A Night at the Food Auction
We were two at dinner tonight. We ordered very different things; we don't look alike. Yet, the runner brought out our plates and started with, "Um, I have angel hair. Who had the angel hair?"
"Champagne? What am I offered for this bottle of Champagne? Who will give me 500 francs?"
There's a lot to be said for informal service, but for the love of Brillat-Savarin, STOP AUCTIONING OFF THE FOOD. It's a minor complaint compared to, say, having food spilled on you, but it's one of the hallmarks of indifferent service and a personal pet peeve.
This particular case was at a not-particularly-wonderful Italian place in Burbank, but it happens all over the place, and it sucks. Servers need to write down orders in order on the ticket (old-fashioned ticket pads even had the order of operations for various configurations of covers right on the top), and runners need to have a dupe with them so they can deliver the meals without sounding like an estate auctioneer in a farmhouse.
Diners are not exempt from the process; once your order is taken, park your keister in the same seat until the food arrives. It isn't fair to the servers or runners when the customers play musical chairs.
Restaurateurs of America, the diners notice when plates are delivered correctly, and tips increase accordingly. Please improve.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.