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Do you make restaurant reservations via Open Table and give "special messages" to the restaurant? - Page 2

post #16 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc View Post

In theory, I think the OP's comments are fair; if you are paying that much for a meal, it should be exactly how you want it. Were I the owner of a fine restaurant, I'd want my customers giving me instructions like that to ensure that they enjoy their meal. It's important because, as another poster said, every place is quite different and some of the things the OP finds disagreeable are things other customers might want/expect.
That being said, my only curiousity is whether or not they take these comments seriously. Aside from places where you are a regular or where (as matt mentions) they know your routines, I'd say they couldn't care less, and probably roll their eyes.... assuming they even read them. I tend to be a person of routines in any case, but a small place that knows how I like things is far better than a big "famous" place where I have to send an e-card to get them to provide the service I want. Sure, their sea bass may not be as great, but it's worth it if I don't have to listen to some asshat chatting about his cream sauce like he's just figured out the Rosetta stone.
"As a gentleman of rather specific tastes, I request a table placed slightly away from other customers, wherein I can be served in the nude."

I actually disagree. The point of a restaurant experience is to have the meal the way THEY want it. They have chosen the decor, the ambience, the chef, servers, flatware... etc. You are allowed preferences... where to sit, what to order. 

 

If you want what the OP has stated you should hire a chef to serve you at home. THEN you can have EXACTLY what you want.

post #17 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by renman23 View Post

I actually disagree. The point of a restaurant experience is to have the meal the way THEY want it. They have chosen the decor, the ambience, the chef, servers, flatware... etc. You are allowed preferences... where to sit, what to order. 

If you want what the OP has stated you should hire a chef to serve you at home. THEN you can have EXACTLY what you want.

This is why I like SF; sometimes I read something that comes from a perspective I honestly never considered. This is one of those times. In any case, your viewpoint seems entirely valid... which is probably why I rarely go out (and when I do, it's always to the same 3-4 places).

And for morde: "This time you simply must remedy a situation that nearly rendered my last dining experience unpalatable: the vichyssoise had entirely too much vichy in it. I felt like a collaborator."
post #18 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by renman23 View Post

I actually disagree. The point of a restaurant experience is to have the meal the way THEY want it. They have chosen the decor, the ambience, the chef, servers, flatware... etc. You are allowed preferences... where to sit, what to order. 

If you want what the OP has stated you should hire a chef to serve you at home. THEN you can have EXACTLY what you want.

How old are you? I don't ask this to be a jerk or to try to put you in your place or anything, but I think that there is such a generation gap about this. Restaurants didn't believe they were superior to customers until a few years ago, or if they did, they went out of business. Channeling my friend Ken, I have no interest in playing into their conceit.
post #19 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by itsstillmatt View Post

How old are you? I don't ask this to be a jerk or to try to put you in your place or anything, but I think that there is such a generation gap about this. Restaurants didn't believe they were superior to customers until a few years ago, or if they did, they went out of business. Channeling my friend Ken, I have no interest in playing into their conceit.

This thread of discussion is interesting to me. On one hand, of course, restaurants should be willing to do what it takes to please customers. But should the restaurant become something it is not in order to please a customer? What sort of things should a restaurant be flexible on?

I work at a place where the company line is "we are what we are" but I'll work to appease the preferences of a guest, to a certain degree, especially if they are nice and make a polite request rather than a brash, entitled demand.
post #20 of 47
The worst questions/statements come from my favorite low priced eatery where I am a regular:.

"I'm X, do you know where the washrooms are" (First thing they say).
"I'm Y, we've got a new fall feature menu, it's on the first page, ABC is delicious".
"Good choice, and will you gentlemen be joined by any ladies tonight?"
"That is an excellent drink. Would you like it as a double?"
"Let me see if I can find your reservation" (When they're seating walk-ins with no waiting)
"Would you be interested in sitting at the bar?"

And the worst one:
"I see your wife is joining us tonight. Is your daughter also joining you?" (I'm single 28 and dine out with a lot of close friends, none of whom are a wife or daughter.).

Tom
post #21 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedLantern View Post

This thread of discussion is interesting to me. On one hand, of course, restaurants should be willing to do what it takes to please customers. But should the restaurant become something it is not in order to please a customer? What sort of things should a restaurant be flexible on?
I work at a place where the company line is "we are what we are" but I'll work to appease the preferences of a guest, to a certain degree, especially if they are nice and make a polite request rather than a brash, entitled demand.

I was working in a restaurant for a chef who now has two Michelin stars (this was way before Michelin in the US.) A customer who was with business associates asked for a steak, black and blue, with a side of jalepenos. In the kitchen, we all laughed, then the chef told us to look through the staff meal box and see if there were any jalapenos. There were, so we sent it out. Restaurants are about hospitality and generosity, not about some guy with too many tattoos being a star. Just my opinion, and obviously you don't want to turn into Denny's, but I think you do what you can to make sure everybody has the best time possible.
post #22 of 47
Not sure if OP is trolling.. Are people seriously that fastidious when dining? Who cares how much money you're spending. In fact, to me, it would seem the more you spend, the less your opinion becomes required. You're paying to dine in another persons establishment. In high class dining establishments, you're paying big bucks because they do things a certain way - from the way they cook food, to the way they cater the food. I wouldn't be surprised if OP entered one of the worlds50best and got removed for that attitude.
post #23 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian View Post

The worst questions/statements come from my favorite low priced eatery where I am a regular:.
"I'm X, do you know where the washrooms are" (First thing they say).
"I'm Y, we've got a new fall feature menu, it's on the first page, ABC is delicious".
"Good choice, and will you gentlemen be joined by any ladies tonight?"
"That is an excellent drink. Would you like it as a double?"
"Let me see if I can find your reservation" (When they're seating walk-ins with no waiting)
"Would you be interested in sitting at the bar?"
And the worst one:
"I see your wife is joining us tonight. Is your daughter also joining you?" (I'm single 28 and dine out with a lot of close friends, none of whom are a wife or daughter.).
Tom

The bolded is not a stupid thing to do. Sometimes reservations come with special instructions (though not usually as special as the OP). Also, it's good to keep the reservation book up to date with who has arrived and who has not in case the restaurant does fill up.
post #24 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by itsstillmatt View Post

I was working in a restaurant for a chef who now has two Michelin stars (this was way before Michelin in the US.) A customer who was with business associates asked for a steak, black and blue, with a side of jalepenos. In the kitchen, we all laughed, then the chef told us to look through the staff meal box and see if there were any jalapenos. There were, so we sent it out. Restaurants are about hospitality and generosity, not about some guy with too many tattoos being a star. Just my opinion, and obviously you don't want to turn into Denny's, but I think you do what you can to make sure everybody has the best time possible.

Good story and good point.

Not saying that tattoo clad "special flower" chefs aren't annoying, but aren't old school french chefs know to be very uncompromising as far as making modifications to dishes goes? In your story it seems like thats more of an "off menu" request than a modification of a menu item, which might be the distinction.
post #25 of 47
It seems, as evident on this thread, that at some point the dynamic of fine dining changed from something of a service to something like entertainment. The distinction is that I always considered dining in the same category as staying at a hotel or getting a haircut: the more you pay the more it becomes catered to exactly what you want. I would assume, based on their posts, matt and the OP would be in this batch.

On the other hand, it never occured to me that dining is considered something more like entertainment, in the same category as going to a movie, opera, or other show: the more you pay may give you a better "view," but the content of the experience is not something you have control over, and is for what you are paying (eg you can't yell down at the movie screen to change the plot, or Babs to sing a different verse of the song.) Hoozah and renman would be in thic batch.

For me, admittedly the "entertainment" angle is something I've never considered, and not sure I can or want to. While I may put up with barenboim or Renee Fleming being a Diva for my $X00, not sure I want some waiter or chef doing it.
post #26 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedLantern View Post

Good story and good point.
Not saying that tattoo clad "special flower" chefs aren't annoying, but aren't old school french chefs know to be very uncompromising as far as making modifications to dishes goes? In your story it seems like thats more of an "off menu" request than a modification of a menu item, which might be the distinction.

The only answer I can give is that I don't know. Certainly the control the diner has over his food has changed a lot over the last decade. Some of that has to do with technology. Now that most good restaurants cook most meat sous vide, it isn't feasible to ask somebody how they would like their meat cooked. That is a major change, and if you think of the amount of customization that is typically done for somebody, that probably accounted for 90% of it in the bad old days. Also, the forced tasting menu thing has been a boon to chefs, because food costs are totally controlled, but it doesn't allow for the customer to pick and choose much. Older chefs probably had to deal with less minute customizations because they offered so many more choices, and lost so much more money in the process.

Really, though, the difference I sense, and I could be wrong, is that there is too much of a cooler than thou attitude emanating from a lot of kitchens. That, combined with decreasing skillsets as people strike out on their own after less time and the increase in culinary school versus apprenticeship makes for a group of restaurants who both cannot and do not want to cater to their clients.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc View Post

It seems, as evident on this thread, that at some point the dynamic of fine dining changed from something of a service to something like entertainment. The distinction is that I always considered dining in the same category as staying at a hotel or getting a haircut: the more you pay the more it becomes catered to exactly what you want. I would assume, based on their posts, matt and the OP would be in this batch.

I don't mind either, though I find few of the entertainment restaurants that I really like. One thing to remember, and this might be interesting to RedLantern as well, is that in 1960 a great restaurant might have 50 things on the menu, so they were really catering exactly to what the diner wanted. Now good restaurants generally offer you a choice of two tasting menus, and if they are really wild, you might have a choice between two things for one of your courses in the menu. Not to go all CE, but some would argue that it has to do with lowering ourselves into a one size fits all world, but others might argue that it is a rise of pretense that allows for it. The answer is probably somewhere in between.

What I don't like is when you are presented not only with no choice, which doesn't bother me as long as it is good, but with the attitude that you are just lucky to be there in the presence of the greatness of the chef and his restaurant. This is what my wife told Ken, I imagine, about the French Laundry, and I think it is true and off putting.
post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by itsstillmatt View Post


I don't mind either, though I find few of the entertainment restaurants that I really like. One thing to remember, and this might be interesting to RedLantern as well, is that in 1960 a great restaurant might have 50 things on the menu, so they were really catering exactly to what the diner wanted. Now good restaurants generally offer you a choice of two tasting menus, and if they are really wild, you might have a choice between two things for one of your courses in the menu. Not to go all CE, but some would argue that it has to do with lowering ourselves into a one size fits all world, but others might argue that it is a rise of pretense that allows for it. The answer is probably somewhere in between.
What I don't like is when you are presented not only with no choice, which doesn't bother me as long as it is good, but with the attitude that you are just lucky to be there in the presence of the greatness of the chef and his restaurant. This is what my wife told Ken, I imagine, about the French Laundry, and I think it is true and off putting.

Excellent post; very interesting and I especially agree with the bolded. What I find equally offensive is that such an attitude is, obviously, enabled by toadying customers who want to use dining as an accessory or chance to name drop (I dined at so-and-so!)

It reminds me of an older colleague I had who was a gourmand, world-traveler, opera fan, etc. He and his wife spent a fortune on all of these things, and as I got to know him better, I realized he really had no taste or appreciation of any of it; it was something to tick off a list of pretentious things that "the good people" of the world would do. It all seemed very mechanical, sad, even fetishistic. It would seem, given the hype of many of these restaurants, he's not alone.

I just don't get it; obviously, a young(ish) academic isn't hitting up the MIchelin guides with his $25 per diem... but still the idea of doing ANYTHING except because you truly enjoy it, or that part of the enjoyment are the trappings completely unrelated to the actual content (meaning some sort of psychological satisfaction of "being in the cool club"), is something I don't think I'll ever get. Again, probably why I rarely go out.
post #28 of 47
Just for kicks, here is a pic of a typical menu from a high end Parisian restaurant in the '60s. It puts into perspective the ideas of choices, changes etc. I would not argue that this way is better, but in understanding the role of restaurants and what they provide, it is instructive.

post #29 of 47
^Puts the wonderful Monty Python "Mr. Creosote" sketch in perspective!

"I'll have the lot."
"Would Monsieur like it all... mixed up in a bucket?"
post #30 of 47
I was at brunch at a nice restaurant a couple of Sundays ago. The waiter says "my name's Chad and I'll be hanging out with you today." Dood, you are not coming over to see the game later.
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