Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why do I lie?

Recently I've caught myself lying repeatedly at restaurants. It doesn't matter how bad the food is, I still feel compelled to lie to the staff when they ask me "how is everything?" Why don't I tell the truth. "Actually the chicken is rubbery, the lettuce is rusty, and the beans are burnt." That's what I should have said last night at our company gathering. And I know I'm not alone because as soon as the staff retreated we all talked about the sub-par quality of our meals.

Perhaps this is why Americans are overweight and why big chain restaurants are flooding the landscape. Too many people have become complacent (lazy?) and willing to accept poor quality in the interest of not offending or challenging the establishments we patronize. Too many Americans prefer the safety of a familiar menu or greasy spoon from one town to the next. I don't make a habit of visiting chain restaurants (Subway and burrito joints excluded) when given the choice. I usually find myself at one of these sub-par spots as a result of the desire of others or the result of being in "Anywhere, USA" and not having other options.

The truth is, it is not the waitstaff's fault that the food sucks but they are the faces the customers see. Since I am in the mindset of making changes to my behavior, I am going to change the way I respond to the sub-par food I too often receive. I'm going to be honest and tell them what they don't want to hear. If the cooks never get negative feedback about their food, they are never going to improve, right?


CCC said...

Not a big fan of that place myself. Its too bad you couldn't have talked your colleagues into


Muuuuuuuuuuuuch better!

RMM said...

As a long time waiter:

You should be aware of context. The quality of the food should match the pricepoint. If food at Chili's is generic and only acceptably prepared, that is about right for that level establishment.

On the other hand when entrees creep above the $20-25 range, you should expect not only well prepared food, but also some innovation and some interesting flavors. If these are lacking, politely send your food back.

When I was waitering in a 4 star restaurant I expected and encouraged my diners to send back meals that they were not enjoying, regardless if the meal was properly prepared or not.

As long as you are polite and don't penalize the waiter (personally or monetarily) for the culinary mishap, any reasonable waiter will gladly fix any food problem that you have, no matter the cause or fault.

In fact, over the course of my waitering career, I found that I got the largest average gratuities from customers who had experienced food problems that I was able to fix.

rosey said...

rmm, no doubt the higher prices warrant a higher quality and level of innovation. what i found pathetic last night is that the $12 taco salad they served me could have easily been prepared at home with much better taste.

it's the chili's and outback's of the world that are fueling this "acceptably poor" food quality in the $12-$18 range. frankly, that price range should dictate a reasonable (maybe not exceptional) level of quality as well.

and i generally don't have problems with the waitstaff and will happily tip appropriately when i feel they've attended to me. waitstaff compensation and tipping vs salary is a whole separate rant i could go into.

mostly, i'm surprised by the general lack of honesty we exhibit when asked about the quality of our meals. again, it's no wonder americans are faced with so many crappy food choices when dining out.

i guess one solution is to eat in more and let those crummy places go out of business. survival of the fittest, right?

Yash Katsumi said...

I was inspired by this entry.

Last night I ordered a Magic 9 at a bar and when I drank it it tasted a bit off. I returned it and it turned out the tap had gone sour.

Some places...

rosey said...

glad to see you sticking up for your rights yash. thankfully the dogfish head at the cellar was fresh and tasty.