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It’s Good

July 12, 2016

You know the moment. You’re at a restaurant. The food has been delivered. It looks fine. You take a bite, and truth be told, it’s really not that great.

Is it rancid? No.
Will it make you sick? No.
Can you eat it in polite company without making a face? Sure.

Then the server comes over and asks about your meal. And you say succinctly and without a smile, “It’s good.” Which isn’t entirely a lie.

I hate this moment. But last night, when asked, I told the waitress at a pizza place that the pizza was good when it was absolutely undercooked. So, why did I do this? And why will I continue to do this? Probably for the same reasons as many of you.

Good can mean a lot of things. Food is good on its face, since it satisfies a hunger and keeps us going. Good doesn’t mean great. It doesn’t have to mean that your food has been expertly prepared.

Of course the answer implies that it was at least satisfactory.

But in some ways, I view this service ritual of checking up on the table similarly to the wine ritual. When the som presents you with the cork, and you take a sip of your wine, the object is to taste if the wine is drinkable. Has it turned to vinegar? Has the cork been tainted? It’s not to assess the quality of the wine or determine after the fact, if an Oregonian Pinot Noir is what you want to drink.

Did the food delivered, at least on some level, fulfill the contractual obligations of the restaurant? Sure. I asked for a pizza, and they delivered a pizza. It had crust, sauce, and cheese.

However, the pizza also had a thick gum line. That’s less than fully cooked dough running through the crust. And at a place that bills it’s pies as being well done, and speckled with char, that was underwhelming.

What I didn’t want was for them to throw this food away and wait for a replacement. That seemed wasteful, and frankly, I didn’t have the time. Nor did I want to get into a disagreement about what constitutes a well done pie.

And anyhow, I assumed the restaurant delivered a pie it thought was satisfactory. The cook had a chance to look and feel the crust when taking it out of the oven. The waiter saw the pies when bringing them to the table. And once our first slices were removed, the gum line was clearly visible in the pie to everyone who came to the table and asked us about the pizza.

I know that restaurants would rather have the chance to address problems like this on the spot. But really, from my perspective, there was no winning.

So, I told her, “It’s good.”

Will I return? Maybe. But certainly not soon. However, if I do, I’ll make sure to ask for my pizza well done. And if they tell me their pizzas are already well done, perhaps I’ll explain that last time my pie was undercooked and ask for it extra well done. Which may be the only way to order pizza in these parts. Because it’s entirely possible that in this case, the restaurant shouldn’t bear the full burden of the undercooked pie. As we have learned, Albanians demand bad pizza.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2016 10:35 am

    I tend to look at it similarly. I usually say, “Everything is fine, thank you,” unless it is really wonderful (and then I will say that). I look at it as the waiter checking to make sure that there are no major issues and if I need anything additional. The other day, C got an eggs benedict at brunch where, though the poached eggs are rarely perfect, are usually pretty good, and his eggs weren’t just overpoached, they were hard boiled. But, I mean, everything else was fine. It was disappointing but he wasn’t going to send it back. So, we said, “Yes, everything is fine, thank you.” And we tipped our server well, as it was no fault of hers.

  2. EPT permalink
    July 12, 2016 11:12 am

    You’re just reinforcing the fact that a restaurant can serve substandard food and get away with it. How can your Yelp followers believe what you write when you do something like this. If I or my wife is served a ‘bad’ meal (your pizza would qualify) we bring it to the attention of the server or manager. They should be aware there is an issue.

  3. July 12, 2016 12:12 pm

    EPT sort of called out a good point. We allow substandard food to be served and offer a half hearted “it’s good” before turning to a place like Yelp to trash the restaurant for serving undercooked pizza.

    It’s the double edged sword of the industry. Do you offend the restaurant to its face? Or do you take to the Internet to do so anonymously?

  4. llcwine permalink
    July 12, 2016 12:19 pm

    I usually say…it’s ok…..and leave it at that…unless the server then pursues to get additional feedback.

  5. July 12, 2016 12:58 pm

    It still saddens me that we don’t have a proper Neapolitan pizza joint here. It’s a really big hole in our culinary scene. Restaurant Navona makes an acceptable facsimile, a few others make a good wood fired pizza with a bubbly, charred crust. But this is not horseshoes. Close doesn’t count.

  6. don permalink
    July 12, 2016 6:51 pm

    Maybe rename to WUSSYlittleBLOG?

  7. July 13, 2016 10:32 am

    I remember an almost entirely uneaten dish that was inedible because of all the salt. I didn’t complain, I just didn’t eat it. The waitstaff AND KITCHEN didn’t question the leftovers, especially when I said I didn’t want it bagged up. It made me think they either weren’t paying attention or they didn’t care.

  8. July 13, 2016 12:16 pm

    Your last paragraph is the reason why you should always say something. If you were dissatisfied enough to not want to return any time soon you should have said something. The cook could have been having a bad day, it could have been extremely busy, etc, etc,etc. they have a chance to correct themselves in some way so that you don’t disappear into the ether. Now there is always a chance that they wouldn’t have satisfactorily settled your issue but for every one that leaves with that attitude there are dozens more that disappear never to be heard from again. Btw I also post on Yelp for the same reason. Businesses need to know their customers are dissatisfied or they will be serving to empty rooms. Just my opinion Daniel.

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