There are certain things that I regularly encounter in the world of restaurants which just seem to make no sense, and when I mentioned a few of them to some friends they immediately had several to add, so if anyone is guilty perhaps you might consider the following.
The signs on the doors of toilets are sometimes designed by people with both extremely good eyesight and an eclectic sense of what a male and female look like. How often have you delayed going to the loo in a restaurant because the craic was mighty, or you did not wish to miss out on a bit of scandal, only to be faced with two images on the doors that look incredibly similar or a typeface that is impossible to read? What is wrong with big bold lettering saying ladies or gents? Even the most sozzled soul can figure that one out.
Cold plates under hot meals is another bugbear of mine and apparently so for many people. I know the French and the Spanish seem to do it all the time but that is no excuse. It also spoils the meal before you even start — watch how often people touch the plate when served in a restaurant and you will know that Irish people like hot plates, and for any restaurant not to do this is a sure way to lose business.
Hard and uncomfortable chairs is another bad start to an evening out. I sometimes think that when opening a restaurant the chairs are among the last things to be considered, and when the new owner realises that he/she needs 50 or more of them the price becomes a big issue. A good chair can cost up to €200 but when you sit in one that has been well chosen by the owner it puts you in a mood to stay there and spend money. And what about small tables? Don’t you just hate it when your server is moving everything around to make room for the veg, or taking away items to make room for a large jug of water. It is an important detail that should be worked out right at the start.
A fairly recent addition to some restaurant tables is the comment card. Have you ever seen a card that mentioned the changes the owner has implemented due to previous comment cards? I don’t think so. Does anyone ever read these? And if any proprietors are wondering why so few are being filled in, I can assure them that it is not because everything is perfect, it is because people reckon it is a complete waste of time.
Have you ever been tempted into a restaurant by a sign for a good deal three-course meal, only to find that wonderful word ‘supplement’ on several of the items that you want to choose? Either a menu is a fixed price or it is not, so please stop annoying us with supplements.
Noise is a big issue for many people, especially so if you are seated beside a gang that are out on the raz for the night. It is not difficult to treat walls, floors, and ceilings to dampen noise but it is seldom done. If it really annoys you, why not download a noise level app for your iPhone. Normal conversation is around 50dB while employers are supposed to provide ear protection at around 85/90dB. Some restaurants have been measured at 110dB and higher, and while I know there are different types of restaurants, some noisy and some quiet, there has to be regard given for all diners who just want a quiet chat.
Finally, I am amazed at the lack of a complimentary drink from the owner in many establishments. Surely if you are a regular or have spent a couple of hundred euro with a party of friends, it is not beyond the bounds of hospitality to offer a thank you drink. It will certainly bring custom back and in reality what will it cost? Very few people will order a double Middleton.
If any readers have pet hates about dining out please drop me an email to [email protected]
As this is my last article before the big event I would like to wish you a very happy and peaceful Christmas.