Sitting in the chair at the restaurant, you placed your order, and you’re minutes away from that dream steak. As it arrives, it has the perfect sear on the outside, but as you take your knife and cut into it, the meat is more brown than pink. Most of us go ahead and eat it anyway, somewhat dissatisfied. We don’t want to be “that person.”
But after speaking with numerous chefs, there is a way for you to send back your food that won’t offend the restaurant staff. Here’s how to send back your food the right way, including specifically what you need to say.
WHEN YOU SHOULD SEND YOUR FOOD BACK
First and foremost, there are very few reasons you can't send a dish back to the kitchen. If you advised the staff you have an allergy, but your meal has ingredients in it that you requested be avoided, you should have the dish remade rather than have the ingredients removed. Likewise, if the food you ordered is overcooked or served cold, the same rule applies—it should be remade. Additionally, if your meal is missing an ingredient that's crucial to taste, smell, or aesthetic, you can safely send the dish back, or if you requested an ingredient be held and it was still included.
WHEN YOU CAN’T SEND FOOD BACK
If you modify a dish and it turns out you don’t like it, you should avoid sending the meal back. This error is on you rather than the chef since you altered the dish’s original flavors. Additionally, if you wait too long to “dig in” to your meal, you can ask to have it reheated, but avoid requesting a new plate altogether.
HOW TO SEND YOUR FOOD BACK
Never be afraid to send your food back for the right reasons, but be sure to stick to the facts of the situation. If a dish arrives and includes an allergen or you find a foreign object, you should take a step further and complain to a restaurant manager. Explain to them what happened, and advise you wanted to bring it to their attention. This allows the manager to determine what happened and allows them the opportunity to ensure a service recovery at your table.
According to Food & Wine, if you plan to send your dish back, avoid eating too much of the meal to prevent raising some eyebrows. While there is no hard and fast rule about how many bites are acceptable, having a few bites is obviously fine.