There’s no science behind it (yet) but my theory is, if you’re consistently complaining of bad service, it might be because you’re being a dick when you dine.
There’s food and then there’s dining. Choose which one you want.
Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong is the cheapest one-star Michelin restaurant in the world. There’s a three-hour wait on the street, the place is literally a hole in the wall and the food is so sublime you keep eating when you suspect stomach rupture. They pretty much throw food at your table and then push you out the door. I didn’t go for the smiles.
Yelp, TripAdvisor et al have spawned a zombie-army of diners who want to play Top Chef everywhere they go, with few credentials but those self-bestowed when they became “foodies.” Chipotle doesn’t need your stars for service, people.
“Dining” is a multi-sensory adventure based primarily on enjoying the company of your dining partner/s. You are engaging in the ancient ritual of sharing food together. If you walk in and sit down like you’re at “Judges Table” you will only be disappointed. The food should elicit pleasure, yes. The experience need not be made or broken on what you “expect” from your server, or the valet parking, coat check person or soap in the bathroom.
Your steak’s not cooked to your liking? You catch more flies with honey than vinegar my friend and a polite discussion about said steak will ensure it returns without phlegm underneath it.
When you order without eye contact, you’re not an elusive billionaire, you’re a douche.
No one plans on giving bad service.
Overwhelmingly, your server wants you to have a great experience. Being polite will encourage them.
Back in my day bartending I had a Japanese man cheerfully shout “Tab me out! Bitch!” I suspected the translation got awry. I laughed.
Then I had a man yell at me when tending bar in a nightclub because I didn’t pour his wine “just so.” Five times. He berated me in French and became aggressive. I took his glass, handed him a $20 and told him to fuck off.
There are limits, folks. Lording your importance over others is never going to win you friends.
So stop over-researching the restaurant before you arrive. Stop reading the menu online and the reviews from other diners, stop “checking in,” stop taking photographs of your food instead of enjoying the moment with your dinner mate. And stop expecting the same service you get from your mother. You didn’t like her cooking anyway.
What it is people are looking for when they head out on the town. A drink? A meal? A chance to feel special? Or a chance to feel important?
I bet flight attendants will agree with this. Holla if you’re a “flying waiter.”