I asked Chattavore’s Facebook followers to share their biggest restaurant pet peeves. Here’s what they came up with.
Restaurant reviews on Chattavore kind of ebb and flow. I’m going to back off of doing weekly reviews for a month or two, mainly because I want to go back to some old favorites and we don’t want to eat out too often. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to do fun lists. I’ve really enjoyed getting you guys involved.
This week’s list involves my-and your-biggest restaurant pet peeves. Food, atmosphere, service, whatever…nothing is off limits.
I’ll start with mine. My biggest pet peeves are:
- When restaurants serve frozen food that is easy to make from scratch. Fried okra is the biggest offender, but biscuits, fried pickles, and burgers are at the top of the list too. I hate getting okra with that thick “jacket” of coating. I usually give a pass for fries, only because SO many restaurants do it, but I really wish they wouldn’t.
- Fake butter. I really hate going to a restaurant and being served margarine or, as it is often called, “buttery spread”. This is especially insidious in a Southern cooking restaurant. Several readers echoed this sentiment on Facebook.
- Along those same lines…when restaurants serve pancake syrup instead of maple syrup. At the very least, give me an option!
- When I walk into a restaurant and it is unclear whether I should seat myself or wait to be seated. I really, really hate this. Put up a sign, people.
- When a restaurant is just ridiculously loud, particularly when it is because of the music or atmosphere and not just because there are a lot of diners.
A lot of you hate loud restaurants, apparently, because that definitely topped the list of your grievances. Some of the others:
- Stephanie – “When mac and cheese is the vegetable of the day.”
- Chris – “One of the worst is so many restaurants having the inability to cook your steak the way you ask.”
- Hollie – “I hate it that most kids items are fried, cheesy, potatoey, carby, and unhealthy. So, I usually share a healthier plate with veggies with the kiddo from the regular menu.”
- Sande – “Margarine, fake mashed potatoes, fountain sodas that do not taste like the original, substituting or leaving off sides that were listed as part of the dish without even asking me, or leaving out items in a salad (or any dish) that were listed as part of it on the menu, iceberg lettuce, and don’t even try to give me items that are not 100% real dairy.”
- April – “I hate it when the only vegetarian option is just all of their side items. That, and bottled dressings.”
- Steph – “Soda that doesn’t have enough carbonation and those “freestyle” soda machines that make the soda taste like chemicals, cold fries, bottled salad dressings, packaged lemon juice, wilted lettuce or bad tomatoes on salads or sandwiches.”
- Danny – “Restaurants that flood the salad in the dressing. I try to remember to ask for the salad dressing on the side, so I can put the amount on there pleasing to me.”
When it comes to atmosphere and service, you had a lot of thoughts:
- Holli – “Too loud you can’t have conversation”. This was a sentiment echoed by a LOT of readers. Loud music was a big complaint.
- Chris – “Lack of consistent, thorough customer service. For example…asking/assuming folks at a table need more napkins(than the one the silverware is wrapped with), offering any extra sauces/dips for the food, offering water in addition to whatever drink the person orders, and so on.”
- Kristy – “Sweeping/cleaning under the table you are eating at.” (Apparently this actually happens, because several people mentioned it. I cannot imagine.)
- Carla – “When the server asks, “Do you need change?” instead of saying, “I’ll be back with your change.”
- Melinda – “Terrible lighting either too bright or dim and too loud.”
- Rachel – “I think I’m outnumbered here, but I don’t like a quiet restaurant. I don’t want to hear other conversations or utensils clanking. I don’t mind shouting and I like to hear music playing. Also, I want hot food to be served hot not warm. And I hate waiting in line for a table more than just about anything!” I’m with Rachel on waiting for a table. We never go at times that we will have to wait.
- Tanya – “Terrible service has obviously been said but untrained service probably would be mine. I get very frustrated with a server unfamiliar with the menu or professional service. Also a restaurant that doesn’t have at least a few gluten free alternatives (or stating what is gluten free on the menu) I get that it’s a lot to ask but it makes a huge difference to someone like me and I can’t tell you how appreciated it is.”
- Tiffany – “So many. But one I can’t stand is sitting down at a table that is still sopping wet, and when the server complains about their job.” I was trained to wipe the table with a napkin after cleaning it, and I cannot stand when my server (or cashier, or clerk, or whatever) complains about their job!
- Valerie – “Being seated in a noisy crowded area just because you have a child with you (I guess they assume your child is loud too), cold food, waiters/waitresses that don’t provide the things you ask for, when the music is too loud you can’t hear the other person talking, when other customers talk so loud you can join in their conversation.” Several people did mention unruly children as a problem, but we probably shouldn’t make assumptions that every child that walks through the door is going to fit that description!
- Rachel – “Getting seated in the “no service zone” where there isn’t a server assigned. So you end up seated for 10 minutes or so and no one even acknowledges your presence or asks what you would like to drink. This happened 3 times in a row at a particular chain place, and I haven’t been back.” This drives me crazy!
- Jessie – “Once a waiter made fun of how much I drank (not DRANK, just water or Coke or whatever). That was ridiculous. No judgy waiters. Also waiters who refill your waiter every 20 seconds. I don’t want to be hovered over.” Ohhhh, judge waiter = bad.
- Dana – “Food gets dropped off by NOT my server. Never see the server again until the check comes. I’ve gone to the prep station myself to refill my water many times.” I don’t mind if someone else brings the food as long as my server is not suddenly impossible to find. On our wedding night this happened to me and Philip and we actually found the server that did help us and gave her a tip. I guess we looked too young to be good tippers. Servers, NEVER make this assumption!
- Carla – “Booths that are connected. Have you ever sat at a booth just to have a kid or someone sit in the one behind you and flop down or won’t be still. The whole time your seat is shaking or feels like someone is punching you in the back.” I have actually had my entire seat move before.
- Robin – “Empty glasses or plates left on the table during the meal. I don’t like the tables being cluttered or too small.”
- Nathan – “Empty drink glasses and waiting on my check.” Bendy elaborated a little bit – “Having to wait too long for your check. When I’m ready to go I want to go! Then they bring your check….then it takes forever to get your card back. Drives me crazy!!” Philip gets very upset when we have to wait too long on the check.
- Sande – “Servers calling me something like Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, Sugar…. And I know people will disagree with this one, but I actually don’t like servers refilling my glass or bringing me a fresh drink when I haven’t asked, especially when I’ve barely touched the drink.” Philip says only servers at Waffle House are allowed to call him pet names.
- Brooke – “Strong cleaning sprays being used on the surrounding tables while I’m eating …or vacuuming while I’m eating I’m mean I’m thankful they’re cleaning but cringe at the thought of what particles may be floating into my food?.” And Betsy echoed Brooke’s sentiment – “I know several have said sweeping/vacuuming, but slightly worse is when someone sprays cleaner on a table near you and suddenly instead of your delicious burger you are tasting/inhaling Clorox!!! And there’s no use in saying anything, because it’s already permeated the air and it’s too late.”
- Sam – “Having spent a lifetime in the restaurant business, there are too many to count! But my earliest pet peeve is servers who deliver beverages with their hands around the top half of the glasses. This happens a lot!” Gross.
- Ashley – “When they don’t give my two year old silverware! Might seem minor, but REALLY bugs me. I never say anything, but I kind of want to!”
What are your biggest restaurant pet peeves?