Over on the Times Youre the Boss blog, first-time restaurateur Bruce Buschel has a weekly column about his quest to open a seafood restaurant in Bridgehampton. Today he comes up with a list of One Hundred Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part One). Dude is clearly aspiring to be the Danny Meyer of the Hamptons with rules like Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition. (Also: Dont call customers dude.) For the most part we agree with his commandments, especially these: Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials and Never mention what your favorite dessert is. Its irrelevant. On the one hand, when a server sings the praises of a dish that seemed enticing anyway, it might convince you to go ahead and order it, which is fine. But what about when they go on about something you know you dont want say, a leek scallop. Then you have to feel all guilty when youre like, Thats great, but Im going to go with the steak.
Come to think of it, the recitation ritual is where a lot of server-customer relationships get off on the wrong foot (another one of Buschels rules: Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials.). Why does it even have to happen? If we had our druthers, the specials would just be written down. Not like at Diner, where the server writes them all out on your tablecloth while practically sitting in your lap, and youre sitting there wondering if they get hand cramps at the end of the night (wouldnt it be faster and more legible if they brought an electronic typewriter out and typed it up for you?) but rather just, like, on pieces of paper that are attached to the menu, just like at an actual diner.
That way, you dont have that weird moment when the waiter is reciting the specials and youre not hearing a word of it because Guns N' Roses is blasting in the background (by the way Monday night at Babbo? A full hour of Axl), or youre not really listening because youre sitting there thinking, Am I nodding in all the right places? or Whoa, this waitresss forehead looks just like Tyra Bankss. Plus, its much easier to visualize specials when theyre written down when theyre spoken to you, dinging noises tend to go off in your head when you hear ingredients you like, but you dont necessarily grasp what the dish is, and you dont want to make the waiter re-explain that manchego dish, because she looked kind of irritated to have to explain it the first time and you dont want her to realize you were distracted by her giant forehead. So you order the dish only to find out its, like, manchego foam on top of fermented bean curd, and youre like, Ugh.
But maybe thats the whole point of reciting the specials? To make us feel like, Well, she put all this time and energy into telling me about these dishes. I guess I'd better order one?