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Restaurant Critic and Etiquette Doyenne on Sending Back Food

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Today, Voice critic Robert Sietsema answers a reader's query on when it is okay to send back food at a restaurant: never.

A dish comes out inedible for one of two reasons: either the kitchen is slammed, or so incompetent that it can't cook the dish consistently or correctly. In either event, sending it back is not likely to result in an improvement..Sending a dish back fundamentally alters the pace and atmosphere of a meal...
Sietsema also worries about the unsavory way in which the kitchen will "fix" the dish and about retaliation from a pissed off chef. Meanwhile, Florence Fabricant, the Dear Abby of the New York Times has a slightly different take:
If you’re alone, you just send it back. For whatever reason — you’re the customer, you’re always right...Even if you just didn’t like it, or it was not well described, or perhaps you observe certain dietary laws and did not realize...Now, if you’re at a table of two or more it can create an awkward situation...
The Baur Hour over in San Francisco is unfortunately less extreme in his views, simply saying diners need to be judicious. Chefs, eaters, weigh in.
· Sending Food Back in a Restaurant [FitR]
· Dear Flo Fab: Send it Back [Diner's Journal]

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