Take it back!

I was reading a post on Ivy’s blog, Ivy’s Search for the Best Burger in Lebanon, where she talks about her recent experience at Cello..  In it, she writes..

“This item sounded fabulous on the menu but turned out to be quite the disappointment. The bread was stale and the cheese tasteless. Over-Priced at 16.990 LL and the waiter didn’t even care to know why we left half of it uneaten.”

But my question is, why didn’t she let him know?  Why is everyone here embarrassed to tell waiters to take back an item if it isn’t good!?

Reading this reminded me of how my friends make fun of me for sending items back to the kitchen when I am dissatisfied..

Usually the scene goes something like this:

Me: “Umm, does yours taste any good?  This tastes really bad!  Guess I’m going to have to take it back..

SORRY! (That’s how you call waiters here for all of my people back home..yeah, really. No “Excuse me!” no “Pardon me!” not even “Waiter!” but one loud SORRY!..with more emphasis on the “orr”..so it comes out more like SOORIE!)

My Friend:  “What are you doing! Don’t say anything!  We don’t do that here!  I’ll take you somewhere else after!   No..please..really..don’t.  I know what, I’LL EAT IT..really!  Look, I’m eating it!  Just please, don’t say anything!”

To which I usually reply, “No! I’m saying something!  They have a right to know they are serving bad food..plus I’m spending good money to be here!!”

End of scene.

But really, why is it such a “no no” to be honest if you don’t like something?  Isn’t it in the restaurant’s best interest to know whether or not their patrons are happy?

You see, if Ivy had complained to the waiter, who would have then tried his best to satisfy her, she wouldn’t have had to write a post publicizing how horrible her experience was..and everyone would have been much happier!  Ivy would have had a good meal (provided that they could have made it better), and the restaurant wouldn’t have a tarnished reputation, which will likely result in lost business!

What do you think?



Filed under eating in Lebanon, life in Lebanon

24 responses to “Take it back!

  1. the reason why we dont send back things “on purpose” is because the next item that comes might have spit in it.. 😛

    usually the good restaurants (from experience) such as roadster’s, napoletana, colombiano, ask me why i left the thing untouched or half eaten, and then i tell them what’s wrong with it, and then i get dessert! works like charm, every time.

    • meinlebanon

      That might be the case, but I’ll take my chances..After all, they should be afraid of the rath of the Lebanese blogosphere! hahaha

  2. 100% true… we don’t complain about bad food, and the more the expensive the place is, the more we accept anything from it, no matter how bad it is.. good article, I like your style in writing 🙂

  3. Pefect, wish i can do the same, too shy i think, but will give a try next time, but not with a loud SORRY 🙂

  4. Just like Liliane, I feel afraid of sending back my item in fear of getting the second one with spit on it! So I just leave the plate, and never go there again.

    Ivy’s experience reminded me of what happened to me at El Molino Hamra, everything didn’t taste as I expected, and is just over-priced.
    In addition, they immediately serve a plate of tortilla to your table and charge you for it (2000 L.L / person) before they even give you the menu where they mention the tortilla price and tell you to inform your waiter beforehand if you don’t want it…!!
    I’ll soon write about it on +961, and next time I’m up to some Fajita I’ll just hit Schtroumpf Jounieh!

    • meinlebanon

      Man, you sure about Molino Hamra? I’ve been there like 5 times, and have never been disappointed, on the contrary, I’ve been really satisfied every time!

      Although I have to agree with you…they should have informed you about the tortilla..or once you found out, you should have told them to “take it back,” or that you didn’t appreciate the fact that you weren’t asked first..better yet, you should have told the manager so that he can inform his staff..

  5. Oh and by the way, have you ever seen “When Chefs Attack!” ?
    I bet you will never send back a plate the minute you see it! 😛

  6. I don’t send food back because it isn’t worth my time or effort. What are they going to do? Redo my dish again? That means I have to wait for it again while whoever is with me has to eat their dish alone. I will also have to listen to them apologizing or giving excuses and who wants to sit and listen to any of that? There is no advantage to complaining about the food you receive.

    I am there to pay money, eat and leave. I am not getting paid to give them tips on how to improve their food or what they should be doing differently. If they want my feedback they should pay me.

    If the food they serve sucks like for example I order a burger and it turns out to dry. That’s there loss not mine. I just won’t go back. That’s whats great about restaurants, you have choice.

    • meinlebanon

      You are there to pay money, eat, and leave..even if the food tastes bad? Umm..not sure if I agree..To me, if I’m planning on spending money to go eat somewhere, I want to make sure that it is going to be worth my while..which means that I want to make sure it’s good! And, I’m sure my company would want the same..

      And maybe you should consider “doing something” or “saying something” just for the sake of doing it. Personally, I like to see people succeed..if I can give them a little tip on how they can do something better, I will be sure to do it. 😉

      • I would do something or say something if its a restaurant I like or I know the owner but if its just a random restaurant then I really don’t care about them and I am really not interested in dishing out free advice. I might as well set up a website called freefoodconsultant.com

        I don’t like the food I just move on in my life and look forward to my next meal. That’s whats great about us humans, we have more than one meal in our lives 🙂

        You’re a copywriter right? If a restaurant called you up and said hey if I give you a free burger could you write our headlines for our next campaign would you say ok? No (or at least I hope not) because your time and expertise is worth more than a burger. So why give out free food advice? Why spend 5 minutes complaining and then another 15 minutes waiting for the food to come and this time with the added worry that the chef inside did something nasty to your food (don’t watch the movie Waiting… http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0348333/)?

        All that trouble just because the burger was dry or the pizza didn’t have as much cheese as you would have liked? My calculations tell me the cons outweigh the pros and I move on in a situation like that. There are bigger problems in Lebanon, gas is too expensive, dogs are getting abused, people are starving and here I am going to complain about my burger being too dry? I would feel too guilty if I did.

        Now on the other hand if I get food poisoned or I find a worm in my burger (both things which have happened to me recently) then not only will I make a problem I usually make sure not only will they here about it but every branch of that restaurant all over the world would hear about my issue. I don’t stay quiet when it’s a big issue.

  7. Simon

    Mate have u been able to find the perfect steak in lebanon?
    i holiday in lebanon every year, and every year i look for a nice juicy T-bone steak with mashroom or dianne sause!! yuuuummm but no1 does it!

    We need some decent steak houses in lebanon. would love it if anyone can point me to any.

    ps: i also get told off by my mates if i return the food coz i didn’t like it hehehe!
    they also tell me off for wearing board shorts and thongs ( http://www.souvenirsaustralia.com/category102_1.htm, i think u call them flip-flops in the US) instead of signature jeans and shoes

    • xyz

      personally i love love love the steak at centrale though it is fillet not tbone.

      also the argentinian resto on gemmayze st (i am spacing on the name right now) has amazing meat. mm, getting hungry now… 🙂

  8. meinlebanon

    Well, I wonder what they would say to me, when I go to restaurants sometimes straight from the gym?

    Steak house? Well, I’m not one for Steak to be honest..but I’ve heard amazing things about La Parilla and Al Mandaloun Grill!

    Every summer in Lebanon, huh? Must be nice..!

    • simon

      Haven’t missed a summer in 5 years 🙂 actually this will the first that I’m gonna miss coz my sis is gettin married there in winter. I only get 4 weeks leave a year, so guess will have to be happy to go in winter and see snow 🙂

      • xyz

        the argentinian place in gemmayze (maybe called la estancia? am i making that up?) is much better than la parilla!

  9. Taking back an item if it isn’t good is “Noss Mssibe” (Half Catastrophe 😛 ). People in Lebanon maybe a bit shy to tell a waiter to take a plate back, but what about asking for a doggy bag?
    I was one time having dinner with a Canadian friend, and after we finished dinner, and there was some food left , so she asked for a Doggy Bag!!! I was really embarrassed, and I shared a quick look with the waiter, which we both understood the meaning “She’s a foreigner, don’t blame her”

  10. I never hesitate to return bad food, much to the embarrassment of my friends, who give me the weird look for the rest of the evening when it happens… The thing is, if I wanted bad food I could’ve made it myself. I go to a restaurant to enjoy a meal prepared by a professional, and even if sometimes its a hassle to wait for the new food to get to you, from my experience the good restaurants (roadster, chili’s, …) make an effort to make sure you have a smile on your face by the time you’r ready to leave.

  11. Have u heard about the stuff they do in the kitchen?!

    Trust me, I’ve worked with pissed off waiters.

    If the dish is really bad, I’ll give them a piece of my mind and ask for them to take it back or to refund me. But I would NEVER accept a new plate! I don’t want spit in my food!

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  13. bob

    Apparently you havent been to hamra much.I used to have a summer job at a lounge there and we usually got a couple of orders sent back everyday even though they were perfectly fine.We had a nazi manager so every coffee/plate had to be perfect..

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