Waiter whisks away plates after dinner

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Submitted by powayseller on August 21, 2006 - 8:44pm

I get really annoyed when the waiter messes with my plates after dinner. Just leave my plates alone, I don't care if I'm done eating. I just want the whole table left alone, peaceful, settled. No whisking away of plates, or chaos of any kind. Don't mess with my food, don't mess with my plates.

Is this weird? My husband doesn't understand why this bothers me. He says the waiter is just doing his job.

One more thing - why do they ruin perfectly good water by filling the glass with ice cubes? Cold water cools your stomach enzyme, slowing digestion. In Germany, we never put ice in our water. Is that just an American habit?

Submitted by salo_t on August 21, 2006 - 8:54pm.

Yeah maybe this is a little weird. Clearing the plates shouldnt be a big deal but maybe its the fact that now you feel rushed to hurry up and leave so the next guest can use your table thats really annoying you.

Submitted by deadzone on August 21, 2006 - 8:57pm.

I agree. I hate it when I still have a little food left on the plate and the bus boys keep coming by trying to grab it, really annoying.

I always prefer my water at room temperature except for after vigrous exercise or a very hot day.

Submitted by Larry J. on August 21, 2006 - 9:04pm.

It's funny that you bring this subject up as I was just reflecting on this very thing recently. It seems as though the restaurant industry is hell-bent on achieving high table turnover rates which flies in the face of enjoying a leisurely meal and surroundings. If the consumer wants a "rushed" experience they can go to "fast food" establishments and hopefully enjoy tables set in such close proximity that no discussion is private. Frankly, most of the dining experiences these days don't seem worth the bother unless you can go at off-hours.

Submitted by powayseller on August 21, 2006 - 9:30pm.

So you all think this is done to speed the patron out of there? Tonight, we were at a 100% occupied restaurant, so that makes sense.

I originally thought the whisking-away-the-plates was considered proper restaurant etiquette, i.e. the waiter didn't want the patron to be left with a table full of dirty dishes.

So it is business (get this table outta here!) or etiquette (no dirty dishes)?

Either way, I've had to resort to clutching my plate fiercely when the waiter approaches. If my son, who goes to the restroom every 22 minutes anyway, is briefly gone from the table, his plate is at great danger of being removed.

Maybe I should start drinking, so this stuff won't bother me. I'll be like, "Sure, take my plate who cares, just bring more wine..."

Submitted by PerryChase on August 21, 2006 - 9:37pm.

Etiquette says that plates should not be cleared away until all guests have finished their dishes. Then the plates can be changed for the next dish or at the end of the meal. In a good restaurant, the waiter should be attentive but unobtrusive. In my view, it’s not appropriate for the waiter to ask “are you still working on it? “
People are no longer taught basic rules of etiquette so they just make it up as they go along.
Room temperature water is best with the meal. Iced beverages should not be consumed with the meal. But I know that most people would disagree with me on the beverage issue. I think it’s the Coca Cola influence.

Submitted by Carlsbadliving on August 21, 2006 - 10:03pm.

The funny thing is, if you want a relaxed meal where nobody will disturb you go to a fast food restaraunt. No waiters to wisk you away and you can usually sit there as long as you want.

Submitted by Carlsbadliving on August 21, 2006 - 10:05pm.

The funny thing is, if you want a relaxed meal where nobody will disturb you go to a fast food restaraunt. No waiters to wisk you away and you can usually sit there as long as you want.

Submitted by rankandfile on August 21, 2006 - 10:12pm.

It all depends on the body language of the waiter when he/she was removing the plates. You can generally tell when they are trying to shuffle you out of the place or if they kindly ask if you are finished and if you'd like anything for dessert.

I don't really have any preference to how my water is served, all long as it is wet. I am a bit leery about the ice at fast food restaurants, however.

As for other pet peeves, I've started a separate thread on pet peeves we all have.

Submitted by mycroft on August 21, 2006 - 10:28pm.

I'm just the opposite on both things. After I finish eating, I hate having a dirty plate in front me. At home, I take it to the kitchen. When I'm eating out, I want the wait staff to remove it as quick as possible. And I really don't like to drink room temperature water. As far as I'm concerned, fill that glass full of ice. If the waiter/waitress keeps the refills of coffee or ice tea coming, it will pretty much ensure a good tip.

Submitted by poorgradstudent on August 22, 2006 - 12:27am.

In my experience, most waitstaff will ask if they can clear your plates. Personally I don't mind, and I actually enjoy the extra space.

I've always assumed it was so that they'd have less dishes to wash at the end of the night. The more they clean during operating hours, the less they need to do at the end of the night.

Submitted by deadzone on August 22, 2006 - 8:30am.

Bottom line they are just trying to get you out of there and get their check/tip as quickly as possible.

Submitted by sdrebear on August 22, 2006 - 8:42am.

An interesting thread. I've often wondered how many other people were annoyed by this. My mother gets literally furious when they try to take her plate. I think for her, it's that she feels rushed to leave. I never really gave it a second thought.

For me personally, what I've never understood is when they want to come around and fill up your half full iced tea. I mean, many people put sugar (or substitute of choice) and/or lemon into their tea. You work so hard to get it just right and BAM! they dump a bunch of new tea and ice in there to ruin it. Usually, they don't even ask, they just pop in and pour. Then you're back to putting more sugar in as it's too bitter again.

Submitted by Larry J. on August 22, 2006 - 8:51am.

Someone who is much more well traveled than I can probably address this, but it seems more of a european custom to set the fork on the plate with the tangs pointed down to indicate that you are still eating and placing the fork with the tangs up to show that you are finished and would like your place setting removed.

And while you can spend more time at a fastfood restaurant with little or no pressure to move on I find most are not that comfortable, inviting or intimate - with very few exceptions.

Finally, I do believe that most restaurants are geared toward "turning" the tables as quickly as possible.

Submitted by Shawny on August 22, 2006 - 12:55pm.

I haven't seen "tangs-up" versus "tangs-down", but I like that idea.

I hate premature clearing of plates. It's rude, especially when the diners are a couple, and one is not yet finished but the other is. Do they really think that I want my GF to feel rushed to "clean her plate" as I sit there with a big empty table half. Absurd. Especially because I usually help her finish the good stuff.

Am I the only one who was taught that placing the fork and knife on separate/different sides of the plate indicates "touch my plate and you're dead", but placing the fork and knife together on a single side of the plate indicates that you are ready for the plate to be cleared?

Submitted by anxvariety on August 22, 2006 - 2:10pm.

PS, it's probably you detecting that the waiter is trying to rush your exit.. I notice waiters doing it all the time, and sometimes I start to wonder whether I should leave a tip even though I always do.. I don't like that a tip is expected, but I prefer to leave a few bucks and avoid the confrontation.

I drink more water than anyone I know and I always prefer it cold.. I run a little hot and love the way it cools my body. I do prefer cold water over ice water, as the ice impedes my ability to swallow an entire glas in one gulp ;)

On water: The best water I've ever had and I still drink it whenever I can find it is Palomar Mountain Spring water.. slightly cooled it blows the socks off of every other kind of water I've ever had.. If you want to try it, most 7-11s and AMPMs carry it. There's no water like it in my opinion.

Submitted by Larry J. on August 22, 2006 - 4:16pm.

I used the term tang - perhaps it is better to use the term prong of the fork.

Submitted by Chrispy on August 22, 2006 - 4:28pm.

I believe the correct term is tine. As in, a three-tined fork is the mark of the devil.

Prongs come in when you're talking BBQ fork, to the best of my knowledge.

Submitted by FormerOwner on August 22, 2006 - 10:33pm.

This is a major pet peeve for my wife and me. At one resturant we go to once in a while, there's a bus boy that seems fixated on keeping as many plates as possible in the kitchen. It's almost like he's getting a commission based on the average number of plates (clean or dirty) back in the kitchen during the course of a day. Maybe they do an hourly count. At times (and this next part is no joke), I've felt like if I turned away to look out the window for a minute, my food might be gone - poof! One other time, I felt like asking him if he wanted to fight me for the food; he kept circling the area and I knew good and well what he was after - and I wasn't about to let him have it! Arrrgh!

The issue of the waiter/waitress that keeps re-filling your drink is weird too. I don't like wasting stuff and at some places it seems like if your glass is at less than 1/2 they just HAVE to fill it up. What do they want us to do - keep drinking until we bust a gut? How much iced tea/soda/whatever do they think one person can drink anyway? I like it when they ask "Would you like a re-fill?" but to just keep re-filling it...I feel like I'm under pressure to keep drinking.

One other pet peeve about restaurants - they're all over you during the first few minutes asking if you want this or that and is everything OK but then, when you're done and ready for the bill, the wait staff is nowhere to be found. Is it a test to see how many people will bolt without paying the bill? Many times we're just sitting there with our arms folded, obviously ready to go, and no one seems to notice. Where the !*%$ did they go?

In general, customer service in this country is not what it used to be, restaurants included. But, I NEVER complain about anything, at least until my food is on the table, and I NEVER send food back to the kitchen for any reason. As Bush Sr. would say, "it wouldn't be prudent".

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