I only said that did not have the clout to complain to the other diner (and did not even consider any conduct which would have led to unpleasantness). I only said the cap LESSENED the pleasure of the evening for me and took away SOME of the grandness I was hoping for. I only asked if I should have complained to the manager before or after the man left about the restaurant not having a proper dress code and thereby damaging the evening for some customers. I did not suggest becoming violent or claim that my dining experience was TOTALLY ruined; it was lessened in quality. I concur with the other posts about loud talking, cell phone use, cursing, or similiar behavior at the next table being worse than slovenly dressing, however, I cannot believe the comments that nearby very inappropiately dresssed diners should not affect one's own dining experience. Would it not make ANY difference to most people, if they were spending $200 or more for dinner at an allegedly elegant place, and the people at the nearby tables were dressed like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in "Top Hat" vs. being dressed in tank tops, shorts, flip-flops, and baseball caps, etc?
Excellent post and good points. The very nature of a fine restaurant is one which promotes an "exclusive" experience. They're not just charging you $80 for a filet mignon because it's "the best." You're paying for ambience. Something special, something extraordinary. And for many people, it is an extravagance, not an everyday experience. When I make reservations at a quality restaurant, I expect a quality experience. If I wanted to eat dinner surrounded by slobs in tank-tops and baseball caps, I would go to some fast-food place or The Olive Garden. When I am paying over $200 for dinner, I don't want to sit next to some guy wearing a cap, period. I would definitely consider that a joy-kill. Of course, that's one major reason why I have a membership at a private club. When I wish to have a nice evening with my girlfriend, I know that we can dine there without worry of swearing, cell phones, hats, etc. (Coats and hats are checked at the entry). The dress code is enforced strictly, and phones are not allowed in the dining area. Improper conduct can lead to loss of membership (and forfeiture of dues).