We've been lucky enough to eat in a lot of wonderful restaurants lately. There’s a not terribly conclusive recent study about what bothers restaurant-goers the most. The number one problem seems to be waiting for the check. Now before you disagree, you have to know that this was a study from Norway and perhaps Norwegians have better things to do than sit around waiting for a check. Dirty menus also bothered them. I'm thinking that that must come out of a certain hygenic Viking sensibility.
A survey given to New Yorkers, albeit with a TINY SAMPLING, showed different results. New Yorkers by in large don’t want the check brought until asked for. That’s certainly the way they do it in gracious Europe, so it's not a surprise that such a mannered place as NY would feel the same way. Hah!!! Just checking to see if you're paying attention.
Probably the reason that New Yorkers (and I was born and bred one) don't want the check brought early is because they want to get their money's worth out of their exhorbitantly priced restaurants. They're not giving up their real estate at that table until forced to.
The Norwegian study also found that, even if the meal had been totally satisfactory, a negative check situation colored the entire experience. I can’t decide if I agree with that or not. Would a perfectly fine dining experience be nullified by having to wait too long for the check? I guess it would affect my opinion of the waitstaff, but not the chef. By that time, it’s out of the chef’s hands and it’s all on the wait-person.
Having said that, to me…now…the most important element in restaurant dining is service. It even overrides the food. I’ve said that before, that I would rather have a so-so meal, served in warm and amiable surroundings than fabulous food served belligerently.
Of course, normally, it’s not that black and white. It’s usually somewhat unprofessional service and uneven food, but, still, a pleasant manner can go a long way toward making up for culinary deficiencies.
The Norwegian study also drew some other, fairly obvious, conclusions. The comfort of the chairs is important. Plus "Encounters between the members of the staff and the guest also influence our experience." Ummm...duh... That's kind of the point of eating in a restaurant, instead of our own dirty kitchens filled with disagreeble family members.
If these folks in Norway want to save some money, I'd be happy to tell them some other obvious facts about restaurant-going. (Got any you'd like to share?):
Good food is better than bad.
A cheaper check is always preferred.
Give us anything free, anything at all.
Don't be snotty.
And DON'T BEGIN CLEARING PLATES UNTIL EVERYONE AT THE TABLE IS FINISHED EATING.