Proper Etiquette for Disappointing Dining Experiences (and Other Horror Stories)

Last week was incredibly difficult for many reasons, but one common theme of each day was how bad the outcome of every single meal I had was. If you pay for something and you don’t like it, what do you do? Six-year old me had one solution: cry. Every time I went to McDonald’s and they forgot to take the fucking pickles and onions off their nasty little cheeseburgers, I cried because I was too scared to go back up to the register and tell them that I had asked for it plain because I didn’t want them to feel bad or awkward and I was just sad they didn’t listen to me in the first place. Sixteen-year old me, aka the vegetarian years, ran into a new set of problems. I cannot explain how many times I had ordered vegetable based dishes that were made incorrectly, and sometimes I’d be angry and other times I’d just feel helpless, like I had clearly specified and no one was listening to me, again. Twenty-three year old me is a little different, because now I’m at the point where I am spending my own money on meals and if I am shelling out the bucks for it, it better not make me miserable during and after the experience. I like going to different restaurants but am definitely a frequent fast-foodie, so I can handle almost anything. ALMOST.

My friends planned a group dinner at chain establishment Outback Steakhouse last Thursday, which on paper sounds absurd but honestly, are you really trying to bring ten people to Peter Luger’s and get wasted at the same time? C’mon. I was very excited to finally see everyone all at the same time, and we even titled the event “Baby Got Outback”, but mostly I was excited because I got to drink giant beers for $5 and watch some people be on their phones.

photo 3


The future of the night looked bright, as I thought I had the upper hand on my friends ordering cocktails that weren’t made to their liking. “I AM QUEEN OF THE BUDWEISERS!” I thought to myself. There were happy hour snacks for $4. We were getting progressively louder as the rest of the group arrived, and didn’t have to worry about getting kicked out. Everything seemed so promising. Even the coasters were inspirational.

photo 4



“No Rules, Just Right.” The validation from a line of copy that I probably wrote in college and some d-bag got paid for was real and effective. The main premise of excitement was how badly everyone wanted to try the “Bloomin’ Onion.” Expectation: a crispy, peel-away treat for all to be shared. Reality: crispy oil sponge. Fuck that. I should have taken a photo of it but instead I was chugging down another Big Bloke, which is what they called the big mugs of Bud. Sexist? Well, you can’t exactly call a drink a Big Bitch at a family establishment, so we’ll let this one slide. But I can say with confidence that I ingested more Big Blokes than the other blokes at the table, so there.

So, chain restaurants. You spend more money than you’d like on a portion that is usually more than you would ever desire to eat. But you usually have an expectation that isn’t ever too far from the mark, so even non-tourists in urban areas may have found themselves in one at some time or another, ironically or not. My roommate and I decide to both order the Filet Mignon & Lobster Tail special, because it costs 7 more dollars than the regular meal and we’re already going to be bitter about the money so, as a wise Canadian once said, YOLO. After the food arrives and I eat about half the plate, I feel sick. Now, there are several factors that should be considered:

A). I ate a stupid oily fried onion.

B). I drank a decently large volume of beer.

C). I ordered seafood at a chain restaurant.

D). I took antibiotics at some point earlier, which I don’t really know if that matters if this was a scientific experiment, you bet it would count.

Five minutes later, while everyone still has like, 20% of their meal left, I am in the bathroom shaking and saying goodbye to the dinner I haven’t even paid for yet. I come back to the table and my friend asks me if I have sent the lobster back to the ocean. Oh, yes. Yes I have. Now that the entire contents of my stomach are gone, reality sinks in and we get the bill. So, now I have to pay for a meal that stayed in my body for about 10 minutes before I involuntarily rejected ALL OF IT. Can I say it made me want to die?  How much can you call the restaurant responsible for, and how much is your own damn fault? Shortly after, another one of my roommates gets sick too, and she barely drank at all, so I come to the conclusion that we both have more sensitive stomachs than everyone else and that I should have been more cautious about ordering things that were more than a plate of hot garbage. I start getting really anxious, and then think about how our waiter was super nice and dealt with a group of loud 20-somethings and dejectedly put my credit card down. Here is a guide so you don’t hate your life every time you go out to dinner.


  • Don’t cry like six-year old me. Mistakes happen, restaurants are usually more than happy to fix your plate. If they don’t, then they will fear you revenge-Yelping or decreasing tips. But don’t be a shithead and eat half of it before you decide it’s not what you want.
  • If you have a food allergy or sensitivity, dietary lifestyle, etc. ask for more info beforehand or be super specific. Also, some wait staff will be completely bullshitting, so if it’s serious, drive that point home or make them go talk to the chefs.
  • If you get food poisoning, you should notify the establishment, just so they can remind their people about food safety, you could be helping someone else. And maybe they’ll feel bad for you and send some free stuff your way.
  • If you just made dumb order choices and none of the above apply, suck it up and deal with it. Better luck next time.
  • Have to throw up? GO. Immediately. Some people think it’s rude, but it’s more rude to hold it in and then projectile your mistakes at the table or on the way out.
  • Choose wisely between drinks and food: one has to be your main bitch and the other is your side piece. Any snack is awesome when you’ve had a few drinks and usually cheaper and a well-paired drink should compliment a meal rather than be in a marathon race with it.
Proper Etiquette for Disappointing Dining Experiences (and Other Horror Stories)

One thought on “Proper Etiquette for Disappointing Dining Experiences (and Other Horror Stories)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s