No, Waiter Dude, Everything Is Not Great

Categories: Complaint Desk

Waiter Flickr.jpg
I'm sure you've been there before. You walk into a restaurant, take your seat and unfold your napkin. You place a drink order with your waiter, and while looking at the menu, you casually ask "So, what's good here?"

Sometimes you'll get a great recommendation or two. Sometimes a waiter will ask about preferences and dislikes and point to a few menu items that really sing or seem to work exceptionally well for previous diners. Most of the time, though, you get the biggest cop out in the history of restaurant recommendations: "Everything is great here!"

The problem is everything isn't great. Even at the very best restaurants, a few dishes always shine a little more brightly that the rest, and there are always a bomb or two. Some dishes have been lingering on the menu a bit too long, and are only ordered occasionally, while others are new dishes a chef has dreamed up and may still be tweaking.

Telling a diner every dish on a menu is as good as the rest is lazy. It robs diners of the chance to interact in a genuine way with a restaurant's staff and lessens the chance that they'll end up with a plate that really speaks to them as a diner -- a plate that makes them want to come back and patronize the restaurant again.

One of the best parts of eating out is the interaction you can have with an enthusiastic staff that is knowledgeable and passionate about a menu. When a customer asks for an opinion, a waiter should spend a little time with the question and try to offer thoughtful advice.

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Clearly this criticism comes from those who have never worked in the business. PERIOD!


Servers need information to make a good recommendation.  The Server who says "Everything is great" is lazy.  The Diner who asks "What is good here?" is just as lazy.  Read the menu, pick a few items and then ask the Server about them.  Servers are not mind readers, and it is after all, your meal.  They aren't your Personal Assistant, and everyone who dines out knows they have more than one table, so act like an adult and a good Server will go above and beyond to make sure you have a great experience.


As a former waiter and manager, it is in the best interest of the server and restaurant for the server to make recommendations. Sell the food and provide the experience. That is what people desire. The more competent you are as a server the more competent the restaurant is and the guest is given a pretty special gift, confidence that they made the right choice of location, menu item, drink etc. If you are the doink server that says, upon greeting the table, "Can I get you a drink?" or "What can I get you to drink" without suggesting anything, you have sold yourself and your payment for your service very short, like your questions. Everything is good is a lazy statement. Yes, sometimes the cooks skill varies. Nonetheless, it is the job as the server to know what to recommend to the person, depending on the situation. Would you suggest a rack of ribs to people having a business meeting? Even if the ribs were the best in the world? Or would you make a more intelligent suggestion of something that can be eaten with a fork without trouble and quick to get from the kitchen? If someone said they wanted a "Rum and Coke" would you say ok or would you ask them what their favorite Rum is or suggest a premium Rum? Lasly, in response to the question "What's good here?" would you respond "The Tips." I hope not...

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

I know I'm always impressed when the guy recommends the Chop House Burger over the standard double-cheese-double combo.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I think that question puts an unfair burden on the server.  The dish may be fabulous one day and off another day, depending on the cook.  Also, the waitstaff is probably disinclined to say that some of the menu choices suck, for fear of being overheard by the boss.


I love it when their favorite thing on the menu also happens to be the most expensive thing on the menu.

Yesterday at Boulevardier, I loved our waiter (truly) who gave us options depending on whether we were in the mood for either sweet or savory - without us having to ask!


I also can't stand when a waiter refuses to give their opinion and instead asks a series of progressively more focused questions resulting in the selection of the only remaining "qualified" dish.  For example, I ask what they recommend.  They reply with "do you prefer salad or pasta?"  I'm okay up to that point as I appreciate the desire to have a bit of information to guide your recommendation, but then it continues with "fish or chicken" ... "do you like your chicken grilled or fried" ... "do you like tomato sauce or pesto" ... "you should get the grilled chicken pasta with red sauce."  I could have done that on my own, that's why I asked for what YOU think is particularly good.

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I like when they ask you if everything tastes great today and you respond no it doesnt and the waiter says "thats good" and walks off.  Its like they just asked to ask and didnt care what the response was.  Interaction, people, should not just be a blow question or answer


@DemigodH  That's because you bastard customers always ask "what's good here?" and when I tell you what my favorite dish is, you respond with "Oh, I don't like spinach", and respond to my second option with "oh no, tomato sauce won't do", and to my third option with "do you have chicken wings?"

You ask me "what's good here", and my response will be "well just about all of it's great, but what are you in the mood for? You want pizza, seafood, chicken, something baked? do you like alfredo sauce or tomato sauce?"  I'll recommend menu items, but you're probably not going to take my advice anyway.

One other thing: if you ask me how a particular dish is and I respond with "it's very popular", I'm telling you the half-truth:  A lot of customers really do love it, but I think it tastes like shit.  If I like it I'll tell you it tastes good.

To summarize: You people who ask "what's good here?" are barely any better than the people who ask me to just read the entire menu to them out loud because they forgot their reading glasses in the car or because they're just sadistic assholes who don't care that I don't have time for this during the dinner rush.


@ScottsMerkin  This is aggravating but happens most of the time at fast paced restaurants which isn't ok but understandable in a sense.

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