When a diner requests a dish prepared a certain way or asks if a dish is Vegan or Gluten-free, the server needs to be in the know or at the ready to get the answer. When a diner inquires about the spiciness of a dish, is it sufficient to say, “I don’t find it spicy.” What does a diner know about a server’s palate? Nothing. Silly answer. Instead should the server do a better job of explaining the intensity of a dish? I think so.
When a diner asks if a piquillo pepper is hot, and the server says “nope.” (That’s true, the piquillo adds a sense of sweetness.) Should the server explain that the heat in the dish comes from chili paprika or just answer the initial question? If a guest asks about spiciness, then the guest either prefers food spicy or wants little heat. It is the server’s responsibility to do a follow-up as in clarifying that the dish itself is spicy. “If you do not like food that spicy, we can prepare the dish without the hot or if you like your meat spiced up, you’ll be quite happy.”
In the particular dish, the spice was overwhelming. Every part of the plate, including the roasted potatoes, was seeped in heavy-handed paprika chiles. No discernible flavor. Just spice.
Who is at fault? Let’s start at the beginning with management. Is there anything more important than service or training, especially when entrees are in the mid 20′s? I firmly believe that training and information are essential components of any sit-down restaurant meal, at any and every price point. After all restaurants depend on diner dollars and diners go out with an expectation of value and pleasure. No one benefits from sloppy or non-existent training.
Diners have certainly become more savvy over the years and have a better understanding of what they are looking for in a meal. A diner does not eat out to take a bite out of a dish, be hit with high intensity heat, and then discover that the dish is cold. Fixing it after the fact is hardly the solution. Solve the problem in the kitchen. In this example we are talking about two levels of heat: Both critical to the success of dinner.
Half answers are reminiscent of the classic “Pink Panther” scene, does your dog bite. To refresh your memory, here is a You Tube clip.
Dining out should be an enjoyable experience. Sure we all eat out sometimes out of necessity, as in “I’m too tired to cook. Let’s grab a bite.” Yet when you make a reservation and have an image in mind, the establishment needs to come close. Losing business helps no one.
Tell the whole story.