We get it: Everyone's a critic and no restaurant can be all things to all people all of the time. But with some effort to appease, these not-too-problematic complaints can be fixed and we can stop with the bitching. Here goes:
Servers on phones: A long time ago in a galaxy before cell phones, you'd never see a server talking on the telephone while on duty. So when did it become acceptable for people on the clock to check their phones, text and tweet while they have tables? I know you think everything's fine because you've taken our order or delivered our food, but if we should need something, it's impossible to catch your eye when all you can look at is that little screen. — K.N.
Static menus. How can you be using the bounty of the season if your menu is identical in July and January? I understand keeping some favorites on the menu — heaven help Ipanema if it ever attempts to take the grilled Gouda sandwich off the menu, for example. But menus that don't reflect the kitchen's openness to trying new dishes seem fusty and dated. That isn't what Richmond's about anymore. — K.N.
Dessert lists with no chocolate options. And, no, chocolate bread pudding doesn't count. We understand that chefs are tired of chocolate — but many customers aren't. There's a nice little profit margin in desserts, so it pays to have at least one chocolate choice for those willing to ratchet up their tab at the end. But please, can we leave chocolate lava cake to other '80s memories? — K.N.
Restaurant websites that suck. And by suck, I mean have no opening or closing times, address or phone number on the landing page. Who cares about your pretty pictures of food if I can't make a reservation or even find out if you're open? — R.M.
A coffee shop that isn't open early enough to get caffeine before work. — R.M.
Overly chatty servers. I love that you want to talk to me but I also came to eat. — R.M.
Crummy wine glasses. How can I take your wine list seriously if you serve the wine to me in a mason jar? — R.M.
Closing before your stated closing time. Either you're open or you aren't. A bait and switch is infuriating. — R.M.
Chef drama. Be nice. Working in a kitchen is difficult. Why make it more difficult by being a pain in the ass? This goes for patrons as well. We don't get a pass because it's our "night out." Do unto others. ... — R.M.
Multiple menus, all of them the size of a toddler. Why is there a need for so many menus? No one's good at everything. Also, why the clipboard? I want beer, not a book. — R.M.
Mediocre food trucks. Food trucks offer a lower-cost entry for aspiring restaurateurs, and for a while food trucks felt innovative and intriguing. What creativity will be wrought from a small space with limited available cooking methods? But gone are the days when the announcement of a new food-truck court excites me. Too many uninspired menus and poorly cooked meals plague our food-truck scene. — M.F.
Inconsistency from the kitchen. Far too frequently I'll have an amazing meal, come back on a different night to have the exact same dish be a disaster. I'd like to have confidence when I recommend a restaurant or a particular menu choice that it will be good regardless if the chef is in the kitchen. The restaurant-staff gossip of which restaurants to avoid on which nights needs to become a thing of the past. — M.F.
Servers who don't know their menus. I hate asking for guidance about a new menu and receiving useless, uninformed platitudes about what's popular. McDonald's is popular, but that doesn't mean it's good or suits my taste or mood. Expert servers give a meaningful preview of the dining experience. — M.F.
Second that opinion: Servers should taste and know the menu. If you must ask their advice — not a good idea — they may say, "I don't eat (fill in the blank)." Worse: "I'm a vegan." If they won't eat your food, don't hire them, no matter how many tattoos they sport. Also, this isn't a friendship. I don't need to know the server's name. — D.B.
Brunch as a kitchen afterthought. Especially at brunch, when the head chef often is at home, the standard fare such as eggs Benedict often comes overcooked, or worse, undercooked. — D.B.
Music can be a deterrent. Contrary to industry belief, the music isn't on to entertain the staff. If there's a reason for it (thematic), then OK. But if it's a slow night and the place is almost empty, don't subject me to your (bad) taste. — D.B.
Dishes that aren't cleared promptly. If there are several dirty tables, it's best to walk out. — D.B.