Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Top 10 Restaurant Pet Peeves

Top 10 Restaurant Pet Peeves
Here at the top 10 eatery annoyances that never fail to drive me batty!

1. "We're Out of That."

What?! Is this a restaurant or the Monty Python "Cheese Shopppe" sketch? Nothing irritates me more than a menu item that is unavailable. In the past I've been denied such arcane items as table salt, water, breadsticks, and napkins, all on the grounds that the restaurant is "out of it." Oh, you're "out of it," all right. Don't you realize I may have flown through an electrical storm in my private helicopter to visit your dining establishment--just for one item? That item you now have the effrontery to tell me you're "out of." This is why we need digital, constantly updated menu's. (I know there shouldn't be an apostrophe in the plural form of "menu," but I just wish it were correct. "Menus" just looks weird to me.) Maybe I've been having, as the rock band Bread would have it, "A Rather Dismal Day." Maybe that special item, that squash sorbet, or canned bread, or side of conch fritters, is all that is standing between me and the abyss? Huh? Have you never thought of that? Whoever does your ordering needs to think twice about cutting back on how many strips of fruit leather you need in your smokehouse.

2. Shrieking Children

When I dine, I wish to engage all of my senses. This means that I not only wish to inhale the aroma of the seared koi on my plate, I also want to hear the fishbones snapping in my mouth. What I do not wish to hear is your out-of-control progeny screaming their lungs out because there's too much picklelilly in their milkshake. Ear-splitting shrieks better suited to an asylum are not the kind of ambient noise I seek out in my bistro of choice. When I have to wear NRR 33 earplugs to a restaurant, something is wrong.

3. Happy Birthday Yourself

If somehow you've done some kind of background check and have found out my date of birth, do not--and I mean, do not--in any way, shape, or form let the servers in any restaurant where I am dining know this fact. I will not tolerate a ring of servers around poor, captive me--clapping their hands, shouting in some kind of maniacal crescendo--singing one of those royalty-avoiders I've discussed here and here. Is public humilation an amenity now?

4. Servers Who are Secretly Morticians

I know it sounds like some lame nightclub comedian's joke, but I'm sorry. If I have to deal with one more server who is "really a mortician," I'm going to scream. When your waitron stops in the middle of reciting the specials to show you some 8 X 10 glossies of his latest achievements in funerary cosmetics--well, excuse me, I'm just not interested. I don't normally complain about the waitrons, but these vain, self-absorbed server/undertakers are just plain annoying. Do you really think you're too good to refill my iced tea glass because you go to mortuary school at night?

5. A Television

I go to restaurants to get away from things like television. And no, turning the volume all the way down and putting on the Closed Captioning doesn't make it any less irritating.

6. An Aquarium

When I see an aquarium in a restaurant, I feel like I'm dining in some 1960's secret agent's penthouse apartment. I don't know why.

7. Bad Music

Sometimes I think there's a special satellite that beams only terrible music, and that the eatery I'm dining at is tuned into that signal. Don't play fake "new wave" songs by third-rate acts from 1980 who specialize in obvious keyboard sounds and sarcastic vocals when I'm swallowing my evening meal, thank you.

8. Managers Who Tell Me Their Theories

Please stop loitering at my table to bore me with your theories about such matters as electricity, space people, spelling reform, the medicinal uses of various plants, disposable single-use cameras, perpetual motion, the year 2012, reality, the mind, or time travel. I will feel as though I had been immured like a character in Edgar Allan Poe. I'm serious.

9. Restaurants that Misspell "Edgar Allan Poe" on their Menu

Ulalume's, you know who you are.

10. Sanitation Ratings of F

If your dining establishment can't at least earn a D, you'll have to make it up in areas other than sanitation--and so few restaurants do. If I can get a C in Microbiology, then you guys can at least get a D in cleanliness and food safety!

Well, there you have it. The Top 10 things that annoy me when I'm eating out. I'm sure you have your own Top 10 list, but not as good. If you were thinking of adding to this list in any way with your own comments, please don't. But you have my permission to agree that by avoiding these culinary irritations--using them as a checklist, as it were--then you will have a much brighter future in the world of food.

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