Pet Hates: In Restaurants


Is everything O.K.?

Have you noticed how waiters wait for the exact moment when you have your mouth full, before they ask you that? I often try and cheat them by staging my forkfuls when they are not around but, almost as though they are watching me closely from a distance, no sooner am I munching away, that they pounce.  “Is everything O.K.?” Naturally, all I can emit is an unintelligible groan, and a nod.  I wonder if their timing is purposefully strategic.  Perhaps they are trained to schedule their question so you cannot speak.



The cake on top of the napkin

I do not know if this is a strictly British practice, but I have not encountered in Italy, the U.S., Germany, France, Greece or Spain.  Your order cake and it arrives  reclining on the napkin, as though it needs a something comfortable to lie on the cold, hard plate.  Surely, the point of the napkin, is to spread on your lap, and use to dab your lips and fingers – a point defeated from the start if, by the time you have slid it out from under the cake, it is covered in chocolate, cream or jam.


No. 3

The parmesan and black pepper rations

Once your meal is served, the waiter approaches and offers you black pepper.  Then he gives the oversized mill a couple of twists over your plate, and walks off.  I might want to add pepper halfway through my meal, but the option is not available.  Is black pepper so expensive, restaurants cannot afford to keep a small mill on the table, together with the salt shaker?

The same discourse applies to grated parmesan.  When your pasta is served, the waiter brings a bowl of parmesan, and sprinkles a spoonful on your dish.  If you say nothing, he sprinkles a second spoonful.  At that point, he marches off, unless you specifically request more.  If you do, he expresses shock, as though you are being unreasonably greedy.  Sometimes, I tell the waiter, “just leave it here, I’ll help myself” and that creates a mini panic response…


No. 4

Salt mills

I know this is entirely a matter of personal preference but who actually enjoys crunching large salt crystals? What is wrong with a salt shaker that dispenses fine salt powder that blends in easily with the food?


No. 5

Iced water

Again, a question of personal taste but what is the logic behind serving water with ice cubes in a cold country such as England? More to the point, why do they insist on bringing me iced water after I have specifically ordered it “without ice”?

 Scribe Doll

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