advice-giving waitstaff

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Joined Jul 3, 2002
At the risk of opening up a can of worms (or angry chefs :rolleyes: ) friends and I were wondering how chefs felt about their waitstaff giving patrons advice about what to order: like when a patron says that he/she is wavering between 2 dishes and asks the waiter/waitress for guidance. I've only done this in restaurants where the FOH staff seem well-informed and professional.
 

phatch

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I'm not a chef, but I ask at a number of restaurants, but never a chain restaurant.

Don't know what the chefs think of it. Turns out the input rarely makes my decision. They often recommend beef which is not usually what I want at restaurants.

Phil
 
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Joined Nov 10, 2001
I found that in some establishments,the service staff are seen as mere plate carriers!There is very little dialogue between BOH and FOH.Offering advice is great as long as:
1)The waiter/waitress actually know what the dishes contain.I`ve seen service staff try to bluff their way through at one restaurant,i was dining there at the time.
2)There are "chefs"who have a limited knowledge of the food the prepare and cook.
)The person/people at the table may choose to ignore the advice once it is given.
)The waiter/waitress may not actually listen to what you tell them.I`m sure most of us have had one of those people who stand in front of you nodding their head and saying yes.They promptly forget 90% of what you have told them in about 2 minutes.These in my opinion,are in the minority,not all service staff are morons.Leo
 
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Joined Sep 21, 2001
Since I wait tables often, I get asked those questions all the time. My answer is to explain what is in the dishes with a little more detail. I don't like giving opinions for a few reasons:
1. I don't know what THEY like.
2. I pick what I like. I learned a long time ago, like phatch said, where you tell them what you think and then they go order something else. Believe it or not that is a very humiliating feeling especially in front of a bunch of strangers......so I tell people to order what they are in the mood for.
 

pete

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I encourage my waitstaff to push items that they really like. Of course, I do not want them to sell a dish by bad-mouthing another, and sometimes I have things that I need them to push, but I do like them to talk about their favorite dishes on the menu. The reason for this is that if they really like a dish, then their enthusiaism will come through. They are not coming at the diner with some "line" but really selling something that they stand behind 100%. If a diner asks about a dish that a server does not like I do not ask my servers to lie and say that they love it. I ask them to say something like "I really don't care for Salmon but my customers who have ordered it really like it." There are a number of ways of steering a customer away from a dish without ever saying that you don't like it or don't think that it is good.
 
732
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Joined Dec 12, 2000
I think it's great if the servers recommend to the guests what to order. sometimes I even ask the servers to make certain items sound really good so that I can get rid of them, this usually occurs when I've totally overprepped an item and I need it to move. But, the one rule in menu writing that my chef in college taught us was that the servers are just as responsible as the kitchen for knowing what's on the menu, because they are the sales representitaves for the kitchen. The only thing that really chokes me though is when the servers tell the special and then immediatley say 'but I don't reccomend it'.
 
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Joined Jun 13, 2002
you hit the nail on the head coolj, the servers are the sales people and should be trained to sell, sell, sell, and yes, they should know the menu and what ingredients are used, nothing upsets me more than a server who doesnt know the menu or one that might suggest a house salad instead of a special, i guess they dont think about things like tips
 
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Joined Aug 15, 2002
I change my menus monthly--which only consists of five possible entrees-- and I always have a meeting with my waitstaff, that coincides with a tasting, going over the entire menu; this means covering cooking procedures and any potential "red flag" ingredients like nuts, shellfish, etc... I expect them to know if garlic was used in the sauce or any little idiosyncrasy (sp???) that might be of concern. Now with all of this I want my waitstaff to inquire the mood (poultry or red meat, fish or pork, veal or lamb) and then they're to give detail on the possibles to help the customer make their own desicion. Last resort if all else fails they push the poultry---WHY????--Most versitile acceptability with "on the fence" customers and greatest profit margin
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2002
Me being a diner not a chef. I ask what the server likes, then I go from there about what is in the dish, etc. My husband and I expect the waitserver to work for his tip.

If he doesn't, he doesn't get a big tip.
 
846
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Joined Nov 29, 2001
I did a brief stint as a waitress in the local bakery before graduating to pastry and baking. I was frequently asked for my opinion.

Some restaurants use waitstaff to "push" a food that needs to move. I don't particularly subscribe to this practice. It's not really a reflection of the likes or dislikes of the waitstaffer motivating him/her to give this advice, it's an instruction from the kitchen or owner.

When asked "what's good here?" I always answered, "Well, how hungry are you? The Huevos will keep you full till 3:00 and if you're in the mood for baked goods, I suggest you saunter over to the case and take a look - there are too many to list and one looks more enticing than the other." And I was being totally honest! I would frequently recommend anything with red or green chile when asked for a suggestion "that reflects regional specialties." I was also honest when I said, "And if you need bread, get some from here because what passes for bread in this area is tragic! This is the best bread for 50 miles in any direction."

I don't think there is anything wrong with a waitperson making a recommendation as long as the kitchen is stocked with everything to create the dish. Few things are worse than getting a patron all psyched to enjoy something that was recommended, then to be disappointed when it's not available.
 
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