Sometimes you have a negative restaurant experience that stays with you for a really long time after the fact. This is one such experience illustrated by a very talented illustrator: me.
This fall I went to a hip new restaurant, here in L.A., with my friends Jim and Jess. You might ask, “Which restaurant?” but I’m not sure I want to shame them so publicly. Maybe they deserve another chance. Maybe. Here’s what happened…
We saw deviled eggs listed as an appetizer for $7. We ordered it. It came out and looked like the image you see above: 2 Eggs. We were 3 people. How do you divide 2 deviled eggs between 3 people? Do you slice each egg in half like this?
If you do it that way, one person gets an extra quarter and that’s not very fair. Do you cut the eggs into thirds?
No, because then one person gets all the good stuff in the middle and the other two get just white.
So we called a waiter over who turned out to be the manager and we asked if he could charge us for one more deviled egg so we could each have one. He responded, “So you want another order of deviled eggs?”
That would mean 4 eggs to divide between 3 people which would still yield the same problem.
“No,” we said, “we were just wondering if we could buy one more so we could each have one. We’re happy to pay.”
“Sorry,” he said, “I can’t do that.”
He walked away and we all scratched our heads. See, in the restaurant industry there are reasonable customer requests and there are unreasonable customer requests. We didn’t ask him to, say, make us a deviled egg out of Eggbeaters or bring us a live chicken to make a deviled egg table-side. We just asked him to go into the refrigerator, where these already prepared deviled eggs are clearly sitting (they’re not made to order), plop one on to a plate and charge us. His “no” did more damage than his “yes” ever could. Because it left a bad taste in all of our mouths, especially his attitude about it. He seemed not to get why three people would ever want a third deviled egg.
Then after we’d finished our two, he came over with a small plate with a deviled egg on it and begrudgingly said, “Here, this one’s on the house.”
But at that point we’d already sloppily divided those two former eggs and now we were left with one egg to divide three ways. It was a nice gesture but it was too little too late.
The moral of the story is: if you’re a restaurant that serves something that’s hard to share, like deviled eggs, you should always make it an option to order a specific amount for the table. Customers will be happier, it won’t cost you any more money, in fact you’ll make more money.
As it stands, I probably won’t go back to that restaurant. Funny how such small things can add up to a big reaction when choosing where to eat.