Restaurant Pet Peeves

The biggest restaurant pet peeves: From portion sizes to drink sins, it's enough to drive a diner batty

The biggest restaurant pet peeves: From portion sizes to drink sins

Veggie burger at Houston's restaurant in Dallas
Portion sizes are getting out of control in America. But restaurants are only responding to diners' demands. Photo by Marc Lee
Wasting water is a restaurant epidemic.
Veggie burger at Houston's restaurant in Dallas

I came upon this article by food writer Kevin “The Mighty Rib” Shalin about his Top 10 restaurant pet peeves.

I can’t say I’ve really had a problem with most on this list. Although No. 9, cold temps, is pretty much a given in Houston restaurants, which is why I also carry a shawl in my purse, but I'm betting Shalin doesn’t carry a purse.

Until recently the only annoyance I had at local restaurants was the water thing. I’ve seen gallons and gallons of water wasted as glasses sit full on restaurant tables. Glasses that will then have to be washed — using more water — even if they haven’t been touched.

 Far too many American restaurants serve huge portions. I am amazed at the amount of food some people can eat.  

And, no, we are not currently in a drought in Texas, but that doesn’t change the fact that as our population grows we are continuing to use more water than Mother Nature can replenish. This recent National Geographic article about how our aquifers are being drained should be a wake-up call.

Side Note: A lot of local restaurant folks participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge. I appreciate their support for those suffering from this disease but I hope they take note of NCIS star Brian Dietzen’s video. Because he lives in California, which is in a drought, he dumped the bucket over his head while standing in a garden. Saves on watering.

But back to restaurants. Look at all the restaurants opening inside the Loop. And look at the crazy high rises going up on every corner. Now look at Houston’s water supply and how we are dealing with dwindling resources. This is a recent op-ed in the Houston Chronicle by members of the Galveston Bay Foundation. It is scary.

So, yes, water conservation is a big deal and we need to take it seriously. So how hard would it be to train servers to ask if a customer wants water? And, by the way, if the server asks upfront if the customer would like bottled or tap water you may avoid wasting water while possibly padding the tab with some sparkling water.

And no, this is not a beef with servers like the wonderful waitress at Pappas Seafood House who, after being told we didn’t want water, sheepishly brought two glasses anyway with the wine and explained that the manager required them to serve water to any table ordering alcohol. OK, I get the rational of management doing that but those two glasses of water just sat there untouched. And probably got dumped in the sink after we left. I have yet to see a busboy take leftover water out to a patio or garden and water the plants.

The Restaurant Name Game

OK, serious problems aside, here’s another annoying yet minor thing that some eateries are doing now.

You do not need my name.

No, you really don’t.

If I do not have a reservation under some name that I need to tell you, then you do not need to type my name into your computer at the hostess stand. I’ve even been at one restaurant that wanted a contact phone number or email. Seriously? If I want to receive your status updates I will ask for them (just like I will ask for water).

And face it. Even if I give you my real name, which I probably won’t, and spell it out for you, you’re just going to mispronounce it anyway.

And, lastly, let us again look at portion sizes. Far too many American restaurants serve huge portions. I am amazed at the amount of food some people can eat, particularly at lunchtime when you know they are going back to work and not an afternoon siesta. If I am not sharing an entree or just ordering an appetizer, than I am taking a doggy bag home to eat for the next two days.

Sadly, this is not a problem I can really blame the restaurants for, they are only dishing out what the customers want and in America that seems to be a heck of a lot of food.

Dear restaurant diners: Please see pet peeve No. 1 about our dwindling water supply. When the water dries up how are we going to grow crops and raise livestock?

Just a thought.