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Complaining in a restaurant

Discussion in 'General Cooking Discussions' started by epicuric, Oct 12, 2017 at 3:18 PM.

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  1. epicuric

    epicuric Senior Member Staff Member

    I don't generally complain in a restaurant if something is not to my taste, only if food is unsafe or really bad. Today we visited a steak house for lunch that has great reviews both online and with locals. The food was dire. The chef proprietor was a nice young guy and had only opened 5 months ago. I couldn't tear into him in front of other diners, and I wouldn't want to slate him on tripadvisor. However, in his position I would want to know if a customer was seriously unhappy with my food. Would a polite email be in order?
     
  2. ElizabethB

    ElizabethB Active Member

    Location:
    Lafayette, LA. US
    @epicuric

    Definitely. Don't just say that the food was dire. Be specific - undercooked, overcooked, improperly seasoned.

    Before George had his surgery we dined at a favorite restaurant. The food was appalling!

    We shared a frog leg appetizer - no seasoning.

    We both ordered fish. Just looking at it the overcooking was obvious - fish leather. George had a side of Brussel's sprouts - cooked to mush and bitter.

    We expressed our disappointment to the restaurant manager. She ordered new plates for both of us, did not charge us for our meal and took 50% off of our drinks.

    We returned for dinner a couple of weeks ago. The food was up to the usual good standard.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017 at 12:15 AM
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  3. Dados1950

    Dados1950 Active Member

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Yes...I think a polite email is in order. If owner is nice and business is relatively new, honest, constructive criticism will help his business get better. Restaurant business is a very tough business..bad reviews can kill it pretty quickly
     
  4. Elawin

    Elawin Über Member Recipe Challenge Judge

    I have only had cause to complain three times. Once was in a country pub, several miles from where we lived. It was a special occasion, and we had booked a table. My daughter and her then boyfriend dropped us off and were due to pick us up in a couple of hours. Although we ordered within a few minutes of arriving, only our drinks arrived. We complained to the waitress who went to find out what had happened to our meal. Another 1/4 hour passed before she came back to explain that they had lost the order! She took our order again, and again we waited and waited. This time we asked for the manager. In the end, we had free drinks, a free meal each, and my daughter and her boyfriend were given free snacks and drinks while they waited for us to finish our meal. The meal, by the way, was excellent.
    On another occasion at a nearby pub (where we used to eat regularly every week) my food was dire - it was undercooked and looked like it had been thrown at the plate. We complained, and the waiter took my plate away and came back with a freshly cooked meal, which was fine. We were not charged for my meal, and the dessert was also free. He explained that it was the manager's night off but said that he would tell the manager the next day. On that occasion, we telephoned the head office of the chain, and a few days later a letter of apology came with vouchers for two free meals.
    The worst was at a rather snobby hotel in the Lake District. The service was terrible. Eventually our first course appeared - it was soup, and it was cold - followed by a 20 minute wait for our main meal, only to be told that the meal was off. We did reorder but after another long wait, we walked out.
     
  5. Lullabelle

    Lullabelle Midlands, England

    Location:
    Leicester UK
    We reluctantly had a meal at a cheap chain, my dad had 'fish' and chips which had to be sent back. We waited a very long time for anyone to take our order, serve food, clear table etc. Staff were standing around chatting and took offence at us asking to have our table cleared. I complained to the alleged manager who apologised and pointed out there was a wait that evening but was uncomfortable when I informed him we were not told about that, dessert was awful as well, he didn't charge us for the 'fish' and chips or the dessert. I told him to his face how bad the place was and I wouldn't eat there again, he didn't seem bothered. I asked that if they really were as busy as he claimed then why were staff standing around chatting instead of working? Why did we have approach them to clear our tables, rude of us I know to interrupt their gossiping ro ask them to do their job, horrid place. We didn't book the tables and I certainly won't go their again. I won't post on social media just told the 'manager' to his face.
     
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  6. ElizabethB

    ElizabethB Active Member

    Location:
    Lafayette, LA. US
    I understand that any restaurant can have an off night. There is never an excuse for poor service. A snooty manager - unacceptable! I would have ripped that establishment on Yelp and Trip Adviser.

    I have done it before and would not hesitate to do it again.
     
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  7. Lynne Guinne

    Lynne Guinne Senior Member

    Location:
    New England
    I certainly would send an email, or even post a letter for more of an impact (no one writes on paper anymore, after all), to alert the restaurant to your experience. I am a firm believer that someone cannot correct their mistakes if they are not made aware of them. That is also the approach I use when complaining. I start out by saying I'm not complaining (which, actually, I am :giggle: ), but bringing an issue to their attention which they might want to review and/or correct. I've needed to talk to a manager only two or three times in this manner (or, in one case, called their customer service number after stewing about my problem overnight) and have always received positive feedback. I talked to the manager at a local chain, that did have good food back in the day when we went out regularly, after we paid the bill. He compensated me by giving us a $50 gift card and invited me to let him know if we noticed a different the next time we were there. We gave them a month, went back - wow, what a difference! I'm pretty sure we weren't enjoying our meal more just because it ended up being free. :wink:

    My best "get" was when we decided to revisit a nice restaurant when on vacation in Charleston, South Carolina. The first time we ate at Poogan's Porch, the food was delicious but the server seemed to want to be anywhere but there. We decided to give them another chance and celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary there. I called ahead to speak with the manager, telling him that we loved the food but would like a more attentive server that night. Could he be sure we were seated where we would get proper attention? Not only did we have a wonderful server, the manager greeted us at our table with flutes of bubbly and a crab appetizer. Dessert was also on the house. By the time we increased what was already going to be a generous tip, we ended up paying for all of our "free" extras - and then some. Didn't matter - it was a wonderful night. :love:

    To balance things out, I also approach a manager to let them know if we thought our food was exceptional, or if we had a very attentive and efficient server. Leaving a generous tip for well-delivered service is one thing, but adding in a compliment to the restaurant owner can do wonders for that employee. I try to make sure I compliment at least as much as I complain. Mostly, I cook at home, though. :laugh:
     
  8. ElizabethB

    ElizabethB Active Member

    Location:
    Lafayette, LA. US
    DITTO

    For many years my parents had Dairy Queen franchises. I worked for them for 5 years. General Manager of 3 stores and in store manager of the flagship store. Customer service was a priority.

    I also worked in retail a lot of years and had a landscaping business for 10 years. Word of mouth can make you or break you. "It takes 10 atta boys to make up for 1 awe s*&%"

    Customers are quicker to complain than compliment. Last week I was in Walmart. I told George that they must be putting a push on customer service. I asked 3 different associates for assistance finding 3 different items. All three stopped what they were doing and walked me to the product. :ohmy: SHOCK!!!

    I thanked them by name and complimented them to the manager before leaving the store.

    It works both ways.
     
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  9. toddhicks209

    toddhicks209 Active Member

    This past spring, I told the owner of a local black-owned restaurant in Cleveland how delicious the food was.
     
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  10. Lynne Guinne

    Lynne Guinne Senior Member

    Location:
    New England
    What restaurant is this, @toddhicks209? We're originally from Cleveland, and we go back at least twice a year to visit with our kids. We're often in the downtown area, near west side (to go to West Side Market), or out east in the University Circle area - love visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art when we're in town. Anyway, I'd like to look up the restaurant and maybe head out to have a meal. Eventually (next year I-hope I-hope) we'll be moving back to suburban Cleveland, too.

    BTW, black, white, or green - I don't care what color you are, if you have tasty eats I'll stop by. Some of the best BBQ ribs we ever had were in a pretty rough neighborhood in Kansas City. It was worth the drive getting into that 'hood. :bbq:
     
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  11. toddhicks209

    toddhicks209 Active Member

    Frederick's - it's on Northfield Street. I was visiting my grandmother.
     
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  12. Lullabelle

    Lullabelle Midlands, England

    Location:
    Leicester UK
    Earlier this year we were away for a couple of days and 1 morning we found a rather nice little place for breakfast, friendly attentive staff who clearly new their regulars well, 1 couple didn't even need to ask for their drinks, staff knew what they usually have. Best eggs benedict I have ever eaten, when the server collected our empty plates, she asked if our meal was ok, my reply was my complinents to the chef, that was delicious, she thanked me and said she would pass that on, she may or may not have done but either way it was lovely and positive feedback is a good thing.
     
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  13. Rocklobster

    Rocklobster Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Canada
    Purchasing meals in a restaurant is funny business. You agree to purchase something before you have even seen it. Sure, it sounds great in the menu but there are so many things that can go wrong by the time it is on a plate in front of you. Then, you are expected to pay full price for it regardless of how it comes out..otherwise, they wouldn't have brought it to your table...If you aren't happy with it and don't want to eat it or pay for it, it becomes an uncomfortable situation..Somebody didn't do their job well so it will surely become an issue with the staff/management..or, it should, anyway..
     
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