Dining out is something most of us enjoy doing. Sampling delicious food with good company in pleasant surroundings, and no need to worry about washing up. What could be better? But, some eating out experiences aren’t always worthy of dishing out a tip. Here are eight common restaurant bugbears.
Lengthy waits There’s nothing worse when you’re starving hungry with having to wait what seems like decades for your food to be served. Worse still, knowing that the people on the table next to you came after you and their meal comes before yours. And then there is waiting for the bill, when all you want to do is slip off home.
Rushed service At the other end of the scale, being made to feel rushed isn’t that appealing when dining out, either. If a restaurant is busy, serving staff may make you feel that you need to hurry up so they can have the table for waiting customers. Waiters hovering over you to snatch the plate away before you’ve hardly raised the last forkful into your mouth, can make you feel cheated out of a leisurely dining experience.
Uninspiring children’s menus No matter how creative the dishes might sound on the main menu, often restaurants let themselves down badly by paying little attention to the children’s menu. Not all children live off chips, beans and chicken nuggets, so why can’t chefs conjure something up a little more inventive than the bog-standard offerings?
The cheesy vegetarians Whilst vegetarians are catered for much better these days, there is still a tendency for many restaurants to assume veggie meals equate to being saturated in cheese. A bit more imagination and creative flair can spice up a vegetarian meal without a single grated bit of cheese in sight.
Adding a service charge onto the bill This one’s a bit cheeky, really, because no matter what level of service you receive, you still have to pay for it at the end of your meal if the restaurant includes it in your bill. People like to have the option to pay a tip, and not feel that it is an automatic right.
The worst seats in the house Eating out isn’t just about chomping top-notch grub, it’s about the whole experience, from the atmosphere in the restaurant, to the service, and where you get told to sit. If there are plenty of seats available, then ideally you should have the choice where to sit. But, if the waiter automatically puts your in a dark corner next to the toilets, or right next to another couple when half the restaurant is empty, then it will take the shine off your dining experience.
Loud music Creating the right kind of atmosphere in a restaurant is all about getting the key elements in the right proportion. Music is an important ingredient, and a little background music can add to the ambience. But, watch the volume. Music played too loud can stop diners’ conversations dead in their tracks, which isn’t the kind of atmosphere you want to create.
Running out of food There’s nothing more gut wrenching than taking a fancy to a dish on a menu, only to be told by the waiter that they’ve run out of it. Whilst it’s not always easy to predict demand, a busy restaurant should always try to ensure that it keeps its dishes well stocked, or at least lets customers know before they read the menus what is or isn’t on offer at that time.
Written by Crispin Jones for Restaurant Choice Crispin enjoys dining out regularly and these are his views and some of his observations.