Thursday, October 29, 2009

Because sometimes the NYT is wrong

I read an article in the New York Times (Via The Big Money) by Bruce Buschel who is apparently opening up a new restaurant in New York and is writing about it in a blog for the paper. The article is entitled "100 Things a Restaurant Staffer Should Never Do, Part I". Overall I think it had some good points, number 3 is great "Never refuse to seat three guests before the fourth arrives", after all who has had to stand around waiting for a fourth person when you could start appetizers and drinks without them? The problem is there are some other rules that are not so great.

"7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness."

I do not mind knowing the name of the PERSON serving me, after all they are a PERSON. People have names, they have personalities, hire people with good personalities and let them loose. Sure if they go over board that is not good but I hate a non personal waiter. It makes me uncomfortable.

"10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials."
"40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad."
"43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant."

I consider these three to be a group, the opinion group I guess you could say. Anyone who has dined with me will have seen me, on at least one occasion, ask what the waitress/waiter thinks. They work in the restaurant, they know what other people order and what people were expecting and did not get etc. I depend on their opinion, after all even if they are just working their between gigs it is their job and they deal with the food all the time. The better the restaurant the more I trust that you picked someone to staff the tables who has an iota of a clue as to what people could possibly want to eat. I made a visit to Jimmy's Steer House in Saugus over the summer and it instantly became one of my favorite places to eat after I found a dish I really enjoy there, Calamari on Caesar Salad. When the waitress came over I was perplexed over what to get and when she saw I was torn over the Calamari salad she interjected that it is really good and suggested Caesar Salad as a trade for the normal salad. She was right , it was GREAT. Here is an example where her opinion did matter and her interjecting did make a difference. I could have easily dismissed the idea and went with the normal salad but that was why I was torn and her assurance that the Caesar option was good sold me on it.

If I go into your restaurant feel free to compliment me on my choice and please do tell me what the best dessert on the menu is! I want to know. I promise I won't tell your boss.

"18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”"
"48. Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order."

These are both good rules to try to follow but I sure do hope that the owner is not going to be following them around to ensure compliance. After all I would rather have the right meal in front of me even if it meant asking to make sure it was mine. I do not want nervous waiters who are so afraid of a mistake that they may end up giving me the wrong dish. I also do not want nervous wait staff period, it makes me uncomfortable. After all as a patron my comfort should be taken into account, give your wait staff a break if they make a mistake on these rules other wise they will be nervous and will make me nervous.

"42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else."

From the department of petty complaints comes this gem. I do not even know what to say here, I guess in this place there is no such thing as a compliment. I do not see what is wrong with paying a compliment when you notice something that looks very nice, they obviously worked hard on it let them get complimented on it.

"32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them."

OK I understand this one I really do, after all it is a classic way for waitresses to elicit more tips from their male patrons. When a waitress does any of those motions they do increase their chance of better tips, unless there happens to be a woman at the table attached to the man and even more so if she controls the finances. It is a dangerous game to be playing but I am not sure if I want to see it outlawed outright.

For me most of the ones I picked out come down to the human factor. I want a person waiting on me, not a robot. My guess is that this place will be too expensive for me to dine in anyway, so I will not have to worry about it much. He has 50 more coming out soon, I am sure they will be just as pretentious and over the top as these.

Let me pull out the few I really like:

"4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-
bouche. The guests may be tired and hungry and thirsty, and they did everything right." (Not that hard)

"16. If someone requests more sauce or gravy or cheese, bring a side dish of same. No pouring. Let them help themselves." (I am a dipper myself so I love this)

"20. Never refuse to substitute one vegetable for another." (Personal favorite)

"31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong." (YES, full plate means something is wrong... One section untouched, something went wrong.Thought I can not help but feel that this may have been avoided if the waiter was allowed to express an opinion of some sort involving the dish I was ordering :/ )

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