When Your Bad Lunch Ruins Someone’s Good Lunch

If you read my newsletter, you know where this took place. On Monday I met my friend Rebecca Lando of Working Class Foodies for lunch. She’s celebrating, and rightfully so, the release of her brand new cookbook, appropriately called The Working Class Foodies Cookbook. You should definitely check it out, though that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about the salad you see in the above photo. It probably looks good to you. Take my word for it: it’s not.

Two factors, in particular, made this salad suck. One was tolerable, one wasn’t.

Factor 1: a weak, depressing yogurt dressing that tasted like yogurt thinned with water with nothing else to pep it up.

Factor 2: under-washed lettuce.

I say under-washed lettuce because I’m sure they wash their lettuce where I had this salad, but when I bit in I got some grit in that first bite. Then I got some grit in a later bite. I don’t know if you know this about me, but my absolute least favorite thing that can happen to you while eating is to bite into sand or grit. Oof, it gives me the willies just thinking about it.

So there I was, eating this gritty, yogurt-watery salad–(aside: I did like the grapefruit segments in this salad)–and complaining out loud as I ate.

Meanwhile, Rebecca was enjoying her turkey sandwich. She let me have a bite and it was very good.

But I wouldn’t shut up about the salad.

“Do you want to send it back?” Rebecca eventually asked.

But the thing was I didn’t. I’d already eaten enough of it that I didn’t want a new one. And, also, biting into grit a few times made me really lose my appetite.

Now that I look back on the experience, though, I realize it probably wasn’t much fun for Rebecca to be eating a tasty sandwich while I was suffering through an un-tasty salad. For her benefit, I probably should have asked for something different so I wasn’t mopey throughout lunch.

As it was, I treated myself to some olive oil granola at Coffee Commissary afterwards and all was well in the world. But this salad? This salad was the pits.

20 thoughts on “When Your Bad Lunch Ruins Someone’s Good Lunch”

    1. Adam Amateur Gourmet

      That even if you don’t feel like getting something else, it’s worthwhile to do so in order to make the lunch more pleasant for the other person (although Rebecca just Tweeted that she didn’t like her sandwich either; so much, then, for learning experiences!)

  1. Dear Amateur Gourmet,

    You should’ve sent it back w/the first gritty bite (shudder, I feel your pain sir)…trust me, any server that knows the right way to treat a guest that has a complaint, no matter how small, would’ve taken it back without hesitation. On top of that the salad might well have been complimentary, or at least an offering of free dessert, after the replacement salad was brought as a peace offering. Any restaurant worth its salt should replace or refund you. I’m a career server for 40 (did I say 40??) years now and the right way to serve, is to please the guest and appreciate their business unconditionally~~~PLEASE, PLEASE don’t NOT send something back~~~we want to make you glad you came and for you to come back again and again :)

    1. True, grit indicates that it hasn’t been well washed and with all the produce contamination scares, you do not want to eat unwashed produce! Not to mention paying for a horrible experience.

      1. A further thought, I think hesitating to send back food from a fine dining establishment is one thing – the entire kitchen is likely to be highly trained – but in a casual place the kitchen staff are literally from off the street nearly all the time – often uneducated, and not necessarily well-raised enough to consider basics like washing food, etc a priority. I’ve worked in both high and low end places and restaurant kitchens can be scary places. I never hesitate to send things back – though I do it as nicely as possible, I feel no guilt whatsoever.

    2. Adam Amateur Gourmet

      Hey there,
      Well I should mention that after I left most of the lettuce uneaten, I brought it up to the counter to tell them that they need to wash their lettuce better (I said I didn’t need a new one). Unfortunately the guy there wasn’t too interested to hear that. (Part of why I won’t be rushing back.)

      1. *sigh* a sad, unfortunate look into what the restaurant business has evolved into…employees who don’t care, aren’t passionate about their work or have no sense of urgency :(…Willie Deigel from Restaurant Stakeout is making a fortune off of this very situation. Wish I’d have thought of it, as it’s so rampant he’ll never not have a show. Even though I live this very situation each and every night at work, I still watch it w/horror and disgust.

  2. I, too, am fussy about salad when I eat it out. So your critiques of your lunch resonated with me completely. Besides anemic (and sometimes too little) dressing and dirty lettuce, my other pet salad peeve is OLD lettuce, you know, with those lovely dried out ends or red stains. Good salads are surprisingly easy to make and it is irksome that restaurants don’t treat them with the same care they treat more complicated main courses.

  3. P.S. I think you should have sent the salad back!! It’s the only way restaurants learn…and probably saves one’s luncheon companion’s lunch experience, too. :)

  4. Perhaps it’s the perspective of knowing the salad wasn’t good but it looks fairly unappetizing as well – the knife skills on the chicken are dreadful and in general it kind of looks like it was hacked up instead of chopped.

  5. it looks awful and sounds even worse. I don’t understand how restaurants serve food that is subpar. What are your thoughts on the concern that waiters will spit in or mistreat your food after you’ve sent something back, even if you did it nicely.

    1. under cover waitress

      If you are eating in a good restaurant there should be little concern about waiters defiling food. It is considered an assault and anybody guilty of it should, at best, lose their job. I believe the stories and scares about boogers and spit in food and drinks come from fast food chains, which I recommend avoiding like plague for a plethora of reasons.

  6. everyday, many people can’t eat enough to live because of the poverty, so you should take the advantage of the foods and don’t waste it

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