Return to sender?


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Scenario: You ordered your steak on the rare side of medium rare, yet when it arrives at the table, it has only the faintest blush of pink and is definitely more medium than medium rare. Do you say anything, or just grin and bear it and vow never to go back to that restaurant?

Consider this before you decide to stay mum: If you don’t let the server know your steak is overcooked, you’re not giving the restaurant a chance to correct the mistake and win you back. Yet I’m willing to bet most people don’t say anything. It’s seen as bad behavior, or somehow embarrassing. One diner might be afraid of channeling his clueless uncle who enjoyed routinely humiliating waitresses. Someone else might worry about sounding like her impossible-to-please mother.


That’s not going to happen. All that’s required is to politely point out that the meat isn’t cooked the way you requested and ask the kitchen to correct it. In a good restaurant, the response from your server should immediately be, ‘I’ll take care of it.’ Bottom line: When you’re paying $30 or $40 or more for a steak, it should be cooked exactly the way you requested.

Then comes the tricky part. If you send your dish back to the kitchen, you’re left sitting without any food for the time it takes to prepare a new serving. Should everyone else at the table suspend eating until your plate comes back from the kitchen? Of course not. Ask for an empty plate and hope that your friends will offer you a taste of something from theirs. It’s not a big deal, really. Or is it? What do you think?

-- S. Irene Virbila