Diners put the heat back on eateries
WA’s top food writers and bloggers agree — attitude, the 1000-yard stare, ill- informed waiters and goldfish memory are the things that most irk us about service in WA restaurants.
Our recent article in The Weekend West, outlining the gripes waiters have with WA diners provoked some strong responses from readers, restaurant critics and bloggers concerned that the story didn’t explore the other side of the coin — waiters behaving badly. They say basic courtesies, being informed and a cheerful disposition are often missing.
Liz Sheehan, the popular The Breakfast Confidential blogger and a reviewer for The West Australian Good Food Guide, says it starts at the beginning of the meal.
“I hate it when they seat you and then . . . nothing, ” Sheehan said. “No water, no menus, no drinks order, no nothing. It’s not that hard, You’re in hospitality, so be hospitable.”
Sheehan says leaving dirty dishes on the table and “attitude” are rampant.
Restaurant reviewer Don Stott agrees. “I can’t tell you how often I have been the invisible customer in a restaurant, ” he said.
Stott, who writes for the Good Food Guide, added: “They look right at you and then right through you and see nothing. How is that possible?”
Getting orders wrong is another gripe.
“If I wanted the ice in the scotch, I wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to ask for it on the side, ” Stott said.
ChompChomp blogger Martine Van Boeijen says getting orders right is basic stuff.
“If you have goldfish memory, write the order down, ” she said.
Carly Rossbach, who writes the Perth Munchkin blog, says waiters not knowing what’s on the menu is a deal breaker.
“If they don’t know the menu, particularly when you go to a top-end restaurant, they’re in the wrong business, ” she said. “They really should be able to describe the food to you.”
Among all the bad behaviour, there is good news.
“Service standards are improving out of sight, ” Sheehan said. “There will always be servers who are ill-suited for the industry but there is a growing core of true professionals who are slowly raising the bar.”
Why waiters get up our noses:
1. The hoverer
I know you have to turn the table but stop breathing down my neck.
Nothing kills enjoyment faster.
2. The Matron
Don’t get down on one knee and talk in exaggerated tones. We are not children.
3. The wine snob
OK, you mightn’t like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc but we do, so stop with the eye-rolling and the snide ‘entry level’ commentary.
4. The plate wrangler
It is never, ever OK to start taking plates away if guests are still eating. Where’s your manners?
5. The quality checker
You’re the third waiter in 10 minutes to ask how the meals are going and somehow you’ve managed to do it without a skerrick of sincerity. Stop with the standard operating procedures and be a little human.
6. The vision impaired
Do you think, perhaps, you could look down as you fly past the empty wine bottle for the 15th time? Of course, being a waiter is all about you, but occasionally stop strutting around like a catwalk model and look at the table.
7. The secret wine waiter
It is never, ever OK to pour wine away from the table.
Ordering by the glass does not change this fundamental rule.
8. The dish washer’s friend
It might be kind of cool to look after your mate in the dish washing section by hoarding dirty plates on our table but do you think you could take them away … sometime this year.
9. The up-seller
There’s nothing wrong with up-selling. In fact, it can be helpful. But there’s up-selling, then there’s harassment and greed.
Do I have to get a restraining order? Back off.
10. The Kumbaya singer
Don’t be my friend. We’re not going to sit around the camp fire holding hands and we don’t want to know about your fishing trips, your ex-girlfriend or your take on the Ukraine crisis.
© The West Australian
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