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Returning food to the kitchen

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Last night I went out to a local chain and I did something (believe it or not) that I think I have only done once before in my life and I returned my food to kitchen. It was a chicken dish and it was ice cold. On occassion I have gotten luke warm food, and it hasn't been a major deal. Being the business for so long I know everyone has an off night so I try to be understanding. How often do others return their food to the kitchen?
Thanks,

Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
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post #2 of 25
It happenned to me a few times. I think the customer should not be affraid to return a dish if there is something wrong with it. But I think it should be done nicely. After all we all make mistake and shouldn't expect perfection from anyone.


Sisi
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #3 of 25
My best friend and I would eat at this Chinese restaurant every week for about 3 months. We would order the same things (they got to know us and wouldn't bring menus). One day, our sesame beef just wasn't right, and we kindly made a comment to one of the owners. She took it away, had it redone, and apologized. They knew we knew what it was supposed to taste like. I don't have to return food often, but I sure wouldn't hestitate to do so.
post #4 of 25
Same here. I don't usually return it unless it's the wrong temperature or there's a major problem (sand in the scallops, rare pork or poultry). If it's a fine dining establishment, I'm probably more likely to send food back because of the price. But I'm always courteous and make a point not to make a scene. I cooked and waited tables in a small restaurant in college, so I know some of what can happen.
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post #5 of 25
I've sent food back as well on occassion for the same reasons. Mostly temp or undercooked food. And I agree with everyone else: if you do it politely and communicate your reason for doing so in a considerate way, there is not usually a problem. Especially in "fine" restaraunts. I have also been in places where I have seen other diners either yell and make a scene and/or verbally whip the waiter. I only wish one of the Front Staff would have politely whipped them.
post #6 of 25
Once in the last five years - at Adobo Grill in Chicago. On the heels of an already poor experience, we were served pork tenderloin that was very rare. I asked the server if the kitchen could "bring this up to medium," to which she replied, "that's how the chef thinks the pork should be eaten." Not only was there no culinary basis for her reponse, but no cultural footing in the cuisine. (If anyone knows of a Mexican pork dish that is served rare or medium-rare, please let me know.) The plate got put under the salamander to cook it further. Nice.
post #7 of 25
I've returned many steaks that were a bit too rare for my tastes, but that's about it. There has never been a problem. I think it's just harder to get the courage to ask them to fix a mistake.
post #8 of 25
generally i will not complain. I find that small annoyances doesn matter, because generally, of all the things that could go wrong and do, they generally dont matter. However, if food poses a health risk or is unedible, i may complain. My tendancy is not to go back.
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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post #9 of 25
I had dinner recently at one of New York's finest restaurants where the chef -whom I have met on several occasions - is know for his innovative creations. The chef hinmself was not in that night and we were served a beautifully prepared rabbit loin with a sauce that was totally tasteless. I did tell the waitress that the sauce was obviously not made with the ingredients decscribed in the menu but I was unhappy to offend someone by sending it back even though I knew that it would never have left the kitchen if the chef had been there. Should I have complained to the maitre d' or was I right to chalk it off to experience?
post #10 of 25
Just curious Ruthy,
What restaurant? I eat in New York Often
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #11 of 25
I've sent a plate back exactly once: pork cutlet, rare. It was replaced with apologies.

Most of the places if I don't like the food, or something was cold, I just don't go back. If I went to more fine restaurants, where I paid $20+ for an entree, I imagine I'd be a more activist consumer.

[This message has been edited by Live_to_cook (edited 12-11-2000).]
post #12 of 25
I went to a breakfast place recently that was recommended to me. I ordered a whole-grain porridge that was touted on the menu. It came, crunchy and unsalted. I guess they thought it was instant, not long-cooking. They must have mixed it with water and heated it in the microwave until it thickened. It was clear no one in the kitchen had ever tasted this dish they were serving.

Behind me a diner was complaining his baked beans were inedible and he wasn't going to pay for them.

I should have sent it back, but I just figured the place was a lost cause, and I'll never go back there.

Sometimes I wonder...the first time I visit a restaurant, would it be a better idea to order something that's difficult for the kitchen to mess up, or should I test them by ordering something challenging?
post #13 of 25
Order what you'd enjoy eating.
I still look to see what other diners have on their plates and unabashedly ask the waitstaff "what is it"....Did it yesterday at a pizza place...crust had no salt, individual $7 pizza with a mix of cheese,capers, calamatas, artichokes and I will not go back....crust was mediocre, toppings to sparse and cost to high for product.
Weird cereal experience...wonder where chef was that day????
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #14 of 25
This was a small cafe intown. I doubt anybody works there who would be called a "chef".
post #15 of 25
I saw either that ssame show or one just like it. After 18 years, I have yet to have seen returned food treated in that manner. And I think that little "expose'" was a fine example of the media showing it's penchant for being over-dramatic and irresponsible. These occurences are the exception, not the rule. You wouldn't like to hear what I have to say about a customer that has returned their food with a clearly invalid complaint, but while I'm griping, I fix the problem, if possible, and move on.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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post #16 of 25
dethick, I agree with your examples. When I send food back, it's because there truly is something subpar about it (underbaked phyllo, gritty scallops, spoiled food). "I don't want it after all" falls outside of the realm of reasonableness and smacks of a control freak, IMHO.
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post #17 of 25
Here is my favorite: The guy that eats 3/4 entree and complains that it "really wasn't what I wanted." Yeah, Ok pal. So what you're really saying is that you wanted a free meal. Make sure you don't leave a tip on the way out, too. I told one guy to leave because it was obvious that nothing I did would appease him. THAT hassle or business I don't need. I consider legitimate complaints an opportunity to go above and beyond the customers expectation. If you can turn a negative into a positive experience for the customer then you've done something and chances are very good that customer will return.
Incredibly, edibly, adequate!
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Incredibly, edibly, adequate!
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post #18 of 25

I concur...

Having been the expediter at a major chain and dealing with high volume I deffinitely understand the occasional off-night, however, like Mezzaluna said, uncooked pork or poultry is nothing to leave un-checked, however it always pays to be tactful and polite when in that situation and not demanding.
post #19 of 25
I'm just curious,
With all the new age thermometers, do expediters use these tools?
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #20 of 25
Unfortunatly, I tend to be the "Uber-critic" when I dine out. On the rare occasion I do eat out, it usually is at an establishment where sending food back should not be an option, but keeping in mind, EVERYONE has an off day, if the situation were to present itself, I would have no problem sending something back.
Just don't take it out on the waitstaff, they are not responsible, unless they let the order die in the window...
Like all good meals, this too shall pass
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Like all good meals, this too shall pass
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post #21 of 25

Conversely, my sister had a friend in NY

that would take a dead roach with him to dinner. He'd descretely place it somewhere in the dish after he was almost done.

Yeah, the outrage at finding the bug, the free meal. You have to remember this was NYC 30 years ago. No lack of bugs.

It's amazing what a starving actor will do to cut costs.
:crazy:

April
post #22 of 25

Returning food

I can tolerate a lot. However, when I bring my wife to a restaurant I expect her service and food to be impecable, or at least to the level of what I expect for the restaurant where we dine. I can accept many things, but when my wife is not having a good experience, I do everything I can to fix it. This includes sending her dish back to the kitchen if necessary. She appreciates this because I am handling the problem and dealing with the service and she doesn't have to.
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
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“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
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post #23 of 25

cold food

unless food is meant to be served cold there is never a reasonable excuse for it to be hit the table any other way then hot! and as far as flavourless food that is a sure sign of a cook that does not taste his food, and in my opion they must not really care about the food they are serving ( a hack)
post #24 of 25
It would have to be something blatently horrible for me to send anything back. I would just push it aside. One bite of horrible would be enough to rob me of any appitite for any food. I wasn't happy about the cricket in the mushroom sauce, and esp. not happy about being told by the waiter not to fuss. We paid of course, but I told everyone on the stairs (it was a busy night) to watch for crickets, and the people waiting at the bar too. And everyone at the childrens private schools, and in the (very large) church, the people in the shops I visited, everybody I came in contact with. Which was lots and lots.

All the waiter had to do was take the napkin, with cricket entombed, away. He didn't, he told me not to fuss. So I sent the poor cricket to the Health Dept. None of that need have happened. It wasn't the **** cricket, it was being told not to fuss. The cheeky brat. It was a joke around our city for quite a time. "Steak and Mushrooms, please, I will pass on the crickets". "Does the soup have blended crickets?" It must have been very hard for the good wait staff, and sent steam from the chefs ears. Unfair? Perhaps. The kitchen in Mission Bay or Mt Eden, was not responsible for the stuff ups in xxxxxx area.

I don't mind gauche service, hesitant uninformed service, even having stuff dropped on me. It can all be navigated by good will, good manners, and quietly. BUT !!! DON'T, EVER, tell me NOT TO FUSS. And all for a cricket.
post #25 of 25
Hi Nicko,

If I'm served something that I feel is a bit off on taste or temperature...

...I usually just continue eating and finish my (usually) enjoyable evening out with my wife. I'll just chalk it up as part of the experience of eating at that restaurant.

But, oddly enough, having a great meal usually isn't my objective when I go out. Just a nice dining experience and night out :)

take care all>>>

dan
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