Picky dinner pals
August 5th, 2010
06:00 AM ET
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Ah, dining out. One of the simple joys in life. No need to futz over the stove or fiddle with preheating the oven - everything is taken care of. Just sit back, relax and ... wait, did you say relax? Too bad your restaurant compadre is a total buzzkill.

We polled our friends and colleagues about their dining Debbie Downer pals, then kicked backed and watched their complaints roll in.

Here's what they had to grumble about.

The Top Chef judge

"The food is not hot enough. The chicken is too dry. How long have the ribs been cooking? How often were they sauced? Just enjoy your meal!"

"What do you expect me to say now that you've totally dissed the restaurant? For the record, my salmon was delicious."

"I know, I know, I know. You TOTALLY could have made that sabayon of pearl tapioca better."

"Oh, those lovable faux wine connoisseurs: they sit there swirling and sniffing and gargling when really, they wouldn't know the difference between a Bordeaux and Burgundy if it hit them in the face."

The competitive non-eater

"For some reason, this is particularly the case with women. It's like, let's see how I many times I can push around this piece of lettuce before I set my fork down. I call it 'competitive non-eating.'"

"I really wanted that 16 ounce filet. Curse you for ordering a cup of soup!"

"When that bread basket comes out, you better believe I'm going to have a piece. And if you give me the stink eye, you're just jealous of the delicious carbs I'm about to stuff in my face."

The on-the-side fiend

"I'll have the dressing on the side. The croutons on the side. The tomatoes on the side. The noodles on the side. If they're on the side, you do know you still eat them ... right?

"The dish is written out that way on the menu for a reason. This isn't like Build-a-Bear workshop."

The calculator

"I understand that money is hard-earned and a sensitive topic, but when you take the tax off the total before calculating the 15 percent tip to the penny, it's a little excessive."

"Was the ten extra minutes you just spent doing long division to split up the check perfectly really worth the dollar you just saved?"

The extend-a-fork

"I'm happy to let you have a bite of my scrumptious food - but ask before you reach. I don't want a puncture wound because an unexpected fork comes flying towards my plate."

"Sharing means equal parts. If eight oysters are served, that means four for you and four for me. NOT six for you and two for me."

Good golly, Miss Molly! These folks have divulged their dining dislikes, now it's your turn. Got a friend who’s a pain in the bum to eat with because of their over-the-top demands? The comment therapy lounge is now in session.



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soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Jeepers

    I've turned down dinner invitations from people who are just @ssholes. That wasn't on the survey. I've also dined with a group where a couple of members seemed to be competitively trying to out-b!tch each other by seeing how much stuff they could complain about and get comped. I actually apologized to the waiter one of the times when I went to the bathroom. Those chicks were awful. I don't hang with them anymore either.

    August 13, 2010 at 1:22 am | Reply
    • Jeepers

      Oh yeah, and being rude to a waiter or waitress in any way or not tipping are also dealbreakers for me.

      August 13, 2010 at 1:24 am | Reply
  2. LgMcB

    I have a couple of friends who I go into each dining experience with caution because undoubtedly "something" will be wrong with what they've ordered and will send it back. Everyone has that stuff happen once and awhile, but every single time? I also had on friend I dined with order a ginormous sampler type meal only to send it back because it was too small when the person sitting across from them got the same thing with the same size portions. Really?

    August 10, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  3. zomge

    "The food is not hot enough. The chicken is too dry. How long have the ribs been cooking? How often were they sauced? Just enjoy your meal!"

    I generally don't complain about the meal, but if someone thinks their meal is not hot enough how can they enjoy it? Taste, texture, and temperature all go into the dining experience among other things so if the temperature is not right how can you fully enjoy it?

    "Oh, those lovable faux wine connoisseurs: they sit there swirling and sniffing and gargling when really, they wouldn't know the difference between a Bordeaux and Burgundy if it hit them in the face."

    Perhaps they know more about wine than you think. Quit judging.

    "I'll have the dressing on the side. The croutons on the side. The tomatoes on the side. The noodles on the side. If they're on the side, you do know you still eat them ... right?

    I know I order things on the side because sometimes they put too much of a given ingredient so when you request it on the side you can put exactly how much you want. So in short, you don't eat them. You eat SOME of them.

    "I understand that money is hard-earned and a sensitive topic, but when you take the tax off the total before calculating the 15 percent tip to the penny, it's a little excessive."

    Again, quit judging.

    August 10, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  4. NoBacon

    A lot of folks I know do not eat beef or pork (be it for religious reasons or personal choice). One thing that annoys me is when menus do not specify that beef or pork is present in a dish. For example, they will order a salad and get bacon bits in it. Or they order a fish or chicken dish and there is bacon in the mashed potatoes or in a side order of green beans. As a pork-eater myself I do understand bacon adds great flavor to a dish... but it pains me when my friends have to send a dish back or are unable to enjoy a meal because the menu does not specify that the dish includes bacon.

    More often than not, the server is helpful and when we tell him/her we want a dish without pork, they point us to the choices available... but quite often they forget the side dishes. We then get an angry stare when the dish is sent back. I think that it's more of the restaurant's fault for not specifying it on the menu.

    August 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Reply
  5. Phil

    [incorrectly posted earlier, my apologies for potential double-post]

    Many years ago I was out on a date with a self-proclaimed "princess" who proceeded to berate the waiter for being served "2 minutes late" for a drink that wasn't "exactly prepared to MY specifications" (which took 5 minutes to describe to the waiter), food that wasn't "pleasantly presented to MY taste" and literally ordering the waiter for service approximately every few minutes. Longest date of my life. I tipped the waiter generously and dumped Princess back at the castle (of course, I was subsequently "dumped" online because I wouldn't "put out")

    August 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  6. VallieBee

    Former waitress here (and it will always be in my blood). I haven't read all the comments, but one thing I've always noticed is that so much of being labeled an annoying "picky eater" is in the approach. If you have a food allergy, bring it up (politely, of course) to your server right away and she what he/she suggests. Chances are they've encountered this issue before and they know best which dishes can be best modified in a way that is both efficient for the kitchen and maintains the integrity of the item so you have a good dining experience. If they can list off three or four options right off the bat, one of them is likely to be to your liking. Also, consider where you are – a chef-driven restaurant and a local pub are two different animals.

    Also, think ahead to what your desired final meal is. Instead of saying, "I want a burger with no lettuce, no tomato, no onion, no ketchup, no mayonnaise, none of "that sauce" and no bun but WITH cheese and make sure it's dead", say "I'd like a very well done burger with cheese only, no bun, please". And don't be bitchy. Seriously, there's this clipped way a lot of women say, "WITH lemon" or "on the side" (usually accompanied by an I-don't-trust-you-to-get-this-right glare). Just, don't. I understand that people with particular food needs have had many experiences over time where they have not been met (for me, it's mayonnaise – I hate it, and if I get it I will send it back – and I'm mortified to have to do it, but hey, I asked nicely and I tip well. Ditto for an overcooked steak.), but putting your server on the defensive in a manner which "challenges" them to get your order right is just rude power tripping.

    August 9, 2010 at 11:31 am | Reply
  7. shrapnel

    i have a friend who won't eat vegetables. VEGETABLES, that's like 50% of a meal!

    August 9, 2010 at 4:17 am | Reply
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