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November 12, 2012

Restaurant Reservations

By Peter Shaindlin | Restaurants

Ten Ways Restaurant Service Drives Me Mad
© Thaddeus Harden.

Peter Shaindlin, COO of Halekulani Hotels and Resorts, shares his ten frustrations with restaurant service.

Constant verbal intrusions by servers who care little about food and not at all about your conversation.

Servers who silence the table when they arrive with the next course, pointing with their three middle fingers at every item on the plate and reciting its name, even though you already know because you read the menu and selected it—and because you have eyes.

No Salt
Chefs too often feel that they can validate their skill by refusing to put salt on the table. Why should the server at SALT, in Honolulu, be so upset that you want salt when he’s just offered you fresh pepper?

“That’s one of my favorite dishes!” Fascinating.

The Three-Word Bottle
American wines with maudlin names like My Sister’s Tears, or The Lost Boy.

Fusion Confusion
Ubiquitous Asian ingredients that suddenly appear everywhere in ignorance of seasonality: yuzu ice cream, yuzu flan, yuzu foam, yuzu club sandwich….

Truffle Mania
American chefs just don’t get truffles. They’re everywhere, in everything, and applied with the touch of a mechanic changing your steering-column fluid. Better they don’t use them if they can’t understand their subtlety and power.

Menu Screens
After a day of incessant electronics at both work and home, the last thing I want to find at the dinner table is an iPad as a menu—to be shared, no less. There is no advantage to the diner.

Goofy Greetings
Servers who start by asking, “Hi! Have you dined with us before?” Or, “Hey, guys…“

Pouring Problems
Servers who, particularly when pouring a fine wine, top off your glass after each sip you take. Related variation: serving a bottled beer into a glass in front of you, filling the glass to the drop, then walking away with the empty bottle.