I seem to be picking on servers a lot lately, but there are a lot of bizarre little habits that Milwaukee waitstaff have been picking up.
In part, I think it is likely due to huge expansion of upscale casual and high-end dining establishments on the scene. There just are not enough properly trained servers in the marketplace and training at some of the newer restaurants isn't what it should be, setting up newbie servers to fail. But, that's a topic for another blog on a different day.
Today, my gripe is when a server brings an appetizer to a table for multiple people to share and doesn't bring any appetizer plates, or odder yet, brings some appetizer plates, but not enough for everyone.
I have no problem sharing my food, but it seems a little strange when I am sitting with three friends and our server only gives the four of us three appetizer plates. Is one of us supposed to eat off of the serving dish?
Stranger yet, when we are sharing something like a crab cake and we have no plates, again, are we just supposed to dig in on the main plate equidistant from each of us and pray we don't fumble any crab or sauce from our fork while slowly maneuvering it to our mouths? It seems like such a small thing to bring someone a plate for his or her food, but it is one of those little details, again, that far too many people miss.
The other oddity I have found with appetizer plates is in clearing the dishes after the appetizer is gone. If I had a dollar for every time someone cleared away our appetizer plates and left us with the remnants of the appetizer sitting on our table, I would be well on my way to independent wealth.
Add in another buck for each time they cleared the appetizer and left us with dirty appetizer plates until our entrées came and I would be able to retire. It seems that appetizer plates are a conundrum for servers, but really, all you have to do is bring a plate for everyone to eat their appetizer off of when you deliver the appetizer, and then take ALL the plates away when you come to pick up the appetizer.
Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.
The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.
Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to OnMilwaukee.com.