Subject: Re: US dining
I was by myself in NYC over the Christmas holiday and had dinner one night at Rosie O'Grady's on 7th Avenue. I know that it was suppose to be very good, but I think that was decades ago. Anyway, it was just one for dinner, so I ordered a half bottle of wine (not outrageous, but $16), the lobster appetizer and the mushroom appetizer, with the mushrooms to be served as my main course.

The waitress brought my wine over, opened it and left the foil wrapper on the table. She poured me a little to taste, I said it was okay, and she proceeded to put the bottle on the table, without pouring me any more. So I poured my own. Within 3 to 4 minutes, the lobster was put down in front of me and I started to eat. Since I always try to eat slowly, I have a rule about putting my utensils down between each bite. But I don't put them down in a way to signal that I'm done, but in a way that shows I'm still eating. About half way through my lobster, a busboy swooped down and took my plate away. I said, WHOO, I'm not done with that yet and he apologized and put it back down. Right behind him was the waitress with my mushrooms. So now I have both of my courses in front of me and I'm eating them. Not even 10 minutes later, the waitress came back and put the bill on the table. She didn't even wait till I had finished eating! Nor did she ask me if I wanted coffee, dessert, etc.

I ended up paying my bill, and left a $10 tip on a $40 meal. But part of me felt kind of ripped off. I walked into the restaurant at 10:30 and was out of there by 10:55, so I doubt they seated my table again. And the restaurant serves till 12:00 on Saturdays, so it's not like I was keeping anyone from going home. I could very well be wrong, but I'm sure in my heart that they treated me that way because I was alone.

Not to say this only happens in the US. I was in Paris in February of last year, and was so rushed one night that I walked into a restaurant with an 8:00 dinner reservation and was out on the street by 8:45. And that night I ate a 3 course meal!

This seems to happen mostly when I dine alone and it really bothers me. When I'm traveling, I like to relax over dinner because when I'm done, it's back to the hotel room. And who wants to sit in their room alone when they can at least be out eating among other people. I also think that wait staff assumes that a youngish looking woman eating alone is not going to tip very well. Little do they know that I have waitresses at various times in my life, and know what it's like. 20% tip is very standard for me, and if they treat me with respect, even more. It really can put a damper on the whole evening.

Cat in Chicago