There’s nothing more annoying than getting all gussied up for a night on the town, heading to that hot new restaurant that everyone has been raving about and priming your mouth for wonderful cuisine only to be faced with a litany of annoying irritants. You know, those maddening annoyances that can mean the difference between a great evening out and a wholly forgettable experience—a bug in your soup, a snooty maître d’, a martini shaken when you specifically asked for it stirred.
For some, they may be minor nuisances that hardly warrant a complaint. For others, it pushes them thisclose to the brink of anger.
Here are 10 restaurant pet peeves that can be especially irksome.
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Awfully Loud Music Loud, AWFUL Music.
You’re on a romantic date with the man you believe to be “the one.” Over a meal of spinach and ricotta gnocchi with chanterelles, he leans across the table, stares intimately into your big brown eyes and mouths the words you’ve been longing to hear. You may as well keep on longing sister because you can’t hear a word he just said. You know he’s talking because his lips are moving. What gives? It’s that damn music! Two feet away and, at best, you’re hearing snatches of a one-way conversation. This is no way to spend an evening. Restaurants, get a clue. Turn the music down already. That kind of ambience we can do without.
2. Tug ‘O War.
Pay very close attention to my plate. Now, divert your eyes in the direction of my hand. If I’m holding tightly onto my silverware with a kung fu grip, I’m probably still in the process of eating, no matter how long it’s taking me. Please don’t spirit my plate away when I have my back turned. There’s nothing worse than forming my mouth to take that next bite and that next bite is no longer there. It’s food larceny at its worst. That chunk of teriyaki glazed salmon that’s resting comfortably in the center of my plate? It’s not there for decoration. I’m not finished! Ask before you swipe a plate.
3. Wait Staff with an Attitude.
If you wanted to listen to sassmouth and backtalk, you could have stayed home with your obnoxious teenagers. Do you really want to listen to this from your snooty waiter with a vicious combover?
4. Creepy Crawlers.
I don’t care how many different ways you look at it, roaches are not loveable (unless you’re an entomologist). Unlike huggable fluffy kittens and adorable doe-eyed puppies that lick your face and make you all warm and fuzzy inside, bugs are not even a blip on the cuteness radar. If I wanted to bear witness to roaches the size of Rhode Island scampering across my table, I would lay out a trail of crumbs so they could find their way. And while I’m on the subject of yech, mice and rats should not be playing hide and seek under the table. That’s wrong on so many levels.
5. Mood Lighting.
Not every diner who strolls into a restaurant has 20-20 or better vision. Some, like me, are marginally blind at best during daylight hours, so when the lights are dimmed at night—presumably to set the mood—this could be a recipe for disaster. Not to mention the arduous task of trying to read a menu with text that is smaller than a pinhead can cause severe migraines, mood swings, Turrets Syndrome and, in general, a shift in what would otherwise be feelings of happiness and contentment. You don’t want to be a party to this, do you?
6. Who the Hell Has Been Makin’ Out With My Glass?
Ruby red lipstick is a gorgeous shade…especially when it’s where it belongs: on a woman’s lips. When you’re given wine, beer, water or any other beverage in a glass or cup that has a big crimson smear across the rim, that one act alone can do wonders for destroying the appetite. It doesn’t matter how fancy and highfalutin the glassware washing thingamajig gadget is—if it can’t do the job and do it well, it’s time to pull out the bubbles and scrub brush and wash the glasses by hand.
Looks can certainly be deceiving. When you bite into a juicy looking slab of chicken resting on your plate, the last thing you were expecting was for your jaw to get such a workout! If you wanted to do that much chewing you would have popped a piece of Trident gum in your mouth. Rubbery chicken is not amusing unless it’s a throwback to the days of Vaudeville. Even then . . .
8. Write Down Our Order . . . Please!
Call me crazy, but I don’t trust waiters or waitresses who don’t immediately whip out a pen and pad to take an order, especially when there are more than two people at a table. More often than not, orders come out of the kitchen discombobulated, half-completed, wrong or not at all. Yes, dear waiter, we know you want to impress us with your amazing gift of recall but, really, we don’t care. Seriously. We just want to get the plate of food that we ordered and not feel compelled out of pity to begrudgingly accept the wrong dish because you didn’t get the order right. So when I tell you I want the duck confit with broccoli rabe, hold the succotash and sub garlic mashed potatoes, don’t you dare saunter over to the table with a satisfied-with-yourself smirk on your face bearing a dead chicken, asparagus and new potatoes.
9. Honor My Reservation.
I took the time and energy to call and make a reservation for Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. I made sure I was on time, and I was smiling as I walked in the door. Apparently, my watch is not synchronized with yours because you made me wait 45 minutes before my ‘reserved’ table was ready. I hate that. This is a restaurant; this is not a) the doctor’s office, b) the hair salon, c) the auto repair shop or d) the middle of a football match where I am forced to wait until half-time to have a conversation with my husband. Please honor my reservation, otherwise I will be forced to . . . well, if the food is really good, let’s face it, I’ll keep coming back to your restaurant. But I can still make threats, no matter how idle.
10. Timing is Everything.
The last morsels of food have been devoured. Everyone at the table is rubbing their belly like their name is Buddha. Sighs of satisfaction are emitted all around. Does this mean that we’re finished? Not by a long shot. Don’t automatically assume we’re calling it a night by hurriedly bringing us the check. You didn’t even ask if we wanted coffee, dessert or a digestif. For shame restaurant, for shame. Where was this amazing speed during the meal? Slow down, Tonto.
Dining out can be a wonderful experience, especially without life’s little annoyances. What are some of your restaurant pet peeves?