I spend a fair amount of time eating out. I'd say I have a good 10 meals a day out and about in a city given that it kind of is my part time job and all. When you eat out that much things start to crop up that really piss you off. Everybody has their own personal pet peeves (leave yours in the comments!) but these are the 7 fairly simple things that get me wound up the most when eating out in a restaurant.
Talking Down To Staff Members
I tend to eat out on my own mostly in the evenings because I don't want to bore my friends with me taking pictures and because I like to take in the whole experience when doing a review. I've heard managers or owners berating their staff in public a few times and there is nothing worse. Making somebody feel small in front of an audience isn't smart or cool and it puts me off going back. The 4 times I've seen it happen I've never gone back to those restaurants. Staff will under perform but take them into the kitchen and have a word in private rather than being a complete and utter douchebag and trying to boost your own ego.
Ice Cold Butter
I realise that it is important to obey good hygiene and keep food cold but how am I meant to spread butter that is as cold as fucking rock on my bread. Because you serve it ice cold I'm forced into trying to take micro layers of it out with my knife but I still fail at getting it onto my bread as I slice through the dough and make the whole thing look like a big heap of shit. Have the foresight to take the butter out of the fridge an hour before service. It really isn't that fucking hard.
Taking Forever With The Bill
A meal will typically last for a couple of hours and while we are all happy to sit there and enjoy the atmosphere and take our time eating and drinking there is one time where we need things to happen quickly and that is when we need the bill. The staff think that once all the food is out and coffees served that their job is done and they can forget about you. The action of ordering the bill is in effect you saying "thanks for everything I'd like to pay and leave now". I've had countless amazing dining experiences that have been quickly forgotten by a 20 minute wait for bill when all the waiters have clearly fucked off out the back for a post service smoke.
Adding An Automatic Service Charge / Tip
If the service and food are really good I'm always going to leave a tip. If it is outstanding I'll leave a really good one. Telling me what I should tip or worse still adding it to my bill automatically is an insult and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I know it isn't always the case but when it is done in this way it also makes me wonder are the staff actually getting the full amount or is some of it being skimmed into the restaurant's profits?
When you are working as a chef in a kitchen you have one job when it comes to cooking the food...make it hot. Obviously there are dishes like salads and starters that are meant to be served cold but I'm talking about luke warm food that has clearly been sitting on the pass in the kitchen for 10 minutes. I don't care if my plate is so hot that I can't touch it or that I have to wait for it to cool down when on my plate I just want warm food. Thats the main reason I came to your restaurant after all.
Huge Complicated Menus
Nothing is more annoying than a menu that has about 200 dishes on it. One where you have to scroll through hundreds of pages and by the time you have done so you are non the wiser as to what you want. The really good restaurants are so confident in their food and what they offer that 6 or 8 main courses are plenty. I've also been a chef and all those obscure dishes on your menu make me wonder just how long that food has been sitting in your fridge waiting for me to order it.
The Over Friendly Waiting Staff
You probably think I am being a grumpy bastard with this one given that waiting staff are meant to be super friendly but I'm talking about the ones who just take it too far. The ones who want to be your best friend. Tell you constant jokes. The ones who come over to the table with big cheesy grins and who start telling you about their acting career that is just about to take off at any moment. Now I know that customers are way worse with booze on board and hard to listen to but the great waiting staff know how to serve with a smile, have light banter but also keep a professional distance if you are concluding a business deal or dumping a partner.