Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Miss a question? Go here.
We've all been there: hungrily taking the first bite of our food at a restaurant when -- uh-oh -- something's not right.
How to get the food you're paying for back on the right track without pissing off your server, the kitchen, or all of the above? Here's what Valley chefs and restaurateurs recommend as the best course of action.
Joe Johnston, Owner, Joe's Real BBQ, Joe's Fresh Farm Grill, Liberty Market, Agritopia
Start out by politely explaining the problem and stating the desired outcome. If a dish is incorrectly prepared, it should be corrected promptly. If you don't like what you ordered, most good restaurants will substitute at no additional charge. What you should not do is sit there dissatisfied and then go Yelp about it. That is simply unfair. Give the restaurant the opportunity to make things right.
Dave Andrea, Owner of Brat Haus
Ask for a manager and ask for a specific resolution to the problem. Don't be a martyr and suffer silently and then go home and Yelp about it.
Romeo Taus, Chef and Owner, Romeo's Euro Cafe
Gently, very gently! Please, do not hold the kitchen responsible for your tasting palate. When a dish leaves the kitchen, it's cooked to the chef's specification. Cooks make mistakes! Overcooked and undercooked food will embarrass the kitchen and should be rectified right away. Tastes are very personal. One's medium is another's raw! One's salty is another's bland! Give them an opportunity to make it up to you.
Azucena Tovar Chef and owner, Los Sombreros
As soon as the guest has a problem, they should send it back to the kitchen -- right after the first few bites or even after a brief look or smell. The moment they decide they don't (or won't) like the food, they should immediately address the issue.
Bernie Kantak Chef and Partner, Citizen Public House
Send it back with the server along with an explanation. Whether it's an execution issue or you just don't care for it, most places want you to leave happy, and they'll usually bend over backwards to be sure of it.
Kirsten Burruel, General Manager DownUnder Wines and Bistro
The best way to send something back is to politely inform the server of your concern and ask that the chef either correct what you are unsatisfied with or offer their insight as to the preparation. Dining is an experience. Asking questions about the preparation of your dish or asking for an adjustment is not a bad thing. Mistakes do happen, and it's not unreasonable to ask for correction.
Shin Toyoda Sushi Master, Sushi Roku
I recommend guests ask the server or manager about the recipe, to figure out if it was the ingredients they didn't like or the execution of the dish. I believe if you didn't eat it, you shouldn't have to pay for it. I encourage guests to try new things. Most things they will like, and every once in a while there are things that they won't like. But at least they tried it!
Chef Andrea Volpi Local Bistro
I would appreciate if the guest made clear what specifically they disliked in the dish. For example, if there was something in the dish that did not meet their expectations, an ingredient they were unaware of, or if they were disappointed with preparation details (i.e. temperature of meat, use of butter vs. olive oil, etc.). We are always happy to redo dishes to their liking. It helps if we clearly understand the wants and needs of our customers through communication.
Brent Shinyeda General Manager, BLD Chandler
Be honest. If it's wrong, it's wrong. If you don't like it, say so. You shouldn't be expected to like every kind of food. I would rather have you happy with your selection than leave hungry or upset.
Chef Ephraim Gallor Taps Signature Cuisine & Bar
I always appreciate constructive criticism. That way I can ascertain if it is a recipe issue, an execution issue, or simply a matter of taste. Also, knowing what the guest's specific comment is gives us an opportunity to correct the issue and provide the guest with the level of food and service they expect.
Josh Hebert Owner and Chef, Posh
The best way for a guest to send food back to the kitchen is with honest feedback, a description of what they think is wrong, technically, and not on an empty plate.
Chef Stephen Jones Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails
Just be respectful. Understand that we are all human and can make mistakes.
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