Please help me make a list of things you should NEVER do while eating in a restaurant. I’ll start with these tidbits from good friends who work in the business: 

Never Ask for Steak Sauce.
At a fine steak house you
insult the chef by asking for a meat condiment because a steak, when
properly seasoned and cooked in the kitchen, needs no further taste
enhancements. The chef will find out how uncouth you are for wanting A1
or Ketchup or BBQ sauce because, after providing your out-of-date
condiment, your waiter will run to the kitchen to tattle on you.

Never Send Food Back.
Unless, that this, you want to
taste your waiter or your cook’s spittle when your food is returned to
you. If you order something medium-rare and it shows up medium — eat
it anyway! If you order a sandwich and you get spaghetti — eat it
anyway! If you order tea and are served coffee — drink it anyway!

Never Not Leave a Tip.
No matter what your mamma taught you,
a tip is never intended to be your vote on the meal or your dining
experience. The Wait Staff are taxed on tips if you leave one or not —
so leave one or rot! If you don’t tip for a meal, someone should spit
on you!

What other “Never Do” did I miss?


  1. My partner says the sauce is for his CHIP’s not his steak ( yeah yeah! ) ….
    Never let your children run amok. play with their food , play water soakers with the botled water.
    Never even try to roll a cigarette or prepare a pipe – let alone smoke it ……….
    And never, never ever take the table in the corner which affords the best view of the restairant and kitchen …………. just in case David or I need it !

  2. Nicola!
    Heh! Love your answers!
    Asking for CHIPS sauce is a smart way to get around that steak problem! A long while ago when we were still eating meat Janna asked for A1 at the Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village and our waiter turned GREEN. It took him forever to bring the sauce and all the waiters and kitchen staff came out to watch her pour her sauce on her steak and they cringed in unison! I later asked a restaurateur friend of mine what all that was about and he told me we’d achieved the ultimate insult: A dollar bottle of A1 Steak Sauce on a $30 piece of expertly grilled and seasoned meat!
    Children do seem to run amok unattended. Do you say anything if the children terrorize your table? Or do you just let it all slide?
    Smoking is awful in a restaurant. In NYC smoking was against the law so the smokers would pop across the river over to Jersey to share their toxins with us as we dined together. Our first four years in Jersey we could not escape smoke in a restaurant. Now there’s a law — a tough law — and now you can’t smoke in a restaurant or within 25 feet of the front door of a restaurant.
    Thanks for saving our table! It’s very important though few understand.

  3. Excellent, Dave! Thanks for those keen additions!
    I grew up with the “let’s cover this in ketchup” crowd. I never understood it. “Sophisticated” was actually using A1 or Heinz Steak Sauce.
    A friend of mine took me to the Russian Tea Room for lunch. He often ate there and was a “regular” recognized by face and name. He told me the same thing about the salt issue — but even if you tasted it first it was still an insult to the chef to add salt. He was a heavy smoker so he needed the extra help the salt gave him to taste his soup.
    As he dabbed his mouth with his napkin he took the crystal saltshaker from the table and hid it behind the napkin as he placed them both on his lap. Then he unscrewed the top of the saltshaker — all while having a conversation with me — and dumped some salt into one hand.
    Then he dabbed his mouth again and as he put the salt shaker back on the table he “whisked” his hand over his soup and “salted” his soup without anyone being the wiser! It was surreal because it was obvious he had practiced this before.
    Dressing on the side is smart.
    Appropriate tipping is paramount.
    I agree making your wait staff your enemy or belittling them does you more harm than it does them! Be on their side and they will protect your back.

  4. I was bought up in a house where it was sacriledge to put ketchup anywhere near steak.
    In fact ketchup was rationed!
    “Children do seem to run amok unattended. Do you say anything if the children terrorize your table? Or do you just let it all slide?”
    To be honest it all depends on how much they terrorise – if they cross “that line”. The trouble is that line varies. Bumps and knocks to a chair I usually ignore – a trip up – I will help them up and return to their parents. If it gets to the stage where a drink is spilt or food – I ask the waiter to sort it !
    If I have *dressed* for the occassion, and have paid the proverbial arm and a leg for the experience – I do not expect to be interupted by kids running amok.
    (As a parent I also fel that other parents SHOULD keep their children under control.)
    I am a smoker – but I would never dream of smoking in restaurant or where people are eating. We have your laws coming into force next year.
    I love the salt manoeuver!

  5. Are you allowed to eat ketchup now, Nicola? Do you have any taste for it? On the East Coast you NEVER EVER put ketchup on a hotdog. Mustard Only. Well, Janna and I grew up on mustard and ketchup in the Midwest and they both belong on hotdogs… oh, the ugly looks we used to get when we asked for ketchup on a hotdog!
    That ketchup request was always followed up by a disdainful, “You’re not from around here, are you?” from the hotdog vendor! The absolute worst, though, was when they asked us to repeat our ketchup request a second time because they couldn’t believe they heard what they heard the first time.
    Parents who allow their children to run around and scream in a restaurant have always fascinated me. If anyone dare say anything to the children or the parents then the parents go into overdrive about minding your own manners first. It’s quite fascinating to watch if you can block out the screaming.

  6. Yes I am , and it is about the only sauce I do like – but hey I can give myself permission!
    The kids one is interesting – and again why I have a strategy for each level of interference.
    Watching the “pantomine” play out in front of you is always amusing……… wherever and when ever.
    There are times and places where it is and is not appropriate to take children with you when dining. Most of our local eateries (which are pubs / inns) have a nine oclock pm watershed , with the last hour until ten o ‘clock for adult only dining. They also split off their dining rooms into a family section and a quieter more reserved area.
    When we went to Ibiza this year – we were both surprised by how well run the tradditional ( non- tourist) restaurants, run and staffed and used by the spanish residents were. Mabe the Spanish still have control of their children?

  7. I like having “Adult dining” hours and a special “family area” for diners with children. That wouldn’t be necessary if children were well-behaved while out on the town but many times they behave as they behave at home and that’s why the parents react so violently: The children’s behavior is nothing out of their unexpected pattern!
    I wonder if the Spanish do have a way of raising children who know how to behave in public? That is a fine and wonderful research topic!

  8. Ketchup is also verboten anywhere near Chicago-style hot dogs.
    Wikipedia even warns against the red stuff:

    A Chicago-style hot dog – as served in the U.S. city of Chicago, Illinois and its surrounding suburbs. – is a steamed or boiled all-beef, natural-casing hot dog on a poppy seed bun, topped with mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish in fluorescent green, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt — but no ketchup.

    Emphasis added.
    Never ask where the employees live if you are eating at a restaurant that employs many immigrants.
    A pizza place in Gary recently caught fire and illegal immigrant workers were discovered living in extremely cramped conditions in the basement. A local activist said that the guys probably liked living for cheap or no rent, but you have to wonder about your restaurant also being someone’s house.
    The place is shut down because the owner violated all sorts of building codes by putting in small sleeping rooms in the restaurant and for locking the guys in the building in violation of fire codes.

  9. More about not putting ketchup on hotdogs:

    Some Americans believe that a properly made hot dog should never be topped with ketchup. Often these people believe the flavor of ketchup overpowers and destroys the taste of the hot dog instead of complementing it.
    In Chicago, some restaurants and hot-dog stands that consider themselves to be “true” Chicago hot dog grills do not, as a rule, carry ketchup in stock, even if they serve other food items that use this condiment, such as french fries.
    The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, in its recommendations for proper Hot Dog Etiquette capitulate only slightly to the public’s general regard for ketchup, saying “Don’t use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18”. (This alludes to the fact that many children like ketchup on their hot-dogs due to the sweet taste, but adults are expected to have a more sophisticated palate).
    The attitude against the use of ketchup was summarized by Chicago writer, Mike Royko, in one of his columns:
    “No, I won’t condemn anyone for putting ketchup on a hot dog. This is the land of the free. And if someone wants to put ketchup on a hot dog and actually eat the awful thing, that is their right. It is also their right to put mayo or chocolate syrup or toenail clippings or cat hair on a hot dog. Sure, it would be disgusting and perverted, and they would be shaming themselves and their loved ones. But under our system of government, it is their right to be barbarians.”
    In the film Sudden Impact, San Francisco detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) launches a tirade while conversing with a cop who’s munching a ketchup-topped dog at a murder scene:
    “Nah, this stuff isn’t getting to me — the shootings, the knifings, the beatings… old ladies being bashed in the head for their social security checks[.] […] Nah, that doesn’t bother me. But you know what does bother me? You know what makes me really sick to my stomach? It’s watching you stuff your face with those hot dogs. Nobody… I mean nobody puts ketchup on a hot dog.”

    Source: Wikipedia.

  10. Chris!
    I have never understood how to eat slices of tomato and a dill pickle spear with a hotdog. It can’t all fit in your mouth in one bite!
    We try not to put ketchup — or Catsup as it is spelled in Nebraska — on stuff here. We realize it is barbaric.
    We did, however, stutter back a bit when the Green Heinz Ketchup made its debut in the squeeze bottle. It was a bit of nostalgia in green on a bun.

  11. Oh, and Chris?
    Now I see the red you were talking about in your ALL NEW Avatar! Rockin’!
    The “Collage” Avatar was fun. I loved it how you had the spiraling air show plane crashing into the “lighthearted” Daley Plaza Terror Evacuation!

  12. I will do some research on Spanish family values – this may of course require LOTS of site visits over the next year! 🙂
    We stayed in rural Ibiza where the extended family was still very much the norm – with three or more generations still living in the same house. Grandparents would supervise young children, businesses would be family orientated .
    At our favourtie restaurant the grandfather cleared the glasses, grandmother cleared the tables or minded the smaller children, and mother and father served in the bar. Elder children/teenagers served table.
    Families went out as families – they would “promenade” in the evenings. I have also noticed this in Greece and Turkey – although that was many years ago now.
    It could of course be that they have been slower to adopt all the technologies that are “poisoning childhood”.

  13. Hi David,
    It’s interesting how one can have fun with the avatars and how they can tell little stories. I didn’t mean to tell that story — I wonder if it was something from my subconciousness.
    I have to admit I love ketchup on fries and will also eat ketchup on cheap non-Kosher hot dogs — the 99 cent packs on sale that are made out of anything and everything and things one probably doesn’t want to know. ConAgra calls this kind of dog a “mystery meat surprise.”
    Cheap hot dogs — the kind that probably cause genetic mutations — probably don’t qualify as “real hot dogs” for purposes of the ketchup ban because they don’t have that quality taste that is destroyed by the sweet taste of catsup.
    But, ketchup never gets near a dog from any of the hot dog stands, the expensive and tasty kosher dogs, or bratwurst.
    I remember seeing public service commercials as a kid on television warning against drowning food in condiments. Did anyone else ever see those ads?

  14. Yeah, check out how the Spanish raise their children, Nicola and take off as much time you need to visit to get it done!
    The grandparents likely have the kind of values and behavioral standards that we seek. I like it there is a cultural respect for behaving and for pleasing the grandparents.
    I love those links! Children are being poisoned in small doses by the vicious culture of irresponsibility surrounding them.

  15. Hi Chris —
    We eat tofu dogs here. They don’t taste like meat, but they have their own “taste” and you can grill them put lots of fun stuff on them. They are great sources for protein without all the fat and unmentionable body parts.
    A doctor friend of mine claims Mad Cow Disease is, and has always been, in America in a milder strain than gets all the headlines, but we don’t call it “Mad Cow.” We call it Alzheimer’s. He then went on to explain how similar Mad Cow and Alzheimer’s are on so many functional levels as they interact on the body and affect the mind. He believes there will soon be a link between eating tainted beef while young and acquiring Alzheimer’s while old because some people are genetically feeble at warding off the disease in cattle over a lifetime.
    I watched a lot of television growing up. I don’t remember the condiment Ad. It sure sounds interesting, though!

  16. It might have been on a Saturday morning cartoon — maybe a “School House Rock” type of thing.
    I remember ordering a hamburger at a little stand on the Isle of Skye in Scotland back when I was in school. To my horror, the lady opened up a can and plopped beef patties into a boiling pot of water.
    I didn’t have the heart to cancel my order, but seeing how that meat was abused, I can see how some cows would be mad!

  17. Hi David,
    I tried monetizing my avatar, but wasn’t able to get into gravatar a few moments ago. Maybe they are too busy?
    I did a little digging and found out that the PSA was for ABC and was made in 1977.

  18. The “Don’t Drown You Food” commercial is a far cry from the PSA that they must be showing now warning kids to stay off of the crack and crystal meth.

    Hi kids!
    I’m Louis the lifeguard and I’m have a little song about not mixing baked potatoes and methamphetamine!
    Remember kids, too much meth ruins your appetite!

  19. Chris —
    I wonder if our AdVatars are taking off now?
    I visited the website to find more info on the PSA. What company or entity made the PSA?
    I love your updated take! Bwa-ha-!

  20. Oh, and Chris… on the comments page for the PSA someone there said something like, “So it’s not okay to drown your potato in sour cream but it is okay to let your potato friend fall flat on his face?” Ha!

  21. Hi David,
    I have my advatar over at my Karrine Steffans Squidoo lens right now.
    I’m curious to see if I can get it past the Gravatar censors when their site is available.
    I actually did some research on the PSA.
    The agency is DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, according to The Big Cartoon Database.
    DePatie-Freleng Enterprises made the opening for “The Pink Panther,” according to The Golden Age of Cartoons.
    I was thinking a little bit, and I’ve come to the conclusion that “Beavis and Butthead” was a public service announcement designed to encourage kids to stop being little headbangers because being that way really wasn’t cool. 😉

  22. Chris! Your AdVatar is hilarious and smart! Let’s home it makes it through the vetting process!
    That cartoon database is cool!
    Your take on B&B is fab! I think you’re right! They were complete idiots!

  23. Love it, Chris! Love it!
    What’s the difference between that AdVatar and one with a Pepsi logo or Brad Pitt or NASCAR or a star from Anime? They’re all selling SOMETHING to someone!
    The only concern I have for you is if you own the right to use the likeness of the lovely model in your advertising campaign!

  24. Hi David,
    The photo is from — they way I read the license is that it can be used per campaign, so the AdVatar campaign is covered. The photos are super cheap for the quality.
    I have a CD stock photo set at home, but BSP is way better because of the variety.
    I bought licenses for the various places I’m using the ad. (For the larger versions, I bought a license for each site to be nice to the photographer).
    I figure fair use covers the public figures and famous people — since I’m writing news and reviews about them — but I’d never use them in an advertisement since that would be appropriation of their image and isn’t included in fair usage.

  25. you missed out… don’t EVER p*ss off the people who handle your food… there is a lot of far worse things they can do than just spittle!

  26. Funnily enough, I was always taught by my parents that it was bad manners to lean on your elbows on the tabletop in any restaurant. Even now, I daren’t do it lol, I keep thinking that if Mom could see me, she’d kill me.

  27. We were taught that too – at home, anywhere – that was considered bad manners.
    Were you also taught to put your knife and fork together in the middle of the plate when you had finished?

  28. Hi Nicola,

    Were you also taught to put your knife and fork together in the middle of the plate when you had finished?

    If you do that and a member of the wait staff comes by and takes the plate away moments later, that’s a sign of a good restaurant!

  29. Eat “European-style” with your knife in your right hand and fork in your left so you never have to put down your utensils!

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