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Old 07-16-2006, 11:34 AM   #1
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Returns in Restaurants

I'm taking this from the dogs in restaurants thread to a new one. What do you do when you get something at a restaurant that doesn't cut it? Under what circumstances do you send something back? I live in a very small town, and tend to know my restauranteurs or chefs. How do you handle things gracefully? At what point to you just let it be, or send it back? It's a tough question, because if you send stuff back, you often wind up getting your dinner when everyone else at the table is ready to go home. I'll chime in with some experiences on this one, but want to know how you handle it.

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Old 07-16-2006, 11:43 AM   #2
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Most recently I ordered liver & onions in a local steak house where I know the owners and the regular chef. The liver was so tough that I could't saw through it with a steak knife (normally it is fork-tender). I sent it back, it obviously had been cooked way too long. But, even though it takes almost no time to cook liver, I wound up getting my meal when everyone was finishing theirs. Quite often when this kind of thing happens I don't bother to complain or send a meal back simply because it throws the entire dinner party off. At one restaurant here in town,when we first moved here, I had a perfect meal, and hubby had a truly lousy one. It was "Greek spaghetti" and the "chef" had kept the pasta half-cooked and ready to dunk into boiling water (a normal procedure, I think). However, he didn't drain the pasta (it was a long, tubular pasta), and hubby wound up with a plate of cold pasta in cold starchy water. WE complained (we'd only lived here a week or two). THe owner came out and said if we'd pay for our drinks, the food was on the house. WE'd ordered appetizers, and my dinner was the most expensive one on the menu I protested, saying my dinner was fine, we'd pay for it. His reply was "if one person in a party has a ruined meal, the entire meal is ruined for everyone." Wow. What a man.
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Old 07-16-2006, 12:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
I'm taking this from the dogs in restaurants thread to a new one. What do you do when you get something at a restaurant that doesn't cut it? Under what circumstances do you send something back? I live in a very small town, and tend to know my restauranteurs or chefs. How do you handle things gracefully? At what point to you just let it be, or send it back? It's a tough question, because if you send stuff back, you often wind up getting your dinner when everyone else at the table is ready to go home. I'll chime in with some experiences on this one, but want to know how you handle it.
I don't fuss over the small stuff. However, for example, when I order steak, roast beef etc., and I specify how I want it cooked - med well, and it comes to the table dripping blood/rare, I cannot and will not eat it; and need to send the dish back. I don't mind waiting, a little bit; but I may not return if my order is not as I requested. The only other instance, I would send the food back is if the food tastes off - not fresh. Or, for example, I ordered a specific salad dressing, and it is not the dressing or dish I ordered.

I had a friend that literally sent everything back. It was an unpleasant dining experience, to dine with someone that is never 'satisfied.' If I am on a date, or someone else is paying for the meal, I am reluctant to cause a fuss, & might grin and bear it -- to a point.

When I am paying for my meal/dining experience, and the food is not up to par -- meaning something is really wrong, or not as I ordered, I will speak up - always gracefully. Could be an off-night, new staff, chef, whatever -- I still might want to return & give it another go.
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Old 07-16-2006, 12:21 PM   #4
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That is a smart owner Claire. I am sure that because of his response you guys gave his restaurant another shot. Had his attitude been different perhaps that would have been the last time you went there.

I will occasionally send something back, but it would have to be either inedible, or the completely wrong dish. If I order a steak med rare and it comes back with no pink at all then I will probably just suck it up and eat it. If it is black and way way overcooked then I would send it back.

I never make an issue out of it though as that would not be fair to the waiter or waitress. They are just the messenger so to speak. I also try to remember that these are just human beings cooking my meal and they are allowed to make mistakes. I would never get upset because they screwed up my meal. I would however get upset if they did not handle the situation with respect.
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Old 07-16-2006, 12:21 PM   #5
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In 30 years of dining out on my own, I can remember only two times when I sent entrees back.

The first was a steak that, while ordered rare, came to the table with the center not only cold, but nearly frozen solid.

Second was when I ordered a spinach-stuffed flounder & was served a crab-stuffed flounder. And yes, I know that the crab-stuffed was just as good, but it irked me that the order was completely off-base. I really wanted that spinach-stuffed flounder. What irked me even more was when the server came back & tried to convince me over & over & over that the crab-stuffed was so much better. Hello????? I ordered the spinach-stuffed. This same restaurant gave us a wine list, & then told us that none of the white wines were available chilled. Hello?????

My insisting on the spinach-stuffed flounder came back to bite me in the a**. It was awful, & I brought nearly the whole thing back & gave it to one of my cats. The cat was sick for 3 days & wouldn't touch any leftovers I gave it after that - lol!!!
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Old 07-16-2006, 12:37 PM   #6
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Claire: Pretty much the same thing happened to my husband and me when we dined at a good restaurant in San Diego. My husband's dinner wasn't quite ready so the waitress brought mine out ahead of his. The manager happened to notice that my husband had no dish in front of him and asked about it. He said our dinners should have been brought out together. He comped us to BOTH dinners. The bill would have come to 48.00. What a class act. Needless to say we went back again and again. Service like that should be rewarded with loyal patronage.

I don't understand why people are so reluctant to send back a meal that is less than satifactory. You are paying for for this meal. and you have every right to demand that it be first quality. If you don't take a defensive stand and become obnoxious, you will get another meal and possibly a comp or sometimes they offer a free dessert. At any rate, you should never pay for a meal that is not the way it should be.
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Old 07-16-2006, 12:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Drama Queen
Claire: Pretty much the same thing happened to my husband and me when we dined at a good restaurant in San Diego. My husband's dinner wasn't quite ready so the waitress brought mine out ahead of his. The manager happened to notice that my husband had no dish in front of him and asked about it. He said our dinners should have been brought out together. He comped us to BOTH dinners. The bill would have come to 48.00. What a class act. Needless to say we went back again and again. Service like that should be rewarded with loyal patronage.

I don't understand why people are so reluctant to send back a meal that is less than satifactory. You are paying for for this meal. and you have every right to demand that it be first quality. If you don't take a defensive stand and become obnoxious, you will get another meal and possibly a comp or sometimes they offer a free dessert. At any rate, you should never pay for a meal that is not the way it should be.
DQ, you raise a good point re everything coming out at the same time, courses served too close together, or your table-companion is served before or after you. Instances like that, make the whole dining experience unpleasant. I don't care or expect a free dessert or to be compensated -- I may not return. But, everyone is human, and everything is not always choreagrahed to perfection. When the timing is all wrong, it has occurred to me to just send the whole thing back and walk away. Again, always be graceful, & convey your experience to the manager. If they expect to stay in business, they will address the problems with a smile.

P.S. If I have to wait a year-and-a-day for the check, and all of the above-mentioned occur, it tells me something about the restaurant.
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Old 07-16-2006, 01:07 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by mish
DQ, you raise a good point re everything coming out at the same time, courses served too close together, or your table-companion is served before or after you. Instances like that, make the whole dining experience unpleasant. I don't care or expect a free dessert or to be compensated -- I may not return. But, everyone is human, and everything is not always choreagrahed to perfection. When the timing is all wrong, it has occurred to me to just send the whole thing back and walk away. Again, always be graceful, & convey your experience to the manager. If they expect to stay in business, they will address the problems with a smile.
Your post reminds me of a pet peeve of mine related to timing that I hope is not too off-topic. I am constantly amazed at how often -- I'm talking "nice" restaurants here -- the waitstaff start removing plates and generally tidying up when one or more in the party is still eating. Actually, it happens almost all the time. Shouldn't this be an absolute no-no in a decent restaurant unless the patrons have excessively outworn their welcome? I think that the next time I encounter that, I will politely ask the offending person to cease and desist.

With regard to returning food, though, I agree with those who say it's an option best left for serious offenses and shouldn't be done at the drop of a hat.
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Old 07-16-2006, 01:26 PM   #9
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This thread reminds me of something that happened to my bil. The food had been brought out for everyone and when bil looked at his, he said 'this isn't what I ordered". The waiter, a young guy (probably working his way thru school) said "you can handle it, can't you". Bil was so taken aback, he did eat it, but always remembers to stand up if it isn't something he wants. I have very rarely sent anything back, but I have a sister who complains about everything and sends it back so much that I don't even eat out with her. I don't consider myself picky, but wouldn't eat anything I didn't order, or something that wasn't as good as it is supposed to be.
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Old 07-16-2006, 01:26 PM   #10
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We had a bad experience at La Madeleine French Bakery and Restaurant in Georgetown. We ordered the chicken salad sandwiches (3 of them) and got salty chicken salad. But I mean "SALTY" to the point you couldn't even taste the salad but only salt. Gross! I was tempted to return our meals but DH asked me not to-he doesn't like returns of any kinds. He was lucky he ordered quiche and his was fabulous! We ended up having only our desserts for dinner that night. At least we ate. If this ever happens again, I will certainly return the meals until I get my money's worth.
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