Special Dinner Request Denied at Restaurant

Discussion in 'Restaurant Reviews' started by jake t buds, Nov 1, 2016.

  1. jake t buds

    jake t buds

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    A woman, her daughter, and a friend visit a restaurant in NYC that has specialty burgers, roast chicken, a couple of fish dishes, pasta, and 2 steak dishes on the menu with a smattering of apps and sides. Standard bistro fare with some modifications. One beef dish is Steak-Frites with a 12 oz strip steak.  The mother and daughter decide to share the 12 oz strip as both are petite. Most dishes are quite large. Unfortunately, the mother needs the steak done to medium well as a result of a medical condition and the daughter prefers med-rare. They ask the waitress if they can share and be accommodated with different levels of doneness. The waitress says no problem, but returns a few minutes later and says the chef refuses. They speak with the manager and he says they are busy with take out orders, and it's too much trouble. 

    They did eventually cook the two halves to order, but didn't bring out the plates at the same time, so two of the guests waited about 5 minutes before the med-well steak came out. Needless to say nobody ate until the third plate came out, so the med rare steak was cold and the gnocchi in a truffle mushroom cream sauce developed a skin. 

    I ask the "professionals :" What say you? 
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  2. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    I say management dropped the ball in not making sure that everyone on staff is on the same page long before the issue ever came up in the first place.
     
  3. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    The Chef did it on purpose as payback for having to do it after he/she said no. Every cook, Sous and Chef knows how to time the food in the kitchen so all the food arrives at the same time. This is old school Chef letting everyone know how screw with him/her. It's obvious the manager has no control over the Chef. Most smart Chefs realize this doesn't happen ver often. It's easier to just do it and move on and not make more out of it than he/she should. Pick you battles, there's to much to deal with in the kitchen on a daily basis. The way I started in business was never saying no.
     
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  4. jake t buds

    jake t buds

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    I figured as much. Good to know I'm not the only one that spotted that. Unfortunately there was no way to retaliate other than stiff the waitress on her tip and I wasn't going to do that. Mentioning it or complaining to the manager wouldn't have done any good. But I did get a kick out of the look on his face when I explained to him how to cook a steak to two different levels of doneness. 

    I do have to include that the waitress was below average. She described a salmon special and didn't bother finding out when asked about where it was from; wild or farmed, west or farther west. She just came back and asked if we were ready to order. I also saw her step all over a scarf that fell on the floor and came back 5 minutes later to drape it on the seat back. I just wrote a bad review on Yelp.

    I will say though that the manager comped a chocolate mousse dessert. So that was nice. And the gnocchi in a truffle/ mushroom cream sauce was quite good despite the lack of truffle flavor. 
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  5. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    I have two questions.

    What was the medical condition that required her to have a steak med well? 

    I have never had to do one so how do you cook  the same steak to two different temps? I presume you cut it in half but ? 
     
  6. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Jake, There are many things and reasons that bring us to restaurants. What impresses me when I read reviews about restaurants is when I read the people in the restaurant went the extra yard. The real quality comes from how your experience was with the customer service. The thing that brings me back is how my family is treated and taken care of. If I read your review that just change my mind no matter how good the food is. Poor customer service could leave a bad taste in your mouth much more than a lesser quality meal.....

    Chefwriter: One 12oz strip steak = 2- 6oz strip steaks.....
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
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  7. jimyra

    jimyra

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    Sounds like a bad place to go.  The answer should always be yes we are here to make your dining experience special.  We want you to return and tell your friends about us.  All chefs should know how much time it takes to cook a steak to temperature and start them accordingly. 
     
  8. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Sounds like the server may have a bad relationship with the BOH.

    Maybe he/she more often than not has a lot of tix with subs and is slow picking her orders up.

    Maybe she argues with the expediter...

    She didn't pick that scarf up before she walked on it and that threw up a red flag IMO.

    Wouldn't be surprised if you told me she doesn't wash her hands all shift.

    I am a big supporter of the waitstaff but this one needs a bit more training and a lot more smarts.

    This whole unpleasant situation could have been avoided if she had checked with Chef before offering an answer.

    mimi
     
  9. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Lack of experience, server got sidetracked, bad relationship with the FOH, too busy to care?

    Sometimes you can bring one plate and forget the other.   Honest mistake but it should never happen.  The whole table should be served at once with runners if a server can't do it with one person.

    Lack of experience?  Not knowing that these kinds of things can cause problems, not reading the ticket properly so by the time they read the ticket both portions have been fired and one is already med rare.

    The line may just want to stick it to the server this time.  Maybe she broke the rules, double ticketed by splitting the ticket, didn't use the comment, came in to "tell" the line while they were busy.

    It may have just got lost in the chaos.  Expediter comes in and looks at a half portion with ris, puts it aside because it's not relevant at the time, puts it aside until the ticket comes up...

    etc.

    etc.
     
  10. cronker

    cronker

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    I know of, and have worked with chefs who would have done the same as described in the OP.
    they probably reasoned that they are getting the same amount of money for the split dish, but having to cook it two ways.
     
  11. rpooley

    rpooley

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    With my consumer hat on now, I think some people ask for too much accommodation at restaurants.  I feel that if people require that much fine tuning to their food preparation, they need to be more flexible.  There was no real reason they couldn't each order a steak and take the leftovers.  Granted a chef shouldn't "get even" with diners, obviously, but part of any service is managing expectations.  

    Here is where I agree with the comments about the waitress.  I think if she had answered noncommittally and then returned and said it couldn't be done, it would have been better PR than what happened.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  12. jake t buds

    jake t buds

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    I don't know how would you know that. Sounds like an oversimplification and generalization to me.  Lets just say I disagree completely.
    Which explains why some restaurants have a shared plate fee, even though the difference in time or money between a split steak- frites or not is practically nil. No, I don't consider the 2 seconds to plate the second dish, or the extra hot water to clean the second dish and cutlery, or an extra napkin, or the extra arm to bus the table a reason to charge more. I consider that the cost of doing business that should be absorbed by the operator. I totally get that it adds up, but even in my business I need to swallow some degree of loss in time and money because the client asked for something different. It's called good customer service. And I won't be returning to or recommending that restaurant anytime soon. 

    In the end I guess owners perceive profit from each seat, not each dinner sold. So sharing a plate means a 4 top is only selling 3 meals. Would it make a difference if the 4th person simply didn't eat? Would you charge a seat and water fee? Are required minimums for a reserved 4 top in the future? I guess it's not so far away since cancellation fees are already in effect in many places. Pretty soon you'll pay a cover charge upon entry to pay for heating and cooling costs.

    Are split dishes really that common?
     
  13. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Hardly.  I think people should be accommodated fully at restaurants.  Most requests are not unreasonable.  It does not take much for a pro to accommodate a special request.
     
  14. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    accommodating people is an interesting concept. I was at an upscale casual eatery the other day - cafeteria style line, pay at the end, and carry tray to a table - but when I was ready for a table they were all occupied. Half occupied by eaters and the other half occupied by folks with a newspaper or computer but not eating food. At best they were sipping a cup of coffee that had been refilled many times and most were singles sitting at 4-tops. I wanted to be accommodated but was told to "work it out" because they were just as interested in accommodating the folks killing time as much as those who wanted to eat. Both me and the "non-customers" wanted to be accommodated but...

    All I know is that my food was cold before I was able to eat it and the folks using free wifi couldn't have cared less. Nor did the restaurateur.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  15. rpooley

    rpooley

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    I thinks it's about balance.

    Wedge salad, customer requests "chopped". No big deal.

    Wedge salad, customer requests "braised lettuce because I have digestive issues". Not reasonable.

    BTW, since I don't have a restaurant, this is me speaking as a consumer and fellow diner.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  16. cronker

    cronker

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    I'm not at all suggesting your view is incorrect, however we don't have a full story here, only one persons account.
    Who knows? Perhaps the chef had just worked his way through a ten top order with each wanting substitutions, perhaps he was a man down, perhaps he's just a dick.
    And yes, in some places where the margin is quite low, the owners will certainly look at $ per cover (seat) -very important.
    I worked in a place where we did $10 meals specials (very cheap for Australia) and they were the same size and sides as they would be at full price. We had people come in and request splitting the meals three ways. Our chef flatly refused to serve three meals for $10 and I could see his point- we were losing money on the special deal already.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  17. chefross

    chefross

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    Sorry but upscale casual eatery with a cafeteria line??????

    Can you say "oxymoron....?"
     
  18. Iceman

    Iceman

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    If the order was served up the way you originally say ... to my party and me ... I would have waited for everything then got up and walked out.

    Problems like that don't happen in My kitchen because I don't let them happen. As it's been said, all of this could have just been taken care of properly. I don't work any other way.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  19. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Ha ha... sure, it sounds odd. Maybe my characterization is a bit off. Check it out and tell me what you'd call it. Maybe "overpriced millennial faux health food restaurant"???

    http://www.lemonadela.com/

    Maybe "upscale casual with a cafeteria line" is mostly a "California thing"...

    Here's the menu at the location I was eating. My Yelp review, whenever I get around to it, will be no higher than 3-stars. It was a weird menu and the food we ate was just okay. The lemonade was great but the rest not so much. The whole time I was eating I was wishing I just asked for a sandwich. The guy at the next table (when we finally got a table) was eating a sandwich and it looked great.

    http://www.lemonadela.com/viewer.ht.../27/17/50/10/186/102716_LA_Fall16_MenuWEB.pdf
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  20. jake t buds

    jake t buds

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    So I posted a review on yelp. Not dissimilar to what I posted here. I got a response from the owner : 

    "“Hey, (Jake), thank you for stopping in and for your feedback, it is very much appreciated. Please note that the waitress was retrained and her actions were brought to light. Again, thank you for stopping by and we hope to see you again. "