I ordered a burger the other day at a place that someone told me had the best burger in town. No, it wasn’t in Portland. When the burger was put down in front of me, I asked if they had some Dijon mustard. The server came back apologetic, apparently no Dijon.
“That’s fine, can I get some other kind of mustard?” Apparently they don’t have ANY mustard. Hmm. A burger place with no mustard. And, by the way, no french fries either.
I did get over myself and enjoyed my lunch, but I don’t know if I will ever get over a kitchen that has no mustard. I can even accept the no French fry thing, but no mustard? At all? Anywhere?
Let’s face it, that’s pretty weird. Especially for a place that prides themselves on their burgers.
Trying to be different
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am always open to trying new things and trying the old things prepared differently. I want restaurants to continue to reinvent and test the boundaries of the culinary scene. That is what food is for, after all.
I say again: No mustard? I have eaten at many places who have tried to tell me (and their other guests) THIS is how we do things here. We aren’t like those other places you have eaten at before. WE are different.
I feel this is a good place to point out that all of those places are closed now. Be careful what you try to force on your guests. Remember, it is the guest ultimately who gets to decide if you get to stick around or not–not you.
Another example. There is also a trend out there of not putting salt on the tables. That’s fine, but when a customer asks for salt, they don’t need a lecture on why there is no salt on the table, and they certainly don’t need any attitude from the server about it.
“Our chef says his food is seasoned perfectly and does not need salt.” That would almost be fine if he was actually the one cooking all of the food. But, alas, he is not.
Besides, saltiness is a relative thing. At least a subjective thing. Like medium rare. I once had a customer send back her food because she had ordered it pink, and she didn’t think her food was ‘pink’. I sat there looking at it in all its pinkness, and had to go back to the table and tell her that it looked pretty pink to me. Not because I was being rude, but rather to make sure we are on the same page so I could get it the way she wanted.
“You don’t tell somebody whether or not they like Picasso.” Yes, that was her response. Yikes.
So, Mr. or Ms. inventive, creative chef. I say unto you, remember why you are there in the first place. Not to stroke your own ego, but to provide a product (and service) that customers are going to be willing to pay for. If they aren’t paying for it, you should have a pretty good reason why.