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How do you handle stale food at a restaurant?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm a very picky eater and I tend to notice stale food easily.  My usual response is to pay the check and never return...or may be return after several months and hope for a different experience.

 

What is the best way to handle something like this?  It usually happens with specific vegetables in a dish or sometimes the tofu tastes very sour.  There was a time when I'd just eat this food (because I didn't realize the food was stale) and end up with a really upset stomach.  But now that I have started cooking and, in general, paying attention to what fresh, well-cooked food tastes like, I have found stale food many more times.

 

When you encounter such situations, do you complain to the waiter?  Ask for the manager?  Most of the time the staff is so stressed that I think they might get totally pissed off if I were to complain about this.  And I don't want to be served by someone that is pissed off.

 

Any ideas for how to deal with this other than completely avoiding eating out?

post #2 of 5

Other considerations come into play before being able to make suggestions for how to deal with this. Is it an expensive restaurant? Is it a place you frequent? Is it a budget venue? If you're not eating alone, does anyone else at your table agree with you?

But my knee jerk reaction is: tell your server. I wouldn't complain, I would just say what's what.

Anecdotally, while dining at an average Italian restaurant in San Francisco a few years back, I found a little metal screw in my pasta, not, though, until I was almost finished! I showed it to my server when he came to remove our plates, and he simply said, "Oh dear." A few moments later he returned with our bill There was no charge for my meal.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by GourmetM View Post

 

I wouldn't complain, I would just say what's what.


That's pretty much what I do now.  But since staleness is subjective, it usually leads to no action whatsoever.  Something like undercooked rice is easy to point out, but stale vegetables is harder.
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by GourmetM View Post

 

Anecdotally, while dining at an average Italian restaurant in San Francisco a few years back, I found a little metal screw in my pasta, not, though, until I was almost finished! I showed it to my server when he came to remove our plates, and he simply said, "Oh dear." A few moments later he returned with our bill There was no charge for my meal.


This is much easier to deal with because it's obvious there is a problem.  It can be seen.  Unfortunately staleness can't be seen and unless they go through some pain to verify my claim, by checking the batch(es) of ingredients that were put into the dish, they can't do much.  But it's weird that most restaurants don't even care.  I've had similar experiences to the above, but usually it is a piece of meat in my vegetarian dish (I'm a strict vegetarian).  Nowadays I notice that tofu is often stale -- has a sour, fermented taste.

 

post #4 of 5
Quote:

Originally Posted by anoop View Post

... But it's weird that most restaurants don't even care. ...

 

That's a pretty strong generalization!

 

Though I haven't patronized "most restaurants", among the several hundred that I have over the past 50 years, I've come across, maybe, two that "didn't care", and they were out of business shortly thereafter.

 

Perhaps you have a more acute palate than most?
 

 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

That's a pretty strong generalization!

 

Though I haven't patronized "most restaurants", among the several hundred that I have over the past 50 years, I've come across, maybe, two that "didn't care", and they were out of business shortly thereafter.

 

Perhaps you have a more acute palate than most?


I probably have a more acute palate and I tend to avoid onions and garlic in my food which means there's little disguise to the taste of the bare ingredients.  Anyway, for me dining in a restaurant tends to be more out of necessity (traveling or just too tired/bored to cook).  I used to eat out almost all the time till the beginning of this year, but I wasn't so picky about food quality back then.  Since I started cooking I pay more attention and I find there is little to like about restaurant food.

 

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