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How to (and should I) raise poor chef skills to a restaurant owner?

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How to (and should I) raise poor chef skills to a restaurant owner?

Chris VR | Feb 28, 2012 10:29 AM

We ate at an Italian restaurant the other night, a small family-run place that we'd never been to before. It was a bit on the high-end side, nice white linens, and prices to match.

I don't usually order Carbonara because a lot of places do it with lots of cream and peas and I prefer it done with egg yolk and parsley. It was described on the menu as "Sautéed with pancetta and egg yolk, a touch of cream and pecorino cheese" so I was excited they did it the way I prefer.

When it came, it wasn't swimming in cream, so I was excited, but when I started to eat it, I realized what I'd gotten was a plate of linguini with pancetta, a bit of cream, cheese and parsley, and studded with egg whites. I double checked multiple times just eating the white bits and yes, it was definitely egg whites. I've made this myself and I know egg whites don't come anywhere near this dish... it was flat out wrong and it tasted like pasta with scrambled eggs. I just don't think whoever was making it really knew how to do so. Maybe they thought it was OK to use egg white instead of egg yolk? Maybe they used a whole egg? Whatever it was, it was not done correctly.

Both the owner and waitress did (eventually) ask how everything was, although neither seemed to notice that I only ate 1/4 of my $18 pasta entree and didn't wrap it, although I wrapped something else. I smiled and said fine. I'm not usually reluctant to speak up but this was SUCH a mistake and I felt like I'd be suggesting their chef didn't know how to do his job and I didn't know how well that would go over. Plus I was there with my young daughter who notices everything and didn't want to have to explain to her the entire situation, especially if they got upset about it. In addition, we were on a tight time frame because we had to eat and run to pick up my son from a class.

So my question is do I just let it go and not go back there (or just never order that again) or do I email the owner to let him know? I feel like a small business owner would want to know about incompetence in the kitchen, but I also don't want them to think I'm looking for a freebie or trying to tell them how to run their operation. My instinct is to just let it go. I had my chance to speak up, I didn't take it, and I should just forget it... but I'm not going to go back.

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