I think some of us have been to places where the food was so amazing that those small irritating stupid things servers did were simply not important.
In situations like this (albeit these examples are very few and far between) the food does command the audience.
Alternately good service CAN make up for mediocre food, in ANY restaurant. It doesn't necessarily have to be fine dining. Fast casual and family dining come to mind.
I don't believe that any restaurant should get away with poor service or food, yet, it has been my experiences that the public is quite willing to accept poor service or mediocre food, and call it "okay" or "good."
They can be ignored, given the wrong food or drink, have to call another server because theirs is nowhere to be found, and the list goes on, yet, when asked at the cash register how their meal went, most people simply say good or okay.
I think Iridium12 hit the nail on the head when he said:
QUOTE "Some types of restaurants surely will get away with much "worse" service than others, just because the expectations are lower from the people coming there to eat - but the same can be said about the food.
You will not expect the same food quality, presentation and experience when dining at Chow's Food Palace as opposed to the French Laundry....would you?"