How to complain on a first date (and get away with it)
Your date is gorgeous. You are having an amazing time. The atmosphere is perfect.
Then, you notice the meal you ordered isn't exactly what you wanted – it's too cold, it's raw or it just doesn't taste good.
You come to a decision point: speak up and ruin the atmosphere, or keep to yourself and preserve the unfolding relational magic?
Walking this fine line could be the difference between a good night kiss and a “Please lose my number.” Next time your caught in this culinary conundrum, walk yourself through our date complaint checklist:
Read the room
If you're date seems happy and you're worried a complaint will ruin the moment, don't complain! Better to preserve the perfect moment than jeopardize it with a qualm about seasoning.
If you or your date don't like the food, get the server's attention and take care of the issue quickly. A date is about making your partner feel appreciated and respected. Waiting to address the issue will create indecision – you or your date may just decide to keep your dish rather than complain.
Your date is watching you. The way you handle a complaint is a reflection what kind of person you are. Be respectful. Smile. A gentle reproach about the dish will win you points with your partner and your server and it will most likely get you a new plate of food suited to you or your partner's liking.
You aren't the most important person in the room at your meal. Your date is. When you address a server or manager concerning your complaint, remember this. Don't use the complaint as a way to showcase yourself – arrogance never wins points with anyone.
Most diners feel sheepish about complaining. Don't be. State the error and don't begin your sentence with “Sorry, but...” They made the mistake, not you.
...and end graciously
Like every good dinner, your complaint needs balance. Be direct, but balance your directness with a follow-up sentence indicating your server's help is valued. “And by the way, we're happy to be here and I really appreciate your help,” is a great way to end a complaint.
Return to the conversation
View your complaint as a speed bump, not as a brick wall. Return to conversation as quickly as you can to keep the momentum going and put that undercooked porterhouse behind you.
Attitude, attitude, attitude
While bad food can change an experience, it doesn't have to ruin it. If you lead the way with a positive attitude and laughter, your date will follow. You have the ability to turn a bad meal into a great date.
If you're too embarrassed to complain in front of your date, be subtle
If the thought of complaining about your food in front embarrasses you, excuse yourself from the table to use the bathroom and speak with a manager or server on the way.