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Chefs add pet peeves to ‘miscues’

Never have I aired so many complaints and received so much positive feedback.

But my Oct. 7 “Top 10 customer miscues” column seemed to strike a chord with everyone, especially area chefs and servers. And, after asking readers to provide miscues I may have missed, my inbox and voice mail were busy and my Twitter feed was on fire.

Here are some of the best comments I received, leading off with some rants from Aaron Butts, executive chef at Joseph Decuis via Twitter:

•People who salt food before tasting it.

•People who are so surprised when the restaurant doesn’t have ranch or A-1 sauce.

•People who send wine back and say it’s corked, when in fact it just wasn’t to their taste. That’s cool, wine is free, right?

•People who fake a food allergy just because they don’t like an ingredient. “Oh, I’m allergic to beets.”

•People who want to make their own menu: Leave this out, add this, a little spicy, no butter and light on the salt.

•People who send their steaks back and say they are cold. We actually rest our meats before serving them, they are not piping hot, but they are definitely not cold, that would suggest that we put the steak in the cooler before serving.

– Aaron Butts

Right on the money! Don’t forget the discounters. Ya know, you want the sandwich without cheese, so it should be cheaper. … Large groups: Please call ahead! 15-20 ppl or more, it will only improve your experience! … Coupon substitutions “My coupon is for $2 off a dessert, but I want the dinner special, why can’t I use it for that?”

– Benjamin Lamson, chef at Ambrosia Bella Exclusive Gourmet, Angola (via Twitter)

I wanted to thank you for your article today. I have been working part-time as a server at Outback Steakhouse for four years to help support my family.

It surprises me that so many people don’t know proper restaurant etiquette. I see everything you described so often, from people sharing a small plate and table made lemonade to taking it out on our staff when something goes wrong.

When people are out, they are certainly out to have a good time and enjoy a meal, and I love when the patrons are being courteous and friendly and I let them know it.

We have taught our children that going out to eat is a special privilege and that can (be) revoked at anytime, and so being a special treat we take the time to show them how to talk to people around you when out.

The thing that gets to us is the people that forget they are dealing with people just like them that are trying to (do) their jobs and need to be treated with some respect. When people skimp out (on) the tip, they don’t realize that the server might be paying for it later with pay-in for tip share with hosts, bussers and bartenders. We have to pay for the people to come and treat us rudely and people don’t understand that; tips are what we live on because hourly pay is almost nonexistent.

I appreciate you taking the time to express what so many of us feel; I want to take the article in to the owner and have her plaster it on every wall.

– Glen Hargan, Fort Wayne

Wow, your article … was great! I have been a server for over 30 years! Only thing I have to add is (in regards to) tipping more for steaks than salads? It is the check average! Almost all servers have to pay taxes on tips; about 10 percent of the check! So if I get stiffed, I still have to claim money I did not even make!

– Mary, Fort Wayne

I can’t believe you didn’t list one of the most egregious and annoying customer miscues!

In this latest period of reduced income, many families cut their entertainment budget by utilizing coupons – especially buy-one/get-one enticements. Then, they proceed to tip on the sale amount instead of the pre-coupon amount. This is completely unfair to the server who must still provide the same level of service for a coupon-holder or someone paying full price.

No wonder most servers cringe when the powers-that-be announce a coupon special. They know they’ll work just as hard for less money. I’m not suggesting that people tip on the full amount including tax but they should tip on the pre-coupon cost.

– Pat, Fort Wayne

To your list, I would add:

1. Guys who wear caps or hats while at table.

2. Males and females with torn jeans.

3. Loud talking, as in a group socializing together.

For me, seeing diners holding eating utensils and beverage glasses incorrectly is visually offensive but is probably covered by the First Amendment.

I disagree about American children being allowed in all restaurants. Unless a child is well behaved and quiet, he or she does not belong in a pricey place where one may want to enjoy one’s food in peace and quiet.

In Portugal (I have been 16 or 17 times), I have seen children dining with their parents in nice restaurants where the child or children were quiet and well behaved, but then that’s how Portuguese children are generally raised and expected to behave. American children tend to be another matter!

– Geoffrey, Fort Wayne

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall’s past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.