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Restaurant servers not giving prices on specials


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I'm not wealthy, so any time I go to a restaurant, there are prices on the menu.  Often times, there are some specials, and far more often than not, the server will describe these in detail, but not mention the price.  I find this a bit odd and, frankly, kind of rude.  Brought this up in conversation recently, and no one else seemed bothered by it.  I guess they figure, if you can't afford the meal, then you shouldn't be going out to eat, but some of these restaurants can provide a nice meal for a couple for $50 as well as the same for $100 or more depending on what you get, so one can be on a budget but still enjoy dining out on occasion.  Anyone else think servers should provide pricing on specials?

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1 hour ago, bscinstnct said:

But I always ask for details on how a special is prepared and the price of specials that sound good.

 

And if I find out they have fresh octopus or squid that day, I always ask if the chef is up for making me a pasta entree with just a bunch of octopus!

 

They usually do it ; )

Agreed. The servers don't (or at least shouldn't) blink when asking about dish details, including price inquiries. They sometimes get a glazed look when asked if even the simplest dish modification is a choice though....

 

And good chefs are delighted when given a carte blanche option.

 

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15 minutes ago, Hateto3Putt said:

Agreed. The servers don't (or at least shouldn't) blink when asking about dish details, including price inquiries. They sometimes get a glazed look when asked if even the simplest dish modification is a choice though....

 

And good chefs are delighted when given a carte blanche option.

 

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I try not to do modifications much. Just the octopus and squid! Chefs love the stuff. Oh, I’ll usually for mashed potatoes (if it’s on the menu) as a replacement for *rosemary roast potatoes. 

 

And generally if I’m asked “how would you like that cooked?”. I just say however the chef like it. Most chefs taste run to the “rare” side of things. 

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3 hours ago, jordan2240 said:

I'm not wealthy, so any time I go to a restaurant, there are prices on the menu.  Often times, there are some specials, and far more often than not, the server will describe these in detail, but not mention the price.  I find this a bit odd and, frankly, kind of rude.  Brought this up in conversation recently, and no one else seemed bothered by it.  I guess they figure, if you can't afford the meal, then you shouldn't be going out to eat, but some of these restaurants can provide a nice meal for a couple for $50 as well as the same for $100 or more depending on what you get, so one can be on a budget but still enjoy dining out on occasion.  Anyone else think servers should provide pricing on specials?

relevance?

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As a former food service worker for over 20 years, I can tell you that anyplace that doesn't display prices is just being pretentious. 

 

And yes, giving the cooks a free hand to make something special for you is generally welcome - no "head chef" is ever really going to cook for you - unless it's a small place.

 

At larger establishments, you might get a sous chef to prepare something for you, but generally speaking it's going to be the line cooks who actually prepare the food. Head chefs are mainly there to yell at the kitchen staff and threaten them if things don't go properly.

 

What all of us hate, just for the record, is when people order something from the menu and make changes to it. I love the whole "I'm allergic to onions..." line. The response is uniformly, "well, I hope you're not allergic to pubic hair, 'cause you're getting some in your meal."

 

That last statement is a total joke, of course. I personally never messed with anyone's food or witnessed anyone else doing so. But, the "5 second rule" is definitely a thing. 

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15 minutes ago, ChipStrokes said:

relevance?

Kind of a snarky way to put it, but a fair point. Anyone who’s been in the restaurant business long enough has seen someone uberwealthy who orders the cheapest entree, the cheapest wine, etc. and seen a group of industry folk come in and drop mad $ on the coolest wine, most luxurious specials, etc. People’s utility from fine dining varies quite widely and some people are willing to drop an entire nights tips on a single pour of obscure Austrian brandy (Rochelt is a bewitching brew, fyi) while some people with multiple vacation homes scoff at spending more than $5 on a bottle of beer. 

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52 minutes ago, EDT501 said:

Speaking as someone in the restaurant business, that really depends on what you mean. Most of the time the best chefs spend weeks refining dishes with their cooks prior to putting it on the menu or, if it’s a farm to table type operation, have a distinct idea about the best way to coax the best out of that days produce - they put it on the menu because it’s the best representation of their work at that time. You will almost always get the best results by sticking with menu options or asking the chef to just send out several things of their choice. At the end of the day, most kitchens will do their best to give the customer what they want, but far from relishing some abstract challenge of coming up with something on the spot, they chef/cook is going to be thinking, “this douchebag ignored an entire menu I’ve worked my a** off to pull together and wants me to pull together some bullxxxx pasta. I’m already shoulder deep in the weeds and my mise isn’t ready for this, where is the porter he’s been dying to get on the line maybe he’ll make something that isn’t terrible and I’ll send that out.” (Apologies for language, but it’s a fair representation of kitchen-speak tbh)

 

 

Or it could be this...

 

The Sopranos season 06 ep. 07 Ending (Luxury Lounge) - YouTube

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3 hours ago, Gohigh said:

Dont ever order specials. Its usually created to get rid of inventory or perishable products about to go bad. Having said this... There are other platforms other than GOLFWRX to complain or vent about stuff like this...

Thanks for the tip about the specials.  As for the discussion itself, the description of this forum states it is for non-golf-related topics.  I thought some of the GOLFWRXers might be people who eat at restaurants from time-to-time as well.  

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OK, since you're talking restaurants, can I post something from another thread about restaurants?

 

---------------->

The Official Saturday Morning Rant (July 10th Edition)

"Restaurant Hell"

 

OK, so we've been eating at home for more than a year and sometimes doing takeout. Maybe it was time to take our long-ago vaccinated bodies out and sit down in a restaurant again and have someone else do the cooking and dishes. Off we went to an Italian food chain called Maggiano's. First time to go inside, but had takeout once and it was pretty good and looked nice inside when I picked it up.

 

Made a reservation and reserved a booth. The person on the other end was polite and cheerful. All set.

 

Show up at zero hour and the host sends us off to be seated by a guy who looks exactly like Garth Algar from Wayne's World (see below - he really did look like this).

 

No worries.

We walk about three feet and he points to a tiny little table right behind the host stand against the wall and a frosted window. I explained that we made a reservation for one of the booths, like all of those empty ones over there...

 

He counters immediately, "Oh, but this table has a nice view."

 

"We reserved one of those booths," I said again quietly, not wanting to make a scene.

 

He insisted that this was where we should sit.

 

Ok, enough of this. I said, "I'm sorry young man, but that's the wrong answer. The correct answer is, 'Yes sir, I'll take care of it immediately.'"

 

We get our booth after jousting with Garth. Let it go and enjoy the dinner.

 

Our waiter with a nasty beard half-covered with a dirty mask shows up. He's full of swagger for some reason. We get a couple glasses of wine. He brings some hot bread and our order is squared away. We're going to split a salad and a spicy red sauce pasta dish. Portions are just too big now for one human to eat by themselves. I'm trying to keep my dinners under 10,000 calories.

 

Mr. Swagger plunks the salad dish onto the table and scurries away. We wait and wait until he walks by and I remind him that we were going to split this salad. Can he at least get us another plate? We get another plate. No apology, just another plate. OK, I think we've successfully maneuvered around the last roadblock of the night.

 

Mr Swagger plunks down the big entree plate and two small plates. We're doing good! He disappears immediately. He has no other tables yet, but he's always gone.

 

We start to put some on the plates and realize that this is not what we ordered. Mr Swagger is nowhere to be found. Since we're sitting next to the congregating area where all the wait staff talk about their lives, their loves, their diseases, their troubles, their hangovers, etc., I ask one if they can find our waiter. I get an eye roll, but at least someone will go find him.

 

Sometimes I just have to take a break, take a breath and reset my mind to understand and accept that this is the new standard of service.

 

Swagger shows up. I tell him that this isn't what we ordered. He asks what we ordered. I told him to look at his ticket. He takes the food away. No "I'm sorry," no "I apologize." Nothing. He says he'll get it out right away. I tell him not to rush, we're not in a hurry. I just want it cooked properly.

 

He brings out the correct entree and drops it on the table, then he's off again to the mystery hang out. No plates, and even better, no silverware, since he took ours when he picked up the wrong entree.

 

Sigh.

 

He's nowhere to be found. I have to ask Mr Eyeroll again to please (we must say "please" and "thank you" to them, lest they get offended) find Mr Swagger. He returns and says he can't find him. He shows up just as the dish has reached that degree of coolness that it's not as appetizing as it looked. He asks what I need.

 

I say nothing. I look at him, then the table, then him, then the table, hoping he might be able to figure this out on his own.

 

Nope. He's totally oblivious to the fact that we have no plates or silverware. What the hell was I thinking? I have to spell it out to him.

 

Sigh. This place isn't cheap. I'm not going to make a scene. They have a special thing where you can order an entree to go for $5 if you eat in and they're delicious. Just heat them up yourself. We ordered two.

 

Right on cue, Mr Swagger brought us the check (he didn't forget the check...) and a bag with the entrees. I just want to leave, so I don't check the bag.

 

And right on cue, we check at home and the orders in the bag were wrong.

 

Another frustration was that sitting right next to each other, we could not hear each other. The music was so loud that no one in the restaurant was talking. Everyone was screaming. No one could hear each other without screaming.

 

Naturally, you cannot talk to, or write to, anyone in the corporate HQ. No phone numbers and no email addresses are on the site. They don't even have a street address because you might actually write a letter to them.

 

They learned their lesson that the best way to stop hearing complaints is stop giving people a way to complain.

 

I called the restaurant the next day. Without going into details, I asked to talk with the manager about my experience there and was told that the manager would definitely call me that day or the next day. That was over a week ago. I guess I'll keep waiting? I'm sure the manager is just too busy and will call me later.

 

It's all me. It can't be them. If it was them, the place would be struggling to stay in business. It's packed every day with people who think much differently than I do. They think it's great that everything is wrong, or they just don't care.

 

I have to learn to accept that this is the new standard of service. Or I have to stay at home.

 

Oh, and how much is the special?

 

 

garth.png

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8 hours ago, bscinstnct said:

Lol, I know what you mean.

 

But I always ask for details on how a special is prepared and the price of specials that sound good.

 

And if I find out they have fresh octopus or squid that day, I always ask if the chef is up for making me a pasta entree with just a bunch of octopus!

 

They usually do it ; )

 Squid are dumb but it's bad luck to eat something as smart as an octopus

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Gohigh said:

Dont ever order specials. Its usually created to get rid of inventory or perishable products about to go bad. Having said this... There are other platforms other than GOLFWRX to complain or vent about stuff like this...


 

Depends where you eat. Definitely the case with some places but…

 

Guy up the block with the Italian place got killer specials.

 

He shops specifically for the specials, place rocks..

 

Oh  or like He cuts his own zucchini flowers and makes em fried with a little mozz and fresh parm

 

Unreal

 

 

 

 

 

 

0CD32F2D-3055-4F8D-9735-FFF83456352A.jpeg

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“You didn’t tell me the price of the specials, so I’ll just have the bread and a glass of water.”

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1 hour ago, MtlJeff said:

I always just ask what the price is. I've been to restaurants that don't mention price when they go over the specials. I always just ask, and i've never had anyone refuse to say

 

Rich or poor or anything in between, there's nothing embarrassing about knowing the price you are paying for something.

 

 

I have no doubt the wait staff would happily tell me the price should I ask - but the look I'd get from my wife would ruin the meal.

 

And just to be clear, whether or not they tell me the price of the specials has no bearing on my tip (which is always at least 20%) or whether or not I'd return.

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1 hour ago, Soloman1 said:

OK, since you're talking restaurants, can I post something from another thread about restaurants?

Quite a story.  The pandemic recovery (if we are in it) has certainly impacted some restaurant procedures and staff (most seem lucky to have any), so we tend to be pretty patient with them.  Did walk out of one a month or so ago prior to ordering because the usual 'vibe' was way off, but we'll give them a chance to recover and try again later.

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Just ask, it sounds like the real issue is you are somewhat insecure about your financial situation.  Don’t be, ive been in the industry at many levels for 35 years or longer, i have worked everywhere from 4 star, fast food, private clubs and a bunch in between. I have never heard anyone ridiculed for asking prices. 

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8 hours ago, EDT501 said:

Speaking as someone in the restaurant business, that really depends on what you mean. Most of the time the best chefs spend weeks refining dishes with their cooks prior to putting it on the menu or, if it’s a farm to table type operation, have a distinct idea about the best way to coax the best out of that days produce - they put it on the menu because it’s the best representation of their work at that time. You will almost always get the best results by sticking with menu options or asking the chef to just send out several things of their choice. At the end of the day, most kitchens will do their best to give the customer what they want, but far from relishing some abstract challenge of coming up with something on the spot, they chef/cook is going to be thinking, “this douchebag ignored an entire menu I’ve worked my a** off to pull together and wants me to pull together some bullxxxx pasta. I’m already shoulder deep in the weeds and my mise isn’t ready for this, where is the porter he’s been dying to get on the line maybe he’ll make something that isn’t terrible and I’ll send that out.” (Apologies for language, but it’s a fair representation of kitchen-speak tbh)

 

As for the OPs question, it’s a catch 22 on the restaurants part. For everyone who thinks we should state price with the special there is someone who equally strongly finds it distasteful to openly talk of money at the table. No waiter will ever be bother by someone asking the price. I often do it myself.

While I basically agree, a request such as “pasta with squid” is not a difficult one to accommodate.  In my kitchen if someone made that request it’s not like I would shout to the line “get some salted water on, we are making going to shock and peal tomatoes, and start a sauce from scratch to meet this guys special request”.  I’m gonna use the mise I have for other dishes and put something nice together for him with little extra effort.  If I. Really weeded it may be as simple as hollering at the sauté guy “veggie pasta add charred octopus” or some such.  It seems that I started out disagreeing but as I read what I wrote I’m basically agreeing that pasta probably is not as good as whatever octopus special I’m running, but if the dude likes octopus and pasta, it’s generally not a big deal, and will be a nice pasta dish.   The hardest part is if a non English speaker is working sauté and I have to explain that I want something not on the menu 😂 

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