Below are some highlights from the Restaurant Confidential column by Andrew Zimmerman from the December 2005 issue of Mpls/St. Paul Magazine. Mpls/St.Paul is the kind of magazine that's made for the lobby of a dentist's office, which is where I read it yesterday. I'm not much of a fine diner, but I can identify with most of it, and I really like the place from which it comes (sorry, no real link):
New Rules for 2006
Inane server-speak must stop, right now. Nothing annoys me more-or sounds more amatuerish-than a server who won't stop talking. I do not need to know your name or be told that you are going to be "taking care" of me. Please do not sit down at an empty seat at my table or kneel next to me to make me feel more comfy in our new found relationship. If recounting special offerings not listed on the menu, it is never okay to begin your sentence with "Tonight we are doing a . . ." -unless, of course, you are also doing the cooking.
Language and grammer abuses will no longer be tolerated. "Today's soup du jour" or "with an au jus sauce" is just the tip of the iceberg. When you mix two languages, it just gets worse. But perhaps more depressing is the verbiage. In responce to this crisis, some restaurants have takent to paring the menu to a pretnetious few words, usually nouns. It infuriates me when I see a listing such as "Sea Bass, Pousse Pieds, Curry-Carrot Emulsion," which means I need a five-minute conversation with my server, who doesn't know what it tastes like because he doesn't like fish. Let's make it simple: Tell me what's on the plate, how it's cooked, and use conjnctions. They work.
Consider wine service as important as any aspect of the dining experience. When a server is taking a drink order before dinner, it is not appropriate to try to sell a bottle of wine. Wine is not properly a cocktai, despite how it's treated by the chardonnay-cabernet crowd. Those who really appreciate wine don't know what wine they want until they know what they will be eating. Servers also need to know the wine list cold and pronounce the names properly. But wine-critic talk is taking it too far. Don't tell me the red has a "chocolate nose with a tobacco finish" when all I really want to know whether it works with my lanmb shank. And if you take the order, the wine better be in stock.
Do not remove my plate when I have the last bit of food in my mouth-in fact, do not remove it until all dineres at the table are finished. And don't ask, "Still workin' on that?" to gauge wheter I've finished.