Fluid Edge Themes

Insider Tips

How can we be of service? Let us count the ways. We actually mean service – unlike those who have promised it before and didn’t show up when it counted most. Consider these insider tips your key to consumer affairs.
A couple having the perfect date without any complaints

Dining dilemmas: How to complain on a first date

The person sitting across from you in the restaurant is funny and interesting. Awkward get-to-know-you questions are out of the way and you’re already bonding over mutual likes and dislikes. There’s even been a few laughs. This first date is going rather well.

Then your meal arrives. You’ve barely taken a bite and notice something isn’t quite right. Perhaps the vegetables are too cold, the meat is undercooked, or something you ordered is missing.

Maybe it’s not the food that’s niggling at the back of your mind. The music might be too loud for conversation and you’re pondering whether to ask the manager to turn it down or not. Or perhaps you’ve been waiting way too long for your drinks or entrée?

It’s crunch time. Do you speak up and risk looking like a whinger or keep your displeasure to yourself to preserve the mood?


A couple enjoying a Valentine's Day date


How you walk this fine line could be the difference between a good night kiss and “please lose my number" at the end of the evening.

File this complaint checklist away for the next time you face a culinary conundrum - unless, of course, you really don’t want that second date!

Even if you’re taking your Valentine out for dinner for the 10th or 20th time, we recommend following these tips. Remember: You can’t control what happens, but you can control how you react when something goes wrong.

Read the room

If your date seems happy and the issue is minor, prepare to let it slide. Better to let a slightly underdone steak go rather than ruin a budding romance. On the other hand, you shouldn’t let the thought of a new Valentine prevent you from returning food that either isn’t what you ordered or is simply awful. You are entitled to get what you pay for, so don’t be afraid to speak up. The way you do so, however, is the crucial part.

Be quick to complain

If you or your date aren’t happy with something you’ve been served, get the wait staff's attention – not by snapping your fingers, we hasten to add - and take care of the issue quickly. The longer either of you sits there toying with food that isn’t pleasing the palate the more it is likely to affect the ambience.

Be kind when you complain

Your date is watching you. The way you handle a complaint will give them good insight into your character – don’t make a poor first impression. Be respectful when you ask for assistance. Smile. Explain what the issue is without recrimination and ask the wait staff politely for an appropriate remedy.

Be humble

You aren't the most important person in the room. The wait staff aren’t your inferiors, they are doing a job, and they don’t need to be lectured. Don't use the complaint to show off how much you know about food or wine (is it really corked?) - you will just come across as arrogant. Think about how you want your date to behave and if the thought of them grandstanding makes your toes curl, why would you do the same?

Be direct

Many people feel sheepish about complaining. It’s hard enough when you’re among friends, let alone if you’re with someone you're hoping to impress. But you don’t need to apologise for pointing out a mistake with your meal. Simply state the problem as pleasantly as possible and ask for a solution. You aren’t asking for something impossible, simply for the restaurant to deliver what you ordered.

Be gracious

In most cases, when you make a complaint in a respectful way you will be treated accordingly. The wait staff will remove the offending plate and return - hopefully before you’re chewing off your arm - with a more pleasing replacement. When they do, be sure to thank them and acknowledge how happy you are with their service. The way a venue handles a problem says a lot about them, too, so show your gratitude.


A young couple respectfully raising a complain to a venue staff


Move on after you complain

View your complaint as a speed bump, not a brick wall. Sure, it’s irritating that your steak was medium instead of medium rare, but don’t bang on about it. Once you have pointed out the issue, let it go and return to your conversation. Engage with your date, rather than getting hung up on your surroundings. Remember the evening isn’t about having the perfect meal; it’s about getting to know the person across from you.

Set the tone

We all know that bad food or poor service can sour an evening, but it doesn’t have to ruin it. The way you react to a negative situation not only says a lot about you, but it also has the power to make the date memorable for all the right reasons. If you maintain a positive attitude, laugh at the mix-up and focus on what’s important, you’re far more likely to finish the night with the promise of a second date.

Be subtle

If the thought of complaining about your food in front of your date really makes you feel embarrassed, but you think the issue is serious enough to bring to the manager’s attention, you can always excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and speak to a staff member on the quiet. We favour the direct but gentle approach but understand not everyone is comfortable with speaking up in front of others.

We’re here to help you complain

It’s the time of year when we tend to splash the cash for expensive meals at fancy restaurants to impress our Valentine, new or old. If you have gone all out and not received what you paid for, please get in touch and let us handle your complaint. We want you to feel the love!