You work hard all week and look forward to eating out and having some time to unwind with a good meal and a glass or two. And then you are sat within inches of diners at the next table. A new survey by lastminute.com has found this annoys us the most when eating out. The survey asked diners to list their top three complaints when eating out.
Cramped conditions with tables crammed together topped the poll with 67%, while 66% complained of slow and inattentive service. Other complaints included being automatically charged for service and restaurants hiking up charges for 'special occasions' such as Mother's Day, Valentines Day. The 'oh no, we're not sitting there are we?' full list of gripes are as follows...
1. Tables too close together
2. Slow and poor service
3. Automatic charges for service, regardless of quality
4. Price hiking for special occasions
5. Food slow to arrive due to kitchen being busy
6. Being made to wait for the bill / check
7. Being asked to leave the table at a specific time
8. If the set menu is too restricted
9. Background music / decor.
All good and valid complaints I see, but perhaps the biggest has been massively overlooked. At the risk of upsetting a lot of people, here goes my singular complaint when eating out:- BADLY BEHAVED CHILDREN.
Ah yes, bless the little darlings for running around the restaurant, screeching and crying. Bless them for charging into other diners chairs and tables and banging into waiters/waitresses legs when trying to serve food. Bless them for ignoring their 26 toys brought for distraction and instead opting for continually banging metal cutlery or cups onto plates or tables. Bless them for coming up to your table and staring at you and your companion with an unblinking death-ray stare (even more cute when there's a stream of snot accompanying the stare). And how cute they are when they delve their pretty little clean fingers into the salad bar, chew on a cucumber, then spit it out over the grated carrot.
Ah yes, and bless the parents for allowing their children to run riot in restaurants. Bless you for your non-intervention and random deafness when little Rupert is banging crockery on the table. How insightful of you to share the wonder of your loud offspring with other paying customers. Of course we want to have our shoulders, backs of heads banged by your HUGE nappy/accessories bag as your swing round to locate your table. How inspired are you to sit your child in a highchair for approximately 39 seconds before lifting it out to run around or to sit your lap screaming whilst you manage 2 spoonfuls of food. And how I sit back in admiration at your child's creativity in ripping up colouring books, bread and food, and leaving a total mess in their wake for other people to tread into their shoes and carpets. Not to mention some poor waitress on the minimum wage having to clear up the crap afterwards.
Before I get accused of being a total child and parent hater, actually I'm not. I salute parents who encourage their children to try fine food in a convivial eaterie. I applaud parents who don't expect their children to be mute and sit completely still, but recognise and intervene when their children's behaviour might just be having an impact on other people's enjoyment and peace and quiet. And hats off to parents who take their kids out earlier so as to avoid eating out late in the evening when children are more susceptible to tiredness, grumpiness and bad behaviour.
Other gripes? Extortionate corkage charges? Plates not warmed up? Being sat near kitchen or toilets? I'll stop there shall I?