when basically all the people at the table ask what the sides are and I have to repeat them 10 times.
    – Napkins on the floor. Really, bend over, pick it up, put it on the table.
    – Gum spit into full sugar packets–especially when it’s spit into the sugar packet and the sugar packet is put back in the sugar holder.
    – Gum stuck on the side of the plate.
    – People asking where some other server is, and I have to explain to them that they weren’t scheduled for tonight, so they’re stuck with me instead.
    – People saying “Well then I’ll go talk to (part owner’s name) and she’ll fix this!”
    – People acting like they’re best-buds with the majority owner or part owner, or their daughter’s husband so they’re special and should get whatever they want (like frog legs, which, by the way, we’ve been out of since about November).
    – taking an order and I barely have time to process one before the next person starts spurting out what they want.
    – Going up to a table and being completely ignored.

    Sadly, the list could probably go on. I think I need to change jobs…

  9. I’m with you on the wait staff comments…not okay! My friend and I were eating deep dish pizza and she tried to pack it up after we each had 1 slice. We weren’t done and let her know it. And she was like “woah, you guys can eat a LOT”. Um yeah, screw you. So we each had 3 more pieces!

  10. “Is everything ok?” I swear, the waiters wait until I put a bite in my mouth to ask this question! And my personal peeve is when a huge group of us for dinner and then people try to compute an individual price for of us. Can’t we just split? More often than not the price difference is not huge between the dishes and it saves so much time! If that dollar is so important to you, I’ll buy you coffee later. Seriously! And I bet it’s annoying for the waiters as well…

  11. I used to get really irritated at restaurants when I couldn’t find anything vegetarian unless I just had to get a regular meal “minus the meat” and still pay for the stupid meat. These days, I ask if I can have them put something else on whatever I want in place of the meat as a substitute, and I’ve had pretty good luck with this! I guess this goes against your “create your own menu” peeve haha.

  12. I’m totally with you on the “specials with no prices” as I have suffered from sticker shock at the end of a meal because of it.

    However, I’m not sure I’m justified in commenting at all because I’m pretty sure I am guilty of #4 nearly every time I go out to eat.

  13. I love all of these! I especially hate when you’re still eating but say, your dining companion is already finished, and the waitress takes their plates away and then comes back and hovers around yours while you are clearly still eating! Argghh that makes me so mad! I liked hearing your perspective on these from a culinary point of view though:)

  14. My biggest pet peeve is when waitresses come around WAY too much. Nope, thanks I’m fine since the previous visit 2 minutes ago.

    I also hate how they always want to take your plate when you aren’t done. Some of us are just really slow eaters, k?

    Last I hate to have to wait and wait and wait for the check. Then they FINALLY bring it then I have to wait and wait and wait to get my card back.

    When I waited tables for a few months in high school, I always managed to get the people that come in at 9:59 right before we closed and all the other waitresses were done. Then I’d have to wait until the people were completely finished before I could leave. There my friends would be in the bar drinking and laughin at me. And the people always wanted dessert and coffee…and refills. Always. Guess thats why that job only lasted less than a year…lol. Not patient enough!

  15. haha love this post, made me laugh 🙂 I agree I love to cook and I would rather eat in than eat out for several reasons, like yours! I ate being so picky when I go out so I tend to just stay in, but it is nice every once in awhile to get a break. And biggest pet peeve would be the small dishes for salads and how boring restaurant salads are!!!! To me those are not salads, LOL

  16. I’m with you on the customization! I used to be notorious for that, but as I began to appreciate food more, I also gained an appreciation for trusting that the chef who designed the menu knew what he/she was doing! The only modifications I make are for dressing on the side, and not buttering the bread on sandwiches.

    My biggest pet peeve is when the server doesn’t refill my water glass. I drink around 3 glasses of water when I eat out (I know, excessive). And I hate leaving a restaurant thirsty because the server never clued in or ignored my request!

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