Two friends told me recently about hugely disappointing experiences at restaurants any foodie would have looked forward to for weeks. The first case was a couple we know from Austin who were in town over Valentine's weekend. As former Chicagoans (and one once a sous chef), they couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate than at Charlie Trotter's, so they booked for the first seating that Saturday night. Their verdict? Cold food courses that shouldn't have been and terrible service. The second case was my friend Don, the owner of Just Grapes wine store, who dined at The French Laundry a few days ago with his wife. They were surprised to find it so lacking that they actually spoke to the general manager after the meal.
Most Americans have much bigger problems at the moment, but it is an enormous letdown when you've earmarked the cash - and in both of these cases, booked the flights - to make a pilgrimage to a sacred temple of gastronomy for naught. Terrible service and dumb food mistakes just shouldn't happen in some places, and if they do, they should be addressed by the management immediately...not in a lukewarm apology on the way out.
Naturally, no diner should passively sit back and watch the suckitude continue. As a waiter, I always appreciated the guests who swiftly, quietly, and respectfully told me exactly what it was that had just ticked them off so that I could correct or make up for it on the spot. You can't imagine the things I'd produce for these kind people, with the blessing of my manager.
As for the distasteful jerks, chronic complainers, and people who claim to have received 2+ bottles of corked wine? They are haters who deserve whatever circle of dining hell they land in.