It appears to me that some of the posters on this thread, mainly ex-waiters, really do not have much knowledge as to this topic, other than their own limited personal ones, because they have not been fortunate enough to have eaten in many of America’s grandest restaurants, nor have they traveled outside this country much.
So to sum up this disagreement between the two “camps,” it appears that there is basic agreement that the service at the finest USA restaurants (French Laundry, Jean-George, Le Bernardin, etc.), along with many ethnic establishments where use of English is limited, is pretty much like all European restaurants, in that waiters do not exhibit the behavior I have complained about. It also seems pretty much admitted that my claim that 30-40 years ago, any other type of behavior was virtually unknown here, too.
So, it seems that it is acknowledged that the behavior that I dislike stems from “studies” that giant restaurant chains have done about what appeals to, or could be fostered upon, middle-American and lower types of customers (not the French Laundry, Jean-George, Le Bernardin, etc. type of patron), to put them at ease to some extent, but perhaps most importantly, get them to order more and out more quickly (increase “volume”), and thereby increase profits.
We are down to a disagreement as to whether the former type of service (at the finest USA restaurants, European restaurants and in all USA restaurants in former times) which I will hereinafter call the Old-Europe Service (“OES”) is right and whether the treatment that giant restaurant chains foster on everyone, because they assume them to be terrified hicks, which I will call giant chains’ hick service (“GCHS”) is wrong.
I am not kidding. I submit that it is wrong to offer GCHS to the giant restaurant chains’ customers. More money usually buys better things and better service. Since French Laundry, Jean-George, Le Bernardin, etc. cost more, it is apparent that the OES that they offer is “better” service. So why cannot everyone get the OES treatment? If you think that the middle-American and lower types of customers do not deserve the OES treatment that the richer and more sophisticated customers at French Laundry, Jean-George, Le Bernardin, etc. receive, I submit that you are a snob. Giant restaurant chains deserve to be continually criticized for putting increased “volume” and increased profits ahead of having their waiters give everyone the OES treatment that the richer and more sophisticated customers in this nation receive.
I wrote the BOR to try to end this problem. If thousands would copy it, or something similiar, and leave it behind at restaurants that offend; or orally complain to management, things might improve.
DINERS’ BILL OF RIGHTS
I promise to show up at the restaurant promptly at the time of my reservation, to dress impeccably, to use proper table manners, to talk softly and to pay my bill. I will also use appropriate dining customs. This means, among other things, that I will not order “blush” wine, will not eat from my companion’s plate, or ask to take the leftovers home (ill-mannered, shocking and the most boorish thing which Americans commonly do in restaurants). In return, I ask that the staff of the restaurant also behave properly. This means that:
a)\tNo one will tell me my waiter’s first name. This is never done in sophisticated countries. It is too familiar and smacks of hyped phony friendliness and the “hard sell” techniques taught by Amway and Tupperware.
b)\tNo one will address my guests, or me, as: “folks,” nor my female companions as “guys.” “Folks” means commoners and is demeaning to the guest, even if he or she is common. The term “guys” simply does not refer to women. To inquire if the guest is "still working on that” is contemptible.
c)\tNo one will ask if I have any questions about the menu. Waiters, unless told otherwise, should assume
the guest to be a regular patron and/or knowledgeable about food. To assume otherwise is demeaning.
d)\tWhile we are on the subject of menus, fine restaurants, in sophisticated countries, do not offer green
salad. Obviously, one should not visit a fine restaurant, with a skilled and inventive chef, to order such an extremely simple dish. Instead, an experienced diner selects, as an appetizer, one of the more challenging and unusual dishes the chef prepares. Grand restaurants offer luxury items like foie gras, truffles, caviar, lobster, etc., among the appetizers. Additionally, sophisticated diners drink wine with their appetizers. The vinegar in salad dressing ‘fights” with wine. However, if one just must have a salad, it is incorrect to eat it at the beginning of the meal, when the diner is hungriest and his palate is already fresh. Instead, it is acceptable to eat a salad, after the main course, but before the cheese course, to refresh the palate.
e)\tAgain, while we are on the subject of menus, the word “entree” is a French word, meaning to “come in” or “enter.” It is also used on the menu in France, and in every other country, except this one, to mean, obviously, the “entering” dish, or the appetizer Doubt this? See over for bills from two Paris restaurants. Long ago, someone simply made a mistake in this county, in thinking “entree” meant the main course. Now we seem to be stuck with the improper use of the word. It is not feasible to try to correct the entire American public as to its error. Nor is it possible to try to explain this American mistake to the rest of the world. However, now that we get a few foreign visitors, restaurants should avoid the confusion that the use of the word results in. Restaurants should simply leave the term “entree” off the menu. Waiters should be instructed to use the words “appetizer” and “main course” or “main dish,” instead of mentioning the word “entree.”
f)\tTypical American mistakes concerning wine should be avoided:
1)\tIn the U.S., white wines are usually served too cold, and red ones too warm. Fine red wines are served at room temperature, but the room in question is the wine cellar, which is not more than 55 degrees. Young, lighter reds, like Beaujolais, are always served slightly chilled.
2)\tThe wine cork is never placed on the table or given to the guest. After checking it, the waiter should put it in his pocket or drop it into the ice bucket.
3)\tWines bottles are properly held at the bottom. Waiters should avoid placing the palm of their hand against the side of the bottle, as that warms it.
4)\tFine red wines are decanted or are served from a wine basket or a wine rack. The bottle is not simply placed upright on the table. A napkin is never tied around the neck of the wine bottle.
g)\tIn civilized countries, coffee after dinner means espresso, never weak American-style coffee. Cappuccino or coffee with milk is only properly served early in the day. Expresso, being too strong to accompany food, is always served after the guest has completed his dessert, neither before, nor with the dessert.
h)\tThe bill or check is not presented with the dessert, or with the coffee, or at any time before the diner requests it. To do otherwise, is to make the guest feel rushed.
YOUR MISTAKES HIGHLIGHTED IN YELLOW; YOUR SCORE ____________________