Are You Being (Over) Served?

In an essay from Philly Mag’s March issue, Trey Popp is positively prickly over his recent experiences with restaurant servers:

It’s been building for a while — almost any restaurant that’s opened in the past five years holds out the promise of making you feel like a mental midget — but it’s reached a crescendo. You know how it goes. You will be handed a menu, but not because you have been judged capable of reading it. No! First you need a lengthy spiel about the restaurant’s concept and “Chef’s” philosophy. You know the speech I’m talking about. It’s the one that sounds like it’s been memorized from a press release. Then it’s time for a remedial primer on which ingredients are in season and why it’s a good idea to cook with fresh vegetables. Because apparently you can’t be trusted to eschew rotten ones.

Of course, you can’t eat the food until you order it, and you can’t do that until your server explains the procedure, like an overbearing museum docent leading a tour of second-graders. “Have you dined with us before?” you may be asked — even in a pizzeria, ?as I was recently. The next reading is from the Gospel of Sustainability. This is crucial, even if dessert features chocolate harvested in West Africa by child slaves, for the contemporary Philly waiter knows that nothing numbs the mind — and opens the wallet — like repeating the words sustainable, organic, farm-raised and locally sourced without actually defining them.

Read the full essay over at

Are You Being (Over) Served? [Philadelphia magazine]

*Illustration by Zohar Lazar