Post # 26 A Bad Bad Restaurant Experience

July 30, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Ever had one of those?  You go to a restaurant expecting, hoping to have a pleasant evening, a good time, and for whatever reason, it all goes south and you vow never to return to that restaurant ever again?  It doesn’t happen to me very often so when it does it sticks out in my memory.  Usually when I recall the experience, I wish I had done something more than I did at the time.  This is one of those times where I think I handled the situation well, but wish I had done more.

It was the time period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve one year.  A good friend had just returned from a trip to Florida and I picked him up from the airport.  It was later in the evening and I asked him if he wanted to stop for something to eat.  We stopped at a good restaurant near his house, part of a chain that we had been to before, though not this specific restaurant.

The place was humming, but not crowded.  There weren’t any tables available immediately so we opted to sit in the bar area and order food from there.  My friend ordered a pretty strong drink since he wasn’t driving, while I ordered a glass of wine.  I really like wine, but you may have heard that before in one of these posts.  We did the whole appetizer, entree, dessert thing at once since we knew the waiter would be a little rushed serving the bar by himself.  He brought us our water and bread right away.

Then some friends of my friend came by, and they proceeded to talk about mutual interests and work, effectively leaving me out of the conversation.  While they were talking, the waiter brought our drinks to us.  My friend’s drink was in a tumbler sized glass and full to the brim and looked really good.  He thanked the waiter and smiled at me in apology, then turned back to his friends.  I wasn’t perturbed or anything, and reached for my glass of wine.  I’d orderd a chardonnay, and the bartender had chosen to serve it in a huge balloon-style glass.  There was probably about 2 ounces of wine in the glass, and since I was paying top dollar for it, I hesitated.

“Excuse me.” I said to the waiter.  “Could you ask the bartender to put a little more wine in there?  It looks very skimpy.”

“It only looks that way because it’s in such a large glass, sir.” he explained.  “There’s really four ounces in there.”

I looked closely at it, trying to reconcile what he said to what my eyes were telling me. “No, there really isn’t.  Could you ask him or her to put a little more in?”

The waiter heaved a large sigh and grabbed the glass with attitude.  He started to turn away when I said, “Tell you what.  Never mind the wine.  Just bring me a glass of water.”

“That’s okay, sir.” he replied.  “I’ll have the bartender put more in.”

I shook my head.  “No, I’d really rather just have water if it’s too much trouble to bring me a fair amount of wine.  And since I’m driving, I probably shouldn’t be having any wine anyways.  The water will be fine.”

He slumped his shoulders just a bit and took the wine away and brought back a glass of water with a lemon wedge.  My friend finished his conversation and turned back to me.

“I’m sorry about that.  Where’s your wine?”

“No worries.” I said.  “I changed my mind.  Too little wine in too big a glass.”

He looked puzzled but didn’t press it.  A few minutes later, another man showed up at our table.

“I’m sorry to trouble you, sir.  I’m the bar manager.  Was there a problem with the wine?”  he seemd very concerned.

“No.” I replied.  “I believe I was short changed on the amount, and when I asked for a larger amount I got an argument and attitude.  Since I didn’t need to be drinking and driving, I changed my mind and went with water instead.”

“Well, sir, all our white wine glasses were being cleaned and rather than make you wait, we chose to use a larger glass.  You were given the correct amount, but it probably just looked like less to you in the larger glass.”

“No,” I replied.  “It looked like less because there was less in it.  But it doesn’t really matter since I’d rather have the water.”

“We’ll be happy to bring you the correct amount of wine, sir.”

“No, it’s not necessary.  The water is fine.  Thank you.”

He left, but didn’t look very happy.  My friend said I was being needlessly stubborn, but I just smiled and shrugged.

Very shortly, the bar manager showed up at our table carrying a glass similar to the one pictured here:

Same size, same style, different color.  This glass holds exactly 9 ounces of liquid.  It was filled to brim to the point where the only thing keeping it from flowing over the edge was water tension.   If I had actually attempted to drink from it, a good portion would have gone down the front of my shirt.  (Well, not really because I seldom allow any wine to be wasted like that.)   He set it on the table next to me without spilling a drop.

“Sir, we’d like you to have a complimentary glass of wine.” he said with a smirk.

I get angry very quickly and this was one of those times.  I was in the middle of a nice salmon dinner with a friend who had been gone for two weeks, and this guy was trying to make me feel like an ass simply for requesting what I felt was correct.

“No, thank you.” I said.  “I told you I didn’t want any wine tonight.”

He faltered for a second.  “But it’s on the house.”

I looked him right in the eyes letting him see the anger in mine.  “You are trying to insult me and I won’t allow it.  You will remove that glass of wine or not, but I won’t be drinking any of it.”

He managed to take the glass away without spilling any.  As I was paying for our dinners, I asked the waiter if there was a restaurant manager available.  A woman about my age showed up quickly and I explained what had happened.  It wasn’t the fact that I felt short changed by the original wine glass, but the behavior of the bar manager that had angered me.  I told her that the likelihood of my returning to the restaurant was small.  She wanted to comp our dinners but I said that wasn’t fair since we ate our fill.

I never did go back to that restaurant, although I did patronized the chain a couple more times.  I have no idea whatever happened to the guy, if anything.  Probably not, but who can say?  I really think bringing me that glass so full it was guaranteed to spill on me was over the top on his part.

So!  Anyone else have any tales they’d like to share?  Feel free!


  1. I am also a wuss when it comes to complaining. It has to be pretty bad. We went on a trip to Philly about 6 years ago or so and my family still talks about it because I told the waitress that my food was cold, stale, and basically inedible…..I don’t even remember what I ordered, but I do remember they gave me a coupon for a free dinner… if I’d EVER go back…..

    • I know why they do it, but I never really understood it. If I’ve had a bad experience, inviting me back for something free is not the best way to fix it. Fix it now, and I may consider it. As I said, I’m lucky because mostly I’m happy if I don’t have to cook it myself. But once in a while, I get things like this happening and I just have to speak up. Take care!

  2. I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to complaining at restaurants, but I’ve been to not have an experience as bad as yours. Plus, ever since seeing the movie “Waiting”, I’m REEAALLLYY hesitant to complain about an order. I don’t want my steak with an extra side of spit.

    • I don’t usually complain much either. Not because of “Waiting” (which doesn’t happen, btw, I’ve talked to buds who wait) but because I have a good idea what they’re going through. But this situation was so agregious I had to say something.

  3. We’ve had issue with a specific chain as well as a few places next to the house. Wrong orders, ridiculously looooong waits, checks that don’t match anything seemingly ordered in the entire restaurant, having them comment about me being out with my father (actually, husband…he’s only 2 years older than me) and many reasons we don’t go there anymore.

    • Makes you wonder how some places stay in business.

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