Service last week at the Queen’s Arms followed by exemplary service at Butler’s Wharf Chop House on Saturday, prompted a discussion about what riles us when eating out.
You order a dish, the waiter writes it down, but returns five minutes later saying, ‘sorry madam, we’ve just run out’. My advice, get the chef to ‘run out’ and buy more of whatever he needs, or at least keep waiters informed.
Waiters who are impossible to attract as they walk around with eyes closed - staff should be attentive and on the lookout for how they can help.
Tables too close to each other - whilst I may not be discussing state secrets, I don’t want to be overheard or hear my neighbours' conversation. Likewise, I do not want to be able to head count people going in and out of the toilets and smell the bleach.
Condiments in sachets which are impossible to open and often result in ketchup stains down your shirt. Black pepper grinders should be obligatory and no, this does not mean an Italian waiter giving me a twist from a giant phallic mill.
Waiters not being able to judge my pace - it should be obvious whether I’m on an hour's lunch break with a colleague or a more leisurely lunch with chums. So don’t waste my time or hurry me through when there’s no need. It should be part of their training.
There are so many hates around wine I’ve brigaded them together. If I’ve ordered the wine, I expect to taste it and I should not have to ask for an ice bucket for my white wine. If the wine and bucket is not within my reach, I do not want the dilemma of either surreptitiously serving myself when the waiter’s back is turned or having to ask for my glass to be topped as this makes me feel like a lush.
My glass should not be filled to the brim in order to make me buy another. On finding my wine isn’t available and being recommended a more expensive bottle I think I should be offered it at the cheaper price.
I refuse to use a restaurant that doesn’t take a booking (which unfortunately is becoming trendy). If I want to eat at 8pm, I want to eat at 8pm - I don’t want to be herded into a crushed bar to wait for a table. Nor do I want to be told I have to give back my table in two hours.
Finally, this irritation is becoming rarer, but not automatically being offered tap water. The worst restaurants are those catering for large parties. They leave large bottles on the table and keep them flowing. Then everyone wonders why their £15 three course ‘special offer’ meal cost twice the price despite only moderate amounts of cheap plonk.
Let me know what your pet hates are by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.