5 Obnoxious Things Restaurants Need to Stop Doing
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?
Ask How the Meal is Mid-bite
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.
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.
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.
A Ridiculous Number of Menu Items
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.
Happy Birthday Songs
Every restaurant on Earth that is OK with you wearing sandals is willing to make a mockery of a customer on his birthday. You don't need proof that it's anyone's birthday, which means it's kind of a fun prank to play on a friend when you want to humiliate them, but when you're on the receiving end it's like going out for dinner and instead having someone kneeling on your groin and shoving awkward into your mouth while a crowd watches and silently judges you, probably convinced that you don't make much money and have the sexual prowess of John Goodman rendered impotent by alcohol and Cheetos.
Being forced to be the center of the attention, in public, against your will is the stuff nightmares are made of. Literally. That's literally the fearsome aspect behind the archetypal "naked in front of a crowd" nightmare we've all heard of. So right off the bat this is kind of a shitty situation. But hey, it's all in good fun, and it's for a celebration, right? A celebration of you, isn't that nice? No. It's not nice.
The only thing worse than the act of the wait staff singing to you is the actual song the wait staff will sing to you. Because Warner Bros. owns the song "Happy Birthday" and apparently wants to sue anyone who infringes their copyright, no one ever sings this mundane and mostly tolerable song anymore, not in public. Instead they bust out their own birthday song, some Frankenfuck of a musical prolapse that hits the ear like an acid-spitting penis, just unfortunate and unwanted on even the most basic levels. It'll be fast-paced and full of clapping and mostly yelling as the wait staff, who now hate you for being born as much as you hate them for acknowledging it, race to finish and give you the shitty cupcake they keep in a vault full of broken dreams and shrugs in the back.
Related: Happy Birthday, Badass - August 2
Short of including "by the way, your mom's ass tastes like cherries" somewhere in the fine print, there are few more offensive phrases you'll find on a menu than "no substitutions." A cause for debate, whether it means you can't swap chicken for shrimp or you can't have a dish made without onions or with extra curry, one thing this phrase definitely means is that the restaurant you're at has put all the fucks it had to give in a big, burlap sack and sent them to live in the country with some relatives. Now they just want you to sit, drain a gravy boat of chowder into your food hole, pay, and get the hell out.
Any decent restaurant should allow you to make requests above and beyond the menu. Most restaurants do, in fact. But not all. Some ballsy restaurant owners always seem to pop up here and there to test the waters of human tolerance with their "no substitutions," insinuating that you ordering food is somehow an inconvenience to them and you better take what you can get with a smile and a 15 percent mandatory tip. So when you want to order the shrimp alfredo but without any garlic because your garlic allergy may causes your eyes to bulge out Total Recall style, you should be allowed to. But this helpful restaurant refuses to alter their menu in any way.
I just wanted mozzarella, you son of a bitch!
Likely this is a result of premade food being heated and served to customers, which is in and of itself a whole different brand of bullshit, but whatever the reason for it, by putting this on a menu a restaurant owner is basically saying yes, he's providing a service, yes your business is the lifeblood of that business and the source of his livelihood, but no, you don't know your ass from grape jelly and you'll eat whatever the hell they give you because shut up, this restaurant is built on an ancient Indian burial ground and fueled entirely by hate and fossil fuels and clearly nothing good can ever happen here.