Call me a curmudgeon, but so many things about restaurants irk me.
Noise. I’m not likely to even patronize an esablishment that vibrates with double-digit decibels. Okay, the alliterative appeal forced me to exaggerate. Since 10 decibels=breathing, 15=rustling leaves, 20=whispers and mosquitoes, I could cope with up to 45 decibels, the sound level of someone whispering among buzzing mosquitoes and rustling leaves while breathing.
Food. The chef never gets just how little salt I desire in my soup and how much dressing on my salad. Additionally, I have a bias in favor of food that looks like food, rather than a stub of meat perched on a petit garden on a grand white plate with brown drizzle drops here and there.
Service. Except for tap water, when my glass is nearly empty, I prefer to do my own pouring, which I generally need to explain to one waiter and two different buspersons.
Also, I wish waiters would assume everything is fine, unless a diner waves. (Or, if you are in China, until someone shouts really loud fuwuyuan, which means serviceperson.)
During my twenties, I waited tables at a little bistro in D.C. I thought it was good service to keep asking if everything was okay. The man of one particular couple, clearly having an illicit affair, finally yelled at me to leave them alone. Nonetheless, I lack all measure of empathy for today’s overbearing waiters.
Tied with unsolicited pouring is wisking away a plate the second the last forkful goes into the eater’s mouth. Sometimes I keep my fork poised, hoping no one will interrupt my conversation to ask if I’m finished.
Germs. If I didn’t put the germ issue right out of my mind, I would go right out of my mind. What goes through your head when a restaurant’s restroom has no soap?
Me. The germ risk forces me to consider my own role in the whole unpleasant experience of dining out, because I am likely to be more annoying to the waiter than he/she is to me and we all know this can lead to someone spitting in your soup or peeing on your cucmber salad (for details see my post “6 Things I’m Less Worried About Than Other Things.)”
The hassle of being my waiter includes the huge glass of ice I require, all of which I dump into my white wine, which I’ve selected after sipping two different samples, and if I don’t like either, to my credit, I order a a third without a trial. At home I enjoy wine without all the guesswork and risk.
Furthermore, when eating seafood, I require a bushel of lemons.
I’m always impressed when, say, Mr. Wrong tells the waiter, “I’ll have a glass of pinot grigio, Caesar salad and steak medium rare,” his whole meal ordered with six fewer words than I require to explain, “I’d like my steak cooked between rare and medium rare, but a bit more on the rare side, please.”
I know what you’re thinking, How irritating and spoiled she is. I’m glad I never have to go to dinner with her . . . unless you are smiling in recognition.
Comfort and having some control drive my behavior. In my defense, I’m happy to dine with simplicity in my own kitchen: broiled chicken, Brussels sprouts, pinch of salt, half glass of Two-Buck Chuck Cabernet Sauvignon.
I go to restaurants to enjoy time with friends for whom, so far, my affability apparently outweighs how vexing I must be; after all, I was voted friendliest girl in the ninth grade.
As for the sticky issues of waiting for a table, where one is seated and what to order, I’ll leave these to your imagination.
What are your going-out-to-eat gripes?
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