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What are your expectations dining out?

Even though I excessively cook and love doing so, I must admit I also enjoy dining out and not having to worry what to prepare for dinner and the stress of selecting something the family or guests like. When we entertain we go way out and beyond normal preparation for a dinner which carries over from the Mediterranean cuisine and I apply all my energy to make sure everyone has a great meal and enjoyable evening.

Because I am involved and love cooking, when I do go out I expect good service and good food, which anymore is becoming more and more difficult to find. I know what it takes to have a dining room full of customers with many people ordering a variety of different food, such as steaks, fish, hamburgers and along side dishes and salads.

Restaurants must deal with many types of customers with each having different likes and taste buds and some easy going and others difficult to please.

What type of a customer are you? What are your expectations on atmosphere, service, cleanliness and general attitude of your waitress or waiter. I do not like to criticize anyone because we all are human and do make mistakes. Keep in mind that every business owner wants to provide you with good service, food and please you so you will return to their establishment again. A good server can help make your evening enjoyable even if the food turns out to be so-so.

Your server is the most important contact you have making sure they answer all your questions, get your order correct and all with an enthusiastic and pleasant personality and keeping in mind that her gratuity depends entirely on the service she or he provides for you.

It is very important that restaurant owners and managers emphasize to all their employees that “customers are always right” and always strive to provide above average service.

What are your expectations? Do you get upset when you end up with a server with no personality or smiley face, do you get upset when other people order after your table but get their food before you do? Does your server keep checking to refresh your beverage or to check if you need or want anything or do they fail to do so.

What are your expectations? Do you get upset if you have to wait for a table or they do not take advanced reservations? I usually wait because I have set my mind prior to order a certain meal that they have that I enjoy. Then what do you do if you are seated and order then shortly afterward the server comes to your table with “sorry we are sold out of the item you ordered.”

One suggestion is you should always check your main entree to see if it is cooked the way you wanted, especially steaks and chops that are ordered from rare to well done. Always keeping in mind however if it is not correct it is not the server’s fault, but the cook’s in the kitchen who put the food out. So do not take it out on your server.

There are many aspects to running a restaurant so please take this into consideration when you go out to eat and don’t be too surprised if you come home disappointed with your meal or service. We all make mistakes and no one is perfect so be slow to criticize and the ones of you reading this that have worked in the food business know very well what I am saying.

Till Next Week

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SWISS ENCHILADAS

1 onion, chopped

cooking oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups tomato puree

2 (4 ounce) cans of chopped green chilis

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

salt

12 tortillas

6 chicken bouillon cubes

3 cups of half-and-half cream

1/2 pound Monterey jack cheese grated.

Saute onion in 2 tablespoons oil until soft. Add the garlic, tomato puree, green chillies and chicken. Season with salt to taste and simmer 10 minutes. Fry tortillas in 1 inch hot oil. Do not let them become crisp as they are to be rolled. Dissolve bouillon cubes in hot cream. Dip each tortilla in cream, cover generously with chicken filling and roll up. Arrange rolls in baking dish and pour remaining cream mixture over them. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Freezes well. Serves six.

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CHICKEN CHOW MEIN

12 to 14 large half chicken breasts boned and skinned

oil

1 whole bunch celery

2 bunches green onions

1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced or 2 (8 ounce) cans of sliced mushrooms drained 1 (20 ounce) bag of frozen oriental style vegetables or 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen broccoli spears thawed

2 tablespoons La Choy Brown gravy sauce 1 cup soy sauce

1 (13 and 3/4) ounce can of chicken broth 1 cup of water

2 (10 and 1/2 ounce) cans of cream of chicken soup

2 (16 ounce) cans of beans sprouts, drained

1 (8 ounce) can of water chestnuts, drained and sliced

1 (8 ounce) can of bamboo shoots drained 1 (4 ounce) jar of diced pimientos, drained 1 tablespoon cornstarch or more

Chow mein noodles.

Cut chicken breast into bite size chunks. Saute chicken pieces in hot oil; remove from pan. Cut celery and green onions diagonally half inch thick. Add celery, green onions, mushrooms and oriental vegetables or broccoli spears, which have been cut into 1 and 1/2 inch pieces to pan. Add gravy sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth and water. Cover and steam until vegetables are barely crisp. Do not overcook. Add chicken and next 5 ingredients. Thicken with cornstarch mixed with broth from vegetables. Serve over chow mein noodles. Freezes well. Thaw before reheating so vegetables will be crisp. Serves 12 to 14.

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BROCCOLI AND CARROT CRUDITES

Carrots:

8 small carrots

3 tablespoons vinegar

3 tablespoons oil

1 clove garlic crushed

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Fresh parcley minced

Broccoli:

1 large head of fresh broccoli

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 cup sliced stuffed olives

1/4 cup lemon juice

To prepare carrots: cut in small sticks. Mix other ingredients and pour over carrots. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To prepare broccoli: wash and cut in bite-sized flowerets. Toss in oil, sprinkle with garlic salt and toss again. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To serve, drain carrots and broccoli in center platter and surround with carrots and broccoli. Pile broccoli in center of platter and surround with carrots. Serve cold. May be prepared two days in advance. Serves 12.

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HERB DIP

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup chopped or dried parsley

1 tablespoon grated or dried onion

1 tablespoon chopped or dried chives

1/8 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Garlic salt to taste

1/2 cup sour cream

Mix all ingredients, folding in sour cream last. Serve as dip for raw vegetables. May be prepared 1-2 days ahead. Makes 1 1/2 cups of dip.

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CARAWAY CELERY STICKS

Caraway Celery Sticks

1 whole bunch celery

1 whiter onion, finely sliced

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/3 cup salad oil

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 tablespoon caraway seed

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Trim tops from celery. Separate celery into ribs. Cut ribs into 3-inch lengths; cut each length into 4 1/4-inch wide sticks. In a large bowl place celery. Add onion and parsley. Combine oil, vinegar, caraway seed, salt, sugar and white pepper; mix well. Pour over celery mixture; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. May be prepared several days in advance. Keeps well in refrigerator for about a month. Yields 1 1/2 quarts.

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FRESH CORN LOAF

2 cups fresh corn cut off cob

1 cup chopped fresh tomato

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped green pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 eggs

1/2 cup of evaporated milk

1/2 cup water

Mix together corn, tomato, onion, green pepper, salt, pepper, corn meal and cheese. Combine well and let mixture sit for 30 minutes. Beat eggs; add to evaporated milk and water, mixing well. Then add egg mixture to vegetables. Pour into a greased 2 quart casserole or loaf pan and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Serve hot or cold. This is great with ham sandwiches for as a picnic dish. Serves 6 to 8.

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CORN, LIMAS AND TOMATOES

1 medium onion chopped

1 green pepper chopped

oil

1 (16 ounce) can of whole kernel white corn, drained

1 (17 ounce) can of Lima beans, drained

1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce

1 (16 ounce) can stewed tomatoes

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper

seasoned salt to taste

4 slices bacon

Cook onions and green pepper in a little oil until tender. Combine the corn, limas, tomatoes sauce, tomatoes, vegetables and seasoning in an 8-by-8 casserole. Lay bacon slices across top. Bake covered at 350 degrees for one hour and uncovered the last 10 minutes to crisp bacon. Serves 8.

Variation of this dish may be made with fresh vegetables. Cover bottom of casserole with bacon slices then place over bacon a layer of fresh lima beans, a layer of sliced, peeled fresh tomatoes, chopped onion and green pepper, a layer of fresh white corn cut off cob, a second layer of tomatoes and a covering a bacon strips. Salt and pepper liberally between layers cover and bake as above for at least 1 hour or until limas are done.

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