Fitness Minutes: (16,207)
9/9/13 5:53 A
Prior to being diagnosed with food allergies I would always politely order dressing/sauces on the side, or ask if it was possible to get more vegetables/salad instead of fries ect. I never felt bad for doing so, and it never seemed like a problem. Now I am harder to cook for, and sometimes get the feeling the staff finds me difficult.
I have worked as both a waitress and a cook, and I would usually not mind special orders as they gave me the very rare chance to be creative. (I worked in a franchise so micro-managed you would not believe me..) The only exception would be if understaffed and super busy.
I think the most important thing I've learned about restaurant meals is the three little words "a la carte." In most moderate restaurants, the chef puts more work into side dishes than mains; the entrees tend to be pretty same-y. Grilled chicken is grilled chicken. I used to sit and go over the menu looking for something that came with the side dishes I wanted. One day it occurred to me that I could just order the side dishes. That was all I really wanted.
It probably helps that the first time I finally. firmly decided to do it that way, the people at the next table heard me and said, "Wow, we never thought of that, but that's exactly what all of us want, too," and they ordered the same way I had, so I didn't feel weird. A few years later I went back to that restaurant and they had added "Your choice of 3 of our fabulous side dishes" as an entree.
Now I'm finally to the point where if the place is known for its desserts and that's what I want, I'll go ahead and just order dessert. If I'm going to eat all those calories, there's no sense in eating another 500 from whatever's the least offensive item on the regular menu. I just order what I want.
I have food allergies, so have always had to "custom" order at restaurants. I don't recall ever having had a server or chef make an issue of it - they've always been at the least cooperative, and more often very helpful about it. We generally let everyone else at the table order first, and tell the server that I am the "difficult one". I explain what my issues are, what dish I would like to eat, and ask them to check with the chef to see if that will work. I also tell them that I'm open to suggestions if there is something else that the chef would recommend that would be easier for them.
Since my main allergy is peppers (including white and black pepper - if it has "pepper" in the name, I'm gonna react!), it can often be quite difficult to figure out what I can or can not eat from a menu. Many restaurants marinate most or all of their meats, and it's pretty much guaranteed that the marinade will include some version of pepper or peppers.
I've had many chefs come out to chat with me over the years, recommending one dish over another, and suggesting a "special" version of a sauce served on the side. I've had a couple of times when they've said that the only thing that they can do is a salad (the marinated meat issue), but have been very open to creating a specialized one for me.
I find that it's all in the approach - I come in with the expectation that they want me to have an enjoyable meal that won't send me to the emergency room, and that they will be friendly and open to the idea of making the best possible suggestions. Often it has turned out better than expected, with the chef suggesting a much better meal than what I had originally thought of, and with a lot of great "foodie" conversation with the staff.
What I will note, though, is that I tend to go to local restaurants (not chains) and that we make sure that we go when it's not overly busy for the first visit or two. Once we're sure that they have something that I can eat that isn't too difficult for them, then we'll drop in when it's busier, but we do realize that accommodating my needs takes extra time that they won't have when it's super busy.
9/8/13 11:49 A
I try to ask questions and order the way I wish to eat, without causing TOO much grief.
Fitness Minutes: (18,761)
1,243 9/8/13 9:18 A
I don't go too over the top with it I don't think, but veggies especially, I always ask for to be steamed w/o butter, and if I get a salad it is usually "no this, no that, etc" and dressing on the side.
Fitness Minutes: (41,531)
27,152 9/8/13 3:18 A
I have been on both ends - as a Tourist Cafe Cook (not fast food) and as a customer. I never took offense if a customer wanted sometime done THEIR way and expect them to do what I want MY way in return. I recently had a case where I had asked for an egg to be cooked with (fried) with the top NOT gelatinous, but the yolk soft. The plate came to me with the top of the yolk and some of the sides looking like it had just been cracked from the shell. I sent it back and asked for the top to be cooked. It came back not much better. I sent it back a second time, and told them it turned my stomach to see it like that, could they please make sure that all the white was set. When it came back to me the third time, it was a bit better, but not totally better. I just explained to her that I wasn't being difficult, but some people genuinely can't stomach some things done certain ways, and I am one of those with eggs. I got a really funny look, but you know what???? I didn't give too hoots - I was the one paying the bill, so I was the one calling the shots!
Fitness Minutes: (24,670)
2,738 9/8/13 1:15 A
I will usually ask how a dish is prepared. I'd hate to order green beans thinking I'll be getting something fresh but end up with something obviously out of a can swimming in butter and/or bacon. I ask for salad dressings and all sauces to be served on the side, because I always feel there's too much on the plate. I'm not super obnoxious about it...I don't think... :)
9/7/13 9:25 P
I don't typically ask for dishes to be made in any particularly-special way, but I do ask for substitutions for my side dishes. Salad (dressing on side) instead of fries; sliced tomatoes or fruit cup instead of hash browns; double-serving of greek salad, hold the rice and potato. I have also been known to ask that the "complimentary chips and salsa or bread basket" NOT be brought to the table.
I try to go to restaurants where there are "reasonable choices" right there on the menu for me to pick from.
And I'm getting used to asking to share an entree with my dining partner. I feel a bit odd about it, ordering ONE dinner and an extra plate? But when even the "sensible" entrees top 1000 calories at most places, really all you need is half.....
9/7/13 8:52 P
The most I've ever asked for is dressing on the side.
I've gone out with lots of slim people. They never order special or ask to tweak the menu.
I agree as long as your nice about its fine, please and thank you go a long way
Edited by: MANDIETERRIER1 at: 9/7/2013 (21:20)
Fitness Minutes: (15,905)
9,717 9/7/13 8:48 P
Always. I used to be a waitress; and as long as the customer isn't an ass about it, I never had any problems with special orders. Seriously, it never occurred to me to be annoyed about it, because well, it was my job.
As long as you are polite, respectful, and friendly (As you should be ANY time you're dealing with customer service staff, because respect is the default, not the exception) then there's no reason you should feel bad for anyone. They WANT you to be happy, because happy customers = return customers (and for waitresses, better tippers.)
In my experience, the happy persnickety customers were the best tippers, because they knew it was a pain... so they tipped accordingly. I like them.
I just read an interesting article on habits of slim people over on Health Magazine (http://news.health.com/2013/09/05/5-secre t-habits-of-slim-people-you-can-do-too/). It was actually interesting and one of the items was to "order unapologetically". This is one of the things that I've been trying to do more of because I'm on optifast. I have my meal replacements, but I can still eat several servings of vegetables and fruit. This way I can still go out with my husband and find something on the menu that I can tweak until it works. I would have never done it before. I remember cringing when my sister would do it because I always felt bad for the wait staff. What about you guys? Do you order it your way when you go out?