7/23/2012 01:38:00 PM

The 10 Most Awkward Dining Moments

Dining out, like any social situation, has its fair share of awkward moments, and we're not talking about blind dates or dinner with the boss. We're talking about those moments that occur between you and your server, or you and other diners, that make you want to crawl underneath the table and hide. We asked you for your most awkward dining moments, and you emailed us with a few suggestions. Check out the slideshow below to see them all. Have something to add? Let us know in the comments.

40 comments :

  1. When my friends insist on badgering the waitstaff to tell them what's "good." It's always awkward. Then, second, when they request 12 or so changes to the dish to make it palatable to them. I know, I need to get new friends or stop going out to restaurants with the ones I have.

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  2. When someone at the table is rude, demanding and or mean to staff. Show me a rude customer and I'll show you someone who has never server the public; especially in a restaurant.

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  3. Worse than seeing your server not wash their hands in the restroom (which in many years of dining, I don't recall this ever happening), is seeing one of the kitchen staff come bolting out of a toilet stall and right out the door! Unfortunately, I have witness this several times.

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    1. In a word: CHINA. Went on a tour for a week and each restaurant I went into I gagged at the food smell. (like a "wet dog") Finally tour guide suggested the "best one." Friend and I went. A gentleman came in -- staff bowed and scraped at his arrival. He sat and blew his nose on the table cloth. My chicken was served and it was white loose skin and looked raw with pin feathers. Friend ate it. She'd eat anything. I lost 10 pounds that trip and I only weighed 110 when I went!

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  4. My napkin fell on the floor, I requested a fresh one. The waiter took the napkin then headed to the area where napkins are stored at the far end of the room. I observed that he never bothered to get a fresh napkin - he simply turned about and brought the same one back. On his return to our table I told him, "I observed your trip to get a fresh napkin. I want you to wipe your face with the one you have brought us." He did not honor my request. I referred the problem to the manager. On my visit the following week - the waiter no longer worked there.

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    1. Calling him out on seeing him refold the same one would have been enough. You should have just let him know you saw it and asked for a fresh napkin again instead of making a "request" like that.

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    2. definitely. I hope you weren't with a date or you just ruined your chance with your d-ness.

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    3. No! How do you stop this? The napkin may have been foully soiled and this was a way to a discrete replacement. It is not up to the server to decide that the customer was a pompous ass. He is required to to serve the pompous ass or risk losing his job.

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  5. In Italy, I was placed at the end of our table and was the only person who could see down the hallway, just outside the kitchen where there was another table stacked with all the place-settings: plates, forks, spoons etc. They were all piled up and ready to be brought to the tables, as they needed to be reset - in between customers. It appeared to be a "posh" restaurant. A wait staff member folding the napkins at this table in the hallway, kept sneezing all over the entire table with all the plates etc. on it and then would proceed to wipe his nose on his sleeve. He would then come out into the restaurant and reset the tables. This went on the entire time we were there, I couldn't eat a thing and I was a guest of people from work who had been eating at this place each night of their stay, so I didn't feel comfortable saying anything.

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  6. The front desk staff at Cecconi's are deplorable! They displayed an outright offensive attitude towards me & my same-sex girlfriend. To think of that behavior being tolerated in this day and age, especially in West Hollywood, is despicable! I hope that nobody goes there.

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    1. Why don't you just go to a Lesbo Bar the next time where you will feel right at home

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    2. wow, the above comment was just really rude and disgusting! To the OP: that really sucks. Rude and/or discriminatory service should not happen to anyone

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    3. Half of Hollywood is gay, so what are you talking about, or are you just too poor to go there!

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    4. Maybe it had nothing to do with your sexual preference but with your personality, or the chip on your shoulder or your weight or something else. Were you dressed like lesbians?

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    5. Why does it matter whether they were dressed as lesbians? They should have been treated properly in any case

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    6. ^ haha, dressed a lesbians.

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    7. The chip was put there by the woman's poor disgusting attitude. My weight, along with my beautiful face, is definitely something to be jealous of. I'm sure that this chick named Denay(oy) couldn't get a Lesbo like me, let alone a man! Are you a man? Small package? Or just an ugly, lonely woman?

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    8. Dear Moderator,
      Please delete the above replies. These people are having a bad day and want to share it with the rest of us.
      Gil

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    9. Dear Moderator:

      The martyr above that wrote to you, is probably the one who started this all with the homophobic rant. Therefore, remember freedom of speech, and keep it up to remind everybody!

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    10. HAHAHA best review ever!!! I love it!!! Typical of people with inferiority complexes to blame bad service because of race or sexual preference... Usually respect is given where it is received. "in this day and age" FREE SPEECH FREAK

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    11. For what it's worth, the desk staff at Cecconi's are deplorable to almost everyone.

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    12. to the HAHA idiot~you obviously work there, loser homophobe!

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    13. To the HAHA idiot...no free speech from a freakin hostess with an attitude! I make more than her weekly pay in an hour! Superiority complex is more like it, far superior to you, poor loser!

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  7. I don't see why it's "uncomfortable" to bring up to a server that you were billed for something you didn't get. Just be nice about it, and they should know that if they take care of it promptly their tip won't be affected.

    Also, add the money to a friend's cheap tip IN FRONT of the friend, not quietly behind their back! The friend should be made aware of this and maybe will finally realize that they're wrong!

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    1. If they are getting the bill, I will say "Let me get the tip." Sometimes they will remark that what I'm leaving is "too much," which gives me an opportunity to educate someone about how much (little) servers are really paid.

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    2. Tactful!

      Then there's always the one person who doesn't add anywhere near enough of a tip when a group doesn't have separate checks & each pays for his/her own. Somehow he's out the door and down the street before anyone notices, then we all get to cover so the server gets to feed her kids this week.

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  8. I went to a breakfast joint this morning. The cook went to the bathroom and came out in less time than it would of taken to wash his hands. You could tell he didn't so I just paid for the coffee and was on my way out. The owner asked me what was wrong. I told him and he said "No, they always wash their hands". No way he did. I wasn't going to make a scene. The owner knew he didn't and was glad I didn't make it public. I just won't go there again. Nothing grosser first thing in the morning and they're too many places that need the business that follow proper hygiene. In this economy I'd be surprised if he still has a job.

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    1. Perhaps he went in to politely fart. You are paranoid.

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  9. Proper etiquette dictates that the server should clear any plates away from the table until everyone is finished. Unfortunately proper etiquette died a long time ago except for a few of the classy restaurants.

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  10. One time I was at lunch with the senior law partner and a client. The client paid the bill. The partner asked him, "Could you add something to the tip, I eat here often." As the associate, I couldn't say anything!

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    1. I am a retired partner senior law firm partner. Some partners are idiots. Your luncheon partner was a world class idiot. Look at it this way: there is hope for every associate to make partner.

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    2. I disagree that the partner was necessarily the idiot in this case. If the client left a skimpy tip, then good for the partner to have the balls to say something, even though it was a client. However, if it was just him trying to fluff the staff on someone else's dime, then he was presumptuous, although it's still not the end of the world. None of that is half as bad as having to eat lunch with two lawyers. ;)

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  11. We were at a six top in a snooty supper club (Ramsey Lewis was the act, that's how long ago it was). About mid meal the waiter went to refill wine glasses when he dropped the bottle directly into my wife's well sauced entree. Wine and food splashed over everybody. The waiter hightailed it to the kitchen out the back door and into the night never to be seen again. A couple of busboys were trying to help clean us up somewhat when the maitre d rushed over and told us if we didn't quiet down, Ramsey would stop the show. Do you see six people with wine and food splashed all over them? Since our waiter literally disappeared, we had no service for the rest of the evening. Management continued to act as if it were our fault. No comp, no dry cleaning, nothing. They were out of business soon after which was predictable I suppose.

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    1. I think you're talking about the last days at Chicago's London House at Michigan and Wacker. I remember it well, but I prefer to dwell on the days when it was just wonderful, and you wouldn't have had that experience. By the way, Ramsey Lewis was a great fellow and would have probably stopped the show to come help you clean up.

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  12. It's amazing how common these scenarios are. I've experienced a few of them. LRB http://iceandrefrigerationsystems.com/

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  13. In the event you notice an employee not washing his/her hands in the restroom, request to the manager that the employee be observed washing their hands in the appropriate manner. I've worked in countless food establishments, and a common request from customers would be to visually see you wash your hands. Some of the places I've worked had actually placed sinks in direct sight of the customer that employees were required to stop at and wash hands while traveling back and forth.

    You should not ignore this type of behavior, as it can promote the spread of disease. If you have any concerns, tell the manager the employee needs to wash his hands, or you will be required by moral code to contact the local health department and advise them of a food safety violation. Regardless of how awkward it may seem, you have the right to consume safe to eat food, and if you feel it is compromised, it is in the restaurants best interest to comply with any requests you have to make you feel like you are eating safe food. Inspections are such a pain that you may get your entire meal compensated even.

    Moral of the story, regardless of the awkward situation, don't be afraid to speak up and get what you ordered, how it should be ordered. The customer is always right.

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  14. I Spy:
    A rather fine restaurant that we went to last fall had very nice food and excellent service. No problem there. After dinner we were strolling around a side patio and we were able to see into the kitchen through some windows and noticed a flat screen tv above the door to the dining room. On the screen were different views of the dining room. I went back in to "use the facilities" and peeked back into the dining room and was able to spot several discrete cameras set up to monitor the patrons progress. That explained the excellent service, but I could also imagine the staff comments about some couples romantic dinners or someone's odd table manners. If we want that kind of monitoring, we can go visit any bank. If we want a relaxing evening, we won't go back there.
    Gil

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  15. Re: Scenario #1: The dreaded "How is everything?"
    FINE works for me. It's also an acronym for F---ed up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Exhausted. (Like SNAFU, but different.)

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  16. Almost all of these "awkward" moments make the servers out to be incompitent or rude. I'd like to see this author serve tables and go through server-training, where micro-mangers INSIST you take "ten-steps" from a table after droping off the check to deal with the payment and ask "how is everything?" after dropping off food. What is the problem with that question? Are servers supposed to just ignore a table that might have an issue until the guest is so agitated about it he/she shows signs of anger? Wouldn't it be better for everyone involved to find out if there is a problem as soon as possible so it can be delt with before it gets out of hand?

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  17. At a bar with my husband, the bartender has looked into my eyes and turned beet red while talking to me. Eight months later, he's given me his email, but after several emails still won't meet up with me. Most awkward, his wife is a server at the restaurant. Even worse, I've been married for 20 years and have never felt like this about anyone else before!

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