Ask the Editor: How Do I Send Food Back Without Looking Like an Ass?

You're at your favorite restaurant and, for whatever reason, the dish you ordered is not to your liking. Here's how you can send it back, guilt-free.

Guy looking like an ass | Photo via iStock

Welcome to Ask the Editor, a new weekly column by yours truly where I answer all of your Philly food and drink questions. Have some burning ones already? Email me here.

How the hell do I send food back without looking like an ass?

— Jamie in Northern Liberties

Philly Mag food editor Alex Tewfik

It happens. Your steak is overcooked. Your eggs aren’t cooked enough. You finally found the courage to try goat but regretted it after your first bite. What now? Just choke it down and pay for it? Send it back and risk looking like an ass? Upset the kitchen staff with your philistine palate?

First things first: Mistakes happen. It’s not your fault, nor is it your server’s, and that’s a good starting position. Please, do not gag your way through your meal. You’re a paying customer looking for a good time—and it’s in the restaurant’s best interest to give you one. Just put your fork down and politely let the server know about the mistake (the sooner, the better, too; there’s no greater sin than eating your entire meal and complaining about it after the fact). Smile.

Servers should clear the plate and rectify the situation, no questions asked. If they give you a hard time, they’re not very good at their job. And if that’s the case, you’re just that much more of an
educated diner.