When you walk into a nice restaurant, it often appears to be a well-oiled machine, with servers, runners, and bussers gliding seamlessly from table to table, to the kitchen, and to the bar, working with clockwork precision to make sure every diner is happy. But servers and other staff aren’t robots, and there are a few things that you probably don’t know about what goes on behind the scenes at even the best restaurants.
It’s All Controlled Chaos
In even the highest-end restaurant kitchens, it’s controlled chaos behind those swinging doors. Expediters are shouting at cooks to make sure the orders are coming along, servers are shouting for their orders, and everyone is just trying to keep up. And if you’ve ever seen a kitchen that gets so far behind that they’re thoroughly “in the weeds,” you’d be surprised that anything comes out of there at all.
Specials are Ways to Use Food Before it Goes Bad
In some upscale restaurants specials, are a way to showcase fresh and seasonal ingredients that just came in that morning, but at many restaurants they’re ways to make sure that ingredients that are almost past their prime don’t go to waste.
They Can Hear You
Having a squabble with your date, or maybe out for a special meal with someone who isn’t your significant other? You’d be surprised how much servers can hear, and you can be sure that they’re chatting about you behind the scenes.
Don’t Order Fish on Sundays
Anthony Bourdain’s now-legendary assertion that you shouldn’t order fish on Mondays is thankfully a thing of the past, but the “don’t order fish on Sundays” rule is still very much in effect. The fact of the matter is, fresh fish isn’t coming in on Sundays, so whatever you order isn’t going to be as fresh as it could be. “You know for sure that there’s no fresh fish on Sunday except if it’s bought fresh from Chinatown, but even they don’t get it really fresh on Sundays,” chef Eddie Huang told The Awl.
VIPs Get Special Treatment
If you’re a regular customer at a very expensive restaurant, you can rest assured that the staff will be well aware of that, so don’t be surprised if you get a free glass of wine or dessert (and if you’re planning on becoming a regular, it doesn’t hurt to become friendly with the manager or owner. As for the first-timers, well, not everyone gets special treatment, as Pete Wells’ review of Daniel can attest.