Not About Food

Feeling guilty for comped food?


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Not About Food

Feeling guilty for comped food?

acetaminophen | | Mar 3, 2013 09:24 AM

I'm feeling confused after a recent restaurant experience. The entire experience was such a bizarre intersection of high expectations for the food, sitting in a weird corner in the restaurant, and the kitchen making an honest mistake on a busy night. Emotions are still running high and it's difficult for me to figure out how I should feel after all of this...

My significant other and I ordered our drinks, appetizers, entrees, and dessert all at once because we knew what we wanted. Our cocktails arrive with minimal wait, but I start to get worried when the couple seated next to us, who arrived a few minutes after us, received their appetizers before us (and one of the appetizers they ordered was what we had asked for). I notice that the waitress who took our order is also making drinks behind the bar, and several other waitstaff are bringing food to the tables near us.

45 minutes later, we are angry and hungry and getting tipsy from sipping our cocktails with no food, so my significant other gets up from his seat to find our waitress, with no success. A waiter comes by to tell us the kitchen is backed up and offered us free glasses of wine--we refused because we typically don't drink wine. A few minutes later, a different waitress comes over and tells us the kitchen is backed up. I point out that the couple next to us had already finished eating their entrees. The waitress apologizes again and leaves. Our appetizer finally arrives (hand-cut calamari pan-fried with jalapenos and garlic--pretty good). While we are eating, the second waitress (not the one who took our order) comes by with a huge bowl of shoestring fries on the house. We eat a few, but they are unseasoned, and we leave the bowl pretty much untouched on the table. Our original waitress finally swings by again to tell us what we've heard before: she apologizes for the kitchen being backed up. I ask her why other tables who ordered at the same time as us are already done with their meals. She admits that our ticket fell somewhere...

So now we knew that the kitchen made a mistake that set the tone for the evening. On the one hand, it's understandable that mishaps like that are common in a busy kitchen, but for the customer, it's just bad service. Why did no one notice that we were sitting, waiting at our tables with no food close to an hour? If we hadn't gotten up to inquire about our meal, would the kitchen ever had noticed? Was it because we were sitting in the far front corner of the restaurant? While we were waiting, my significant other and I even thought that maybe we looked too young so the waitstaff didn't think we were worth their time. We just had no idea what was going on.

By the end of the meal, we'd received shoestring fries, two glasses of wine, and an extra dessert on the house. The food was good, but not stellar. When we got our check, everything but our entrees were comped. I was confused--and still am--because is free food supposed to make up for an honest mistake or bad service? I understand that what happened could not be righted without going back in time, and the free food did make us feel better, but.. I also feel guilty. Were we supposed to tip generously enough to cover what was comped? Is it wrong for me to still feel like it was an overall bad experience that particular night? Am I overthinking all of this?

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