After last night at the restaurant, with a dining room full of very drunk, very loud, very obnoxious people, I am here to channel Bill Maher with,
New Rule: If you insist on going “off the reservation”, that is, changing and mutating dishes on our menu by adding or subtracting ingredients, interchanging the accompaniments, sauces, garnishes, or cooking method, you void the warranty. You cannot tell us “I’ll have the Dover Sole, but with no butter, no sauce, no salt, and could I have it poached?”, then send it back because it has no flavor.
New Rule: If you don’t like what you have ordered and, looking at the plate of the person next to you say “Just bring me what he’s having” without bothering to inquire what it actually is, you can’t send it back and refuse to pay for it because you didn’t like it.
New Rule: You cannot use strange, arcane culinary terms that no one has ever heard before, or that you just made up in your own besotted brain, and then get mad because we didn’t prepare it right or know what the hell you were talking about. If you order a “naked steak” and refuse to tell us what that means, and just continue to blather about a “naked steak, just the steak on the plate, nothing else,” you can’t get mad and send it back because we put salt and pepper on it. In over 30 years in kitchens and dining rooms I have never once in my life heard of a “naked steak”; so don’t you dare give me that look of “Everyone knows what a naked steak means, so why don’t you?”
New Rule: If you aren’t the one paying, you don’t get to bitch about the check. This should be obvious to those of us in polite society; but the people in our dining room last night apparently came from a world where the sky is a different color.
The one and only sane, halfway sober person in this large group had made payment arrangements before they first sat, and Thank God for this not-so-small favor. Drunken, Naked Steak guy from the previous rule, has grabbed the check from Mr. Nice and Polite, and is trying to do Drunk Math and failing. Which brings us to the next…
New Rule: If you’re going to try to be a Big Shot and pay for dinner, get your fucking credit card out and pass it to your waiter or the Maître D’ on the way into the table. And don’t get all Fake Huffy and blame us if your half-assed attempt at grabbing the check at the end of the meal is a fail. You weren’t going to pay anyway, so sit your drunk ass down.
The corollary to this rule is: the most demanding, arrogant, and rude guy in the group has “Tyrannosaurus Arms” (if you need a visual, bring your elbows into your sides, with your hands drawn into your chest; then wiggle your fingers trying to reach for the wallet in your hip pocket), or does a Claude Rains and disappears when it’s check time. He arrives back at the table from his conveniently timed trip to the Men’s Room after the check has been settled; he gets all Huh-Rumph, and attempts to throw out his Monkey Wards card with the $250 credit limit, saying something like “Oh, no. No you don’t! Nope, I insist, I got this… “ Which morphs into a phony-humble surrender with “Um, well, okay, I guess… thanks Bill, you didn’t have to do that….” Followed by the inevitable, “But let me get the tip…” Oh no, please Bill. Don’t.
New Rule: If you can’t even remember what you ordered, you don’t get to point at your neighbor’s plate and say “He didn’t order that…” Yes, he did. Sit your drunk-ass down and eat.
New Rule: If you are gone from the table for 20 minutes to smoke, shoot heroin, whatever, you can’t come back and immediately complain that your food is “taking a long time.” It may be a News Flash, but most restaurants think it’s a proper service standard to serve the entire table at once; so if you are away from the table, we hold that course until you come back. Most civilized people won’t start eating when one guest is away anyway, so rather than risk having to take back five out of six plates because they sat on the table getting cold while you suck down your Kools, we don’t plate it until you get back. So sit your drunk ass down and eat.
New Rule: If you go to a restaurant that specializes in a particular style of cuisine and order something completely incongruous with what they normally make, you can’t bitch that it’s not as good as you think it should be. Don’t get pissed when the Vegetarian Plate at the Steak House isn’t all that, and don’t get mad when the Sushi Bar overcooks the salmon, because that’s not what they do. Just because a Mexican restaurant has ground beef doesn’t mean you can order a hamburger. It’s like going to a Rodeo and complaining that they don’t have Pony Rides.
New Rule: If you order coffee, you can’t complain that it’s “too hot”. Yes, this actually happened last night.
And the final New Rule for this particular Rant Session: If you are going to try to be a Big Shot and tip the Maître D’ because you know your buddies are going to be “difficult”, do it on the way out; and make sure it’s an amount commensurate with the challenges met. Slipping an Al Hamilton into my palm on the way in does not give you license to violate all the rules stated above. Add four more to that stack and maybe we can talk…