Am I the Restaurant Customer from Hell?

Dec 15, 2011 by

If you were asked to name the qualities you like to see in a restaurant – what would they be?  For me it is very simple and can be listed as follows:

  • Atmospheric
  • Welcoming
  • Value
  • Knowledgeable
  • Efficient

First off, the place has to look inviting, cosy, (warm in winter, cool in summer) and most importantly not empty and echoing.   Secondly, when I walk in, after having a glance at the menu outside I want to feel welcome.  There is nothing worse than standing at a sign saying “please wait to be seated” while the staff buzz about ignoring you!  An acknowledging smile and a nod to say “yes, I have seen you and I will be with you in a minute, when I finish what I am doing” is all it takes.  My ex-husband worked in his family pub and the staff were trained to do that, which eliminated any problems with people having to wait to be served during a rush.
The food on offer must be value for money.  This goes without saying but it is incredible how so many restaurants get it so wrong on this front.  In a Michelin starred restaurant you are paying for unbelievable attention to detail and also quality service.  The food should also be mind-blowing.  I always feel, if I have a meal that I would find virtually impossible to recreate at home; then to my mind, it is good value.  Maybe this is a strange rule-of-thumb, however, there is nothing that annoys me more than a restaurant that serves up a badly-executed plate of food that is over-priced and tasteless.  I also hate “menu speak”.  The menu that describes something as “resting on a bed of foam” type of thing.
The staff should be knowledgeable and familiar with the menu.  There is nothing worse than a waiter/waitress who has to run off into the kitchen to ask a busy chef if a sauce has garlic in it, or some such.  They should be able to describe the special of the day in particular and preferably have tasted it.  Another bug bear of mine is staff who are not trained to serve wine correctly.  It has happened in the past that I have ordered a bottle of wine which was then emptied into 3 or 4 glasses and filled to the brim, so much so, that I was tempted to get down to eye level and slurp it!! 
My final quality is efficiency and attention to detail.  And by efficiency I do not mean whipping the plate out from under me before I am finished.  A waiter/waitress who knows when to clear a table, when to suggest looking at the dessert menu, who knows when to give you the bill.  The amount of times I have been tempted to walk out without paying because the said waiter or waitress refused to give me the bill despite being requested to numerous times.  Or even did not return with a receipt or change no matter how small the change was.  This happened to us in France this summer in Narbonne where we sat outside on a footpath while the staff rushed backwards and forwards into the restaurant looking incredibly busy but actually doing nothing.  The amount of tables left waiting to order, waiting for food or drinks, waiting to pay the bill and then finally as we were, left waiting for our change beggared belief.  Eventually, when we got our change we got up fuming and did not leave a tip.
If this makes me the customer from hell then maybe I am.  It never fails to amaze me that so many restaurants are let down by badly-trained staff despite the food being great and also how mediocre food is made a hundred times better by friendly, smiling, efficient staff.  The importance of service can never be over-estimated.

Restaurant Reviews   Restaurant Critics  Narbonne  Restaurant Customer  Menu Speak

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7 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I have to say that in Japan their practise of not only having pictures, but actual plastic mocked up plates in the window to entice you in, is the worst. They are so off-putting. I first went to Japan when I was 6 weeks pregnant and granted, if you looked at me funny, I would have gotten sick, but those plates…..ugh, I still have nightmares!! Andrea Hilderman

  2. Thank goodness I'm not the only one who thinks this! Great service is so important and a smile goes a long way too 😉

  3. I agree with you entirely. I have worked in both front and back of house, so I understand that bad food can be made up with excellent service in that they were so good in looking after you and your party that you left feeling appreciated and not a bother when you had to send your food back for whatever reason. However, no matter how mind blowing the food may be, it only takes one individual to ruin your opinion of the whole place. Therefore, making you vow the never return again = loss in sales and future sales. And finally people talk – and bad news spreads 10 times faster and further than good

  4. You should come to rural US!!! They need lots of lessons .Menus like dictonaries and my pet peeve Pictures!

  5. this information on restaurant seems very impressive and this is something that i liked about it. Lovely post and please share it with more peoples

  6. That's so funny Andrea. But I can imagine the nightmare of it. Adoreabubbles this is true but it seems to be almost nirvana – impossible to achieve.

  7. I don't think you are a the customer from hell, all you are asking for is what every customer should receive!

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