Monday, February 14, 2011

What's for Dinner? Don't Be Afraid to Ask!

When eating out, don’t be afraid to ask your waiter questions about the food on the menu. Is the striped bass wild or farmed? Are the eggs organic? If the answers are important to you, do not be intimidated and have the waiter ask the chef for a definitive response, if necessary.

Over the weekend, we went to a restaurant that I had read served grass-fed beef. After confirming that the meatballs and skirt steak were indeed grass-fed, the waiter volunteered “We try to be as organic and free range as possible.” (This actually worried me a bit, since “free range” is a very nebulous term; I’ll discuss it later this week.)

A homemade pizza also caught my attention, but, despite the waiter’s declaration of wholesomeness, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t made with bleached flour.

“It’s whole grain,” he said confidently. “The dough comes out dark.”

I shot him a quizzical look that screamed “Uh, that’s what happens when you cook dough!”

“I’ll find out for sure,” he said.

After a quick consultation with the kitchen, he returned.

“They are checking, but the chef told me we use generic all-purpose flour.”

Generic all-purpose flour used by restaurants and other food service operations is going be bleached almost all of the time. Needless to say, I didn’t order the pizza.

About five minutes later, the waiter, on his way to another table, humbly delivered the final verdict.

“It’s bleached flour.”


Anonymous said...

It's questions like that that give you an extra side of spit in your food. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef Rob,

You know I agree w/ you on such things, so I hope you trust that it's in a spirit of fun teasing that I give you this link:

Funny stuff...and I think from reading your blog that I know you have a sense of humor where you can laugh a little at yourself. :)

And btw, I disagree w/ the anonymous post above. A restaurant like that, esp. one where the waiter went out of his way to correct his own misunderstanding, is probably not going to disrespect you in that way. Indeed that restaurant respects such preferences, and he was probably embarrassed. When I was a waiter I would never have done such things, and I didn't work in such a restaurant. (Nor would I have done such a thing to even the most rude customers.)

Jon in South Carolina

Chef Rob said...


That's really, really funny; thanks for sharing.

I was an angel compared to those two. I only asked one question!

And I agree with you; the type of restaurant (and its m.o.) makes a big difference.