Entertaining & Etiquette

restaurant etiquette (a gripe)

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Entertaining & Etiquette 22

restaurant etiquette (a gripe)

Susu | Feb 13, 2006 04:10 PM

Last night I went to Fork in Seattle with 2 friends for a special occasion (two, actually -- my birthday and to celebrate the new job of another friend). We had a reservation for 6:30 for which we arrived on time. We were seated promptly and had little difficulty in quickly deciding what we wanted to eat (in part with the help of posts on the Seattle message board, I knew I wanted to try the cauliflower soup and the duck). When we arrived, approximately half of the tables were full.

There was nothing unusual about the timing of the delivery of the appetizers. After we finished them, however, and after our plates were cleared, we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited for our entrees. Despite our best intentions we first finished all the bread on the table, then finished our wine. Eventually the waitress appeared and apologized. She said the restaurant had become very busy. She did not tell us when our entrees would arrive. After quite a while she reappeared. She again apologized. One of my companions had opted to not order an appetizer and by this time was very hungry. I asked if we could have more bread while we waited. When the waitress brought the bread, I asked for the wine list again, as we had long since finished the bottle intended to be consumed with our entrees. Still we waited. Other diners, who had opted for the seven-course tasting menu, continued to receive their dishes in an orderly procession. After a considerable amount of time had passed, our waitress reappeared and again apologized profusely, and said our meals would be plated in a "few minutes." At least 10 or 15 minutes later, she brought our dinners. At this point it was past 9:00, and we had been in the restaurant for over two-and-a-half hours.

I did not yell at the waitress, although our distress was quite apparent, as I have worked in restaurants and realize that the front of the house has no control over what happens in the back of the house. I assumed, wrongly, that we would in some way be compensated for this experience. When our waitress brought our bill, she again apologized but not a single item was complimentary. Under the circumstances, I would have expected a manager to apologize to us personally and at least offer to buy our dessert. As I was not paying for the meal, I felt it would be inappropriate for me to complain after getting the bill, although I would have otherwise done so. Because of this experience, I probably will not ever go back to Fork.

Does one need to be an a--hole to get an apology? Was it inappropriate for me to expect the restaurant to in some way acknowledge our inconvenience and less-than-agreeable dining experience by offering to make part of the meal complimentary?

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