Things That Make Me See Red In A Restaurant

Since embarking  on my 100 Best Restaurants quest I have become more observant, more critical and more judgemental about the places where I dine. After all I am paying out hard-earned  money and I should not come away feeling cheated. Looking back over some of  my reviews I notice that there are a few items that niggle me on a regular basis. And there are a few more that I will add in for good measure.

Restaurants are frequently too cold.

Ambient temperature, I notice, features frequently in my posts. It is reasonable to expect to dine in shirt/blouse sleeves in winter. I don’t need to wrap up in a jumper when I am eating at home in mid-winter nor should I have to when I go out to eat. Restaurants should make full use of the double door systems to keep the cold out! By the same token, in Ireland, there is rarely a need for air-conditioning as it freezes the customers that are sitting near it. When I think about it I don’t think I have ever been too warm in a restaurant but I’ve often been cold in one.  And I’m the kind of person that wears short sleeves in March.

Fare la scarpetta.

Bread is another restaurant item that often fails to please on a number of different levels. Firstly there is the case of good restaurants serving really bad bread. Then there are the restaurants that take portion control to the extreme and ration bread too strictly. Finally, most restaurants insist on taking the bread away when the starters are finished. What happens when you have a delicious sauce with your main course and you want to mop it up with some bread? In Ireland it is clearly not acceptable to ‘fare la scarpetta’ as the Italians do.

The Enormous Pepper Mill.

There is a substantial number of restaurants that still use the enormous pepper mill. Why can’t there be a  normal sized pepper mill on all the tables. A customer might want to adjust the seasoning halfway through a meal. It is pepper, not saffron, that is being held hostage here. The same happens, albeit a little more understandably, with Parmesan cheese. But one must remember that seasoning is very subjective and may require constant adjusting. I rarely use condiments as I will trust the chef to prepare a tasty dish but I believe that there should always be salt and pepper to hand.

Tap Water.

Very often, after being shown to a table, we are asked if we would like some water. More often than not we are only given the choice of still or sparkling water. In these lean times we also need to be offered tap water and we should not made to feel scabby about choosing it. Some restaurants are fabulous about presenting free water in pretty jugs. Others will almost throw the water at you. Remember that tap water is good  for the environment as well as your pocket .

Finally, when I go to a restaurant can I please be in charge of my own wine? A lot of restaurants pour wine too quickly and a bottle can be finished before the main course has been consumed. White wine is ofter ‘disapppeared’ out of sight. I prefer to have my ice bucket or wine cooler at the table. I know nobody is ‘stealing’ my wine but how can I be certain when I can’t see the bottle?

None of these items are ‘food’ related but they all form part of the dining experience. Attention to detail is as important  outside the kitchen as it is inside. Restaurateurs need to remember that.


About caitrionaw

Mother, wife, dog owner. Slave, winer, diner, reader, theatre goer.
This entry was posted in Food, Rants, Restaurants, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Things That Make Me See Red In A Restaurant

  1. murraynolan says:

    I think a good indication of the standard of service is whether or not you receive your ‘free’ water once it has been requested.

    Because water doesn’t register as an order it doesn’t get written down it can be quickly forgotten by a busy member of staff.

    Having your plate whipped away within milliseconds of taking your last mouthful can also take the shine off a relaxing meal.

    Finally, what’s so hard about noting who ordered what, particularly for small tables?

  2. caitrionaw says:

    Great points! I forgot to mention those waiters who are hovering around waiting for you to finish your meal and remove the plate.

  3. WiseMona says:

    Great points – and on the wine…
    Once the bottle is opened – it really should stay on your table. I would
    not let it leave. End of story.

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