Culinary Pet Peeves: 5 Things We Hate About Local Restaurants

Eating at a restaurant should ideally be a pleasure and a leisure pursuit, but little needling things sometimes get in the way, whether a service, management, or menu quirk. And if our huge palette of local restaurants have anything in common, it's quirkiness.

What are your pet peeves about local restaurants? We look forward to reading about them in the comments. Ours may seem insignificant, but they can really drive someone crazy after more than a few repetitions.

See Also:
- Best Practices for Being Authentically Slow Food

Behold the top five quirks that irk us about restaurants in San Francisco:

1. Introduction overload: "Welcome to [insert SF restaurant here]," says your server. "Have you been here before?" If you say no, the spiel you're given usually isn't particularly enlightening, and if you say yes, you feel kind of like a jerque because you're depriving them of the spiel. This is an awkward exchange with which to begin any meal.

2. Hand to hand combat: Servers introduce themselves by name and stick out their hand to shake. We're not the biggest germaphobes on the planet but, well, we're not the smallest germaphobes on the planet.

3. Locavore O.D.: We all want to know what's in our food, but over-labeling menus with every single purveyor isn't totally necessary. We've even seen Hetch-Hetchy water shouted out on a menu, for heaven's sake.

4. Meatopia: It's hard to believe that, BBQ-excepting, there are still so many menus that short-change vegetarian eaters and give them no options or a really b.s. one. With so much produce at a chef's fingertips here, this makes no sense at all.

5. Surcharging it up: The Healthy SF surcharge on a bill communicates one thing: You're too cheap to get your employees real live health insurance, and you're also too cheap to get your employees real live health insurance that only covers them in the city. Either way, it's shameful.

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Pretty true.  There must be even more to list...


Okay, I don't usually respond to the sometimes idiotic articles posted here, but this one is just so incredibly way off course.  So, allow me to correct your statements with actual truths.


1) Perhaps you don't work at any restaurants, but failure to explain how a particular place operates can result in food being sent back or unhappy customers.  Not everyone is an educated eater, and a servers job is to explain and facilitate.  There are of course bad servers, but just because some people do something badly isn't a reason not to do it.


2) I have never, ever, been greeted with a handshake at a restaurant, and I've been everywhere and anywhere in between.  If someone extends their hand, just politely decline or go wash your hands like you may have been planning to do before eating anyway. There are many other sanitary habits that somehow exist in the restaurant world (that I deplore) such as bartenders and servers keeping the towels they wipe the counter with in their back pants pocket.


3) Celebrating our local farms a bit too much on a menu is hardly a sin.  What really counts is the food, and some chefs are better at writing menus than others.  Personally, I very much enjoy reading where my meal comes from, especially since I know and work with many of those people.  If I know the quality of the ground beef, it affects what temperature I'll order it as.  If I know the fishing vessel that caught my fish, I have a very good idea of the quality of the fish.  


4) What city in your mind is better to live in as a vegetarian than San Francisco?  There are tons of restaurants that celebrate vegetables here, and many of them contain meat or fish.  A great chef doesn't design menus to accommodate folks who significantly restrict their diet, they design it to celebrate all of the local ingredients and offer a wide variety within their respective cuisine.  There are also great vegetarian restaurants here that specifically cater to that restriction.  Try eating food in Italy or France as a vegetarian, it's extremely difficult.  If you're gluten free on top of that, you're pretty screwed.  


5) Perhaps some large restaurants or catering companies can actually afford to pay for health insurance (and if they can, they did prior to this surcharge), but if you've ever actually run a food business, you'd perhaps know that the margins are extremely tight, and a single incident such as an unexpected closure for a few nights can put the business in the red.  The costs to break even each month are absolutely insane for most new restaurants, especially in San Francisco.  In case you've forgotten, going out to eat is a luxury, and luxury costs extra.  The San Francisco area has some of the best food in the world, so if you choose wisely, you get what you pay for.  Maybe just consider it "giving the restaurant staff benefits" since they work extremely hard and live paycheck to paycheck.  


Stop complaining and just be grateful that you can afford to go out and eat here.

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