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Monday, August 11, 2008

Waiter! There's a Hand in My Food! (And a Great Sandwich)


Last week, my friend Cathy from The Noble Pig, wrote a great post about her experience with a rude diner in a restaurant. It struck a chord with me, as well as many others, judging by the large number of comments the post received. The issue of restaurant etiquette is a very sticky wicket indeed! Mr. SGCC and I are constantly at odds over it. He thinks that I am a big, fat troublemaker. I think he is a big, fat wimp. In fact, some of the biggest conflicts we've had in our twenty year marriage have been over incidents that happened in, around and because of restaurants.

I believe that if you're plunking down your hard-earned cash for a meal, it should be good. At the very least, it should be edible. And, it should be your inalienable right to be served what you actually ordered - with a smile. I also believe that if these basic criteria are not met, then you are entitled to complain. Mr. SGCC, on the other hand, believes that these things are mere perks. He seems to think that, as a restaurant guest, you should take what you are given, right or wrong, good or bad. If your order comes out all screwed up, you should just suck it up and eat it anyway. And, never, ever should you send it back to the kitchen. After all, you might hurt the server's, or worse, the chef's sensitive feelings.

Honestly, I don't understand how a man with a reputation for being a pit bull in the courtroom can turn into a total shrinking violet once he sets foot into a dining room! Is it some kind of cosmic, karmic phenomenon? Or maybe post traumatic stress resulting from some deep-seated emotional wound suffered at the hands of an unbalanced fry cook? You tell me.


I could give you a million examples of situations where this man and I have ended up at odds over some incident that happened while dining in a restaurant, but I'll limit myself to the latest (and probably the worst) one.

Two weeks ago, we were over on the other coast visiting my in-laws for their 50th wedding anniversary. We wanted to take them on a weekend trip or have a party with all of their friends around, but all they wanted to do was go out for a nice dinner with the three of us. Okay. Done. We decided to go to an old, established and very kitschy restaurant from the sixties on Daytona Beach that they used to frequent when Mr. SGCC was a child. We all piled into the car and made the twenty minute drive there.


The place hadn't changed a bit since the last time I was there as a college student in 1985. I think I even recognized a few of the stains on the carpet. Ahem...Is that what they mean by local color? Anyway, a seedy salty old waitress brought us some drinks and took our order. I ordered a grouper dish topped with a creamy seafood sauce containing crab, scallops and shrimp. I also ordered the "special" Lyonaise potatoes to go along with it. Everyone else's order is irrelevant for the purpose of this story.

When my dinner plate was set down in front of me, I noticed two things. First, the half congealed "seafood" sauce on my fish consisted of a lot of orangey-colored goo and one-half of one shrimp. Where were the crab and the scallops? And more alarmingly, where was the rest of that shrimp? I pulled a face and started to say something and I immediately got "the look" from my husband. You know the one. The look that says, "If you say one more word, I'm going to dump that plate of food right on your head." I said nothing.


The second thing I noticed was that there was a shriveled up baked potato sitting on the plate where the Lyonaise potatoes were supposed to be. Before Mr. SGCC knew what happened, I struck.

"Um, excuse me. I believe I ordered the Lyonaise potatoes with my dinner. This is a baked potato."

The waitress looked down and said, "Oh yeah. Sorry about that." Then, she reached down, stuck her bare hand in my plate of food, grabbed the baked potato and walked off. WTF?


I was shocked! I was appalled! I was shocked and appalled! Not only that, I was totally and unequivocally grossed out! I mean, who the hell knew WHERE that hand had been before. The prospect was too frightening for me to imagine.

I started to say something, and I not only got "the look" again, but I also got a little warning kick under the table. I didn't want to start an argument with Mr. SGCC in the restaurant, and I certainly didn't want to ruin my in-laws anniversary dinner, so again, I said nothing.

Needless to say, I didn't eat a bite of the food on that plate. I was fuming. Tears of frustration stung my eyes. I felt that Mr. SGCC should have supported me. At the very least, I felt that he should have let me say something to the management about it.

Now, the biggest burn of this whole thing was that no one else liked the food either. My in-laws complained about it for the rest of the evening and into the next day.


So, what do you think? Should I have said something or should I have sucked it up to keep the peace?

Did I overreact?

Has anything like this ever happened to you in a restaurant before, and if so, how did you handle it?

What would you have done in my place?

Don't hold back. I'd really like to know how you feel.

While you're mulling this over, let me leave you with this fabulous sandwich I made for dinner the other night. It's really simple to make and there is no set recipe. You can pretty much put whatever you want in it.


I started with a loaf of ciabatta bread from the bakery. I toasted it in the oven at 300 degrees F. for about 10-12 minutes. Then I sliced it in half, lengthwise. I drizzled each side with a little balsamic vinaigrette. I made my own, but any good bottled dressing would be fine.

To assemble the sandwich, I layered slices of prosciutto, capicola ham and sopressata Calabrese (which is like a spicy salami) on one side of the ciabatta. On the other side, I spread a generous layer of crisp, peppery arugula. Then, I added thick, ripe, juicy slabs of heirloom tomatoes and slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella. I drizzled more of the vinaigrette on top, closed up the sandwich and voila - dinner!


You can use any assortment of meats in this sandwich, but I recommend staying with the cured Italian meats. They add the perfect salty/spicy component. If buffalo mozzarella isn't available, you can substitute regular cows milk mozzarella, as long as it is the fresh kind. That really is key. Also, try to find the freshest, sweetest tomatoes that you can. You won't regret it.

I served this sandwich with an equally easy and delicious white bean and pancetta soup. But, that's a story for another day.


Anonymous said...

Ewwww! That is disgusting! I would have complained. I'm normally the very shy and timid one when it comes to complaining in a restaurant and my husband is like you. He doesn't have a problem speaking up if he isn't satisfied. However, I let him complain. I'd rather him get the satisfaction of at least trying to have a nice meal rather than sit there upset the whole time.

Manggy said...

First off: Italian-(Americans) make the best sandwiches. I am sooo serious. That looks lethal!! :P``

Hmm, may I offer my opinion from a guy's perspective (such as it is)? I don't like to complain either and whenever my mom does, I feel embarrassed, even if she does so politely. Maybe Mr. SGCC on some subconscious level doesn't want to appear whiny or fastidious (not that you or anyone else is, though-- that dish sounds gross!). I don't know, it's how we're wired up. There was this one time I was served a soda in a glass with a small hole in the bottom and was leaking slowly under. My mom wanted it replaced but I just wanted to drink it as quickly as possible. Now that I think about it, it's quite silly.

Maybe how I would have handled such a universally horrible meal is to have laughed and suggest that we pass by a Drive-Thru. But I'd still pay for it for the same silly reason as tolerating drinking out of a holed glass!

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...


That is horrendous and I fully support you in that you should have said something!!! I am completely flabergasted that happened, god knows where her hands were and I would have complained to the last!!!

Anonymous said...

I love your sandwich! Prosciutto and arugula - two of my favorite ingredients... with mozzarella and tomatoes, Yum!

Normally, I would not complain about the quality of the food or even the poor service. I would just eat the food quietly and promise myself not to come back to that restaurant again. However, in this case, it involves food hygiene! The waitress' hand in your plate! Yuck! I would have complained to the manager. I think paying customers do have some consumer's rights too. The least we are entitled to are clean hygienic food. Anyone would have complained if there's "a fly in the soup," right?

Andreea said...

simply disgusting. complain - complain - complain. i totally agree: if you are out to have a good time, pay good money, then at least you'd expect high standard service and high standard food. wonder if the waitress, once she's out, would allow someone else to simply put their hands in her food?!

Beth (jamandcream) said...

Sounds like me and my hubby. Hubby gets so embarrassed when I complain and he has never complained, ever! I really don't understand why he wont - he tells me he likes a quiet life - cop out or what!

Anonymous said...

WOW! That story is disgusting. I have family in Daytona and am down there several times a year, so I'm kind of dying to find out where you had this experience.

I very much agree with your dining philosophy. My boyfriend and I have struck a truce about it. I don't eat many cheeses (or mayo, or sour cream), so I frequently order and request those items be left off. Hey, it's about service, right? Well, I'm constantly dealing with getting something slathered in scads of gooey whatever. He's OK with the sending back, but not so much the complaint to management. He just decimates the tip. I get the right food, they get their just desserts (ha!), and it usually works. Heck, now even he doesn't tolerate poorly cooked or incorrect food anymore.

I've saved the complaints for the really heinous stuff (and I think your adventure qualifies) such as when I was served uncooked steamed dumplings at a Korean restaurant. How was I to know? I used chopsticks!

As for your sandwich - lovely!

Debbie said...

I agree with you 100%. If I am paying for a meal than I expect that meal to be good. I was once served an uncooked crabcake (can you believe that) and you better believe I sent it back and left the restaurant. I wouldn't even take a chance and eat there after that. My husband feels the same way I do on that issue, but most other men are probably on the quiet side when it comes to speaking up in a restaurant. I also feel if I am dining out I expect to be in a pleasant atmosphere and not in one where there are babies screaming and kids carrying on. Don't need any of that. If I want to hear kids carrying on I can go to McDonalds! Lately when I go to a restaurant with my husband and son I not only request non smoking but I tell them not to stick us in an area with tons of kids either!!

Anonymous said...

Susan, I put myself through school working in restaurants and the first thing is there is no excuse for the waitress' behaviour. Secondly, it's not too late to complain. Send a letter to the management (include a link to this post) and if they don't give you a satisfactory response, publish the name of the restaurant.
As for your husband's feelings about complaining, my dad is exactly the same way and sometimes it is hard to find a balance. I am always ready for battle and he is always trying to put out the fire.
I think I would have probably done the same thing that you did in this case, to avoid spoiling the evening, but I hope you didn't tip and I really think you should write to the restaurant.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Always, always, always speak up for yourself in a restaurant! You are paying for a service and if that service is not to your liking you need to speak up abut it. I was in the restaurant business in all different aspects (some years even in Daytona Beach!) and I always wanted the guests to be happy with what I was serving them. Hate to say this but hubby should have defended you and the rest of the people at the table. What a watse of hard earned money!!!

BTW that sandwich looks amazing!

The Diva of Dining said...

A waiter/waitress should never reach into a plate at the table! Take the plate back to the kitchen and do what you have to do behind closed doors. Or, better yet, let the plate be and bring out the replacement side on a separate plte. Gross.

I make it a point to privately speak with a restaurant manager on two occasions: when I receive exceptional service and when I receive terrible service. You definitely had grounds to say something. Totally unacceptable.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Ahhhhhh...That sandwich! You had me at that photo of the cured meats. I could live on sorpresata (although I suppose not for very long with all of the salt and fat...)

I see both sides of the argument with you and the Mister. I don't demand a smile and topnotch service, but I do expect my food and my service to be on the level with what I'm paying.

If I have a bad experience though, I'm not going to rock the boat. Instead, I just make sure everyone knows I had a bad experience. I'll post negative reviews online and in my blog if need be (although since I started my blog, I haven't had many bad restaurant experiences). I let it be known that other people should not try the restaurant.

The worst restaurant experience I ever had was with San Domenico in NYC. The bad service started right when I stepped into the restaurant. Kevin and I didn't know whose name the reservation was under (it was a family group with three different last names invovled). We suggested the two most obvious ones and we were told those names weren't on the list. Finally they let us just go in and look around for our party (after waiting a half hour) and we found them. It turned out our family had TOLD the HOSTESS, "IF ANYONE COMES IN LOOKING FOR A RESERVATION UNDER NAME A OR NAME B, SEAT THEM AT OUR TABLE." We gave them Name A and Name B and they acted as if they had never heard it before. The reservation was under Name C and since we didn't know Name C (last name of Mother-in-law's best friend's stepdaughter's cousin's boyfriend)we were stuck waiting.

Service was slow and inept and food and beverages were not worth the cost. Worst dining experience of my life.

See? That's what you get for giving me a bad meal in a restaurant.

I've never had anyone actually touch my food though. I might just get up and leave the restaurant if someone did that.

Anonymous said...

As a long-time waitress, formerly from Central Florida (it's all a big service economy along I-4) and as a person for whom it takes a lot to push me over the edge, that would have.

Service is service, and proper food handling and hygiene plays a big role in service. As a server, you never touch the guest's food on their plate unless for some reason the guest tells you to. It makes you wonder what is going on where you can't see. I don't understand why Mr SGCC is so queasy about such a basic matter of hygiene.

I don't like to send food back simply because I didn't care for it, but if it's inedible, I absolutely will. And a good server will pick up on the fact that your fork has yet to touch your entree and coax out of you what the problem is and how to fix it. A good server hates a martyr.

RecipeGirl said...

"Picked up your baked potato with her HAND??" Wow. That is just unbelievable.

I definitely would have said something... regardless of my hubby's looks (or kicks). How could it have ruined the evening? Wasn't it odd instead that you didn't eat a bite of your food? It's hard for me to relate I suppose because my husband, who was a waiter for years in college, would have been the first to say something.

Did the server say anything to you when she picked up your dish that was untouched?

Susan @ SGCC said...

Tanya- Ewwww, is right! I'm not normally very squeamish, but this really got to me.

Manggy- Hmmph! Typical man! ;) (kidding) I do understand the man's point of view, but there are limits, no? A nice restaurant costs a small fortune. Why should they get away with serving bad food and practicing unsafe food hygiene?

BTW, we did stop for ice cream on the way home because everyone was still hungry!

Rachel- Lol! That's exactly how I reacted.

Ning- Thanks! Glad you like the sandwich.

I will usually not volunteer anything about the food, unless my order is incorrect, my fork is dirty or the food is spoiled. However, I do feel that if the server asks the question "How is everything?", I will respond honestly, That means if I don't like it, I will say so.

One of the cardinal rules of trial lawyers is: Don't ask the question if you don't want to know the answer. ;) Old habits die hard!

Andreea- I coulsn't have put it better myself! :)

Beth- Definitely a cop out. It must be a "man thing".

Haley- I'm going to email you with the particulars. I almost posted the name, but decided not to.

I will send sub par food back, but I rarely complain to the management. It has to be really bad for me to do that. This was really bad!

Glad you liked the sandwich!

BTW, a 20% tip was still left.

Debbie- That is funny! On Saturday, my husband and I went out for brunch at a local place and I was also served uncooked crab cakes. They were not even homemade, and the inside was pasty mush. I scooped the poached eggs off and ate those. When the server asked if there was something wrong with the crab cakes, I showed her. She was very apologetic and took them off our bill. No harm done.

Joanne- Thanks for the advice. I've thought about sending a letter, but I don't know if I want to stir things up again.

Oh, and a generous tip was left!

Judy- Thanks for the support! It seems that most people who have actually worked in the restaurant biz feel the same way. I feel a little vindicated!

Diva- I agree completely! I wouldn't stick my hand in anyone's plate, including husband or child. It was gross!

S(d)OC- Lol! I'm a sucker for sopressata too! My uncle makes his own. To die for!

I normally would not have made a big issue either. Like I said above, if I am asked, I will tell the truth, good or bad, but I don't go out of my way to cause trouble.

I've had similar experience with hostesses too. I usually have to comb the restaurant to find my fellow diners.

Michelle- I hear ya about I-4. It gets worse every year!

I agree with you completely. I think that Mr. SGCC was just too worried that his parents would feel uncomfortable if I said something. Never mind that I was totally uncomfortable and very upset. I guess the honeymoon's over. ;)

RecipeGirl- Unbelievable, isn't it? I think that my not eating the food made them more uncomfortable than if I had addressed the situation. That's probably why my in-laws made such a point to let me know that they didn't like the food either.

The server never said a word. Didn't even ask if I wanted a doggy bag!

Anonymous said...

That is so gross!

I wouldn't have eaten it either. But the worst thing is though that we have to worry about sending our food back because the wait staff will spit in it or do something else that's inappropriate.

I disagree with MR. SGCC that we are guests in a restaurant because we are paying for the meal. It should be correct and to our liking.

Sorry you had such a horrid experience I can't believe that waitress! Ugh. I think I would have said something but again would you have eaten the new meal?!

Sandy Smith said...

Inexcusable. I come from a family of chefs, caterers, and waitpersons - myself included - and every single one would be appalled. And I have to say, we don't eat out much these days unless we are (a) on vacation or (b) very familiar with the restaurant. It's just not satisfying to spend money for something you can do better and more enjoyably at home.

And yes, I am always reluctant to send something back to the kitchen. I would recommend sending it back with a manager, not a waitperson. Often it's not the waitperson's lookout once it gets to the kitchen, but if it's in the manager's hands, then it's probably a bit safer to do so!

Helene said...

That is just appaling! I would have pretexted a potty break and gone to the front of the house to talk to the restaurant manager nad kitchen manager.

White Toast with Butter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
White Toast with Butter said...

I have a lot to say about this - but only have a minute - that salty/seedy waitress would have pulled back a stump (where once her hand had been)if she grabbed something off of my plate.

Darius T. Williams said...

Hell to the yes - you should have complained. How dare you? You should have called out the manager, owner, chef, whoever you could have. I'm totally with you. My friends hate going to restaurants with me because I'm a foodie. I want my food a certain way and if I don't see something on the menu, I make something up. If I want steak and the potatoes aren't like I want them, then I'll get another side dish, even if it's not supposed to come w/my meal. My friends think that's crazy. I think that's just satisfying the customer.

Anyway, next time speak up. You deserve more than that!


Anonymous said...

I believe you should have said something to the management. As for the disagreement between you and your's best if you talk about it with your husband instead of writing about it here.

Susan @ SGCC said...

Noble Pig- Good point! I probably would have been a little nervous about eating anything there if I had made an issue of it.

Sandy- You are so right. We don't eat out as much anymore either. I also hate spending a lot of money on meals that I can make better at home Also, at home I know exactly what is in our food!

Tartelette- Lol! You are too funny. Great idea for next time. ;)

Andrew's Mom- I love you! ;)

Darius- Hehehe! You're worse than I am! ;) Believe it or not, I have several non-blogging friends that are more demanding than we are in restaurants.

Anonymous- Thanks for the marital advice, but I really don't need it. After 23 years together, my husband and I still have a pretty solid relationship.

Heather said...

I would have been really upset about this, too. I genuinely hope you did not pay for that dish. I absolutely would have said something. I would have done it politely, excusing myself from the table, and finding the manager privately rather than summoning him/her to the table, but I would have said something. I had something similar to this happen once (he actually picked olives out of my salad... yeah). I excused myself from the table and found the manager. I said, you know, my waiter ___ was very friendly and quick in bringing our drinks, but I think he may need some further training in how to handle botched orders. I am sure this job is important to him and I am not asking that he be fired or heavily disciplined, but I would appreciate it if you discuss with him that it is not appropriate to ___. And I would like to remind you, I am a valuable customer here and I expect to not be charged for this meal. If I am charged, I doubt I will be able to frequent your restaurant again, and I will likewise encourage my friends not to do so.

This solved the situation pretty quickly. I was brought another salad completely (by different wait staff), and was not charged. Incidentally, that waiter is still there and I haven't had problems since. I think that the best thing to do is speak privately with managers, offer concrete desires and say something nice, too. They work with these people all day, probably like them, and want to be able to hear something nice about their employees. But absolutely, definitely say something.

grace said...

i'm a little late to this party, but i want to be sure and add that i find that behavior completely unacceptable. the waitress, of course, not you. i would've done a whole heck of a lot of mumbling, but given my passive-aggressive tendencies, i probably wouldn't have said anything. the fact of the matter is, that sort of stuff just shouldn't happen, and i'm sorry you had to experience it.

KJ said...

I can not believe my eyes! Hands in food!?!? I understand your frustration.
In my opinion, dinner is already ruined when the service is not good. I hope you recovered from the ordeal! Your frustration is totally reasonable and also I don’t understand why some people choose to keep it down when there is something obviously wrong about service in restaurant.
BTW, your sandwich is gorgeous!!

Sarah said...

What a crummy experience! I believe that you should always speak up when things are not to your liking, although I think that your first request for a change should be made pleasantly and discreetly. After that, well, they need to get the point. Glad you have a nice sandwich there to make it all better :) That's what I want for lunch tomorrow!

Unknown said...

Ummm...for THAT you should have complained. She should have taken your entire plate and brought a fresh one.

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict....You Decide said...

I love sopressata....buffalo mozz is just not my fave. I dont' know why????? I hate that I don't care for it.

La Bella Cooks said...

Wow, that is a delicious looking sandwich with all the perfect Italian meats I love.
I would have sent that meal right back when she came to bring the potatoes with a little comment of how I am not comfortable eating the food since you put your hand in my plate. I would have endured the looks, but then my hubby was brought up by a chef, so he has no problem sending back sub-par food.
Last month hubby and I went out and had the worst meal where it all tasted like the chef dumped the salt shaker in our plates. We sent ours back, twice, and not only did they not comp our dinners, but they said no one sends food back and refused even a free dessert. The waitress finally admitted that they tasted it and it was so salty, but she said the owner refused to do anything. Something was up with their food besides the salt because we both were sick on the way home.
Sometimes I think it is better to make a great meal at home than deal with rude restaurant staff.

Unknown said...

the sandwich looks absolutely yummy while the hand on your plate story sounded appalling.

hmm...i dont complain much, but i noticed that there were times when sous chef complains even lesser, and he could be very aggressive and abrasive at work. i guess we just take turns being either a wimp or a bull ^_^

Patricia Scarpin said...

I hear you, my dear friend. My hubby is not into my reactions, either. And I do too get the look and the kick under the table, sometimes even a pinch on the arm. But I don't stay quiet. That's just not me (for those who believe in Horoscope, I'm a Scorpio). :)
I do think, however, that in that situation I would have been quiet because of the special occasion for the in laws. But I wouldn't have touched the food either. That waitress??? Such a stupid person.

On the other hand, your sandwich is making me drool over here. Not polite at all, Susan. :)

Jescel said...

I'm sorry about your experience. It is not pleasant at all. I agree that we should get the best service when we pay our food with hard earned money. In your situation, I probably would have quietly got up out of my chair (excuse myself) and look for the manager to tell him what had happened. Otherwise, I would have made sure I got the waitress' name as well as the manager's name, and I would write them a letter.
Lastly, I'd give the waitress a little tip, if at all.

test it comm said...

That sandwich looks good!

eatingclubvancouver_js said...

The sandwich looks amazing!

I'm not a "complainer" and would usually suffer through bad food rather than call attention. But that hand in your food was a dealbreaker. I would have sent it back and I've never sent anything back in my life. I probably wouldn't get confrontational about it and just attribute it to a brain cramp on the waitress' part. But she has made the food inedible and you should get food that you paid for.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hubbys looks or not, I would have said something! That truely is disgusting! If he didn't want to make a scene in front of his parents and ruin the evening, after dinner I would have walked out to the car and said "I'll be right back, I forgot something" went back in and asked for the manager, and told him the whole disgusting story. But who needs to go out when your making sandwiches like that! Now thatsa sangwich!!

Ingrid_3Bs said...

I'm sorry that I laughed but that was hilarious!

Okay, seriously you are RIGHT! I know exactly the look you're talking about because my children give it to me. Joe has probably just give up on me. I would have handled the situation the same way you would have had Mr. SGCC let you. There is nothing wrong with nicely asking for things the way you want them especially when you are paying.

Hope the rest of your in-laws' anniversary day went better!
~ingrid :-)

Farmer Jen said...

Your order should have been correct in the first place. She should have taken the whole plate of food back and brought you a new one. Where I live in a small town, we know all of the restaurants and many of the servers and owners, so I am pretty comfortable sending something back, and the servers are quite good about it. My dinner companions are supportive and they will also speak up if something is not the way it should be. Unless I happen to be really hungry and do not wish to wait, I will ask for my order to be corrected without hesitation. I have never actually had a server grab something off of my plate. Hubby should have supported you better.

Nina Timm said...

I read all these lengthy comments and have come to the conclusion that bad service is a sticky toffee everywhere. We in SA are notorious for "putting-up -with-crap-service". My opinion is this....I will complain, but never with the waiter,always with management. How will they better their service if we do not bring gross mistakes like this to their attention. If that establishment is capable of bettering their service, is another story???
Next time, fly the in-laws to your house for a meal and make this sandwich and the White bean soup - they will definitely receive better service and the food will have them talking for months...not days!!!

Nic said...

Sorry to hear the meal was so awful!
I'm with those who would go quietly to the desk or manager and complain there.

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict....You Decide said...

Complain......I ALWAYS open my mouth and that is probably why I am always in trouble hahahahah, oh well, makes for an interesting life and marriage.

Anonymous said...

While it's obviously bad form, I confess that I can't get too fussed about the server's picking up the potato off your plate. I'd guess in most cases, that's probably what would happen in the kitchen anyway. At any rate, being concerned about that is a little too germ-crazy for my tastes. Would I frown, and dock her tip? Sure. But I can't say I'd be grossed-out by the exchange. I honestly can't see the big deal.

As far as complaining goes, I don't very much. I'd complain if something crucial to the way I ordered it was missed (say, if I requested no onions, but it had them anyway), or if I think there's a serious defect in preparation (over- or under-done, mostly). I wouldn't send back food just for being not good without a particular fault in preparation, though. To me, that's just part of the risk of eating out; you can't return a book to the bookstore just because it's not very good.

Now, if I really don't like it and the server asks me how it is, I might answer honestly. (If it's just okay, though, I usually won't say anything.) And I have had servers get things fixed of their own accord. But I'm leery of raising a fuss -- for one thing because I don't want to be trouble, but also because I figure they have ways of getting you back for being a problem customer.

Janet said...

I would have SMACKED her hand just BEFORE her fingers reached the baked potato and said, "You didn’t mean to reach into my plate, did you?" That would have gotten her attention! Secondly, I would absolutely have said something about the missing shrimp half, as well as the quality of the dish served you. I believe that I am under NO obligation to eat what is put in front of me at any restaurant of any caliber if it doesn't measure up to the promise, because last time I checked, I'M PAYING FOR IT and second, MY MOTHER DOESN'T work there!

Honestly, my mother is the only person on this planet able to expect me to eat whatever she puts in front of me. Even then, I maintain the option of taste-testing anything I’m unfamiliar with, especially if it’s a new creation she hasn’t tasted first!

Christmas time 1985, my new mother-in-law (his foster-mother) thought it would be fun to pass off venison as her famous pot roast. This, after I was specifically asked if I ate game meat and I replied in a two-word statement: NO and NEVER. Long story short, that incident is just one of the many reasons why I (we) stopped speaking to her and that family shortly before Halloween, 1986.

Nevertheless, my husband is the same way as yours... What’s worse, we have the same conflicts around poor customer service we get in stores. When did it become okay for cashiers NOT to announce your total or thank you for your purchase? Every time a cashier just stands there after they ring me up I ask, “And, the total of my purchases is...?” And, when I am not thanked or handed my bag I’ll say, “I’m sure you meant to hand that to me with a thank you for my purchase today, right?” And, please... Do tell me the last time a cashier counted back your change from your total. I wonder if there are cashiers capable of that any more. I’m 42, but I remember these points of customer SERVICE being a priority of my training as a teenage cashier. If more customers demanded better, then restaurants and retailers would be forced to provide better service and quality in the offerings they make to us in exchange for our CASH.

My husband and I recently went to a place near Atlantic Beach in North Carolina the locals told us, “specializes” in Gyros. Although it looked like a dump I was still hopeful after seeing a poster prominently tacked onto the wall near the entrance depicting a beautiful Gyro with a caption that read: What is a Gyro?, and an explanation for what one might expect. Much to my dismay however, the waitstaff nor the cook had ever read that poster because the Gyro presented to me was honestly the worst excuse for a Gyro, Ever! The meat (?) was so over-cooked it was brittle, and as I lifted my Gyro out of the basket an oily substance dripped from the end of the paper wrap. There was no visible Tzatziki sauce and when I asked about the "yogurt sauce it's supposed to have", I got a blank stare. From him I got the look that said, Just eat the fries, which I wouldn’t have ordered except they didn’t serve/know what humus was, as an appetizer – But even the fries were inedible since they were covered in paprika.

Fortunately for him, my husband did not put up a fight over my suggestion to leave $5.00 for our drinks on the table and walk out.

That incident goes down as the First time (in 23 years) that he ever defended our right to a quality meal – However, I cannot be sure that if the cook hadn't followed us out onto the street demanding an explanation that it would have happened that way.

If I hear one more time that I should Stuff It at a restaurant or a store because, "They're just trying to make a living"; I swear, I will knock his devastatingly handsome head off!

Cakelaw said...

Susan, you would be well within your rights to have said something - I would have. My mother is adverse to me causing a "scene", and hates it when I say anything about bad food or poor service, but come on - we're paying good money for this!

Anonymous said...

EEEEWWWWW! I would have sent it back , but like others have said, what guarantee do you have that it wouldn't return with something worse? My hubby hates a confrontation too, but we have sent things back on occasion. A few years ago, a few tables of people we didn't know, all sent back their chicken dishes at the same time. It was like it was rehearsed!
Come to find out, the chicken was definitely BAD, BAD, BAD and we all could have gotten food poisoning!
Yeah, don't pay for something you didn't order, don't trust or just plain grosses you out! The fact that your other guests complained about their food is reason enough never to go back!

The sandwich looks real good though. I could take one of those to go!

Jodie said...

OH, my husband would love this. He lived in Italy and goes there quite frequently for business. He's all about Italian food. Lucky for me, he likes cooking pasta!

Constance said...

You totally did NOT over-react !

That was gross. You were actually rather mild-mannered about the whole thing.

I believe that you get what you pay for, and when you pay a lot -it should be good in every aspect, from portion size to quality of ingredients to cleanliness, server attitude, china, silverware and presentation.

Sounds like it was a mediocre restaurant - and you got mediocre everything. Still shouldn't have happenned.

Speak up, woman - so restaurants keep on their toes and don't think slovenliness, bad service or bad food is acceptable.

And your sandwich looks GREAT ! It's making my mouth water for some really good proscuitto and salami and home-grown tomatoes...

Came to you via Noble Pig on the 'comments' post a few days ago.

SteamyKitchen said...

Oh I would have said something and spoke my mind!!!!
But then again, I'm not known to keep my trap shut, esp when I'm not happy.