I would like to share with you my theories on restaurant silliness – those practices which are designed to leave the diner less than impressed, and usually attributable to matters not directly connected with food.

I know it’s very common, and more often than not insisted upon by rule-wielding managers, but what really gets up my left nostril is the habit of eager young server bounding up to you after you’ve taken your second mouthful – I am correct in this, I’ve asked – to enquire if everything is all right. First, I’ve only had a bite and a half – the half still being chewed, thus disallowing me the power or indeed the freedom of speech; and secondly, I’ve only had a bite and a half so the flavors of said food haven’t really had a chance to tiptoe across my taste buds with gay abandon, so I’m unable to respond one way or the other. So irritating is this habit that I often offer the server a tip before an order has been placed, saying there’s a fiver in it for them if they’ll leave us alone.

I’m not at all sure where America got the idea that providing enough food to comfortably feed four on one plate was the latest and greatest in a dining experience. I’m sure most of us were raised generally with the idea that if you didn’t finish what was on your plate you would be denied dessert; or sent to your room; or you were made to parcel it up and mail it to some unfortunate Ethiopian. That early childhood discipline sticks with you, let me tell you, and so now we are forced to either finish the food; take it home, or suffer the traumatic experience of disobeying your long dead parents. So restaurants, please save us from a lifetime of therapy and cut your serving sizes dramatically. We will be a happier, and no doubt slimmer, nation.

I think the absolute silliest thing I’ve ever come across happened this week. Sir and I are pottering up to Council Bluffs, Iowa, for a bridge tournament in August, crossing the Nishnabotna River on the way – I will never ever forget that name – and I wanted to revisit a particularly good steakhouse at one of the casinos up there.

Finding their website, I called the local Iowa number besides the wording “if you’re calling between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.,” safe in the knowledge that 8 p.m. fell well within the range. I was rather taken aback, upon speaking to a living breathing human, that I would need to call the casino’s restaurant hotline number at 1-855-etcetera, etcetera.

Gobsmacked I therefore was to find myself making a rather fractured reservation with a gal who was I would say conservatively 8,000 miles away.

Couldn’t the gal at the restaurant itself have achieved greatness by just entering my request in the good old reservation book?

Evidently not – we’re globalized, it seems.


-- Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at anniedearkc@hotmail.com .