Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Dinner Exchange Program

I never understood the "Dinner Exchange Program". The way I see it there are two schools of thought on this one.


  • You ordered it-you eat it. (unless it's either cold or in-edible)
  • You pay so have it your way.

I tend to lean towards the former. You are at a restaurant, you ordered it, so you're pretty much stuck with it. If you don't LIKE your dinner choice, that's just tough titties. If your dinner choice is not presented the way it was described, then you have the right to complain. Otherwise all bets are off the table, so to speak.

Then there are the "sender backers". You've either dined with these people or you are one. I have even swapped meals with a "sender backer", as to avoid an uncomfortable exchange with the waiter or the restaurant. I just don't see what good can come out of a barrage of complaints between a diner and the waitstaff. A comped entree or entire dinner? I say it's not worth it and if that's the goal of the outing, then stay home. Granted, there are millions of eating establishments where you, the diner, are just a number. The whole idea is to get them in and get them out, turnover is more important than quality of service. Those places never last and I try not to chose them as a dining destination. You live, you learn.

So what's up with the "sending your dinner back" thing? The only thing an eating establishment can promise and deliver is a HOT meal. Your culinary tastes are your own and if you deem the dish not suited to your tastes, I think it is your fault for choosing it, or the restaurant's for producing it. I would never send back my entree because I did not "like" it. I would simply never choose the entree, or the restaurant again, and problem solve by indulging my hunger in dessert. Chances are slim they can screw up chocolate ice cream.

Yet there are those one can never satisfy when it comes to fine dining. The meal is sent back to the kitchen for whatever reason; the meat was not cooked properly, it lacks in flavor, or it's not what one thought they were ordering. Immediately the sanctity of the meal is placed in jeopardy. The other diners at the table now feel the need to scramble or worse, wait until all of the entree's are placed in front of each diner. Usually, the "sender backer" ends up eating alone, while the rest of the party is having coffee or an after dinner drink that they didn't want in the first place. Nobody wins.

I say shut up and put up, or better yet, let your flying fork do the work for you. After all, sharing is caring and if you are dining with someone who dosen't mind, two forks in one dish are better than none. If the dining experience is not what you anticipated, then don't make the same mistake twice and you don't go back. Lesson learned. In the end, I think The Dinner Exchange Program does more harm than good.

15 comments:

Scope said...

To the best of my recollection, I have never sent food back.

Forks with gunk on them? Glasses with lipstick marks (except in my 'Glam Rock' days) on them?

Sure.

Food? I was raised to believe that the cook would spit in anything sent back to the kitchen. It was like a code of honor, they HAD to.

wigsf said...

The only time I've sent food back was when it was NOT what I ordered. When I ordered a steak well done and got rare, that steak was sent back. When I ordered the chicken fingers and I got some sort of asian salad thingee, I sent it back.
When i ordered the bbq chicken pizza and it tasted like bbq chicken crap, I ate some of it and regretted ordering it in the first place.

Bill Stankus said...

OK, now you need to talk about that "tough titties" business.

Sassy Britches said...

I'm with you on this one. Icky silverware or glasses a la Scope, send 'em back. Not cooked like you want it or not what you ordered, by all means, to the kitchen with you! But, if you don't LIKE it? Too bad. Unless you actually want to pay for ordering two meals, there's no sending it back. That's what crackers in your purse are for. Or dessert, like you said. Then, you just don't order that if you go back, or better yet, don't return at all.

Travel & Dive Girl said...

I so agree on this one.

I actually stood behind someone in line last week at friggin Wendy's while they touched their fries and then complained because they weren't hot enough. A new batch was presented and they still weren't hot enough. I'm sure the cooks in the back were spitting on her fries just to get even.

It's called fast food for a reason (not high quality), but she didn't seem to grasp the concept.

Heff said...

I LIVE with a "sender backer". I assure you, it's a pain in the ass.

Joanie M said...

I'll only send food back if it's not cooked enough or if it's obvious that it's going bad. I did once send spinach dip back because it was cold in the middle. that was ok, though. 30 seconds in the microwave and it was terrific!

What I don't expect is for the item or the bill to be comped. Especially if I order something and I don't like it. Nothing wrong with the food. I just happen to not like that flavor.

Madtexter said...

This is sooo true. There's always that one person who, no matter how many times you dine with them, they always complain about the food. I think some people have a need to complain so they look like experts in food. I say don't send the food back, send the picky eater back.

Besides, unless the food was not as described in the menu, if you send it back, you can be sure something else will be added to it (and I'm not talking about additional spices.)

LegalMist said...

Steak undercooked? Send it back - very politely and apologetically, of course. They can fix that easily and quickly, and it shouldn't disrupt the meal too much for others. Steak overcooked? Deal with it. Don't ruin everyone else's meal while you wait for them to cook you a whole new steak, which likely will be undercooked this time...

Some Guy said...

I find dining with "sender backer"-types very uncomfortable. As for dirty utensils and lipsticked glasses, I specifically request them. The waitstaff usually finds it puzzling, but they oblige.

Scott Oglesby said...

I agree completely; there is only one meal I will send back and that is under-cooked chicken. (I never order pork anyway) I just don’t see how any good could ever come of making someone angry who is alone with your food!ec

Prunella Jones said...

Having waitressed my way through college, I can assure you that someone who sends food back because they "don't like it" earns instant contempt from the chef. And if they behave like an ass while sending it back, they'll get spittle in their drinks from the waitstaff.

I remember once we had a customer who behaved like such an outrageous dick, and who was so obviously angling to get his meal comped (while stiffing us) that we all took turns spitting in his drink, including the busboy.

This is just the nature of the way things works. Be nice to the people who bring you food.

Anonymous said...

I no longer order red meat out as I will only order it well done. I would ask the server if the kitchen would cook it well done before I ordered it. I was always told yes. It never came back cooked well done. And I always sent it back. I have had managers come to the table) to ask if there was a problem and I would explain my situation. If they didn't act like my explanation was insane, and my request was likewise, they acted like the meat was well cooked even though the blood would still still oozing from its flesh. I would always leave with no request for discounts and no "freebies" but tell everyone that wanted my opinion the truth. I have now limited my self to eat out only the things that will be prepared well, such as most salads and appetisers. Lower tips for the wait staff, but finally full and satisfied.

SkylersDad said...

I almost never send anything back. It has to be a huge mistake, or really messed up for me to complain.

My pet peeve is people who like to sample what everyone is having. If you ask, I might let you have a bite. reach over to take something from my plate and you will be pulling back a bloody stump!

Chris@Maugeritaville said...

The only time I've ever sent a meal back is if it's seriously undercooked meat or they've somehow screwed it up. Otherwise, deal with it.

Of course, IN-N-OUT Burger gets it right most of the time.