A Smorgasbord of Restaurant Takes

File:Italian dishes on a table, served at a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2.JPG

Going to a restaurant is one of those experiences that most of us are very familiar with. We know what going to one is like and we know which aspects of it we enjoy and which ones we don't.

I've got a lot of feelings about this topic and seeing as this is my blog, we're going to talk about a few of them.

Restaurants where the servers give you a hard time are dumb

Everyone is familiar with a place like this; restaurants that are perhaps less known for the quality of their food than they are for the intentional lack of quality when it comes to customer service.

People (read: rubes) flock to these places to be treated like shit by the waitstaff. Apparently, some people find this funny, but what I don't understand is that if you were treated by the staff at Chili's the same way they treat customers at Chicago's famed Wiener's Circle you'd be appalled. What's the difference? One place told you in advance so there was time to mentally prepare, otherwise, they're the same. The Wiener's Circle winds up getting laughter and that Chili's would get a strongly worded email and a bad score on that survey most of us ignore unless we've been wronged.

I hate places like this, and I usually get accused of being uptight. So, I am an ass because I don't want the waiter to write "Lardass" on a paper hat that they told me I had to wear? 

Maybe I'm an ass, but I'm not the kind of moron who will clap like a seal when someone pretends to be mean to me.

Splitting food is unnecessarily stressful

Restaurants are a communal experience (bonus gripe: communal seating is horrendous), meant to be enjoyed with friends, loved ones, or the would-be hitman you're looking to hire, but let's all stick to getting out own food.

I'm not averse to splitting certain appetizers that are intended to be shared. A basket of tortilla chips and their accompanying dips for instance. I start feeling sweat collect on my brow with appetizers that can be easily counted because this means that now math comes into play.

There or four people at your table and when the basket of mozzarella sticks arrives there are nine. It shouldn't take someone like me who got a D in high school calculus to tell you that four doesn't go into nine evenly, so someone is getting a bonus mozzarella stick. This means that instead of enjoying yourself you're stuck taking mental note of everyone's mozzarella stick tally.

Okay, he's at two; I think she's about halfway done with her second; she hasn't touched them yet...

 Then when you get down to the end of the basket and you're left with the sole mozz-stick survivor everyone who wants it has to throw their hat into the ring.

It starts with someone playfully demanding that someone — usually a person who you know will decline — take the last stick. Then it becomes a poker game, everyone trying to not seem too eager to win out. When another person or two-fold, it boils down to two contestants who now play a game of chicken or take the cop-out solution of splitting the final stick.

Splitting meals doesn't get any easier. The dividing process is much simpler since only two people are involved, but now there's a whole bunch of clerical work to deal with.

It starts with saying to the waiter, "The two of us are going to split..." When you do that it throws off the ordering rhythm and now you're co-splitter has to sit there silently, and when the waiter gets to them they have to sheepishly remind them that they're going to be the co-splitter.

Then you've got to ask for extra plates. Real estate is at a premium in restaurants and taking up more of it because you couldn't make up your mind is grounds for getting your tires slashed.

All I want is to sit there, speak when spoken to, and eat my food without having to do any math.

Buffets suck

That statement probably made you recoil in shock, but I'll elaborate.

People love a buffet because they think they're getting a great deal. Sure, the quantity of food is high, but the quality often takes a hit. They're making tons of food that then sits in a big tray under a lightbulb until the last diner decides to finally take the last scoop of mashed potatoes and put it out of its misery. The quality will inevitably take a hit.

Even worse, you have to wade through the tables and get your elbows out for buffet position with your fellow diners just to get some food. I hate having to balance a full plate of food, a bowl of soup, and a glass of water the whole way back to the table. Plus, remember what I said earlier about table real estate? That gets complicated by having to grab a new plate every single time you go back to the buffet.

How is this better than having someone bring the food to you? Y'know like a server. 

If you're still not convinced allow me to extend an olive branch in the form of family-style dining. That's when you get an array of food like you'd find at a buffet, only this time it's delivered right to your table on a big platter.

But Matt, then you have to split the food with others at your table. You hate that!

Yes, but the beauty of most family-style eateries is that all you have to do is flag down your server and they'll bring you more of whatever it is that you want. No sharing math is required when you can just get a fresh platter of chicken delivered with the wave of a hand.


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