Identifying Problems

The picture attached to this post is a picture I took during a recent dinner I had with my girlfriend and her parents, I’ll explain it within this post.

There are people out there that are too shy to say if something is wrong, there are people that don’t want to make a fuss, there are people that accept things the way they are, and there are people that don’t know any better.

During a guests dining experience there could be a number of things that can go wrong like:

  • Meals can take a long time
  • Food could be cold or not taste good
  • “My beer is warm”
  • The server isn’t present enough
  • “My drink doesn’t taste like it has booze in it”
  • The music is too loud
  • It’s too cold
  • It’s too hot
  • “I’m here because my girlfriend cheated on me and I want to get drunk”

There can be an endless sea of problems, some which you can resolve yourself, but there are some things you can’t (you can’t change that dudes girl from cheating on him, but you can still get him boozed, so in some way, you can help 🙂).

So here is what brought me to write about this blog post topic. The story explains the picture attached to this post.

My girlfriend’s parents (Nadine and Bruce) were visiting us for the night and we decided that we would go out for dinner. We had heard about this place which just had a new chef start with them, and some friends had told us some great things about it. So naturally we wanted to try it, and what better excuse to do so than to do it with family?

Now I want to start by saying this isn’t a story of horror where everything went wrong and we felt neglected, or that is was a disaster, it was just one thing that as a server I noticed and thought the situation could have been handled better.

We ordered our drinks, an appetizer to share and our mains all in one go. After sipping on our drinks and a little chit-chat our appetizer came along. We had a nacho plate but instead of nacho chips it was served with baked potato wedges (still topped with tomatoes, peppers, green onions, jalapenos, cheese, sour cream, salsa and a side of guacamole) but I really loved it with the wedges. It reminded me of a dish in Australia you find in many places which are normally served as a side, generally consisting of a bowl of potato wedges, bacon bits, green onion, sour cream, and sweet chili sauce.

After we finished this up, our mains came along. All looked great and we were enjoying our meals until Nadine got a few bites into her salad and noticed something odd. So from the picture attached to this post you may have noticed the extreme amount of balsamic dressing at the bottom of the plate (something you can’t really see is that Nadine had her plate propped up to one side with some folded napkins tucked under the plate to help keep the balsamic swimming pool away from her salad).

Now we had our server check on our appetizer to see how it tasted (which the general consensus was great), however with our mains we were just looking for someone to ask for a second bowl so Nadine could put her salad into it without the excess dressing. Unfortunately, this was no easy task and when our server eventually came to us, we pointed out the dressing and she saw the dish as it was in the photo above.

Her response was:

“Yes that is a lot of dressing” then walked off to the kitchen.

She returned shortly after and told us that two different chefs had dressed the salad before it came out, then once again walked off. Now we didn’t want to send it back, we didn’t want a brand new one, we didn’t want to complain, all we wanted was to ask for another plate to transfer the salad to, but we never got the chance to ask for that.

Now this made me think about if I were in her shoes (luckily they were flats and not heels because I struggle with those things), how would I have approached it?

If I ever notice something that to me doesn’t seem right, and from the body language or reaction from a guest doesn’t seem right, I have no problem with asking if there is something wrong. Even after doing a 2 bite check (the 2 bite check is explained in the post “Steps of Service – The basics”), sometimes after the first checkup, some problems can still arise. Just because a guest doesn’t say something is wrong, and you think there may be something wrong, do not hesitate to ask if everything is okay.

Wouldn’t you rather find a problem and solve it, than have a guest or table of guests leave without saying something and be less than satisfied?

Be aware of everything going on with your tables, and when identifying problems, don’t be shy to ask if everything is okay.