5 Top Restaurant Complaints + How to Prevent Them from Ruining Your Meal #hackdining

It’s happened to all of us. You’re out to dinner and something goes wrong. Maybe it’s something minor like the server accidentally bringing you a Chardonnay instead of a Chablis. Or perhaps it’s a bigger issue that threatens to derail your entire evening. No one wants to spend good money to have a bad time. So, how do you confront these problems to rectify the situation and ensure you have an enjoyable experience? From overdone steak to underwhelming service, we look at five top restaurant complaints along with tips from hospitality experts for preventing them from ruining your meal. 

Young people eating lunch in a bright modern restaurant, a waiter is serving hot food. Natural light.

You’re seated at a table you don’t like.

It’s by a drafty door, so you keep feeling a chilly breeze. Or it’s next to the bar, which is particularly loud that evening, and you want to have a quiet date night. For whatever reason, the table just isn’t right for you.

Speak out immediately, advises Jonathan Crayne, the senior captain at Marcel’s in Washington, D.C. “You have a chance to save your night or ruin your night,” he says. “Just remember you’re never going to be happy if you spend the evening thinking, ‘Maybe we should have moved.’”

If you feel uncomfortable asking for a new table, use this graceful line from Antonella Rana, co-owner of Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina in New York City. “I’m so sorry; you work here and you are used to this beautiful space,” she says. “However, it’s my first time and I truly would like to have the best memory of it. I don’t feel so comfortable at this table, could you bring me to your favorite?”

As they say, flattery will get you anywhere – including the best seat in the house.

The guests near you are behaving inappropriately.

There’s a couple next to you in the middle of a loud, profanity-laced breakup. Or the parents at the next booth brought their two-year-old son to dinner and he wants nothing more than to be a human catapult, so mushy French fries keep landing on your dinner plate.

It’s definitely not your job to police the situation. Sit tight and flag down a server or the manager. “We don’t want guests going to another table; that’s our job,” says David Fascitelli, general manager of Bourbon Steak in Washington, D.C. “We would like to intercede and make the situation right.”

Rana has another tactful line to use when you get the eye of a staffer. “Unfortunately I have a terrible ‘teacher’ syndrome,” she says. “Could you please help us and quiet this chaos next to our table before I do so myself?”

Your dish isn’t prepared properly.

The steak you requested medium rare is well done and your dining companion’s salad is packed with the tomatoes he asked the kitchen to hold. How do you politely send the food back?

“People are worried about making the chef upset or looking like they don’t appreciate his or her food,” says Fascitelli. “But the chef wants to make it right, too.”

Being open is your best bet. “It’s very easy to over-salt something,” says Crayne. “We sometimes don’t know it’s happened until we’re told. So, don’t hesitate to send something back.”

The food is made correctly, but you just don’t like it.Continue Reading

Dining Poll: What Do You Do When a Crying Child Threatens to Ruin Your Meal?

It’s happened to almost all of us. You’ve settled in at a restaurant to enjoy a nice meal and some quality conversation with a friend or loved one. And then a child cries. And cries. And keeps on crying. What do you do when the tears keep flowing — and the parents exhibit no signs of going? Weigh in on today’s poll!

Dining Poll: Would You Like Some Music with Your Meal?

One of diners’ most frequent complaints about a restaurant is that it’s noisy. But, what about when restaurants pipe in music? Is that noise? Do great tunes complement great food? Or, is anything over a certain decibel level annoying? Chime in on our latest dining poll!

Top Restaurant Complaints: Really?

Top-ComplaintsDetroit Free Press writer Slyvia Rector gathered a list of common complaints diners have when visiting a restaurant. Frankly, I was shocked by what I read. Not because they were controversial, but because they seemed so banal (and petty). The top complaint of all was regarding diners being addressed as “you guys.” While this probably isn’t appropriate (or heard) at a white-tablecloth restaurant, if you’re elsewhere — say at a BBQ joint — is that truly offensive?

Other trespasses include servers who ask if diners need change when they’ve paid their bill, checks that are brought too soon, and the use of “the same dirty cloth all over the dining room.” The first two offenses probably depend on the volume of diners at a restaurant and, again, whether or not it’s a fine-dining establishment. The latter, however, is a problem of perception over reality. Every restaurant I’ve worked at, high and low-end, has had a bevy of bain maries filled with water and bleach, each with towels in them. It may have looked like there was one cloth on duty on any given evening, but, rest assured, there were many and they were returned to their bleach-y water after each use.

I had expected to read more grumbling about prices, portion size, waiting too long for an order to be taken or for food to arrive, lighting — and even temperature. So let’s hear it! What are you biggest complaints when dining out? Shout ’em out here or share your gripes with your fellow Facebookers.