Would You Have Tried To Talk Them Out of It?

Last night I had a couple who looked like they were in their late 60’s come in. He ordered the steak and lobster and she orders the ahi tuna.

She ask me about the sauce and I explain and then I mention it is coming rare or at the most medium rare because any more and it is really tough. Kind of funny she looks at me and says , well as long as it is cooked through. I say yes but do you mean you would like it cooked well done or something to that effect. Puzzled she replies , well as long as it is cooked through. I then explain that is it going to have the same colour like a steak cooked blue , do you like that? It may have a cool centre as well. Adding I am not sure you are going to like it thinking that for sure once she taste it she is going to send it back. Even her husband is concurring with what I am saying.

Insisting that she wants to try it I put the order in and the food arrives. I do a table check and she wants a bit more sauce. She is eating the tuna and says it is fine.

Upon clearing I notice she did not finish the tuna but I didn’t ask her again if she enjoyed it. I could have got into a long unnecessary conversation. They get two coffees and the bill and she paid and left what I thought was a decent tip. She was very kind and friendly at the end of the meal.

Now it appears that I handled this situation correctly. Whenever someone wants to try something and you do not think they will like it from the questions they are asking , I will say something to try to dissuade them from ordering it as I would prefer them order something they are familiar with. Also if they do indeed order that item I want them to understand that I tried my best to explain that might not be their best choice. I don’t say something like you are making a big mistake but through my questioning and answers they will know that maybe they should just have that steak like they usually do.

Then once I do my quality check and everything is okay I leave it at that and I just go back fill the waters or I do whatever but I don’t ask how they are doing again. I just want that meal to be eaten without throwing some doubt into the mix that could bring up a negative. She said it was fine and that is all I needed to hear.The same thing with clearing , I don’t say anything.

At the end it was a successful outcome but personally I think she will skip the tuna the next time.

What would you have done? Tried to talk them out of it like I did or just take the order and hope for the best?


  1. That's exactly how you should handle it. Personally, I would have asked her at the end of the meal if she enjoyed her tuna, but that's just me. I'm probably fishing for a "You were exactly right" sort of thing :chuckle:.The best thing to do is to try to explain something as clearly as you can and try to get as much information as you can, but let the guest make the decision and don't scoff at it if they don't take your advice.for instance, when people ask for a Caesar with sauce on the side, I remind them that Caesar dressing is about as thick as mayo. I've found that some people just like to dip their romaine in it like a dip. that's cool. Plus, when people ask to have our vinaigrette on the side of our tossed salad, that they let us keep it on the salad. First of all, it's fairly light as it is. Plus, when we toss it, we leave most of the dressing in the bowl. Everything gets coated lightly and people use more dressing than they normally would if they try to spoon it on themselves – plus, it doesn't coat evenly. Most people take the suggestion.this brings up a good topic for discussion that I think I'll bring up on my blog. What are your favorite "insider tips" for your restaurant and have you (speaking for all servers) actually developed any?Mine is suggesting blue cheese crumbles on a mixed green salad dressed with viniagrette rather than the high calorie and very heavy creamy blue cheese dressing that we offer. Most people go, "Yeah, that sounds great! Why didn't *I* think of that"? Yeah, it's not "necessary", but it's little things like that that elevate service beyond the mundane and just "order-taking". It's little things like that which justify a higher tip.(and yes, I'm probably going to steal much of this answer for my blog!dave"So You Want To Be A Server" blog.http://teleburst.wordpress.com/

  2. While I would not try to talk them out of it, per say, I would repeatedly emphasize the aspects of the dish that it appears that she would dislike, as you did. Having her vocalize the fact that she wants to try it despite it not necessarily being a good fit eliminates future issues.

  3. Dave…I am always trying to get the posts I write as interactive as possible. I prefer the less said the better approach. If they want the dressing on the side I just do it that way then let them do what they want with it.

  4. K.H. Exactly! Eliminate future issues.

  5. Steve I would have done exactly what you did…..it was the best approach….man, it;s good to be back….http://www.coddlepot.com/

  6. Manuel..christ Manuel it sure is nice to hear from you. Later tonight I will add coddle to the blog roll.Thanks for the comment!

  7. I would have mention it because she didn't seem to understand [as you did] but wouldn't attempt to talk anyone out of a meal. Sometimes people like to try new things and wouldn't know if they don't.And dave? I adore oil/vinegar with blue cheese crumbles. My MIL taught me the trick…so, so, so yummy 🙂

  8. SkippyMom….I hope she enjoyed the tuna but didn't want to ask at the end of the meal when it was over. I didn't want her to think I was right not wanting her to order it in the first place.She would not really have wanted to tell me afterwards she wasn't crazy about it. She seemed determined to try it.

  9. I would have done exactly what you did. Give the customer accurate information about the food they are considering and let them make an informed decision. Even though I don't serve food, I do similiar things while bartending, especially pertaining to beer and wine.Good job handling this situation.

  10. Yah, I wouldn't have wanted to ask in that situation either.I think you handled it well b/c she truly didn't seem to understand how rare Tuna is, but there didn't seem to be a way to talk her out of it.I remember the first time I had tuna and was surprised at the way it was cooked – it was delicious tho'. 🙂

  11. SkippyMom..it's better to let the customer save face.

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