2 Deviled Eggs for 3 People

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.

32 thoughts on “2 Deviled Eggs for 3 People”

  1. I love this! This reminds me of a recent Atlanta experience at a celeb chef restaurant where I was charged almost $30 for a scallop entree that, while delicious, contained 3 scallops. And not those mutant, hockey puck scallops, these were <1" dia. scallops. I didn't complain, but I won't be going back.

  2. I cannot agree with you more – something very similar happened to us a few weeks ago at a local bistro – we ordered an app that we knew would give us two servings and there were three of us, so we asked if we could pay for a half an order and get enough for three. We got a very confused face from the waiter and then a flat no. I said “really? I don’t understand.” And he said no, I can’t do it. My husband said ok, just bring us two orders then and we’ll pay for them both. My guess is that if a manager heard either one of those waiters refusing our very reasonable requests they’d have been embarassed.

  3. That’s funny because I just recently had the exact opposite happen to me at a restaurant. My wife and I ordered an appetizer that apparently came with 3 servings (it wasn’t stated on the menu) and the waitress asked us if we wanted to add a 4th. I had never had a waitress ask that before and I was very impressed. We were able to equally share the appetizer, the restaurant made more money and she got a better tip. Win Win!

  4. Very much agree with this … its happened to me multiple times in several combinations … 2 portions to a group of 3, 3 portions to a group of 4. And I’m always willing to pay extra for the additional portion! The “don’t make more work for me” attitude certainly leaves a sour taste …

  5. I always appreciate the rare place that sells items by the each. When I ran a restaurant, and later a wine bar, my first response to most requests was “Absolutely”. This certainly created problems for BOH but it always made for happy patrons and repeat visits.

  6. That is straight up false advertising. You have a deviled egg there-singular not plural. Three halves is the minimal count to say “eggs.”

  7. I agree with this mostly.

    I work at a NY restaurant that you’ve written about before. We have two sections on our menu that are great for sharing or appetizers. I also love being able to take that extra step. People are always pleased and surprised.

    I do think there are limits though, mostly regarding entrees and desserts. I know for a fact that the high quality of our proteins means we aren’t making any money on them. Everything is carefully portioned and if a table wants to share an entree that has 4 scallops in it, sometimes adding another will mean we have 3 unsellable scallops. Not always, but it’s often the case. Same with some desserts.

  8. Why couldn’t you divide the eggs lengthwise and let one person have a bit more? I agree the restaurant should have given it to you on the house to begin with, or at least had a nice attitude. I mean, eggs are cheap. But frankly, I would never have asked a restaurant to customize a portion size for me and adjust the price.

  9. More importantly when the waiter was taking the order he should’ve mentioned it – sheesh – don’t blame you

  10. Last night we went to a happening place and our dessert came with a teeny pitcher the waiter took the whipped cream out of. I love whipped cream and asked if he could leave the pitcher. He said No, I can’t do that. Now mind you if this was more than 2″ high it was big. We weren’t asking him to leave us an entire carton of whipped cream, we were asking for the whipped cream we were paying for and that came with our dessert! It left a bad taste in our mouths and was reflected in his tip and the fact that we’re not running back there for dinner any time soon.

    1. You are a terrible person. You may not like what happened, but it’s not like he was specifically spiting you, he was simply carrying out the policy of the restaurant. I assume a manager had told him that he can’t leave the little pitchers at the tables (for whatever reason)
      Unless the waiter was particularly rude to you (and you don’t indicate such here), you really don’t have a reason to “reflect it in his tip”. This does nothing to change the situation, it simply hurts a waiter trying to make a living.

      1. Dear Mr. BigGreenFrank:

        You clearly don’t know the above person to whom you wrote “You are a terrible person” It wasn’t a pitcher but an espresso cup of whip cream further more there were other issues with the waiter that were not written. So before you mouth off and judge ask.

        PS: Reflected in his tip meant he still got over 18% as opposed to the 20% we normally leave.

        1. I didn’t think it was any size pitcher (I would have probably assumed it was one of those tiny espresso cups…).

          My point is that anyone who punishes someone (to any degree) for things that are completely out of their control is a terrible person.

          For all you know, the manager has made it a point to not leave those little pitchers because people have stolen them, maybe they only have a few (for presentation purposes) and can’t leave them at a table.. Maybe, “before you mouth off” about a restaurant, YOU should ask.

          1. What was totally in his control was when we asked for the rest of the whipped cream he should have emptied the cup and given it to us instead of taking it away. I doubt the manager said this is portion control two spoons of whipped cream per order and we’ll just throw the rest away.

            1. From your original story, you didn’t ask for additional cream (which is surely a reasonable request), you specifically stated that asked him to “leave the pitcher” (which he apparently couldn’t do for whatever reason).

              Now, clearly, I wasn’t there, so maybe this waiter was unaccommodating or rude, but that clearly wasn’t the point of your original anecdote. You seemed to state that not leaving the pitcher was a offense deserving of a 2% tip deduction (not to the restaurant, but to the helpless server).

              1. The server could have simply said “I can’t leave the pitcher, but I will gladly give you more whipped cream” or even offered to bring out more cream in a different kind of dish if the particular dish was the issue. I am a server and we work for our tips, if a guest asks for something we make it happen if it is possible. If it is not possible we explain why we can’t do it.

      2. Kimberly Wydeen


        I don’t think one persons opinion of a meal and a tip makes them a terrible person. That is a pretty high standard you set.

        Perhaps the waiter has no control over this issue. You are correct. However, he could have delivered this policy in a much friendlier way and expressed why he couldn’t carry out the request. I suspect that would have gone over quite well, whereas a curt “no” is rude

    2. Kimberly Wydeen

      I’ve been in a similar situation before and I agree — this leaves a bad taste in my mouth, as well.

        1. Not a waiter. Just someone with empathy for the working stiffs out there toiling in demanding jobs where you have to balance the often rigid orders of a restaurant manager with the particular requests of diners.

          1. Kimberly Wydeen

            I have empathy for waiters. I am gracious and tip well. But when a waiter is rude – or fails to take a perfectly reasonable request under consideration – then I tip accordingly. I think it is certainly possible to have empathy towards a waiter, and appreciate their job, but also recognize and communicate when they made a misstep at their job.

  11. Aside from the fact that I loathe the concept of “small plates” with a poor item to diner ratio, I’m probably just more of a jerk than you. I think you should totally mention a restaurant’s name. Ha! Not to ruin a business of course, but so that the restaurant knows there are repercussions for hiring bad managers or having poor customer policies and still taking people’s money. Sometimes a small tweak to a policy or an attitude can completely turn a restaurant experience around.

  12. I’ve been server for 10 years and I can tell you that as a server I will do everything in my power to make sure my guest is happy. Most guest issues like this only take a short conversation with the kitchen manager to resolve, and I am happy to have that conversation if it means a few more bucks in my pocket.

  13. So glad you brought that up! That is one of my biggest pet peeves in restaurants!! I honestly don’t see how difficult it is to be flexible about the number of appetizers they bring to the table so all diners can have one (and like you mentioned, to charge accordingly; fair is fair, after all). Let’s hope a lot of restaurant managers, waitstaff, etc., see this column and take it to heart. Thanks, Adam!

  14. Get a life, people! So what if one person gets an extra one-fourth of one egg?? Set yourselves free from such petty banter.

  15. Oh man! I’m sorry you didn’t get exactly what you wanted but how hard would it have been to cut each deviled half into 3 long wedges? There would have been 2 wedges — each of which sampled all the attributes of the egg identically — for each diner. I assume you do something like this in your own kitchen regularly.

    Alternatively, since price was not the object, you could have ordered 2 complete orders if the resto wouldn’t split orders. In that case, each diner could have had one complete piece and then an additional wedge.

  16. The other thing that drives me nuts is when servings arrive with an odd number of…insert small plate item here….and it’s just my husband and I. I don’t object at all to paying a little extra to get one more of whatever it is, and I’m pretty sure most restaurants don’t object to making a little more money, so you’d think that something like “That comes with 5 jumbo prawns; would you like me to add an extra one for $X?” would be more common.

    I don’t think one should “out” a restaurant based on one bad experience, but I’ve been known to follow up with a phone call to the manager. His/her reaction usually determines whether I resort to a bad online review, or other forms of public shaming. Most managers want to know if their staff are providing bad service, and they will often provide the explanation that the server was too busy or too rude to supply.

    Just for the record, I don’t think saying, “No,” is bad service in and of itself. As with so many things, it’s about how you do it.

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