General Question

occ's avatar

If a fancy restaurant doesn't offer any vegetarian entrees, is it appropriate for me to call ahead and ask if they can prepare something special for me?

Asked by occ (4173points) December 12th, 2007

I won a dinner-for-two at a very nice restaurant in SF. The problem? I looked at their menu online and there isn’t a single vegetarian entree. What do people think about the ettiquette of calling ahead and seeing if the chef can prepare anything veggie? Or do I just give away the gift certificate to someone else?

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10 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I do it all the time. I see whether I can get a decent large salad and some veggie side dishes that aren’t drowning in butter. It seems to me that as long as you are courteous, and I can’t imagine that you would be anything but, it is a legitimate question. It will also raise the awareness of the restaurant about the eating habits of some of their would-be customers. Go for it. (And calling ahead avoids those horrible conversations w. waitpeople where everyone feels uncomfortable.)

Zaku's avatar

I don’t see any etiquette problem with asking if they would do that or not. In fact, it seems to me like the most appropriate thing to do. If they have anything close that you’d like to try, you might suggest what you’d like. Also it could help you decide whether you’d rather go yourself, or give the coupon to someone else.

glial's avatar

I would give to someone else.

figbash's avatar

I’d definitely call ahead and ask withour feeling weird about it at all.

A lot of times the online menus are out of date anyway, and I can’t imagine that any restaurant in SF wouldn’t be keenly aware that vegetarians eat out too. Sometimes the chefs actually get excited about trying something new- but I’d give them a heads-up.

hossman's avatar

I think it is exceptionally courteous for you to do so. And if the restaurant charges you the same price for sans meat as they do for with meat, they’ve increased their profit margin.

I presume this is a restaurant that employs chefs as opposed to cooks. I’ve worked in a number of restaurants, and you’ll probably get one of two responses. Either this will be viewed as an interesting challenge by the chef (who may be chafing under the menu tyranny of the restaurant management) or the chef will be offended you dare presume to question his cooking, in which case you’re better off not eating there. Any decent chef without a personality problem should be able to assist you, as one of the important skills of any chef is to be able to accommodate flexible demands.

On the other hand, if they’re taking a lot of shortcuts, or just employing cooks, they might not be able to help you, as their food comes pre-prepared.

damianmann's avatar

Having worked in restaurants most of my young adulthood, I can assure you that any (and ALL) restaurants worth their salt would be MORE than happy to accommodate a special order for you. I wouldn’t think they would be AS happy if it was a party of one. If it’s for a party of more than one…then sure. But, obviously, if just a single customer came to me, imagining me as a manager, and insisted we make a special order for them when they could just go to a vegetarian place., I might do it once..But, maybe I would suggest that the appeal of our place is the meat dishes.I could assist in you finding a place more suitable, and close by as a better option. (We are a service industry after all)
If it was a special occasion, then a party of two would be fine. But, in all seriousness, the best for me as manager and all concerned would be if it was a larger party and one vegetarian dish was the exception.
The business is about service. So, of course, pleasing customers is the number one priority. All restaurant employees and owners SHOULD have that as their number one rule…the customer comes first.

emilyrose's avatar

I’m shocked they have nothing veggie. tell us what happens!!

segdeha's avatar

Personally, I would consider such a restaurant not worth your patronage. But, since you won the meal, definitely call and ask what they can do. It might prompt them to think about providing even 1 veggie meal on the regular menu.

tulsane's avatar

I would think you should call ahead but if a place doesn’t have vegetarian meals on their menu it means they don’t have a demand for it OR it isn’t a speciality of the chef…so….I would suggest going somewhere else that DOES have veg meals on the least then you know the meal will be good as it is cooked often and you wont have to worry about calling ahead??!!

Jennlauren11's avatar

I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem at all. You also could probably ask for the sides that would come with a meat entree.

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