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Ever go to a nice restaurant and order your favorite dish, only to have it served out of whack? What's the best way to handle this?
I recently faced such a conundrum at a swanky, old-school Beverly Hills bar that seemed to have neither a right or wrong answer, just a good chance of me getting looked down upon. The drink I ordered, a dry Rob Roy — an obscure two parts-scotch, one part-vermouth cocktail — tasted overloaded with vermouth. Rarely do I pass on a libation, but this was one of those times where I wanted to send it back, especially since it cost $17.
However, I felt so foolish returning it to the bartender who obviously knew way more than me about mixing drinks. Finally, though, I said to the waiter, “I usually never do this, but…” To my surprise he said he’d bring me a new one. “We want to make sure you’re happy,” he noted. I couldn’t believe it, and reveled in the wonderful service as I sipped the second, spot-on rendition at no extra charge.
Does a sticky situation like this always work out this well? No.
Dining is like theater, where a graceful back and forth dialogue between the audience (diner) and actors (waitstaff) is key. Occasionally, setbacks happen during the course of an evening. To help you delicately dance through them, this article polled seven restaurant veterans to get their take on proper restaurant etiquette.
How should you ask about a dish that you think is taking too long to arrive? Dan Latimer, the general manager of Husk in Charleston, S.C., says it's okay to ask about it, but don't embellish the wait time — after all, they have computers to track dishes these days. What about asking to move from one table to another? Carl Walker, the general manager at Brennan's in Houston, Texas, recommends being as specific as possible about what you're looking for so the staff can find the best match available.
In the accompanying slideshow, Latimer, Walker, and other restaurant veterans dish on everything from how to send back a corked wine bottle and how to dispute an item on the bill to how to get the attention of the waiter, and more.