Yelp and the professional Chef

Discussion in 'Restaurant Reviews' started by chefross, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. chefross

    chefross

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    Being a Chef in this business makes us very astute to proper restaurant procedures. Dining out can be frustrating.

    Being in a group dining out and watching the rest of your pals accept the mediocrity and mistakes by the service personnel, can be a test of ones patience.

    The other evening we had a blizzard going on, so it turned out that the streets were pretty much empty and so too the stores.

    It was dinner time and we were hungry. I used Yelp to help me find an eclectic restaurant that could pretty much take care of whatever foods we were looking for to eat.  

    Found one. Yelp gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

    Our server was a 19 year old college student. Because of the weather the place was pretty much empty.

    We ordered drinks and appetizers.

    Not 7 minutes later, our server came back to take our dinner orders.

    A few minutes later our drinks came.

    Moments after that, our appetizers came out.

    We barely had time to get into those, when the salads and soups came.

    My soup was a beer cheese soup, I noticed a thick skin on the surface of my soup. This told me that it had sit for a while under a heating lamp. I wanted to eat it hot, so I enjoyed appetizers and soup.

    It wasn't but just a few mouthfuls of soup and the entrees came out.

    I couldn't take it anymore and spoke up:

    Me: "We are not ready yet"

    Server: "But your food came up and is ready now."

    Me: Yes but we are not...please take the food back.

    Server: "What am I supposed to do with your food?"

    Me: (Dying to say something rude but) "That's not my problem, but you'd better not be holding the food under the lamps to re-serve later."

    This was a clear message to me that the kitchen was in a hurry. The place is usually busy and most people do not pay any attention to how their food comes out to them, so this is their standard operating procedure.

    While the kitchen wants to get the food out to the guest as quickly as possible, it is necessary for the server to call the timing and not the line.

    I felt like we were cattle at the trough.

    Curious how people accept this type of service. And, for me, what takes the cake, is when the server removes dinner plates while others are still eating. Simply put, these etiquettes are not being reinforced in training, if they were ever mentioned at all.

    It amazes me how this type of service is allowed and how many places do not even think about timing, and if they do, it is on their schedule, not the guests.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
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  2. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Sounds like a miserable experience. But what does Yelp have to do with it? Do you feel mislead by the good reviews or are. You struggling with how few stars to include in your review? Yelp reviews must be viewed from a statistical basis - probably true on the average but your/mine visit might not be average!
     
  3. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    In terms of accepting service like that... it depends for me. In a fine dining environment I'd do what you did. At a diner I'd probably let it go. I worry about retaliation. But the service would certainly be reflected in both the top and the Yelp review.
     
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  4. jimyra

    jimyra

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    Lack of knowledge on the part of management is most of the problem.  Lack of training wait staff is another part.  But how can management train skills that they don't have?  Before managing a dining room reading this book would help.  [if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:punctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark/> <w:EnableOpenTypeKerning/> <w:DontFlipMirrorIndents/> <w:OverrideTableStyleHps/> </w:Compatibility> 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5.4pt;mso-para-margin-top:0in;mso-para-margin-right:0in;mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;mso-para-margin-left:0in;line-height:115%;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:11.0pt;font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}</style><![endif]Strianese, Anthony & Strianese, Pamela.   Dining Room and Banquet Management 4E. Delmar Cengage Learning, 2008. ISBN: 9781418053697   And yes starting to clear the table before everyone has finished eating is a pet peeve.  I hate it when a waitress or waiter interrupts the tables conversation with, "let me get that out of your way."

    I use yelp for locating restaurants and read the opinions to look for trends.  Two stars or five stars on the Yelp scale may be the same.  For real ratings one should use Michelin or  AAA.  These are based on clearly defined systems.  McD's is five star on yelp.
     
  5. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    I read about awful experiences like your, @Chefross? And I file that under 'Job Security". /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
     
  6. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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         My first reaction is that I'm glad to know such poor service isn't in my area alone. I encounter that all the time.  I agree that it is managements' fault for lack of training. Any place that serves multiple courses needs to figure out how to pace the meal. This is one of those areas of restaurant management I think would be obvious but gets overlooked far too often. 

        As for Yelp, I would agree that it is a general barometer. As was pointed out, McDs gets five stars. Our modern culture seems to have thrown standards out the window and the general public seems clueless most of the time when reviewing a restaurant. I always get a chuckle out of some of the complaints I read in people's review of any given restaurant. 

         In my area there is a local neighborhood restaurant that has been around for years where staff receive quite a bit of training and oversight, the food is always excellent and I never feel my money is ill spent. But they aren't modern or hip and don't get very much attention from the local press. 

       On the other hand, there are numerous hipster joints where I think I'm supposed to feel happy because I'm eating in some version of whatever the latest fad is or they are reputed to have a good craft beer selection and the menu is a confusing conglomeration of misinterpreted fusion cuisine. 

    Service is poor and the food is often sloppily executed. But I have to pay just as much regardless. 

         I find when I eat out that keeping my expectations low is often the best approach. If they get it right then I have a pleasant surprise. But most often I'm not surprised when they don't.  
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
  7. foodpump

    foodpump

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    I don't know if I'd react any differently from Ross's explanation.

    Our 19 yr old f/t student is a mercenary. That is, they come into a place to earn cash, leave after a few months, and only come back again for cash. Can't really blame them, but then again a server with more experience would realize happy customers eat and drink more, driving up the guest check amount, which directly relates to better tips, But thats what education is for right?

    Manager probably has his reasons for rushing the meal. None of them are good reasons for the customer, but they are probably good, economical reasons anyways. One reason would be to refrain from putting anything but the most basic training into a server who is a mercenary and will leave in a few months anyway.
     
  8. jake t buds

    jake t buds

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    I love it how judgmental, ideological commentary oozes out of replies, like squeezing an infected wound.

    I also have the pet peeve of clearing the table of plates before everybody has finished their meal. I usually tell the staff to leave them. However, I've dined with a great deal of people and nobody says anything for fear of interrupting service or generally making their feelings known. Removing plates makes it easy for everybody so they can bus your table immediately instead of waiting until later when they have a possible six tables waiting to be cleared. Its a matter of making their life easier instead of making your your dining experience civilized. We've accepted this as a society since it's so common. It has become the norm from waffle houses to a great deal of fine dining.

    Frankly, it's a work ethic and business model that keeps people busy at the detriment of a pleasurable experience. Somebody decided that it is a good thing to clear plates before everybody finishes. It's "efficient" and good "customer service." It keeps your staff busy and occupied. I know many people object, but the simple fact that it occurs 95% of the time should be indicative of what the training is and societal acceptance. 
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  9. foodpump

    foodpump

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    No, no, no. Server was pushing food before the previous course was finished, not clearing off dishes.

    The establishment the o.p. dined at was a'la carte service, not buffet or dim sum, hence the various courses, and the expectations to enjoy those courses before the next one comes.
     
  10. chefross

    chefross

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    I used Yelp to find a descent place and used their star rating system.......Good or bad it has it's uses
     
  11. chefross

    chefross

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    I understand, but just because it is done by so many places doesn't make it STOP (standard operating procedure)
     
  12. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Unfortunately there is sometimes a difference between "standard operating procedure" and "best practice". Especially when different folks are evaluating which is which.

    I hate the early dish clearing process but even many fine dining establishments do it. As a SLOW eater I'm always feeling rushed.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
  13. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Chefross, I use Yelp to see the pictures of the food. I can see by the presentation if the people in the kitchen know what they're doing. As far as service goes, I don't expect any service anymore in any restaurant under $75 per person. In most cases I see the service as being one step better then me getting up and picking up the meal myself. There was a time I went to a restaurant because of the great service. The only reason I go now is to eat and expect nothing more.......
     
  14. hank

    hank

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    My wife is a slow eater as well so I always don't quite finish my dish.  At some point the waiter notices I appear to be finished and asks to take my plate and I reply "We are not finished yet"  They never bug Mrs. Hank then.  

    And you don't have to be a chef to be annoyed by both the courses coming too fast, and intrusively clearing away dishes.  Both drive me nuts.  I think it's more of a societal trend.  One of my first jobs was in a grocery store and I cannot believe what I see now in terms of customer service as well as more subtle behaviors, that while unintentional, were years ago were considered unacceptable.
     
  15. millionsknives

    millionsknives

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    If I'm out for lunch and I'm on a schedule then I kind of like the food coming out fast.   If I'm on a date or catching up with friends then I would be annoyed.
     
  16. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    The best use of Yelp, TripAdvisor or any of the crowd rating systems out there... at least in my opinion is to hear gossip about other nearby places..

    I hear about how a local busy restaurant has their line cook melt down and walk out mid rush on a Saturday.... then go on TripAdvisor to hear what the customer said.

    Aside from that? I take the food and service critiques like anything else online...
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
    millionsknives likes this.
  17. jimyra

    jimyra

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    Another thing that bug me is when your seated, receive  your menu and the wait person asks if you are ready to order.  No I need a couple of minutes please.  Then when you are ready to order you have to hunt the waitperson because they forgot you were there.
     
  18. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Every person who walks into my restaurant is a new opportunity to put forth my best or my worst. No matter how many times I've done it right...mindfulness happens in the moment. Never forget that.

    Any critique is always a snapshot of the past.

    Love,

    Peachcreek
     
    QuailMaster and scott livesey like this.
  19. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Yelp is pretty much a colossal joke. I use it as a source of humor and a filter in finding out which places I really don't need to bother checking out as a potential place to go. A perfect example of the unsubstantiated nature of the reviews is that in my area a restaurant received a glowing review on 07/13/2015. On 10/20/2016 they received the exact same glowing review again from the same user. A clear copy and paste review, but yet 2 months later both reviews are still posted. My guess is a paid reviewer (yes Dorothy they exist in the unsavory dark corners of Yelp land) or a friend of a friend type of deal.

    I remember back when I was in culinary school and taking Chinese cuisine, our instructor took us on a walking tour of S.F. Chinatown. He pointed to a very busy restaurant and commented on how full it was of Asian diners. He continued on by saying that means nothing, the average Asian isn't really a better judge of Chinese restaurants than anyone else. He pointed to a less busy restaurant across the street and said it was a much better choice than the busy place. When deciding where to eat, he said read the menu, use your knowledge, use your eyes, ask questions, then decide where to eat.

    I still use that bit of advice and it serves me well.
     
  20. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Yelp seems to have some processes in place to trap and isolate "illegal" reviews. But it's far from perfect. One thing I know is that they investigate and quickly respond to reviews that are reported. I've seen them cancel both retaliatory and non-personal experience and obviously bought reviews. Reporting them is easy and I feel a valid part of participating in Yelp community. But if one wants to just watch from the sidelines then they need to realize that your observations are valid, cheflayne.