You’re done with your entrees, they’re cleared away. A busboy wipes the table clean. And then the waiter or waitress approaches, carrying dessert menus. He or she places them on the table without asking, “Dessert?” You’re forced to say, “We’re actually not having dessert tonight.” He lifts the dessert menus up, disappointed. And that’s the Dessert Menu Drop (DMD): the newest tactic I’ve noticed at restaurants that want you to spend more money, despite your level of hunger or desire for dessert. A DMD doesn’t give you the opportunity to say “no thanks” the way you might if the waiter or waitress were to ask you, “Are you still hungry for dessert?” If you’re in the middle of a conversation you may even allow the menus to be dropped surreptitiously and then you unconsciously look at them and decide to order a dessert. This is the Dessert Menu Cave In (DMCI) and it’s disastrous for the frugal diner. Luckily, if you can anticipate a DMD you’re in good shape. Ask for the check as the plates are cleared away, before the DMD takes place. This is a preemptive strike that will save you the embarrassment of having to turn away the dessert menus later. Unless you want dessert, in which case please disregard this message.
UPDATE: People have brought up good points in response to the above. Mainly: people enjoy looking at the dessert menu after a meal in case there’s something really great on it. But my point was merely the sneaky way servers (gender-neutral! nice!) slide those menus on to the table without asking first. I guess I don’t mind if it’s a blow-out dinner at an upscale place, but when you’re out for cheap Thai food how often are you craving dessert? That’s the sort of DMD I’m reacting to here. The one that’s creeped it way into mid-level dining establishments.