If you have an issue with your food, then bring it to the attention of your waiter as soon as you possibly can. The countless times I have checked back on tables a few minutes after they have started to be told everything is tickety-boo only for them to complain at the end over empty plates would make your head actually spin. I CAN'T DO ANYTHING WHEN YOUR PLATE IS EMPTY!
3. Be clear
Clearly state the nature of your upset - the upset with your food that is, I care not for your religious, personal and/or political gripes. Just shrugging your shoulders and saying, "Didn't like ... not nice" like a huffy teenager will seriously get you nowhere. If I'm going to the kitchen with your plate of food to face thy mortal nemesis in ill-fitting whites, I'm doing it armed with the facts not with shrugged shoulders and the word "meh." You gotta help me to help you.
4. Trust me
Trust the waiter to do his job. If he says he's gonna fix it for you, then let him do so. A good waiter will rectify the food issue and make changes on your bill accordingly. Telling him you want this free and that free and wine for everyone is just gonna get his back up. Like I said, you want the waiter on your side; he's the one that is going to go to the chef and the manager and make everything lovely again.
5. Follow up
But hey, if you still don't get satisfaction on the night then you need to take it further. You can of course e-mail the restaurant with your complaint but if you are going to do that then don't do it from your smartphone on the drive home. Best leave it a few hours and do it calmly. Spelling mistakes caused by anger or shonky driving will adversely affect your complaint, seriously. But nothing, and I mean nothing, works like a handwritten letter to the manager. It makes them tremble. If you really want to get your point across and instill fear and upset into the restaurant then handwrite them a letter. Woo-hoo, things get done on the back of a hand-written letter.
We want you to leave happy. And in the long run, it is cheaper to take something off the bill or give you a free bottle of wine than have you leave all bitter and grumbling under your breath. In 'round-about terms, the manager or waiter should ask you what they can do to make you happy and act accordingly within reason. Touching the bum of the 19-year-old waitress or 40-year-old waiter isn't an option.
Most food-related complaints can be dealt with straight away by the waiter: wrong sauce, not hot enough, wrong side order, etc. These problems are solved with a quick dash to the kitchen. If the complaint is related to the waiter, my advice is to go straight to the manager. Bypass all other staff and go straight to the guy in the fancy tie. If you ask the waiter to get the manager, chances are they will know what you are up to and that's when the misinformation will start. I have never done that, oh no, not me.
Waiters want a smooth shift, we want our customers to be happy, and we want them to return. More customers means more cash for Manuel.
Chefs share those goals too. We don't want it to happen, we don't want you to be upset, we don't want to have to stand there in the middle of the restaurant and get a dressing down from an irate customer. You should bear that in mind before you let loose with the hairdryer rant.
But from time to time, things get screwed. Fact. How we unscrew them is quite often up to you.
See more of Manuel's musings at welldonefillet.com