Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Totally Dishy

Some fun stuff going on over at the New York Times blog, where a guy who is opening up a restaurant on Long Island listed 100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do. There are already pages and pages of comments, ranging from agreement to shock anyone would suggest such a detailed list. Of course, the list sort of begs the question--what is dining out for? And starting at that beginning seems much more interesting to me, but I like to complicate things, don't I? (For what it's worth, I think it's a pretty good list that I might quibble about--yes, the muted flugelhorn line seems worth of Niles Crane--but it's mostly lover's quarrels.)

One step behind even that question, of course, is noticing how the people most upset about the list seems to be waiters. The list kind of hides the implied master-servant nature of the restaurant dynamic, and how we can overcome that without making the waiter the master (and that does happen sometimes, let's face it--conventions of fine dining can oppress the diner into meek obsequiousness, hoping merely not to faux pas one's way through a tangle of too much silverware and the grand theater of tasting the wine). For I have seen patrons treat waiters like crap, and one could easily compile a list of "how to be a good person at a restaurant," but, alas, much of that would also make the list, "here's how not to be an asshole anywhere, but you can't seem to do that, can you." Too many folks think since they're paying money for the evening they're buying the person, and therefore anything goes. (Parallel problem: People who give big money to non-profits and then think the non-profit staff works for them as part of their hefty donation. Sorry, not true. Your dollars don't trump the 13th amendment.)

Back to why we eat out (and get your mind out of the gutter)...true, just a part of it is food. It's often always social (unless one is a "singleton"--hey, no judgment in that term, is there? and can I be the mayor of singleton?), and an engaging waiter can be one bit of that party, but of course, a bit player, no more than an Edward Everett Horton or Thelma Ritter. The trick is reading the situation. Is it a couple clearly lovey-dovey? Don't get tangled in their roost. Etc. I like to think of dining as rhetorical, all about audiences and needs, attitudes, and knowledge. Read the table. Proceed.

So that's rule 1 at my place. How about yours?



Blogger Queen Whackamole said...

The perfect waiter should pay attention to small requests from the very beginning. "No ice," for example.

Triple extra bonus jaw-dropping goodness points for the entire staff if the person who brings the water delivers the glass with no ice to the right person without even asking who requested no ice.

Way to knock my socks off, Wine Cask!

8:09 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...


Knowing when and how often to approach the table and the coordination between the wait staff and the kitchen as to when each course arrives. Too little time, and the diner feels rushed like at a chain restaurant...turn the tables over as fast as possible. Too much time, and the guests stop focusing on their interaction and start wondering where the Hell their food, water refills, drink refills and damn check are.

7:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker