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Meal Returned

My cousin and I love meeting at a vegan restaurant between our two houses because we can have anything on the menu.  They change the menu every few months, so I jump on and check the menu before we head to the restaurant.  I’m that bad with surprises: I don’t even like my restaurant menus to look different.

I usually get one of the fake meat options because they’re something I wouldn’t make for myself, but this time I was super curious about a bagel-themed salad.  It’s vegan, but they had recreated the experience of a bagel and lox in salad form.

Let me begin by saying that I have never had lox.  I mean, I haven’t had any fish, but I have especially not had lox because the smell just about kills me.  But is there anything more Jewish than a bagel and lox?  Here was my chance to partake in the experience without having to actually partake in the experience.  I would know what everyone else was consuming, and I would not have to actually consume said fish to gain this knowledge.

So I ordered the salad.

And I hated it.

My cousin has tried lox before, and she said that the fake fish came pretty damn close to the taste and texture of the real thing.  Not only could I not consume the lox portion, but the whole salad had me feeling squicked out.

I was going to box it and take it home for Josh to eat because it was my bad.  The restaurant delivered exactly what the restaurant said it was going to deliver.  It was now my problem because I had ordered it.  But my cousin kindly informed our waitress that the salad was squicking me out, and the waitress told me it was no trouble to let me order something different.

I felt both so grateful and so guilty.  It felt so damn wasteful, and I hate waste!

I know that restaurants want customers to be happy.  This restaurant, in particular, has always gone above and beyond to accommodate needs.  But needs are different from wants.  Food allergies should always be worked around, but likes and dislikes?  I don’t know.  I was really on fence as to whether I deserved different food if I ordered poorly.

Have you ever sent back a dish?

13 comments

1 Jenn P { 02.15.17 at 7:39 am }

That was really nice of them. I think I have tried lox once but I don’t like salmon or the smoked flavoring. The only times I have sent back a dish was due to gluten: olive garden with a gluten noodle in it, red robin with oniom ring crumbs in the sweet potato fries. Red robin even had me fill out an incident report in case I needed medical attention then the record would be there.

2 Cristy { 02.15.17 at 8:29 am }

As guilty as you feel about the waste, I think the restaurant did exactly the right thing. Their goal is to retain customers and customers that feel cared for usually return. The other thing is you weren’t cheating the system (which I’ve witnessed) by insisting on keeping both orders (woman consumed most of her order, complained to management that she was unhappy, then boxed up the second meal to take home).

Part of being in customer-based industries is catering to people’s likes and dislikes. The goal is to create an enjoyable experience. Those that are very good at what they do can go so far as to convince people what they should and should not like. It’s part of the mentality.

3 torthuil { 02.15.17 at 8:54 am }

You are a regular customer, so while the restaurant didn’t HAVE to bring you another meal, it was in their interests to do so and you need not feel guilty. They will easily recoup any loss when you come back again and again. Also, good for you for trying something outside your comfort zone. Now I have to google that meal because I cannot picture how fish and a bagel (?) becomes a salad.

4 Chickenpig { 02.15.17 at 8:54 am }

It is a restaurants job, and their pleasure, to satisfy their patrons, just like you would want to satisfy guests at your home. If I work hard to make a dinner for my kids, but something about it makes it impossible for them to eat it, I make them something else so they won’t go hungry. Not being able to eat something because of a serious texture, scent, or flavor aversion is not the same as just not liking something, you literally CAN’T eat it. Most of my serious food aversions happened when I was pregnant, but some of them stuck with me, and you never know what dish will smack you in the face with one.

5 Karen { 02.15.17 at 9:14 am }

I love that they did this. I am very much aligned with you about ordering something I don’t like – I would never send back an item if I just didn’t like it, because I’d feel the same way. And I love that that they were so kind about it, that they worked around taste – not just allergies or food intolerances. So great.

6 35jupiterdrive { 02.15.17 at 9:56 am }

I think it’s pretty standard for any decent restaurant to get you something else, even if you did order something that you didn’t like. It also gives them information: should we warn people that this tastes really fishy, or tooo close to the real thing (a long-time problem with vegetarian fake stuff – this isn’t a first & I’ve been vegetarian for 35 years now). And retaining customers is important.

You can tell the people who are trying to rip off the restaurant. They’ve eaten most of their meal and they get loud and entitled. Rather than apologetic & embarrassed.

7 Working mom of 2 { 02.15.17 at 10:00 am }

I have been vegan for 12 years and I consume a lot of faux meats. But pretty much just stuff I ate before. For example, I literally never ate fish other than tuna, so I can’t stomach any faux fish other than tuna (this recipe is great: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?catId=10&pageId=398). Faux shrimp is gross to me just like real shrimp; same with faux ham, etc.

I never had lox either so I imagine my reaction would have been the same as yours. Reminds me of one time when someone at work brought this huge spread of bagels with assorted toppings including lots of lox to a staff meeting and I was stuck in that room for a couple hours with the overpowering smell. Yuck.

8 Charlotte { 02.15.17 at 10:53 am }

I have a really hard time ordering different things at a restaurant because I’m always afraid I won’t end up liking it. That being said, I have no problem sending something back if I don’t like it, for any reason. My thought is that YOU are paying your hard-earned money for something. You wouldn’t keep a couch you hated just because, right? It’s the same thing. Eating out is a rare treat for me, and I absolutely won’t waste my money on something I didn’t like. I used to wait tables, and let me tell you that it’s so much easier to make the person happy and satisfied with their meal and experience vs having them pissed off and leave a crappy/no tip or complain to the manager.

9 Mrs. Gamgee { 02.15.17 at 6:43 pm }

That was very nice of the restaurant to do that for you… certainly above and beyond. I am an adventurous eater, but there have been times when I have gone too far in the name of trying something new and have had regrets. Oh, and just so you know, I do the ‘go online and check the menu’ before I go out often too. Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices and I like to take my time and think about what I want before I get there. Case in point, my Beloved and I are going for a little weekend away in April, and I’m already scouting restaurants to work out what I might be interested in.

10 Jill A. { 02.15.17 at 7:46 pm }

I don’t see any problem with sending it back, especially since they offered. That was nice service! I know what you mean by not being comfortable with it. Let’s face, if I put a meal on the table and anyone tried that they would most likely be wearing it. 😀 But no one is paying me to cook or to be pleasant at home. And I don’t get upset if guests choose not to eat something. So, it was nice of them, but well within good business practices.

11 Jess { 02.16.17 at 9:54 pm }

I’m glad they let you order something else. I’m with you, I sort of feel like when I order something that isn’t so great for me, I did choose it, so isn’t it sort of on me for choosing the bad choice? But ultimately, the restaurant wants you to have a great experience and then tell more people about that. So, if something is squeegy to you, you should be able to get something more amenable to your tastes. I can’t imagine fake lox. I love smoked salmon, but I feel like I like vegan/vegetarian food when it’s being its own thing far more than when it’s trying to be something it’s not. If that makes any sense at all. If they restaurant offers a different choice, I say take them up on it. 🙂

12 Jamie { 02.17.17 at 2:24 am }

That was very kind of the restaurant. I think it speaks to how they value their customers. You tried something new, and it did not turn out as you planned. It does not happen often and it sounds like they wanted to help out a regular, supportive customer. It was a nice gesture.

13 Mali { 02.19.17 at 4:25 am }

I’d never send anything back if I’d ordered something and received exactly what they promised. Though if they asked me how I liked it I would be honest, and then it’s up to them to suggest something else. A good restaurant will do this, and I’m glad your favorite spot did so. It’ll mean that you will go back happily next time. A win-win.

I’m not vegan, but fake lox sounds awful!

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