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Bourdain: It's OK to send stuff back...


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I've been served raw chicken at starred restaurants and it was even more expensive because they could serve it raw.

 

Also food with live insects seems to be acceptable.

 

There's really no saving this. You don't like it, you don't come back.

I don't think this is a hard distinction:

 

If you're mad they served you ants at pujol, it's your problem.

 

If you're mad that you found ants on your foie at per se, you're right.

 

The existence of close calls doesn't obviate the point.

Yes, but look at the actual statement:

 

"wasn't cooked the way you requested, sure. Or if it contains something you don't like and that wasn't listed on the menu, OK"

 

I think the last time I was asked how I wanted something cooked was more than two years ago, and I can't imagine expecting everything to be listed on the menu. So I'll concede there is some edge case where you are right to send a dish back, like if you asked for your steak still screaming and it came gray or if shredded glass wasn't listed, but that is the exception.

 

eta: and even then - mostly just suck it up and don't come back, I think.

Sure, but we're generally not talking about the places that we eat at or people who follow food like us. When joe beef doesn't ask you about doneness it doesn't change the underlying point that when it's their mistake, sending back is okay and when it's your preference you should suck it up. It just means you need more knowledge to make the distinction.

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Sure, but we're generally not talking about the places that we eat at or people who follow food like us. When joe beef doesn't ask you about doneness it doesn't change the underlying point that when i

Tony Bourdain is on Dinner Party Download's podcast.   Is it OK to send something back, just because you don't like it?   Well, if it wasn't cooked the way you requested, sure. Or if it contains

Oh Jesus. Foodies need someone like him to encourage them to be more obnoxious

The problem I have found in the few times that I've sent things back is that it is human nature for the chef to think (rationalize) that he was oorrect the first time. So when he redoes a plate, he tends to overcompensate. Example: I ordered a thick cut of calves liver rare; it came half-past medium. The waiter agreed that it was overcooked and took it away. The replacement was literally raw. Since then, I eat what pleases me and leave what doesn't, weighing carefully any desire to return. An additional problem is that the entire table is thrown off stride as courses lapse and overlap. A single bad experience becomes a shared event, screwing up the evening for everyone.

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The problem I have found in the few times that I've sent things back is that it is human nature for the chef to think (rationalize) that he was oorrect the first time. So when he redoes a plate, he tends to overcompensate. Example: I ordered a thick cut of calves liver rare; it came half-past medium. The waiter agreed that it was overcooked and took it away. The replacement was literally raw. Since then, I eat what pleases me and leave what doesn't, weighing carefully any desire to return. An additional problem is that the entire table is thrown off stride as courses lapse and overlap. A single bad experience becomes a shared event, screwing up the evening for everyone.

Yeh, on the rare occasion when I send something back, it's more like, just keep it and don't send me a replacement. I'm not paying for it and I'll wait for dessert which you should probably pay for too. But, needless to say, 60 percent of the food I eat out I think is shit anyway

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Sometimes, my wife will look at what I ordered and say: "I should've ordered that instead."

 

You know what happens next.

 

Anyway, do we need Bourdain to tell us how to act?

 

If the kitchen fucks up, it's often going back (depending on circumstances, as noted above), and I'll even implore fellow diners, who may have received a fucked up order, that they should send it back too.

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I have. ...wilted or rotty,pieces of greens in a salad are unacceptable,and this admittedly,goes back to a childhood experience of getting a horrible stomach upset at the Metropolitan Museum of Art cafeteria,of all places. Oversalted food also gets sent back,when it verges on inedible. Most often,I vote with my feet, and never look for compensation,or dessert....just make it right.

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I once had inedible mahi mahi (overcooked and tough as leather). I just left it on the plate and ate the other things. The waiter obviously observed this.

 

A short time later, the proprietor/chef came out and apologized.

 

I remained a happy regular of the establishment.

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I once had inedible mahi mahi (overcooked and tough as leather). I just left it on the plate and ate the other things. The waiter obviously observed this.

 

A short time later, the proprietor/chef came out and apologized.

 

I remained a happy regular of the establishment.

That's a great story, but in many places the waiter wouldn't care, and the owner might be a continent away.

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Here in unsophisticated New York, the wait staff asks you how you want things cooked (or at least if the "chef's" default is OK with you) all the time.

I think that's a legal issue. Can't serve undercooked without consent.

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I sent back a piece of Brie in a French restaurant once. The waiter tried to pull his Frenchness on me, but the sound of my knife relentlessly tapping the frozen center of the cheese was dispositive.

 

I remember being served frozen chicken in Atlantic City. "Would you like something else?" No, I just dodged one bullet.

 

Similarly with the rotten duck in London the kitchen had soused in vinegar to cover the smell. You only get one shot, kids.

 

On topic, we generally only get asked about how to cook something when it comes to meat, and if they can't do it, don't worry but don't go back.

 

Where I see a dilemma is with over-seasoning. I have sent dishes back in good restaurants because they're inedibly salty. I've also buckled down and eaten ridiculously salty dishes. There's a region here where tastes just differ.

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If the kitchen fucks up, it's often going back (depending on circumstances, as noted above), and I'll even implore fellow diners, who may have received a fucked up order, that they should send it back too.

In bringing chefs to Japan one of the points to stress (other than shrink portion sizes, etc.) is that unless they serve shredded glass in chili sauce nobody will ever complain or return a dish (actually I'm not even sure about the glass) and people will simply eat quietly and not come back. This allows for lower prices (because you don't need to build assholes and bad cooks into the cost) but of course means it's harder to get feedback.

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Here in unsophisticated New York, the wait staff asks you how you want things cooked (or at least if the "chef's" default is OK with you) all the time.

 

 

Social aspect too. One of you gets a fucked up dish, sending it back can ruin progression of meal for everyone else. If you're on a date or business that might matter.

These are essentially my quibbles. Of course one would have ordered a protein cooked a certain way before mentioning that it was served otherwise. But then, what do you do? Send it back and hold up the table? Me? I guess not. Again, the chef's thinker tells him that he did indeed cook it to your order. So just let it go. At this point, it's a no win situation.

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