HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’RE IN THE WRONG RESTAURANT?
LET ME COUNT (TEN OF) THE WAYS...
1. The reek of elderly frying oil
We’ve all sensed it the moment we go through the door: the rank, burnt, downright horrible smell of frying oil that has been, to say the least, overworked. It’s not just horrible, it’s dangerous too. Complete justification for walking out.
2. “We only have small bottles of sparkling water”
Why? Just to annoy your customers and charge an even more extortionate rate? As a way of indicating that a restaurant doesn’t really give a toss about its customers, this is as clear as daylight.
3. Four wines by the glass. And no more.
And they are Chilean and French, bog standard varietals. It means the restaurant doesn’t care about wine or about you, the customer.
4. “I’m sorry sir, but you will need to wear a tie...”
Listen, sonny, if you’re going to take my money you surrender any right to dictate what I wear. Customers are required to be decent (no bare chests, even amongst men) and to wear shoes but, frankly, that’s as far as the rules should go. And restaurants with “dress codes” tend to be either rubbish at cooking anyway and/or full of the kind of people I want to avoid like the bubonic plague.
5. “You mean brooshetta...”
Oh no I don’t. You don’t have to be a linguist to know that ch is usually pronounced k in Italian. And even if you speak the language, don’t comment on other people’s prononciation. The customer is right, even when he’s wrong.
5. “I’ll have to ask the chef.”
Fine if it’s a particularly obscure question but proper restaurants get their staff to know about what is being served. If this doesn’t happen, it’s not the poor server’s fault so don’t get cranky. Just remember.
6. “Can I just take a few moments of your time to explain the concept?”
This is where you make your excuses and leave. A restaurant is somewhere in which food is served to customers. That’s the bleedin’ concept and I don’t want to hear any more. I just want to eat. (This is a phenomenon which has yet to make its way to Dublin but it’s only a matter of time, believe me).
7. “Excellent choice!”
Look, this isn’t a game and we don’t really care – to be utterly, brutally, frankly honest here – what you think of our ability to order stuff from the menu. We are adults, okay? And it’s not our first time in a restaurant.
8. Expensive wine suggestions
Most sommeliers are professional enough to realise that very few customers actually want to pay more than €40 or €50 for a bottle of wine. When you ask for a suggestion and it comes back as an obscure Tuscan for €120, you are most definitely in the wrong place.
9. The “do you have a reservation” performance art
It’s half past eight on a Tuesday. There are two tables occupied and the FOH asks “do you have a reservation?” When you say you don’t, there’s a palaver as s/he consults the reservations book in a pathetic attempt to imply that the restaurant is struggling to accommodate you. Give us a break.
10. What’s wrong with ****ing plates?
Chips in miniature frying baskets, sloppy sauces on flat slates, polenta fries in buckets, desserts in Kilner jars... We want plates. Plates and bowls, those things that are designed for accommodating food while it is consumed. It’s an ancient idea and it still works remarkably well after hundreds of years.