10 Restaurant Disasters and How to Survive Them (Slideshow)
January 8, 2014
From forgetting your wallet to bad breath, we’ve got you covered
Red Wine Stain
It can happen in the blink of an eye: you go to reach for your water glass, and before you know it your elbow bumps a full glass of wine and it spills all over your date’s lap. All is not lost! There are actually a host of ways to remove red wine from fabric, but you’ve got to act fast: According to WikiHow, you can pour club soda on it, cover the stain with salt and let it dry, cover it with club soda and salt, or ask for milk and let that soak into it. If the stain dries, you can rub some shaving cream or vodka into it before putting it in the wash; white wine with a paste of baking soda will get the stain out as well.
Try as we might, it’s going to be difficult to detect when a stray sliver of garlic is lurking in our pasta dish. But there are actually several items that every restaurant has on hand that can help neutralize the odor of garlic: parsley, mint, cardamom, cloves, aniseed, fennel, lemon, milk, and tea, according to BreathMD.com.
You’re Running Late
If you’re going to be more than five minutes late for a reservation, it’s smart to call the restaurant and let them know. They’ll most likely be able to hold your table for you until you arrive, and it will stop them from thinking that you’re ditching out on your reservation. If you’re going to be super-late, they might be able to switch your reservation for a later time that evening, closer to when you’ll actually be arriving. But you should always let them know!
Service Is Terrible
If you’re seated at a table and promptly ignored for more than 10 minutes, it’s completely within your rights to get up and leave. If your server treats you poorly, is surly, inattentive, slow, and overall affects your experience negatively, it’s within your rights to leave a small tip. But in both of these cases there’s one thing you should always do before leaving: speak to a manager about it. If you go home and write about your experience on Yelp, it might make you feel a little better, but that won’t resolve the issue. Calmly tell the manager what happened and ask them to help rectify the situation. The server will hear about it, and apologies will be in order.
This is a touchy subject. If you complain to the staff, most servers will tell you that there’s nothing they can do about it, and even if they were to tell the parents to quiet the children down, they won’t stay quiet for long. You can request to be moved to a table farther from the madness (it’s best to do this before you sit, if you think there are too many kids nearby), and if all else fails, you’ll know for the future that the restaurant is a romper room.
Fire/Flood/Act of God
On rare occasions, something will go terribly wrong that’s entirely beyond the restaurant’s control. If there’s a fire or flood that forces you to leave before you can finish your meal, then you’re entitled to politely request that you not be forced to pay for it.
Some restaurants will shoehorn as many people in as possible, which can lead to some unpleasant experiences if your neighbors are loud and obnoxious or otherwise offensive. It’s the restaurant’s job to make sure that you enjoy your meal, so if you politely ask your server for a new table they’ll set you up with one if they’re able to. But again, the earlier in the meal that you can make the switch, the better.
You Eat Something You’re Allergic To
For those with food allergies, trying to order off a menu can be like navigating a minefield. Before you order, make sure that the server knows if there are any foods that you’re allergic to, and they’ll notify the kitchen. Then when you place your order, make sure you hear your server say that what you’re served will not contain those foods. When your food arrives, inspect it before eating to make sure your allergen isn’t in it. If you start eating only to discover the allergen, first tend to whatever medical needs you may have, then promptly tell the server and the manager that they didn’t heed your request.
You Forget to Leave a Tip
If you forget to leave a tip, your server will most likely just assume that you’re stiffing them and won’t be happy about it. So here’s what you do: as soon as you realize your error, call the restaurant and let them know, and ask them to notify the server that you’ll be returning to tip them. Then when you come back, give the tip (with an extra 10 or so percent added on) to the server in person, if possible, along with a much-needed apology.
You Forget Your Wallet/ Don’t Have the Money
It’s a diner’s worst nightmare: The tab arrives, and you either don’t have your wallet with you or don’t have enough money to pay for your meal. So what do you do? The days of washing pots and pans are thankfully over: If you simply don’t have enough cash and it’s a cash-only restaurant, they’ll show you how to get to the nearest ATM. If you’ve left your wallet at home, most restaurants will let you go home and get it, but you should offer to leave something (like a purse) behind as "collateral." But what if you only have a debit card with insufficient funds? Most restaurants will understand how embarrassing this is for you, so if you politely tell them your situation, they will most likely let you give them an IOU. They can take down your license number and address so they know how to contact you, and in some cases will just send you a bill, which you can pay by check. Ultimately, not being able to pay isn’t the end of the world (as long as you pay eventually).