"We got scammed at a fake restaurant in Bologna. I can't believe we fell for it. The place had me by looking all bohemian and rustic, so of course, you think it's a local place right? Plus it was off the beaten path. Usually, these traps are right in a major tourist area.
Since it's right outside our bed and breakfast, I make a reservation. I should have known something was up when he wanted a deposit. If this happens to you in Italy, run, don't walk, towards the door. He's afraid that you will hear the truth about the restaurant when you tell someone you are going there and that you won't come for dinner.
Second warning sign - no prices anywhere. You are going to get hit with the idiot tax. And we did. Frozen entrees and old shellfish. I had the scariest spaghetti vongole ever - I swear the garlic was piled on to hide the stench of rotting seafood. My husband had an obviously frozen vegetable lasagna. The veggies for everything, including the anti-pasta, must have been weeks old. The portions were huge and very, very bad. The waiters are sweet as pie because they know it's harder for you to complain when you are given a free drink here, a little extra dessert there. They know that you are on vacation and don't want to cause a scene in a country where you don't know the rules, and plus, you don't want to ruin such a nice evening. Oh yeah, they 'don't speak English.'
Then you get the bill. It's going to be double or triple any other place. Maybe quadruple. And there is nothing you can do. They may be getting their food from an illegal source, and you know that they are cheating on their taxes and relying on bribes to keep operating. So the police might even be on their side. You just pay that idiot tax and write a scathing review on Trip Advisor hoping that helps someone else."
"I ordered a cheddar-stuffed cheeseburger for lunch at a sports bar/restaurant in Indianapolis. I was intrigued because I've tried fixing this type of burger before, but the cheese always runs out and the whole burger gets ruined.
The burger comes out, and the first thing I notice is that it's shaped more like a meatball than a burger patty. The entire burger was at least four or five inches tall. I take a bite and there is no cheese. There's just this big, hollow, golf-ball size spot in the middle where I assume cheese once resided. Oh well, I figure I still have a burger I can eat, even though it's not the cheesy meat pinata I'd been hoping for.
I take two more bites, and I notice that there are bits of pink meat spread out in weird spots in the meat. Usually, the center or one side will be a little pink, but there were four or five one-centimeter bits of pink spread out through the whole thing. I have no idea how they accomplished that unless some of it was frozen.
I ask the waiter what's going on with this burger, and he basically explains that it's not uncommon for the cheese to run out during cooking. Why would you put an item on the menu that turns out crappy at least some of the time? Why would you serve it?
I didn't even eat half of it. The waiter noticed my full plate and comped me for the cost of the burger (but still charged me for my drink and fries).
I completely lost my appetite for the rest of the day. I forced myself to eat a small bag of Doritos for dinner. That night, I jump out of my hotel bed, run to the bathroom, and puke for 10 minutes. I puke so long blood comes up. Then the other end of the intestinal track decided it wanted to be purged too. Even more blood.
Yup, food poisoning. Nothing quite compares to being stuck in another city in a crappy hotel puking up blood and bile thinking you're going to die. The conference I had to attend at 8 a.m. was a blast. I'm glad no one knew me because I looked like a hot mess. I even popped a blood vessel in one of my eyes. That's the only meal I've ever had that ruined 24 hours of my life."
"When I was in high school, I lived in a tiny rural hamlet. We would go on field trips to the city to watch plays and the ballet and I would always stop at a new restaurant before the productions began.
We settled on Earl's. There were 30 kids and one teacher, and we were all well behaved and respectable country kids. We sat at five tables, one a table of 10 (my table), and four tables of five. We had all decided beforehand to each tip our waiter $10.
We asked the waiter before we ordered our food if we could have separate bills between us, he told us that due to the size of our party, he was not willing to do that. We told him that we understood, and would sort it out amongst ourselves.
We ordered our food, and after it arrived, our waiter was nowhere to be seen, no refills, no checking up on us, but we knew it was busy and didn't care much since we were teenagers and excited to be in the city without our parents.
Without a word, he walked up to our table and dropped a bill in the middle. He did not ask us if we would like anything else our how we enjoyed our meal.
Because of the meals all being on the same ticket we started calculating who owed what after we figured out the bulk of it we put the bills to the side and started to deal with the change. There was about $30 worth of change we were counting (This is in Canada so our $1 and $2 are coins) and the waiter walks by, sees the change and taps me on the shoulder. I look up at him and in the most disgusted voice he says, 'You kids realize that I put up with you all evening and that (pointing to the money on the table) is NOT 10%.'
I was so shocked and angry he could not be bothered with us all evening, couldn't put our food on separate tabs, and so when we are dividing everything up and hadn't even started getting our tip money out he was going to approach us like that? Not to mention we were all well behaved and polite, so I have no idea what he had to 'put up with.' My friend went to speak with our teacher about what just happened and he was livid. He said that the waiter had been rude and absent at their table as well and we had come to find (not surprisingly) that this had repeated itself amongst all the tables. Other tables apparently had it much worse, getting the wrong food and then when they approached the waiter he said no that is what you ordered just be quiet and eat it. My teacher told us not to leave a tip and he would speak with a manager.
Once on our way to the production, our teacher told us he had left a note on the table that said something along the lines of: 'We do this every month and the kids love to make people happy. Tonight they were planning on leaving $10 dollars each on a bill of $955.65. That is a 31.39% tip. I hope you reflect on your behavior this evening.'"
"We were in a restaurant we've gone to sporadically over the years. It's usually reasonably good.
We're seated and our drink order is taken. I mention to the waitress that there's no silverware on the table, and she says 'Oh, no problem, I'll be right back.' She shows back up 10 minutes later to take our dinner order. We order, and I again mention the lack of silverware. 'Oh, right, hang on.'
We don't see her again for 30 minutes. Drinks are empty, no silverware, nothing. Can't even find her in the restaurant.
After 30 minutes, she shows up again with our meals, both pasta dishes. She sets them down, and I again mention that we have no silverware, and can't eat our dinner. 'Oh, I'm so sorry, hang on.'
She disappears again. There's something horrible about being very hungry and staring at your meal while being unable to eat it. Stomach's rumbling, you're salivating, you're so darn ready to dig in, but you can't.
After staring at our dinner for at least five minutes, I get up, go to the setup table and grab two full sets of silverware and napkins, and return to the table. We eat, and our waitress is MIA.
Twenty minutes after we've finished our meals, still no waitress. I get up and ask to see the manager. I tell her what happened and she accuses me of trying to steal the silverware. Blew my mind.
Suffice it to say, we've never gone back and have dissuaded lots of people from eating there."
"I was a small child, in a small town where the fanciest restaurant was a Ponderosa Steakhouse. One night, my parents decided that a fine meal was in order, so we made our way there.
If you've never been to a Ponderosa: imagine a middle-school cafeteria buffet dropped into a steakhouse that needed to be remodeled in the '70s. The tables were plastic, the chairs were folding metal contraptions, the indoor-outdoor carpet had a disquieting green shimmer to it, and the blinds stayed shut so that you couldn't quite see what you were eating.
My father was a quiet, unassuming man. I can count on one hand the times I saw him get angry. Dinner at the Ponderosa was one of those times, and it was the only time I ever heard him swear in public.
When we arrived, it was clear that everyone working there wished they were working somewhere else. The hostess was surly, and the waiter acted like he was doing us a favor by taking drink orders. But, hey, it's a buffet/steakhouse, we weren't there to make friends. We were there to eat until we regretted it.
We didn't even get to eat a bite before we regretted it. My dad and I went to the buffet, filled our plates (and one for mom), and returned to the table. I slid my fork into the mashed potatoes. I brought the fork to my mouth. I realized the pepper flakes were moving.
'What the HECK?!'
I dropped my fork. I'd never heard him shout like that, much less one fueled by that much rage, and it legit scared me. I was a small child. I began to cry. My father's gaze was fixed on his green beans, which were also moving.
A waiter came over, with a manager in tow. They began very sternly reprimanding my father for using such language in a family restaurant and informed him that his behavior would have to improve if we wanted to stay.
My father, who stood just shy of 6 foot 9 inches, silently got to his feet and glared down at the suddenly quiet Ponderosa employees.
'Sir,' the manager started, much more respectfully this time.
'There are ants in this food,' my father interrupted him. 'About a thousand ants.'
'Sir,' the manager started again.
'We're going to leave. We're not going to pay. But first, you're going to apologize to my family for trying to feed them this crap, and you're going to apologize to me for speaking to me like that in front of my wife and son.'
By this point, everyone else in the restaurant (maybe four or five other families) had stopped eating and were either inspecting their food or watching this scene unfold. One guy got up and went to the buffet with a little pocket flashlight. He clicked it on, took a look at the food, clicked it back off, and began dry heaving.
The manager and waiter were frozen. Neither one was apologizing, and that was making my dad even madder.
'Come on,' my father said gesturing to my mother and I. The three of us walked out of the restaurant, with all of the other patrons following behind. The manager snapped out of his trance long enough to flip out and start shouting at everyone that they couldn't leave without paying. Turns out they could.
The Ponderosa closed its doors forever later that week. It belongs to the ants now."
"It was the start of my senior year of undergrad. Coming back from a summer of internships, two friends, their girlfriends, and my long-term girlfriend all decided to go to a nice downtown restaurant that had great reviews. We get reservations two weeks in advance, and call and confirm the day before. We are well dressed. We get there five minutes early and it starts. They take 30 minutes past our reservation time to seat us, even with us constantly asking, as they were seating other groups. They finally seat us.
The waiter pours the water and then takes fifteen minutes to ask for drinks, appetizers. Drinks come 15 minutes later, and he says appetizers will be out in a moment. The table next to us, which arrived after us, has been not only seated, ordered and received drinks and appetizers but also ordered their main course.
It takes 25 minutes, during which he is just plain ignoring us, for the appetizers to come out. He runs away immediately after delivering our appetizers, saying he will be right back. Our 7 p.m. dinner reservation has taken until 8:30 to get to the appetizers. We are hungry. The table next to us has received their food and is half done. Our earlier attempts to politely flag down the waiter have resulted in him ignoring us.
I see the waiter at another table, walk over. Before I say anything, he dismisses me with 'One moment sir, as you can see I am with another table.' This table also came well after us, has also received drinks and appetizers and he is taking their dinner order. I firmly state 'No, it's alright I am fine talking here. Our table arrived nearly two hours ago, we have been waiting for over an hour for you to come back and take our order.' He states that after the current table, he will deliver their order and come back to our table, he doesn't.
I immediately speak to the manager and say this is not acceptable. He says he will look into it. Our drinks are empty, we are hungry. Fifteen minutes go by. No waiter, no manager, and no order. Matt (one of my friends) speaks to the manager. A couple minutes go by, and the waiter comes by and rudely takes our order. He retakes the drink orders and goes to a different table to take their orders.
It's now 9:25, and we are starved. The drinks come and another waiter brings them. I attempt to order a bottle of wine, she says she will pass the order to our waiter. This whole time, we can see our waiter going to other tables but is ignoring us. The two tables I mentioned earlier? They already ate, paid and left. I speak to the manager again, he says he will handle it.
Another 20 minutes go by. That waitress swings by and says that she sees we didn't get the wine, takes new drink orders and says she will talk to our waiter. Ten minutes later, our waiter says our food will be out shortly and gives us wrong drink orders, leaves the wrong drinks, and then says he will correct it. He is gone for ten minutes and brings out a similar drink, this time a different brand and again says he will actually bring the right drinks and will bring what we ordered. Spoiler alert, we never see that drink.
The waiter comes by with correct drinks (it's been another 15 minutes) and asks if we need anything. Our food. That's all they say. We need it. He says he will bring it out.
Five minutes later, he brings out our dinner. Our steaks, soup, everything that was supposed to be warm or hot are cool or cold. We call the manager over and say this isn't acceptable. We are done; we want our check for the drinks and we are leaving. No one has eaten any of their dinners.
The manager gets the check and it has everything on it plus a 20% tip for the waiter. We tell him no, we will pay for the drinks we drank and the appetizers, but that is it, and we aren't tipping. He and the waiter say they can't remove anything, even the tip, since its automatically added and the drink we ordered. Even though we didn't get it, they were able to bring it and had it corked in the kitchen, so they can't sell it again.
We make a huge scene. The restaurant is full, and people are watching. We explain that the check says the tip is included for parties of eight or greater, but we have six. It's not mandatory, and it's insulting he said it can't be removed. And the drink; it's a restaurant, you cork at the table, not in the back. We explain since the meal took so long, after multiple complaints, and was not in a condition to eat, we don't accept.
The manager and the waiter start saying how they knew we were out to screw them from the start, and how we didn't look like a group that would tip, so they had to automatically calculate it, and from the looks of it, the first time anyone in our group has been to a nice place, so we clearly don't understand how it operates. This ends it. Matt and I are gearing to fight these guys. Nick steps in and calmly says to everyone that he will work with the manager and the waiter on this, and Matt and I and the girls should go to the car.
Matt and I go back to the car with the girls. We were fuming while we sat in the car for Nick waiting. Nick then comes running to the car shouting go. He gets in and then we see the manager, waiter and another guy running down the street. And Matt drives off. Apparently Nick pretended for a minute to listen to them until he thought we had enough time to get to the car and then shouted something to the effect of 'These jerks took three hours to bring out cold steaks and had the nerve to put an entire bottle that they didn't bring out on the check on top of trying to charge us an automatic 20% tip on crap service. Screw this place" and then the manager lunged at him, which prompted him to sprint out of the place."
"I was eating with a female friend at a reasonably nice restaurant. Not posh, but expensive. Before we were seated, we grabbed a drink at the bar, whilst there she signed up to some sort of newsletter at the bar. To be fair, it was stuff like this that made me apprehensive to call the place 'posh.'
Anyways, we sit down, and the girl I'm with gets a text telling her how beautiful she looks. She ignores it, and another one comes through asking her what she's doing later. She hasn't got a clue who it is and ignores it.
We're finishing up our meal, and a third text comes through saying she shouldn't be with a guy like me and asking if she wanted dessert with a 'real man.'
Now it's clear someone in the restaurant has her number and we clocked that she had put it down on the application form for the newsletter. Considering the newsletters went into a box behind the bar, it was a member of staff. After getting the manager down and him calling the number and pegging what member of staff he determined one of the waiters had taken her number and address off this form, written it in his phone and had spent the evening taking pictures of her from behind the bar. The police ended up involved."
"We decided to go to a very nice steakhouse, on a whim. Valet parks the car and we go in. Place our order, appetizers come out, and they're great. We see the manager, and the seating host going to every table, but they look very concerned; not the typical 'How's your meal?' The manager gets to our table, and he asks if we valet parked our car, and we said yes. He then asks if it was a red Nissan. We said it was and I got a bad feeling when he said 'was.' He then asks us to follow him out front.
There's a cop car outside. I'm thinking someone hit my car or something. Nope! Two kids hopped in my car and took off! Right from the valet. I was in total shock as this had never happened to me before, and it was a crappy 2004 Nissan!
The manager and head valet were falling over apologizing. We got a free meal, and they offered to pay for a cab.
My husband goes inside to fill out some paperwork and I'm sitting outside in shock. The cop pulls back up and says, 'We got 'em!' We got to ride in the back of a cop car to pick up my car in the middle of the hood. It felt like the movie 'Date Night' for a while. At least we got a free meal and a good story out of it.
I still haven't been back to the restaurant."
"Te first time I had ever been to East Side Mario's. My girlfriend went there as a kid and loved it, so she convinced me to go there early one afternoon. For restaurants, even busy ones, this is a slow time customer wise. Everybody is back to work at this point, so I figured we'd at least get quick service. Was I wrong? It starts off with being sat, and 15 minutes later, the waitress comes over to take our orders, not ask for drinks. Apparently, we should have brought our own beverages. In the middle of taking my order, her phone starts buzzing. Rather than waiting to go back to the kitchen, she tells me to 'Hold that thought,' as she answers the phone to tell whoever is on the other line that she's at work and then texts them while giggling. My girlfriend and I order a couple of their sandwiches with fries. Nothing difficult. Well, we sit there waiting 10 minutes, 15 minutes, half an hour. Finally, after 43 minutes, I go searching for the young waitress; maybe she's been kidnapped, maybe she saw something shiny at the bottom of the deep fryer, who knows? Nope, she's sitting outside having a smoke with one of the kitchen staff. I find a manager and explain that we've been here an hour and our food isn't ready, not to mention we were never offered drinks. He comes flying back with our food, which had been sitting for a good half hour. He's apologizing out the wazoo for the service and gives us gift cards. We have the meal comped and take it to go. We use the gift cards a year or so later.
Second try at East Side Mario's. So a year and a half later, my girlfriend and I are hungry and we want to go out for Italian style food. She suggests ESM's again and I'm pretty adamant that I never want to step foot in there again, but she brings up the gift cards and I can't say no. So we go to a different location figuring our experience has to be better. We get seated, waitress offers us drinks and brings them in kids cups. She apologizes says there's a problem with the dishwasher and that's all they have. Okay, that's fine so long as we get our food in a timely manner. My girlfriend orders lasagna and I get some penne pasta dish. It arrives in 10 minutes or so. I figure this is great. She gives us our cutlery; my fork has bits of food on it and the knife has pasta on it as well. Gross. I flag her down show her the issue and her response, 'Well I told you the dishwasher broke, what do you want me to do?' I tell her that I expect the kitchen staff to fill a sink and wash the dishes by hand so they can give customers clean freaking silverware and cups! She takes offense to this and comes back with plastic cutlery. This chick just lost whatever tip I was going to give her. After that, a child starts chucking crayons and pasta everywhere. Even though we asked her to do something about the child, we can tell she's in no mood to help us out. Then the child vomits. Not just a burp, but an upchuck. I mean a river of macaroni and cheese. It's disgusting, the place now smells. The kid's family grab their child, leave $70 for their bill, and run out the door. You'd think that the first thing someone working there would do is open a window and get some towels to clean up the mess. Nope. The waitress comes back and says, 'Ewww! I'm not cleaning that up!' and walks away. After calling over a manager, we find out that she just walked away and didn't tell anyone that there was kid puke on a table in her section. Manager apologizes out the wazoo and offers gift certificates. I tell her to keep them, I'm never visiting an ESM again."
"We were picking someone up at the airport late, and they were hungry, so we decided to go to Denny's. Carrow's was closed, and I waited too long to eat, so anything would work.
We ordered a starter of chicken strips, definitely chicken strips. The server brought out a plate of hot wings. He asked, 'Those look good, what are those?' 'Uh, Wings,' We are confused at this point.
Our order comes up. Everyone gets food but me. The server comes back to see how things are. I ask where my food is and then he goes back to the kitchen to see. Comes back out:
'The chef is a jerk.'
'So, is my food coming?'
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