How often do you go out for dinner in your home town or in nearby restaurants?
I can honestly admit I don’t go to restaurants very often. Last night I got another bitter reminder why.
One reason for not eating out much is the cost of it. I live in Finland, where everything is fairly expensive, also eating out is well pricey. If you fancy a steak, you hardly ever find one for less than 20–25 euros. In case you want to enjoy a glass of red wine to accompany your steak, as I like to do once I go to a restaurant, there’s no way of managing for less than 50 euros for a two person dinner.
If the food is delicious, as it should be, and if the service is great, as it should be, I don’t mind paying the above mentioned price for a lovely dinner. Unfortunately it is too often that I have to spend an awful lot of money for a bitter disappointment. This happened last night, again.
Before you read on, I want to clarify this doesn’t happen in every single restaurant in Finland. Maybe I’m just unlucky or the problem is in the area I live in. Perhaps you have experienced the same issue in your country too. Just do not make the judgement that no one should ever go to a restaurant in Finland.
Last night I had a reservation in a lovely restaurant where I went with three friends. The setting was perfect, very idyllic, but already the very first appearance of our waitress made us doubt how the evening would go. This lady, the waitress, didn’t much convince us with her expertise nor skills for customer service. Nevertheless we trusted the food is delicious despite the gutsy waitress.
Once we received our dishes, we had to laugh a little bit. ‘The day’s warm veggies’, as described in the menu, looked like the chef had had to scrape the very last bits of the root vegetable in the whole of restaurant from the bottom of the pan and try to evenly divide them between us four. The food itself was quite average, apart from the very last piece of my steak that had a blonde curly hair in it. And it wasn’t mine.
Once the waitress came to pick up the plates (plastic plates, by the way), she didn’t make any gesture of asking if we liked the food or not. So I made my own effort and politely expressed my opinion about the hair I found on my dish.
Luckily this hair on the side of the plate was found on the very last piece of my steak, as I immediately lost my appetite after seeing it.
What did I get as an answer? A mean glance and a growl asking where did I claim to find that hair.
With a friendly tone I repeated I found it on my steak. No answer. The waitress disappeared very fast and didn’t come back.
After waiting quite a while we asked the other waiter for the bill. A very friendly young man acted immediately and soon we received the checks from our original waitress. Without a word. No apologizing for the hair on my dish, not any kind of sign of compensation, not even a cup of coffee. We paid our bill and left. What an experience! No reason to try that restaurant again.
Unfortunately this is not the only disappointment we have experienced recently. I already have a small list of restaurants I am not returning to. None of them is on the list only because I was disappointed with the food, but mainly because of the behaviour of the staff and the way they treated us.
Last winter we had a dinner in a restaurant very familiar to us. We shared a dish we have had many times before and knew very well how it should be like. This time the quality of the food was so poor that part of the dish was absolutely inedible. Again we gave feedback about the dish face to face, and again we received some growling and snapping as an answer. Worst of all were the waitresses, more than one, starting to blame a third party for their food being so poor. Once I got home I sent another feedback by email, this time not only about the food but also about how the staff took our feedback. I never received a reply to my email. We haven’t visited the restaurant since and we won’t.
I have been working as a waitress for years. I am very experienced with the downsides of the work and I know how rough it can be. That’s why I appreciate all restaurant staff wherever I go. Unfortunately it seems like the appreciation doesn’t seem to be mutual nowadays.
Not every day can be a good day, not even for restaurant staff, but it’s not the customer’s fault. Of course there are shitty customers too, I have experienced that as well, but if the previous customer has been a d***head, the next customer is not the one to blame.
The fact that makes the situation a little bit ludicrous is that nowadays you can not tell if the person walking into a restaurant is an appreciated food blogger or restaurant critic. Also the fact is that Facebook is full of groups for people to tell about their good and bad experiences in local businesses, even in my little home town. And thanks to social media, today the word spreads like wildfire.
And even if this wasn’t the case, I think everyone has a right to get value for their money, whether the value lies in the quality of food or customer service. At least for myself eating out is a rare treat. It’s an experience. Or so it should be.
Why on earth should I waste 50 euros for food that I could prepare better myself in my own kitchen, without having to listen to growls and snorts from a rude waiter or waitress? When cooking at home I could also have a bottle of wine for the price of a glass in restaurant. All the time you are pushed and supported to spend your money in local businesses, buying local products and services, but if by doing so you get these cold and miserable experiences, and pay a high price for it, there will be a limit. How come anyone could even think a customer would come back to a restaurant after being treated like this? After word spreads, no one else will. Good luck with the entrepreneur who keeps ignoring the valuable customer feedback.
I guess it will take a while until I’m ready to take the chance of eating out again.
Have you ever experienced anything similar in your local restaurants? Or anywhere else in the world? Funny enough, normally when travelling, most of the dinners will be eaten in restaurants. Wherever in the world I have travelled, I have never experienced anything like this elsewhere. Getting to know a new cuisine and restaurant culture is one of the pearls of travelling. I would love to eat out more often also in my home country and the area where I live in. If it was an experience.
Note: The pictures on this post have nothing to do with the actual topic, they are just random food pictures I have taken during my travels. All of them I enjoyed very much. And the customer service as well.