Dear Mary Pat,
I’m very grateful for the restaurant choices we have in the area. In general, the food is well thought out, ingredients are often locally sourced, and there seems to be a lot of pride and care that goes into the dining experience. What I love most is that people here have made careers in the business, something that every country in the world except the US promotes.
What I’m finding though is that instead of holding to the worldly standards of serving etiquette, we may be catering too much to the uneducated diner.
It appears that most restaurants these days will whisk an empty plate away the minute someone has finished eating. Never mind that others at the table may only be midway through their meal. And to up the ante on this curious serving technique, two times in the last week, a plate at our table was whisked away before the diner had finished eating, as all the other plates had since been cleared.
Is this an attempt to shoo customers out the door? Is there a shortage of plates? Or am I a place setting short?
Over-Served in the Peninsula
Dear Over-Served in the Peninsula,
This is poor etiquette, bad form and certainly will not inspire a big tip. A server should not clear a plate until everyone at the table is done eating. Whether they have a compulsion for tidiness or are trying to keep ahead of their work, it does make the diners feel rushed. It sends a not so subtle message of “move it along so I can seat another group.” This certainly isn’t good in a casual restaurant where the help might be a little more inexperienced perhaps or the atmosphere is more relaxed, however, in fine dining restaurants this really isn’t acceptable. There is a different standard to be upheld for an upscale restaurant. With fine food comes fine manners, which applies to the customers too. It sounds like some restaurant owners need to dust off the rule books and retrain their staff.