This post was occasioned by people complaining about the unavailability of menu items at the Swinging Door in North Hollywood, particularly the beef ribs.
When I lived in Europe, and particularly when I travelled round Eastern Europe and Russia (just after the breakup of the Soviet Union), a printed menu was less a list of the items one could order than merely a catalogue of foods the restaurant would serve if they could.
"I'd like the borscht and then steak."
"Steak is off."
"Hm, then venison steak with mushroom sauce."
"Venison is off."
"What's on, then?"
"Cutlet and vegetables, kielbasa and cabbage, or baked fish and mushrooms."
One learned very quickly to read the menu written on the boards near the entrance, since that was more likely to be accurate.
Here in the U.S., though, when a restaurant is out of a menu item, it becomes a big production, especially if it happens more than once. Many places don't bother with specials boards, and a lot of places are chains that have suppliers that ship in the same food to every outpost. I've heard (within the last two weeks, actually) someone actually threaten to sue the restaurant for false advertising. (Huh?)
I have to be honest, I get briefly annoyed when something I want isn't available, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal to me.
What are your thoughts?