Cafe Reviews

Order Patrol

Delivery dining has its own code of ordering etiquette. Here are some of the experts' insights:

If at all possible, anticipate your desire for a delivered meal. Call up the restaurant as early as possible, place your order and set up a delivery time. You'll be doing both yourself and the restaurant a favor by taking a lot of the ticking-clock urgency out of the experience. This is a particularly good policy during the monsoon season, as restaurants are invariably swamped with delivery orders when it rains.

The key to a complaint-free experience is making sure that the order-taker hears exactly what you think you've said. Have the order read back to you and pay attention. Make sure the address is correct. Sound familiar? Sounds good.

Ascertain on the phone what the total price of the order will be. You're doing this for your peace of mind and protection. Also, if you plan to pay with anything except cash, make sure you get the restaurant's policy on this. Many a valuable coin collection has been depreciated for the sake of a late-night snack.

Gratuities are absolutely appropriate for this kind of service, although it's probably more feasible to base the amount on distance from the restaurant than check total. What would it have cost you to get into a cab and go pick this stuff up yourself? You can lie when you answer this question, but don't be too cheap.

If there's any problem with your order, try to call the restaurant right away. If they've got any class at all, they'll try to speedily rectify the problem or, at the very least, assure you a credit the next time around. If you wait for two days to report that part of your order is missing, they'll simply assume that your dog has eaten your homework and your dinner.

Occasionally, go out and get some fresh air. Some of your favorite delivery services have actually hit upon the novel notion of creating a dining environment near their own production kitchens. These places are called restaurants and, while they may not catch on, there is a kind of social and aesthetic appeal to food that's presented on china rather than in cardboard and polyurethane.

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Steven Weiss

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