Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Food Crimes in Restaurants

These are some of the worst things restaurants can do to food!
  • Putting too much chilli sauce on EVERYTHING (ok, I may have been to Nando’s recently but it doesn’t make it ok!)!
  • Over-doing meat. You can’t un-cook it if it's over done.
  • Too much booze in the sauce – the idea is to evaporate most of it off, no?
  • Massive portions of pasta – I will never finish it but I will feel immense guilt at not finishing the portion!
  • Advertising meat in the dish and not really putting enough in. Like, about two bits. Small. 
  • Over-seasoning – I can’t take that bucket of salt out now you’ve dumped all over it. Just a reasonable amount cheers.
  • Food at varying temperatures. You get PAID to cook food and my mushrooms are cold and I can’t eat anything else because it’s all too hot.
  • Making assumptions – if there are several different variations of an ingredient, make sure it’s clear how it is going to be cooked. Expensive for you and irritating to me because I will send it back.
  • False advertising - Come on now, it doesn't look anything like that in the picture.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

TV Chefs

I love watching cooking programmes. I've spent days (well, maybe not days but you know what I mean) glued to the screen drinking in Hugh's words (and marvelling at his ease to slip double entendres into EVERYTHING) and trying to work out exactly what Heston is on (and wondering if I can have some). But there are some chefs who just get my goat:

  • Nigella Lawson – oh, stop trying to make broccoli sexy.
  • Jamie Oliver – I don’t give a shit if you are a geezer. Putting a towel under your chopping board does NOT make you a geezer.
  • Lorraine Pascale. I don’t know why. She’s just annoying.
  • Marco Pierre White. Because he is an arse and he sold his soul to stock cubes.
  • Gordon Ramsay. I just don’t like him. Saying fuck a lot in a kitchen is not controversial. I’d say any more but anyone who’s ever worked in a kitchen before his TV programmes know it’s always been de rigeur.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

15 Things that Make a Bad Customer

I wrote a blog about things that restaurants do that irk me last week. Well, here's the other side. I've worked in enough restaurants that I have a long list of things that customers do that make my blood boil! Please feel to agree, disagree and leave other customer annoyances in the comments.
  • Don’t leave pennies in the tip. It feels a bit like an insult. Even more so than not leaving a tip at all. Even now if I’m with someone who puts the pennies in the tip, I insist that they’re taken out.
  • Gaining attention. An inebriated, charmless gentleman once clicked his fingers at me in order to gain my attention. I didn’t think real people actually did this. But just to clarify, it’s not ok and makes you look like a complete idiot.
  • Acknowledgement. It’s also not great to stop talking for a split second whilst your food is put down, and then carry on talking without any acknowledgement or thanks to the waiter/waitress. I know it’s my job, but I’m not so sub-human I don’t need to be talking to.
  • I just bring the plate out. I don’t say what goes on it, so to go into a debate about why this food is crap is completely fruitless. I can’t tell you why. Please hold whilst I get the manager or chef to whom you can direct your torrent of abuse.
  • Leaving. If you decide you would not like to eat there, hold the snarky comments when you leave until you are out of earshot, a lot of other people do like the food.
  • Order of service. Someone I know works in a Michelin star restaurant and occasionally people come in and just don't know how to act, despite being guided pleasantly through the whole experience. Don't pre-empt what you think should happen, wait staff there know what they're doing!
  • Complaining. If you are going to make a complaint, please make it whilst I have a chance to do something about it or don't bother. If you have all but licked your plate, I can only assume that it really wasn’t as bad as you say.
  • Complaining for the sake of it. Following on, if you don’t want me to do anything about it, why did you complain? It’s definitely a better idea to glower at me every time I come near you. I offered you complimentary dessert, what more do you want!?
  • Pervy customers. Whether it’s pinching your bum or making a lecherous comment, it’s embarrassing for you AND the customer’s dining companions. Plus, y’know, it’s harassment.
  • Children. I have no objection to kids, and I know it’s really hard having kids, but for the love of God, keep them under control! It’s REALLY embarrassing having to tell your kid off for running around (or even worse, nearly tripping over one with several plates of heavy food. No end of trouble).
  • Customers disputing the bill. You would have agreed to all of these charges. You’re drunk and unwilling to take responsibility. Calm down and I shall explain it all.
  • Call your own taxi! Fair enough if you haven’t got a taxi number but where really does it say that I have any obligation to arrange your transport? I mean, I’ll do it, but I’ll huff and puff when I get to the office to phone them. Use your own phone.
  • Sheer unawareness. If you have pre-ordered and are in a ridiculously large group, please can SOMEONE know what you have ordered. It’s probably a heavy plate. I will either drop it on you or throw it at you on grounds of sheer doziness.
  • Indecisiveness. Also, I really love it when you ask for a few more minutes to decide and don’t pick up your menus for another twenty minutes. Catch up with your friends after you’ve chosen your food, and don’t give me evils when I try to take your order for the third time. GET THE HINT.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Top 10 Restaurant Pet Peeves

It’s easy to sit there and criticise restaurants for not doing everything perfectly, but there are some things that are unforgivable. And there are some things that just plain irritate me. So without further ado, these are my top 10 restaurant pet-hates.

I just want to pay!
Giving you the bill and leaving you for 20 minutes. I just want to go now, cheers. Maybe I’ll start doing what Michael Winner does and simply get up and leave if they don’t come back quickly enough. (I might not get let off like him though!).

What's the problem, pauper? 
Sneering at you when you order towards the cheaper end of the wine list. DON’T JUDGE ME, you probably can’t afford it either – also, if you don’t want people to buy cheap wine, don’t have it on the list.

What's the drill?
When ordering in say, a gastro-pub, it is often unclear what etiquette is re: ordering – do I sit down or go to the till, or just stand awkwardly until you thrust a menu into my hand and look at me like a moron?

Not acknowledging me when I enter or leave the restaurant. Unbelievable. Such a simple thing to do, can only come down to manners. I know someone who worked at Pizza Express in the 90s and it was staff policy to greet EVERYONE who came through the door IMMEDIATELY, even if you couldn't deal with them straight away. It’s nice to be noticed (And there's an example of a chain that didn't do too badly).

Oi, four eyes!
Writing specials on a board no-one can see – some of us don’t have our contacts in. It’s embarrassing going up to the board and getting so close you smudge the chalk. Ok, maybe that’s just me.

Pretentious, Moi?
Over elaborate dish descriptions, and not calling a spade a spade. If you’re not a French restaurant, don’t pretend you are. It’s steak and chips however you look at it and I don't need to know every single ingredient in the dish. There is beauty in mystery, no need to dress it up. You’re not writing a book.

Cheese Omelette please
Dull vegetarian options. It doesn’t affect me, but seeing it on the menu just irritates me. If I had a penny for every time I’d seen a ‘stuffed field mushroom’ on a menu… I’d have about £4.46. And you can’t even really stuff them.

Service Included 
Charging automatic gratuity. It doesn’t motivate the waiter to be any nicer as they know it's coming and I’d rather choose to tip for good service. Why not simply remove service altogether, increase prices by 15% and pay it to the staff? It's no longer a service charge, it's a surchage.

Picture by @trap_door

You could eat your dinner off that! 
‘Quirky’, 'utilitarian' food serving ideas like food served on chopping boards and chips in buckets. Oh, and enamel camping tins. Unless you are in Shoreditch in 1998 you look slightly try-hard now. Maybe it;'s just me but I quite like the idea of fired porcelain to eat food from, circular, clean and hygienic.

Form an orderly queue! 
No bookings policy. Shit for first dates – there’s nothing more embarrassing than turning up to a restaurant with a prospective girl / boyfriend and having to wait and make awkward conversation for half an hour whilst queuing.


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