Elizabeth in Ellicott City wrote me yesterday with this question: When a dish isn't spoiled, oversalted or not fixed the way you ordered it, but you still can't eat it, what to do? As she says, you can't expect the restaurant to absorb the loss. here's her e-mail: ...
I was wondering if any other of your blog readers have run into this ... My husband is a very picky eater and occasionally finds the dishes he orders inedible -- not because they were prepared improperly, but often because he doesn't like the flavor. For instance, we recently ate at the new Diamondback Tavern in Ellicott City. He tried a sandwich that is essentially a Thanksgiving leftovers dish -- a sub with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc. The cranberry sauce was so sour, he couldn't enjoy the sandwich. He tried his best to scrape it off and salvage the meal. It is unfortunate to pay for a dish you didn't enjoy and go home still hungry, but it also seems unreasonable to expect the restaurant comp the dish. What do you readers do in this situation?
Elizabeth in Ellicott City
I, too, am a picky eater. (Duh.) And I know I can be a pain in the neck when I'm not reviewing. I try not to leave anything to chance so I'm not in the situation described above -- although worrying about sour cranberry sauce wouldn't have occurred to me.
The fact of the matter is, though, that good servers will notice if you aren't eating something, and will offer to bring you something else. Good restaurants won't charge you for the uneaten food. They figure generosity will pay off in the long run.
If that doesn't happen, though, I'd still order something else. Going home still hungry wouldn't be an option for me.