Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dining Dilemma

My husband Alex and I go out to dinner a couple of times a week. I like it when he calls and says "Don't start dinner. Let's go out."

We have a wide variety of dining choices in our relatively small town. We have Thai, Cambodian, Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Afghan, Korean, Vietnamese, as well as the usual Italian, Mediterranean, and California cuisine offerings.

We have a favorite restaurant called Pappo's. It would probably be considered California cuisine, with a French influence. Pappo's opened about 3 years ago and we have been eating there about twice a month since it opened. The place features all organic, locally grown produce and vegetables, high quality meats, quality affordable wines, and a nice varied menu, as well as sleek surrounds and a very polished staff. Although Pappo's is a little more expensive than other restaurants in Alameda, I have always felt it was worth the extra expense.

When I go to a restaurant for the first time, I never complain or criticize the food or send anything back. I figure if I don't like it, I won't go back, but you give a place a try. When I go to a restaurant where we eat all the time, I will send something back to the kitchen that is not prepared to my liking.

I am always quiet in my conversation with the wait person. I explain why I don't like the meal, and they either replace it or if I say "never mind", they take it off our bill. My husband Alex cringes when I do this. Now, to be clear, this has occurred at Pappo's twice in 3 years. So I am not a chronic "take it back" syndrome person. Also, keep in mind, I am never unpleasant about asking to have something returned.

Still, I feel you are doing a restaurant that you frequent a disservice not to return a piece of chicken that is overcooked and stringy, or a soup that has way too much salt. I would much rather let a restaurant "make it right" for me and continue going there, than to have to find a new "favorite" place.

Alex disagrees. He feels like you eat it or don't, but you never complain about it, no matter what. I've seen him request a "well done" hamburger that is brought to him bloody. He eats it. I've seen Alex order a glass of red wine, but he will drink the white wine they bring him and never say a word.

At home, he has no such problem because I cook everything to perfection. (Or I toss it in the trash and call for a pizza.) I think Alex worries that restaurant staff might do something unpleasant to his food if he complains. At home, I might do something unpleasant to his head with a cast iron frying pan if he complains so he never does.

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