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Robin Garr

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Pete Wells on the right way to complain at a restaurant

by Robin Garr » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:52 pm

I've been preaching this for years.

The New York Times wrote:CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK
How to Complain at a Restaurant? Just Ask Our Critic
Our restaurant critic, Pete Wells, explains why bringing your gripes to the management instead of anonymously torching the place online will make everybody happier.

Full article in The New York Times here ...
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/05/dini ... lJBgkGaGLQ
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Jenise

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Re: Pete Wells on the right way to complain at a restaurant

by Jenise » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:55 pm

Read and enjoyed this too. It was good to remind myself what I already know but sometimes, vengefully, forget.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Pete Wells on the right way to complain at a restaurant

by Jeff Grossman » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:41 am

We do not all have such patience all the time.

Of all the things that a restaurant might do wrong, the ones that burn me most are the simple ones... I order two plates, why do you bring them out together? I order pasta, when it arrives 45 minutes later why wasn't it boiled long enough to soften it?
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Re: Pete Wells on the right way to complain at a restaurant

by Jenise » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:12 pm

All restaurants make mistakes; what distinguishes the best is how they handle the errors when discovered.

Bob and I went to a restaurant in Princeville last week. We ordered a negroni to start. Then asked for a plate of fried polenta, a charred octopus salad, and a pizza. The waiter asked about sharing or what, and I said we'd share and pointed at the menu while saying "each by itself, in this order, we'll share everything." I also ordered a bottle of Chianti.

What seemed like mere seconds later, the salad and polenta showed up together. No wine yet. "Uh oh," I said to the server, who was not our waiter, "Are you trying to slam us? I asked for our food one dish at a time, and we don't even have our wine yet!" No no she said, but this is what the kitchen sent you. We sent her away but kept both, willing to get to the salad once we finished the polenta, however inelegant this service was. After she left Bob and I also discussed the fact that they'd obviously forgotten about the negroni, but oh well.

Interesting enough, we were sitting at the kitchen counter, and had watched our food prepared without even knowing it was our food. The chefs overheard the conversation.

In the middle of the salad, the negroni showed up. And before we finished the salad the pizza arrived, delivered by the same girl who had endured my wrath when she brought the salad and the polenta earlier. Feebly, she said "I thought you were done." Obviously we were not, I said, and as well, that doesn't mean that we're ready for the pizza without any breathing room. We're not pigs in a trough, we're diners, and we want to dine. So I ordered the pizza to be gone and forbade them from firing another until we were ready. "You're slamming us, and either you slow down or we leave. For god's sake this cocktail just showed up! We'd like the time to savor it, or in fact why don't you just take that away too. A before-dinner cocktail is just that, and it's not "before dinner" any more."

The pizza dough guy hears everything and suddenly leaves his station. About two minutes later he's back with the front of house manager and our original waiter who claims not to have heard "in that order" never mind my elaborately pointing to each item in turn. Which angered me even further. The front of house manager understood immediately what had gone wrong, took charge, put everyone in their place, and offered that appropriate adjustments would be made to our bill. Which she did, adjusting it by about half, and the pizza guy made us an extra pizza to take back to our condo.

So we left feeling really good about the place in spite of the issues.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Pete Wells on the right way to complain at a restaurant

by Jeff Grossman » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:09 pm

Jenise wrote:All restaurants make mistakes; what distinguishes the best is how they handle the errors when discovered.

But when they do the wrong thing and send an innocent (-> non-waiter, possibly non-English-speaking) to do the dirty work, then they get no wiggle room from me.
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Re: Pete Wells on the right way to complain at a restaurant

by Jenise » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:28 pm

I hear you on that.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Pete Wells on the right way to complain at a restaurant

by Barb Downunder » Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:06 am

Vexing issue indeed.
Where the outcome wont change by early intervention, I pay the bill then explain quietly what I was unhappy about and if more than one staff member is in earshot all the better, the issues may get raised with the team.
If there is a fault in a dish then I send it back with the appropriate explanation, obviously needs to be addressed immediately.
I can certainly relate to dishes served all at once, when that is it was was requested, or in too quick succession (this is particularly a problem with Asian restaurants, which is cultural differences mostly, we know to explain carefully order and timing a d it is smiles all around once we all understand j
And oh dear, the cocktail with the main course.
In most places we will order pre dinner drinks, and tell the waiter we want those whilst we peruse the menu, i.e. we don’t order food without a drink in hand!
Elise, your recent experience is certainly ne of those times when issues needed to be addressed, as you did, very firmly indeed.
Reminded me of a meal where I ordered oysters, and then we had spicy burgers ordered for main.
He burgers came. .??? Where are my oysters? Oh the shucker is a bit slow!!! Why on earth would you fire burgers when the starters hadn’t gone out. Not pleased. Waiter unable or unwilling to do anything. I did make my displeasure known before I paid the bill this time. I don’t seek or want to be comped, I want to have a nice experience. In that case I took the comp!
I would always tell the establishment, on the day. They know who is on duty they know you are genuine. We owe them that, we all have bad days.

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