This Is Why I'm Hot

I dine out quite frequently: 70% to cure my hunger, 20% to be entertained, 10% to be used as a social remedy to my loneliness. Friends are few and far between when it comes to wanting to dine with me because I am so critical. Why? Well, I seem to get the short end of the skewer when it comes to food quality and service.

When I’m paying for a service, I expect the service to fall in line with the atmosphere. If I'm in a casual dining establishment, I expect perfunctory, yet casual service. If I'm in a bar, I expect no service. It's all part of the game, you see.

I understand that waitstaff works for tips, but that is over and beyond what the place is already paying them. A tip or gratuity should only be offered up for excellence over and beyond the call of duty. Just because you set my plate before me does not entitle you to a percentage of my bill.

Don’t be afraid that someone will use your corn chowder bowl as a spittoon.

Tell John from Illinois (because you know it's on his name tag) that your steak is overcooked.

Tell Julie from Texas that your soup is cold.

You didn't order an goat cheese and tomato omelet. You wanted a goat cheese and sun-dried tomato omelet. Get it right, bitches. For real.

The dish was not what you were expecting? Tell them how you want it. I used to work in the service industry: back of the house and front of the house. I have always said: If I received 1/10th of the level of service I received, I wouldn’t be such a critical diner in the 1st place.

True Story:

I went to a deli last week with my mom and we were having a great time. We were al fresco on the patio, the breeze was blowing, the sun was shining. Our sandwich bread had the perfect crumb, our chips were fresh and crisp out of their bags, our tea was tooth-rottingly sweet. Our laughter and lilting voices carried throughout the atrium. Nothng could go wrong...

I decided to indulge in dessert, a chocolate spoon cake with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. When it arrived, the scoop clearly had ice crystals formed on the top and sides of it. I went inside to get a new scoop. I wasn’t going to wait an additional five minutes for a waitstaff to come find me to ask if my food was OK. When my cake returned to the table, it same the same sorry-assed freezer-burned scoop on top only this time it was melted. I lifted up the scoop in disgust and found the center to be nothing but ice crystals. I told the young man who brought out the cake to get me a new piece of cake, new ice cream, and if it wasn’t correct the third time I’d want my money back. I knew it wasn't his fault. He didn't make the cake. He was the guy who rang us up at the register. My qualm was not with him. It was with the faceless character in the back who thought it was funny to make a mess of my dessert.

Of course, a manager showed up this time. I explained to her my disdain and she said she’d make the cake herself. Managers lubing up in the elbow grease seems to make everyone happy. Even me. She brought back my cake and I took this opportunity to use the Ace Card. Not Race Card. Ace Card. I promptly gave her my business card with the prominent words: writer/chef on top, complete with my website and email. Essentially (I'm paraphrasing here) I let her know that I dine out frequently and this particular establishment was one of my favorites, I'd be back again, but to watch it next time. Who knows if she took me seriously? All I know is: don’t take no for an answer. Would you pay full price for a brand-new dress that clearly has a huge rip in it? And then when you told someone about it they put a piece of tape on it and told you where to go and how to get there? No, you wouldn’t.

Food service should be held to the same standards.

Crappy-assed omelet. The cook should have stayed home.

It tasted just like it looks. And it was cold.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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