Real Restaurant Rules

It’s not often that we invoke actual rules for Real Reality Show Blog readers.  After all, real reality is what you make of it.  But last year was not a banner year for eating out.  We saw poor behavior by almost every facet of the restaurant industry from cooks to coat check attendants.  It was on New Year’s Eve that we finally had to say, “Somebody has got to take control here.”  And those somebodies are us! 

Last summer we found out that if we walk up to a hostess stand and there are three or more workers there, we should turn around and walk away.  We’re not certain but we think that two of the three may have been on their cell phones with each other.  Whatever they were doing they weren’t working on seating the next party.  Since there was then a lack of available seating there seemed little else for the hostesses to do.  Folding linen, polishing flatware, bussing tables, doing anything would have been preferred over just standing around in front of potential patrons waiting for a place to sit.  A tip for the front of the house.

Just a few weeks ago we found out that if you can smell the garlic as you are walked to your table, don’t order the scampi.  We did but She of We did anyway.  It wasn’t all that bad.  Sometimes it’s good to sleep on the couch.  And more and more we need to ask if al dente when applied to vegetables is a code word for raw.  It confuses our mouths when the broccoli is hard and crunchy and the pasta is slightly over done in that not quite mushy manner that happens when you over re-heat what you prepped earlier in the day.  A couple tips for the back of the house.

But by and large, our most disappointment came at the hands of those into whose hands we put our dining experience, the servers.  We’ve tried hinting.  We’ve left a tip here and there.  We’ve held tips back here and there!  We think it’s time for rules.  Real rules for restaurant servers.

                    Rule Number 1.  Tell us the specials when you greet us.  We hate when we are seated, given menus, asked for drink orders, finally decided what we want to eat and then have our server say, “Let me tell you about this evening’s specials.”  You can tell us but either we’re going to not listen because we want to remember what it is we decided on from the menu or you’re going to have to go away again while we reconsider our choices. 
                    Rule Number Next.  When you take our order would be a good time to tell us the chef’s favorite, your favorite, or if there is something everybody has raved about that evening.  It was at our New Year’s Eve dinner at a very fine restaurant with normally very fine food and service that our waitress insisted on telling us what she likes to eat for each course AFTER each course was served.  By the time the dessert menu came out we thought about just having her order for us.   
                    Rule Number Next and a Half.  Please taste what you serve.  Although we appreciate the honesty of “I don’t know, I never had it here,” we don’t appreciate the lack of attention to detail that you wouldn’t want to know everything there is to know about the food you serve.   We watch all the cooking shows but we still don’t know all the jargon or even all the food.  Is broccolini a pasta or a vegetable.  Or is that boccone?  Bocconcini is the pasta?  You can help us.  Robert Irvine would be proud of you.
                    Rule Number the One After That.  Pay attention to the table’s flow.  If we are still working on our appetizers, do not bring out the soup.  It was around Thanksgiving when the last thing we wanted was more turkey.  So we ambled over to a nearby Italian restaurant where we had the ultimate plan.  A smokey fonduta, a classic Caesar, some decadently cheesey pastas, topped off with a course of zeppole.  Heaven.  What we got was our salad first, the appetizer and entrée together, and we left without ordering dessert.  There is a rule (and not ours) that never should new plates be served until old plates are cleared.  Unfortunately like most speed limit laws that seems to have turned into a suggestion.  We were even willing to ignore the fact that the waitress reminded us at each table visit that it was her first night.  We’re actually the perfect couple to break in new staff.  We’re very low maintenance, rarely order off the menu, and generally tip well.  Then there are those times when even we can’t turn the lifelong served one into a number one server.  
                    Rule Next to the Last.  Know why you stopped by.  We are convinced that most wait persons have no idea why they stop back after serving a course to ask if everything is ok.  Well, that’s the reason.  It’s not to see if we’re enjoying ourselves.  It’s an opportunity to confirm that what we were served is prepared properly and as we ordered it.  The question should be, “Is everything as you expected?”  If you get the urge to tell us that you thought we’d enjoy it even though you always have it with chicken, please see one of the rules above. Something up there covers that.
                    Rule Last.  When you bring us our check and we decide to pay in cash don’t ask us if we want change.  If you were working at the mega mart and someone handed over a wad of bills for their groceries would you ask if the shopper wanted change?  Assume we want what is ours.  If you feel you have to say something, say, “I’ll be right back with your change.”  If we decide to share some of that with you, we’ll let you know.

So for the waitstaff workforce out there, there are our tips for you.  No, not tips, not advice, not veiled hints.  Those are our rules.  There aren’t hard to follow and those who do will be richly rewarded.  We have some favorite servers we don’t even wait for change from.  That’s a rule too.

Now, that’s what we think.  Really.  How ‘bout you?




  1. The problem with telling customers your favorite meal is that if they base their decision on what you like, they could end up being disappointed and in a sense “take it out on you” saying something like “We’ll it wasn’t that good” or something along those lines. Then you’ve (in a sense) ruined their meal. Of course, diners should know that they’ve made the decision on their own, but that would be in a perfect world.

    When guests ask me “Is the chicken any good?” it puts a lot of pressure on my as a waitress. See, I like it, but maybe you won’t. Everyone’s taste is different. So, I mention something like “Quite a few regular customers come back and order the chicken every time because they love it. They find the barbecue sauce it’s topped with to be delicious” . That way they can base their decision on what other customers in general think, not just my opinion.

    1. Thanks for commenting. We appreciate when a server gives us a mini-review. Knowing a particular dish is a crowd pleaser is good information to add to the decision making machine. Still, a personal endorsement is the best review. If you should ever wait on us and you give us your opinion, know that we’ll never hold it against you, even if we order what you like and we don’t like it. That’s a rule in there somewhere too. The customer makes up his own mind. But please don’t ever be one of those who say everything is “an excellent choice.” That’s right up there with “the check’s in the mail” and “of course I signalled before I turned.”

      1. It’s good to know that there are people out there who realize that they make their own decisions and to never hold it against a waiter if what they order isn’t their favorite.

        I worry about that a lot, but when it does come to regular customers I will tell them my opinion if they want to try something new (since I already know a bit of their likes and dislikes).

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