This happened in four of the eight places we ate out on our recent US trip, so wondered if Chowhounders could set us right.
We like coffee after dinner. In the UK, you order dessert and then when the waiter/ waitress comes to take your plate from dessert, he or she asks if you would like coffee. Sometimes you are asked if you would like coffee when the dessert order is taken, and then we always emphasise, yes, but after dessert. Either way, we get coffee.
Our first dinner, we ordered dessert, there was no offer or mention of coffee when the order was taken and then the check arrived while we were still eating dessert. On that occasion, we just went elsewhere for coffee, but when it happened again (and again!) we asked for coffee and a new check. In these cases, the waiter/waitress seemed quite surprised. We on the other hand were surprised when not offered coffee - surely it must be a high margin item for restaurants?
This happened in high end and less high end places. So, what's the magic time to order coffee?