Food & Drink

Chew on This!

Time to vent a few pet peeves about the local restaurant scene -- a little whining and dining, you might say.

"No bread for you." I don't mean "no complimentary bread service," either.

I mean that no bread is available at all, not even if you're willing to pay for it. And I'm not talking about ethnic eateries or counter service joints where you wouldn't expect bread to be served. I'm talking about mainstream establishments that once served bread but have discontinued the practice.

I've only encountered this a handful of times, but it always seems to be in restaurants where service is so slow I'd gladly pay for some bread to munch on while I'm waiting for appetizers to arrive. The restaurant's goal, according to a couple of sources I found online, is to drive up sales of profitable appetizers and desserts. The only effect it has on me is to drive me away.

"You want it when?"

I recently told a server that our party would like to take our time, enjoy a glass of wine and order just appetizers to start.

After that, depending on how we felt, we might order a salad course, or maybe just go straight to entrees. Her response was, "the chef prefers that you order everything at once." OK, I understand that ordering piecemeal, as we'd planned, would result in longer delays between courses. But I thought I had covered that when I said we wanted to take our time. I've come across this policy twice recently, both times in the sort of fine dining establishments where you'd expect whims to be catered to. I sure hope it isn't a trend.

"I don't know." (then, after a long, uncomfortable pause), "Um, do you want me to go check?"

This from a server, in response to a question such as "Does that come with a salad?" or "What's the seasonal draft beer?" Unfortunately, this one has happened more times than I can recall. It's usually accompanied by eye-rolling and a sigh. And I always reply, "Why yes, I'd like you to go check." I realize that I'm probably marking myself in these servers' eyes as a persnickety customer. I just hope I'm not hurting their self-esteem.

There, I feel better. How about you? Have you encountered these problems in area restaurants? Do you have other pet peeves? Share them with me on my blog at http://blogs.newsobserver.com/epicurean/home.

Greg Cox

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