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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

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Culinary no-no #90

Culinary no-no's

From my June 2, 2007 blog, “Fischer does Dennis Getto”:

"There’s a great concept going on for the next week in Milwaukee. It’s downtown Milwaukee dining week through Thursday.

Several fine restaurants downtown are offering prix fixe menus, $10 for lunch, $20 for dinner. Diners choose an appetizer, entrée, and dessert from a small menu.

My wife and I went to Coast last night, a restaurant we’ve been to before and always enjoyed.

We ordered our three courses all at once from the special menu. Appetizers were amazing, but both our entrees were cold, so we politely sent them back.

After the entrees, we waited for the final course. Remember, we had already made our dessert selections earlier. So we waited, and we waited, and we waited, and we waited.

One half-hour, and no sign of our waiter. It also had been over two hours since we placed our orders. Over two hours…….for three courses???

When the flourless chocolate cupcake and the banana-rum bread pudding finally were brought to our table, I firmly asked our waiter to explain why, after entrees had to be sent back due to temperature, desserts took 30 minutes to arrive? Wouldn't there be an effort to avoid another problem after cold entrees?

Of course, he apologized, offered to take the cost of two drinks off the bill, and said he was having his 'own frustrations' that night. I really don’t care and should that matter?"

So, what kind of tip did I leave? To be honest, I don’t remember. But I do know that I did leave a tip.  And that begs the question: Would it have been appropriate to leave nothing?

Food arrives late.

Food isn’t prepared properly.

A fork or knife is dirty.

Is that the waiter's/waitress’ fault? Not at all. He/she should not feel the sting of a zero tip.

Walking out without tipping has ramifications. If the restaurant pools its tips, you not only hurt the waiter/waitress, you just stuck it to the busboys, bartenders, and other staff.

Phoebe Damrosch, author of Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter and a former server at the 12-star New York restaurant Per Se, says, “If you don’t tip, it’s easy for the waiter to rationalize that you’re cheap or European. Revenge doesn’t feel all that good in the long run.”

Let’s go back to my blog on Coast and pick up as Jennifer and I are leaving the restaurant where, remember, over two hours for three courses, one of them cold, another that we had to wait 30 minutes:

"On our way out, we just happened to run into the manager, and I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done……..and that’s complain to the person in charge.

He seemed to know the waiter I had, and said, 'He’s having a bad night.'

My reply was that I didn’t want him to get in trouble for problems beyond his control (like cold entrees) and that if Coast couldn’t handle this prix fixe concept, it shouldn’t participate next year.

The obligatory apologies followed, we wished each other a good evening, etc.

I recall reading a Dennis Getto review that encouraged diners to do what I did last night, if for no other reason than to help the restaurant improve its performance."

The so-called experts suggest leaving 10 percent and then telling someone why the tip wasn’t bigger. You may never return, but you may help make the restaurant a better business and save future diners the same experience.

Always leave something.


Culinary no-no BONUS:

I'm a tea drinker. In summer, it's iced tea, often sun tea made in a jar outside. Then it's hot tea all winter long. There are seemingly countless varieties of tea, but some preparations in some countries would definitely qualify as culinary no-nos.

From this weekend's broadcast of American Public Media's "Splendid Table":


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