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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Mid-Meal Question.

Posted by Patrick Alan Coleman on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 3:43 PM

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I’ve had a disappointing string of meals recently, all in restaurants that were, or will be, subjects of Last Supper. Over the last month or so, while working my way through some ho-hum grub, I have been struck with a little conundrum. Let me set the scene:

I’m sitting in a booth where my first few bites of a particularly alluring menu item have left me under-whelmed. If it’s not particularly obvious, I may be trying to tease out the reason why the dish isn’t working. So I’m chewing and thinking and chewing. But also, I’m still hungry, so regardless of how I feel about what I’m putting in my pie-hole (generally not pie) I’ll probably eat at least half of what’s in front of me.

So I’m still chewing and thinking and chewing when a server comes over to my table and asks the mid-meal question, “So how is everything for you tonight?”

Here things go one of two ways:

1. My mouth is full (blessedly) and I make a non-committal sound, hide my mouth with my napkin (instinctually), and nod my head.

2. My mouth is not full and I must answer verbally.

The problem is that I am trying to avoid anything that might get a manager involved or otherwise make my table the "one with the problem." At the same time, I have an overwhelming guilt when I answer “Just fine,” when the gravy is obviously too congealed, or the cheesecake is obviously burnt on the bottom.

The issue is complicated by the fact that I have a public forum for my opinion, and that anything I say during the meal could be used against me if the server were to remember what I ordered and when I was there.

Add to the whole thing the fact that the server is often very nice, and honestly wants to know how everything is, and you have an interaction with the possibility to put a black cloud over the meal.

So I put it to you, Blogtownies. How honestly do respond to the mid-meal question?

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