Table talk: Restaurant pet peeves

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Pet peeves. We all have them. Whether they are with family gatherings, office dynamics, or the behavior of our friends or lovers. One area where most people have very specific pet peeves is dining out.

The Washington Post’s Roberto A. Ferdman posted on the WaPo’s Wonk blog today about one of his biggest dining pet peeves: servers who linger, clear plates too quickly, and often leave some diners with plates and others to stare at an empty table. He believes one of the drivers of the inconsiderate service tick is the desire to turn tables. Read his post here about the bad habits of hovering and early plate-clearing.

The post (and the many meals I eat out each week) got me thinking: “What are my dining pet peeves?” It also led me to wonder what yours are.

I’ll go first:

Small water glasses – I don’t know if restaurants do it for aesthetics or conservation, but I hate getting served water in a three-ounce glass, especially when the water carafe is not left on my table. Just give me an unsightly pint glass, or at least a tumbler.

Answering machines at restaurants – If I am calling with a reservation, a question about attire or service hours, or want to send a dessert to a friend’s table, I want a human being on the other end of the line. Marketing is everything you do to get and keep customers. By not being available to talk to potential guests, restaurants might be losing business.

The crouching server – I like some familiarity and friendliness from servers, but exaggerated kneel right next to the table, which puts the server’s head just above the table-top is off-putting.

Crowded tables — I don’t want to be seated closer to the person at the table next to me than I am to the person across from me.

Touching plates/food when describing a dish – It’s nice, especially in this day and age of complicated dishes, for a server to describe a dish and its ingredients in detail. Pointing at the elements of the plate is one thing, but getting your finger within an inch of the food, or worse, touching the plate, seems to encroach on common decency.

Those are some of my dining pet peeves. What about you?


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