UnderCover Waitress: Veganism

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


A good restaurant honors special requests. Truth be told, it is always extra work to change or modify a menu item, but a good restaurant wants the customer to be happy and will dutifully hold the olives or throw in extra cheese.

It is more difficult to change recipes to accommodate special dietary needs; but again, a good restaurant offering made to order food will make something without dairy or with rice instead of a gluten product.

I once served a table with a vegan diner a meal that cost them $80. They tipped me $100. I assume it was a "thank you" for my efforts ensuring that the vegan had a lovely dinner. (But who knows? Maybe they just liked my smile...)

Unfortunately, not all special requests deserve to be accommodated. Former vegetarian turned vegan waltzed in with his girlfriend and made a point of letting me know that he knew the owner as he helped himself to where he wanted sit.

He went on to explain at length that he used to be a vegetarian. He told me all about the dishes that the chef used to make for him without meat products. Now, however, he is vegan. Without so much as glancing at the menu, he proceeds to instruct me how the chef will prepare a vegetable dish in olive oil for him.

Sighing, I check in with the kitchen. The owner/chef knows the guy and agrees to give him what he wants. Make no mistake: creating a vegan menu item from scratch takes extra time, planning and effort. As I said before, in a good restaurant they will cook for you.

So, why do I hate this guy so much? After enjoying his special vegan meal, they order a Ceasar salad. I inform them that we do have vegan salads, but the Ceasar has both dairy and fish. He responds, "Oh, that's okay. It's not a big deal. Give us a cheese pizza to go, as well."

Back in the kitchen, I thought the chef was going to cry.

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