Restaurant Etiquette

I stumbled over this nifty post on a New York Times blog – the New York Times has blogs??? Written by Bruce Buschel who’s about to open a restaurant, it’s 100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (split into two parts - the second post here - to prevent reader exhaustion) and….

I loved it. I’ve been known to hold forth about things that gets me off in general - no, really Lene? Having a post label entitled rant is a pretty significant clue to the - and today, we are talking about specifically things that annoy me when eating out.

#17 on the list, "[d]o not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course." What is the point of this? To rush things along? Make the rest of the people at the table feel as if they need to eat faster? Leave the bleedin’ plate until we’re all finished and let us enjoy our meal in peace and quiet!

#68 is also a treat: "Do not reach across one guest to serve another." Drives me absolutely batty and again, I'm going to invoke the alleged perfection of the Old Country. Because where I grew up, being a waiter is a skilled profession requiring an apprenticeship and you haven't been served until you've been served by somebody who knows what they're doing instead of some student making money for tuition. Aside from that, reaching across someone else at the dinner table to get the salt or the gravy is, in my family at least, anathema. What you're supposed to do instead is politely ask if the person will pass you the salt/gravy or if you absolutely must reach across someone, you do it only after asking permission first.

#85: "Never bring a check until someone asks for it. Then give it to the person who asked for it" also had me muttering in recognition. I know that in an awful lot of restaurants, they try you to keep you moving so you won't take up valuable table space, but stop rushing me! If I wanted to eat fast, I would go to a fast food restaurant or a cafeteria. The fact that I am in a restaurant means that I would like to have a restaurant meal and that includes taking the time I need to enjoy a meal that will cost more than a hamburger. Besides, if you leave me and my companions to our conversation, who knows... we may discover we need dessert. Connected to this, #88 " Do not ask if a guest needs change. Just bring the change" also annoys the crap out of me - trust me, I know it is customary to tip and I will leave one.

And lastly, I would like to add my own "don't" to #91-94 involving music. Music in a restaurant should be low, definitely background and not make it difficult for me to hear my companion’s conversation. It should not be necessary for me to ask that you turn it down. Again, I suspect they do this to get people eating faster so they can have more customers, but I don't care. I am paying for my meal and I would very much like to have a conversation with the rest of the people at the table.

Your turn. What bugs you when eating out?