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Everyone likes eating out at restaurants, except I guess people who have been shot in restaurants or agoraphobics. But assuming you can go outside and have never been assaulted by the staff at Long John Silvers with anything other than what they call food there, you probably enjoy the odd trip to a restaurant. I typically enjoy this, too, and will use this to establish a friendship between us later on. A friendship and more? No. Not more. But before we get into that, how's about I nitpick all the pain in the ass things that restaurants continue to do that no one likes for no reason any one of us will ever figure out. How about that?
#5. Ask How the Meal is Mid-bite
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This seems a mild affront to one's sensibilities, but I must lead off with it because, as insignificant as it seems, I'm almost convinced there's a food service conspiracy to continue this godforsaken trend possibly just to personally annoy me. Specifically me. Like there's a food service company out there someone called "You Know Felix? Yeah, Fuck That Guy" and they train their employees to play havoc with my good nature.
I am unsure as to the amount of time spent in a restaurant not chewing versus the amount of time spent on premises chewing, if there's an algorithm to figure it out or anything like that. What I do know is that the moment I've got my craw stuffed with buffalo chicken or fried onion sticks and a medium-well burger with pepper jack cheese, my server will appear like a goblin summoned from the Labyrinth to ask how I'm enjoying my meal. So I'll sit there with cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk who has hoarding issues and try to gurgle forth some kind of appropriate response, and I never know why. It may be the desperate look on the server's face that suggests they need my approval or some ingrained brain malfunction of my own that triggers the need to reply to inane and unimportant questions regardless of the circumstances, but I'll say something insightful like "Glark," and they nod and race off to give someone else a watery Pepsi and a Frito pie.
The secret ingredient is chest pains.
I understand the reason behind asking me if I'm enjoying my meal, and I could probably be persuaded to agree that it's appropriate to ask me mid-meal instead of after the meal, just in case there was a problem that I needed fixed before it was all over. But when you're caught grazing like a malnourished cow finally let out to pasture, no one is being helped by questioning the quality or enjoyment of the meal at that point. What if something actually is wrong? What if I have a faceful of Caesar salad because I just tried your blue cheese burger, and it tasted like the underside of a Baldwin? When has a server ever stayed around long enough to get that information when your mouth is full? As soon as you establish you're still conscious with some kind of audible expression beyond a fart, they're off to another table. You could shout them back again once you swallow, but that's obviously something you'll only do if you need them. And they don't know you need them because all you said was something that sounds a lot like the sounds you make when you're in the shower getting frisky with the body wash.
#4. Food That Doesn't Belong in a Restaurant
The word "foodie" is horrible, and anyone who uses it is probably terrible and unlovable. They're like food hipsters, a person who has the audacity to somehow be smug about food. It's food, you silly twat. We could all sustain ourselves on a futuristic protein and vitamin paste if we needed to so don't talk down to me about artisanal cheeses because they're just regular cheeses someone charged you extra money for because you're dumb enough to pay it. That said, I'm willing to take a stand on some food issues and suggest that there are times and places for certain foods, and some foods do not belong in a restaurant. Not ever.
When you go out to eat you're doing it for any number of reasons: convenience, to experience something new, you haven't gone shopping yet, whatever. But regardless of the reason, you don't actually want what you'd make at home, because if you could make it at home, of course you'd make it at home. That isn't to say you can't make burgers at home, but have you ever made a restaurant-quality burger at home? Most of us don't. There's usually a little more effort in restaurant food; there's something that elevates it above home-cooked fare, and that's the attraction. And then some lazy shit goes and puts grilled cheese on their menu.
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Your sandwich will be ready as soon as I stand up and scrape it off.
I watch the Food Network when I'm bored, I know there are food trucks out there that sell nothing but grilled cheese. But it's gourmet truck cheese -- it has prosciutto or avocado and chipotle or some kind of bacon made from bald eagles. That's fine. But if you run a restaurant and you serve grilled cheese, just literally two pieces of Wonder Bread with a Kraft single in the middle, Satan is writing your name on a list right now.
You may be thinking, "Felix, I like grilled cheese! I'd totally order it at a restaurant." That's swell. I like grilled cheese, too. But you're an enabler. You sent that restaurateur to hell. I hope you're happy with that. Grilled cheese is barely a step above toast, and I bet even a gassy hobo could make half-decent toast by just squatting over some bread for a while. The very idea of grilled cheese in a restaurant is an affront to hungry people everywhere. The same can be said for anyone bold enough to put a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the menu, because that's clown shit.
#3. A Ridiculous Number of Menu Items
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There used to be a sandwich shop down the street from where I live that sold about six kinds of sandwiches. My mind was boggled the one and only time I entered this establishment, and it doesn't boggle easily because I take pills. Subway has like 30 sandwiches at any given time. This place had six. I felt like maybe the owner had been in an accident where something hilarious hit him on the head, like an anvil or Sinbad's career, and he just had this inspiration to open a restaurant that sold six sandwiches and no one in his life had the heart to tell him he was a complete moron. The moral of this story is to not sell six things at your restaurant, because that's literally dumber than reality TV. If A&E's primetime lineup was back-to-back Jeopardy! against a sandwich shop with six sandwiches, both would end in the negative dollars. But A&E's loss would be less dramatic. A sandwich shop with six sandwiches is even dumber than that metaphor.
But ... nothing's dumber than that metaphor.
On the other side of the coin, if you have a menu that reads like Dostoyevsky, you also have a problem. Restaurants that manage to hover around the 100-items mark are probably run by insane people also, who just like the idea of food but have no idea what to do with it beyond the idea stage. People in restaurants have a general idea of what they want, which is why they show up at a certain location most times. You go to a Mexican place because you want something Mexican. You go to a steakhouse because you want meat. But when you're given a menu that spans the globe and generations and cooking styles, you'll just sit there in stupefied hunger for far longer than anyone is comfortable with trying to figure out what you want to order. Should you get the chicken fingers or the chicken kiev? Chili con carne or fish and chips? Beef wellington or dysentery? The possibilities are endless!
Restaurants that don't have focus are a lot like brothels that don't have good lighting. Whatever you order should have been a lot better than it was, and you didn't figure it out until it's too late, all because of the shitty way it's presented. Don't let that happen, kids.