Bill Of Wrongs

by Matt on November 7, 2007


I was reading an article by Leslie Brenner in the Los Angeles Times about a Diners’ Bill Of Rights. It really got me thinking about service, especially when dining in this flashy, celebrity-obsessed town of mine. The writer proposes a bill of rights just in case you happen to be frustrated with service and through a culinary uprising she’s gonna get it. And for the most part I’d agree with it.

If I ever happened to eat at those places.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I rarely get bad service. And I mean rarely. Seriously. I can count the restaurant disasters and mishaps on one hand. It may have to do with the fact that many of my dinner companions are in the food trade, but more oftentimes than not it’s just me and my man Adam. Sometimes someone will recognize me from this blog but generally it’s smooth sailing when we dine out. And it brings me back to my point of service. My secret? Be a decent customer, appreciative of the experience, and expect to get what you give.

I have a friend who is filled with a million and one horror stories about restaurants. Can’t go there because they shorted him bread. Nope, forget that place because his server didn’t refill his glass with water. And you can forget even thinking about that other place because he heard from a friend of a friend how they so badly messed up his order. He can go on with tons of terrible stories, and ironically they are the very same places I enjoy.

So what’s my secret? In a word: manners. And for that I thank my father. I don’t scream, I don’t raise my voice, I don’t confront or yell at others. If there’s an issue I’ll politely address it and most of the time get resolution that satisfies me. And I’ll smile. And if you have that "but I just spent $220 of my hard-earned income on dinner for my wife/husband/girlfriend/secretlover and I expect it to be perfect" attitude, well, I just don’t know what to tell you. You’re the same kind of person who’s hardwired for disappointment and I’m pretty sure you’ll find it no matter where you go.

Last week we had brunch at Neal Fraser’s BLD on Beverly Boulevard. Cute space, lots of energy, very crowded. While my food was great, Adam’s Cuban sandwich was beyond ruined, thanks to some overzealous toasting that was disguised on the inside of the sandwich. We both love a good piece of toast, but this piece of bread was burnt past the point of flavor. It rendered his sandwich inedible, save for the layers of delicious meat inside. Did I make a fuss about it? Did I run home and snarkfully blog about it? Nope. The problem was fixed and comped by a gracious staff who knew how to correct the situation. Had that been my friend you’d be reading about World War V right about now.

Restaurants have good days and bad days. People aren’t perfect. Mistakes will be made. But I’ve always found that there’s usually one person who can fix it — and it only takes one person to make it right. Do I think we need a Diners Bill of Rights?

Absolutely not.

Thanks, I’m finished ranting.

P.S.  To the person who left a comment on the LA Times about wanting to add a no-screaming-children clause to that list: what planet are you on? Kids are kids, screaming or not. If you don’t want to encounter them doing what they do you might consider staying home. Just my two cents.