Returning food to the kitchen


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Joined Oct 5, 2001
Last night I went out to a local chain and I did something (believe it or not) that I think I have only done once before in my life and I returned my food to kitchen. It was a chicken dish and it was ice cold. On occassion I have gotten luke warm food, and it hasn't been a major deal. Being the business for so long I know everyone has an off night so I try to be understanding. How often do others return their food to the kitchen?


Joined Apr 4, 2000
It happenned to me a few times. I think the customer should not be affraid to return a dish if there is something wrong with it. But I think it should be done nicely. After all we all make mistake and shouldn't expect perfection from anyone.

Joined Aug 8, 2000
My best friend and I would eat at this Chinese restaurant every week for about 3 months. We would order the same things (they got to know us and wouldn't bring menus). One day, our sesame beef just wasn't right, and we kindly made a comment to one of the owners. She took it away, had it redone, and apologized. They knew we knew what it was supposed to taste like. I don't have to return food often, but I sure wouldn't hestitate to do so.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
Same here. I don't usually return it unless it's the wrong temperature or there's a major problem (sand in the scallops, rare pork or poultry). If it's a fine dining establishment, I'm probably more likely to send food back because of the price. But I'm always courteous and make a point not to make a scene. I cooked and waited tables in a small restaurant in college, so I know some of what can happen.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
I've sent food back as well on occassion for the same reasons. Mostly temp or undercooked food. And I agree with everyone else: if you do it politely and communicate your reason for doing so in a considerate way, there is not usually a problem. Especially in "fine" restaraunts. I have also been in places where I have seen other diners either yell and make a scene and/or verbally whip the waiter. I only wish one of the Front Staff would have politely whipped them.
Joined Jan 15, 2000
Once in the last five years - at Adobo Grill in Chicago. On the heels of an already poor experience, we were served pork tenderloin that was very rare. I asked the server if the kitchen could "bring this up to medium," to which she replied, "that's how the chef thinks the pork should be eaten." Not only was there no culinary basis for her reponse, but no cultural footing in the cuisine. (If anyone knows of a Mexican pork dish that is served rare or medium-rare, please let me know.) The plate got put under the salamander to cook it further. Nice.
Joined Jan 11, 2000
I've returned many steaks that were a bit too rare for my tastes, but that's about it. There has never been a problem. I think it's just harder to get the courage to ask them to fix a mistake.
Joined Jul 18, 2000
generally i will not complain. I find that small annoyances doesn matter, because generally, of all the things that could go wrong and do, they generally dont matter. However, if food poses a health risk or is unedible, i may complain. My tendancy is not to go back.
Joined Aug 18, 1999
I had dinner recently at one of New York's finest restaurants where the chef -whom I have met on several occasions - is know for his innovative creations. The chef hinmself was not in that night and we were served a beautifully prepared rabbit loin with a sauce that was totally tasteless. I did tell the waitress that the sauce was obviously not made with the ingredients decscribed in the menu but I was unhappy to offend someone by sending it back even though I knew that it would never have left the kitchen if the chef had been there. Should I have complained to the maitre d' or was I right to chalk it off to experience?
Joined Aug 23, 2000
I've sent a plate back exactly once: pork cutlet, rare. It was replaced with apologies.

Most of the places if I don't like the food, or something was cold, I just don't go back. If I went to more fine restaurants, where I paid $20+ for an entree, I imagine I'd be a more activist consumer.

[This message has been edited by Live_to_cook (edited 12-11-2000).]
Joined Aug 12, 2000
I went to a breakfast place recently that was recommended to me. I ordered a whole-grain porridge that was touted on the menu. It came, crunchy and unsalted. I guess they thought it was instant, not long-cooking. They must have mixed it with water and heated it in the microwave until it thickened. It was clear no one in the kitchen had ever tasted this dish they were serving.

Behind me a diner was complaining his baked beans were inedible and he wasn't going to pay for them.

I should have sent it back, but I just figured the place was a lost cause, and I'll never go back there.

Sometimes I wonder...the first time I visit a restaurant, would it be a better idea to order something that's difficult for the kitchen to mess up, or should I test them by ordering something challenging?
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Order what you'd enjoy eating.
I still look to see what other diners have on their plates and unabashedly ask the waitstaff "what is it"....Did it yesterday at a pizza place...crust had no salt, individual $7 pizza with a mix of cheese,capers, calamatas, artichokes and I will not go back....crust was mediocre, toppings to sparse and cost to high for product.
Weird cereal experience...wonder where chef was that day????
Joined Aug 12, 2000
This was a small cafe intown. I doubt anybody works there who would be called a "chef".
Joined Dec 8, 1999
I saw either that ssame show or one just like it. After 18 years, I have yet to have seen returned food treated in that manner. And I think that little "expose'" was a fine example of the media showing it's penchant for being over-dramatic and irresponsible. These occurences are the exception, not the rule. You wouldn't like to hear what I have to say about a customer that has returned their food with a clearly invalid complaint, but while I'm griping, I fix the problem, if possible, and move on.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
dethick, I agree with your examples. When I send food back, it's because there truly is something subpar about it (underbaked phyllo, gritty scallops, spoiled food). "I don't want it after all" falls outside of the realm of reasonableness and smacks of a control freak, IMHO.
Joined Oct 15, 2000
Here is my favorite: The guy that eats 3/4 entree and complains that it "really wasn't what I wanted." Yeah, Ok pal. So what you're really saying is that you wanted a free meal. Make sure you don't leave a tip on the way out, too. I told one guy to leave because it was obvious that nothing I did would appease him. THAT hassle or business I don't need. I consider legitimate complaints an opportunity to go above and beyond the customers expectation. If you can turn a negative into a positive experience for the customer then you've done something and chances are very good that customer will return.
Joined Apr 7, 2006
Having been the expediter at a major chain and dealing with high volume I deffinitely understand the occasional off-night, however, like Mezzaluna said, uncooked pork or poultry is nothing to leave un-checked, however it always pays to be tactful and polite when in that situation and not demanding.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
I'm just curious,
With all the new age thermometers, do expediters use these tools?
Joined Mar 5, 2006
Unfortunatly, I tend to be the "Uber-critic" when I dine out. On the rare occasion I do eat out, it usually is at an establishment where sending food back should not be an option, but keeping in mind, EVERYONE has an off day, if the situation were to present itself, I would have no problem sending something back.
Just don't take it out on the waitstaff, they are not responsible, unless they let the order die in the window...

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