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2013/08/31

TMI Questions: Hey Waiter, Over Here!

Love eating out!  It is one of my all-time favorite things to do.  Ever since I was a little tyke, when we could only afford to go out to eat once or twice a year… restaurants have fascinated me.  I love the pageantry of the food coming out of the kitchen, the companionship provided by good friends, the waiter as our guide, and candlelight.

As with most folks these days, I have a lot of experience eating at restaurants and therefore… some very strong opinions about what makes for a great dining experience.

TMI QUESTIONS:
Questions designed to reveal Too Much Information

Link: http://tmiquestions.blogspot.com/

Hey Waiter, Over Here!

How often do you eat out?

Eat out?  Define your terms.  Oh.  There’s a waiter involved?  (Well, sometimes there is.) I don’t sexually discriminate against those in the service industry, especially when they allow me to service them! 

But we’re talking about food here, huh?

I eat out at least once a week, usually twice.  It used to be a lot more, but I have this habit – that totally flies in the face of reality – of liking to pick up the check.  That gets expensive.  Talk about a check my reality cannot cash!  So, rather than change that behavior I choose to limit my exposure to restaurants.  Makes sense?  No, not really.  But then logic rarely figures into how I deal with social situations.  I keep picking up the check in the hope that others will follow my lead, but so far… not many have stepped up to the plate.

Typically:

  • During the week, one business related lunch. 
  • On the weekend, one fun dinner with cocktails.
  • Sometimes I sneak a Happy Hour in there.

I used to eat out a lot more when my Dad was still mobile.  It was a great way to get my Mom out of the house.  I miss those days.

Do like trying new places?

Yes and no.  I hate being disappointed when it comes to food, but I am more likely to get pissy when confronted with a dirty restaurant.  Sticky chairs?  Fingerprint covered condiments on the table?  Food splatter on the wall above my booth?  Filthy restrooms?  Nothing upsets me more.

And then there’s the décor.  Fake foliage with a year’s worth of dust coating it?  Ugly or misguided decorating decisions?  Uncomfortable chairs?  Wobbly tables?  Overcrowded dining spaces?

All these things can make me regret trying something new.  Yet I do keep looking for new places because, on occasion, I am extremely surprised and pleased.  When pleased, they become my new haunt until I reach a point of saturation where the honeymoon is over and I start seeing other flaws. Or maybe I simply get bored.

That said, I will give a new place (provided it is clean) several tries before reaching the conclusion it is not for me.

Thankfully, I have my diehard favorites to fall back on. 

As for new food types/genres?  Oh, yeah.  Currently trying raw food and vegan places.  Always game for something different when it comes to food. 

How do you feel about chains vs. individual restaurants?

While individual restaurants can be a dicey affair – if you have ever watched ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ or ‘Bar Rescue’, you know what I am talking about – I prefer them to chains.

Lots of people open restaurants with no idea of how to run a restaurant, no idea what good food and service is about, and/or no idea how to make it profitable.  A friend of mine who is in the business always says the key to customer satisfaction is to “cherish the guest”.

I personally witnessed firsthand, for three years, a tiny, family-owned restaurant with great potential implode due to wide spread dysfunction, bad service, and a pigheaded owner who refused to make changes.  All the ingredients for success were there (great location, good food, great prices, good ambiance), but the nightly floor show involved the family members screaming at each, storming out, or threatening to shut the doors once and for all.  The wait staff was primarily composed of the stubborn owner’s offspring. 

One had a chemical dependency problem and would frequently show up (if he bothered to at all) heavily under the influence.  I was there the night his dealer came in waving a gun, demanding money.  That was fun! 

The other son was simply lazy.  He had no interest in the restaurant (or working at all, for that matter).  He would drink from the moment he got to work, with his service getting sloppier and sloppier and his swearing getting louder and louder.  He was handsome as hell, but a total dick.  
Then there was the daughter.  She was in charge of the front of the house.  She had three children.  They came to work with her sometimes.  Or she didn’t come to work.  When she did, she and the owner screamed at each other like no one was watching.  It was the sort of dinner theatre I really liked. 

For some reason, the public did not cotton to the overall vibe of the place, despite the cozy décor, the incredible pasta sauce, and the reasonable prices.  They had to close due to lack of business.  Dumb bunnies.  All they had to do was watch a couple of episodes of Kitchen Nightmares and, with the help of some self-awareness, mend their ways.  The place could have been a gold mine.   But no.  You can’t help stupid.

As for chains… I used to simply eat food.  Now I dine.  I also cook a lot more these days, as my diet has significantly changed (about two months ago).  So I now have an appreciation for food that is prepared and presented in a manner that honors the food and my stomach. 

Chains?  They tend to dumb everything down to a couple of categories: Deep Fried Everything, Make It Super Spicy, Make it Super Bland, and, my least favorite, Let’s Put Something On The Menu We Don’t Know How To Prepare.  With the exception of the last category, all the other atrocities are committed in order to cover up the poor the quality of the food. 

This stuff is factory-produced boil-a-bag garbage.  Many chain restaurants are little more than microwaves with stuff glued to the walls.  Most of the sauces contain substances not found in nature and there seems to be this trend that the more stuff stuffed into something and the more things that cover that stuffed something, the happier the customer will be.  I don’t understand that concept at all. 

The idea of fresh food served simply and well seems to escape most chains.  Obviously, I am not their demographic.

Do you usually have a preference of where you sit?

Not in the middle of the room.  I have many enemies (real and imagined) and can only protect myself from so many angles at a time.

I prefer booths to tables. 

I don’t want to sit near an entrance or window. 

I don’t want to sit in the alley or in the mens room (near is fine - and kind of fun).

Do you order dessert?

Rarely.  Not a fan of sugar.  But I have a frequent companion who is a sugar fanatic.  He will order something, but only if I promise to have a bite, which I do.  While it may not be true of other activities in my life, in this case, one is always enough.

Where won't you eat?


  • Chillis, Applebees, TGIFs, Perkins, Embers, etc.
  • Steakhouses
  • Public Toilets
  • Food Trucks
  • Fast Food Places

I used to enjoy fast food once a month, typically late at night, after some really, really over-the-top shagging.  On my way home I would hit the drive thru.  Something about great sex with strangers and fast food seemed to go hand in hand.  But I’m over it. 

Or, it could be that I just no longer have great sex with strangers.  

Hmmm….  Chicken?  Egg?

Kids in restaurants are ______?

Up for grabs?   Food?   Taking hostages?

The correct answer is…

Taking hostages.  Or at least taking my evening hostage.  Children in public spaces are terrorists.

I hate kids in restaurants.  Especially babies and those of an age where crayons being ground into placemats are necessary.   Mom and Dad?  Do the world of adults a favor… get a fucking babysitter.  Your screaming toddler is ruining, not only your dining experience, but mine as well.  

And that makes me hate you.

This is what I would love to do:


And when they run around, unsupervised, like they are at the playground?  Who is that fun for?  Not me.  And for god’s sake, please clean up after your rugrats.  Dining out does not give you the right to come in and leave copious amounts of food on the floor, chairs, and tables.  You know who has to clean that up?  That waiter that hates your guts as much as I do.

So, leave the kids at home. 

Or bring duct tape. 
Do you have any 'rules' for when you eat out?

Don’t like something?  Then eat elsewhere.

While it’s okay to request that something be served without onions, it is not okay to rewrite the menu to suit your personal dietary preferences.  Don’t see anything on the menu that fits your needs?  Then eat somewhere else.

Do no harm.  Do not make a scene.

Do not snap or whistle to get your waiter’s attention.  If they seem oblivious of your presence, rise, walk over to them and politely remind them that you exist and are a paying customer.

Be nice to your server.  They are human beings with feelings.

A brief story to illustrate this last point:

For a couple of months, three years ago or so, a friend of mine and I would attend a regular Sunday night out with a bunch of rather interesting characters.  For some reason we got adopted by this group and my friend was interested, so I went along for the ride.

They would meet at the same restaurant at the same time each Sunday.  The conversation was always interesting, though I think, considering it was a group of gay guys, they found my contributions a bit… ummm… racy!  I never tired of shocking them.  They were from a different generation; when apparently being gay meant keeping secrets and sex was not something to be laughed about. 

I began referring to them as ‘The Wax Works’. 

The place they dined at was super gay and featured horrible, old-time supper club food.  But the cocktails were strong, so the evening went by well enough.  Though they all gave me the evil eye when it came time to tip the waiter, because, well, the old buzzards were fucking cheapskates and I always made them look bad.

One evening, we had a new waiter.  Our ‘regular’ waiter, who had been waiting on this group for years, and knew all The Wax Works’ dietary preferences and behavioral idiosyncrasies, had called in sick.  Apparently that list of special requests was quite extensive, for the poor fellow never seemed to get the hang of it and when he made the mistake of delivering a martini with olives to the den mother of the group – well, all hell broke out.  The man proceeded to have a fit, loudly dressing down the waiter and refusing to accept any type of apology.  Then the others joined in, each one being just as unreasonable as their leader.

The waiter made a mistake that could be easily fixed, and certainly did not warrant such a dramatic reaction.  After all, nobody died.  Nobody was pregnant.  Nobody was going to jail.

However, it proved to be the last straw for me.  One cocktail into the evening, and with a recently arrived uneaten entrée sitting before me, I rose, followed the waiter to the kitchen where I requested the check for the group, paid it, apologized for the group, handed the waiter a substantial cash, over-the-top tip, and walked out without ever looking back or saying a word to those horrid men ever again. 

Rudeness to those who are doing their best, but struggling to help you is something I will not and cannot abide. 

Better to say nothing, leave a minimum tip and never return to a restaurant than hurt someone’s feelings or cause a scene.  That’s just how I feel.

Maybe it’s because I’m from a different generation.     

Do you tip the waiter in cash or on credit? How much?

Typically on a credit card, but (see above) to make a point, sometimes in cash. 

I used to wait tables (many lifetimes ago) and I still have many friends in the biz, so my tips tend to be very generous.  I only give ten percent tips if the service was discourteous, contentious, or non-existent.  If they were terrible, but desperately trying they get fifteen percent.  Twenty percent if the service was perfunctory and indifferent.  After that?  Well, it can depend upon how much I’ve indulged and/or flirted.   It will also depend on the number of people in my party and whether or not one or more of them were rude, self-indulgent, made the waiter chase, or asked way too many questions/made too many demands.

I understand what it is to earn minimum wage.  I no longer do, so I make sure to reward good service or any act of kindness, because I know that server is counting on that tip money to pay rent.

People who under-tip or refuse to tip at all?  There is a special place in Waco,Texaa (also known as ‘hell) reserved for you.   Right next to Ted Nugent, Anne Coulter, and Michael Vick.

Bonus – Bonus - Bonus
People describe eating as a sexual experience. Would you?

No.

I’ve had great sex. 

Trust me, food is no substitute.

Have you mixed sex and food?

Only three times: this freaky, super tall and thin church organist with a giant penis was into Hershey’s chocolate sauce.  Standing in the shower, he would pour it all over me and himself and then we would go to town on one another.  The third time we did it, all that sugar made me sick and that… was the end of that.

It was the end of the church organist, too.

Does the possibility of sex after dinner affect what your order?

Well, I so very rarely ‘date’, in the traditional sense.  And I guess this should really have been filed under ‘rules for when you eat out’, but I feel that when you are dining with someone you don’t know very well it is best to:


  • Limit yourself to one cocktail.
  • Avoid garlic, and other potent smelling foods which may lead to bad breath
  • Never order something that may digestively disagree with you or produce gas
  • Never order something you know nothing about (see above)
  • Never order soup (slurp, slurp)
  • Never order noodles (slurp, slurp)
  • Order a salad only if you know it will arrive chopped up fine enough to be eaten without making a mess
  • No corn on the cob – not only is it messy, but it will get stuck in your teeth

So, I guess I am saying: no potentially-messy, potent-smelling, difficult-to-eat, or mysterious food.

So, have the mashed potatoes.  But only if there is no garlic in them.

Remember… a glass of water is a perfectly safe choice.  But careful not to spill on yourself.   Or dribble.

NEVER go to a BBQ restaurant on a first date.  I did and had to resist the urge to wipe my date’s face, mouth, chin, etc. throughout the entire meal.  Needless to say, it was a one and only date and he got no nookie from this cookie.

And finally, skip dessert.

You never know… that man sitting opposite you might just be a freaky organist with a giant penis!

















Puttin' On The Ritz - Taco


Eat It - 'Weird Al' Yankovic


Tom's Diner - DNA feat. Suzanne Vega


Alice's Restaurant - Arlo Guthrie


Scenes from an Italian Restaurant - Bill Joel

9 comments:

FelchingPisser said...

My gay brother told me a great story about two hairy guys into chocolate syrup...They would put a tarp down on the floor, cover themselves and go at it. One night they did the usual routine, but instead of getting quickly to the shower, fell asleep on top of each other. They awoke stuck together--chest hair to chest hair. They couldn't move without causing them both severe pain...

Skilled4Men said...

I swear, How I Luv Your Posts! If we ever got caught OUT together, the world wouldn't know what to do with us!!
Me: Cozy booth, black ceilings, great Martinis, and SERVICE! I pay to stay, and entertain the prospects of a return visit. Call me jaded, but a male waiter is always a plus! Oh, he can be straight, but The Best know how to orchestrate any occasion.
As for desserts... I can't go without. At least a taste -The Gods will be forgiving! "Enjoy as you wish!" is my take... If the guy is into you, he'll wait for hygienic protocol!!
...So, when are you coming down for dinner???

Lots of hugs!

SEAN (The Jeep Guy) said...

Service is so important to the dining experience. I will eat at places with great service and nice food over places with poor service and exceptional food. When I tip I try to only consider the service and not the quality of the food. When I have an experience that is so bad or so good, I will tell the appropriate person (s). Having made career in retail I know how important it is for customers to inform the managers of what is going on - too often it is the only way we find out. I always appreciated it and when I do it, I try to be fair.

O!Daddie now at http://smokeyandme.typepad.com/ said...

Great restaurant story- I did that once but it was to immediate family who were consistently so entitled, so rude and so loud that enough was finally enough and I snapped one evening at my own birthday 'celebration', paid the bill myself and walked out. Everyone was horrified, but I did get a nice note and a check from my cousin, congratulating me for having the balls to finally do what he wished he had done long ago. ☺☺

Mark Gaulding said...

Hey, Upton. Great post. I agree with most everything you said except for the debate about sex vs. food. Alas, sex, as yet, has never been anywhere near as amazing experience as eating really good food. I really enjoy your blog!

Mark Gaulding
http://thetreasuretrail.blogspot.com

Koba said...

Great post! I love to cook and love to eat. We've eaten out moreso than usual the last couple of weeks and for the most pat the food has been mediocre and the service terrible. I find that serice in the U.S is generally 25 times better than here in Canada. When my ship comes in, I'm going to open a first class joint with top quality food and service!

Koba said...

I also meant to add that a clean washroom is high on my list of priorities. I particularly want a way to make it out of the washroom without having to touch doorknobs or whatever.

BlkJack said...

What a great post! I am in the business so the comments will help me in my approach to my clients. When i was in Minneapolis, the summer of 2010 i dined at the Guthrie Museum restaurant and i think a place called the cafereria. What are your thoughts on those eateries.
BlkJack

BlkJack said...

I forgot to add a question mark to my last comment. Just curious to see your thoughts. Thanks!
Jack