Dear US waitstaff,
May we first say how much we love eating at your restaurants? The diversity of high-quality cuisines you offer is incredible, and your approach towards customer service is friendly, fast and attentive.
That said, US restaurants differ from French ones in many ways — some of which are utterly infuriating to a people who revere food to the extent that we do. To increase understanding between our two countries, here are a few things that French people find particularly annoying about dining out in the US, as well as a little advice about dealing with us, the fabulous-if-fussy French.
14. “How is everything?” you ask with big, watery eyes. It’s stressful enough to have to give feedback after the first bite, but MOST OF THE TIME I haven’t even taken a bite yet. Chillax, mon ami. If there is a problem, I will let you know.
13. You. Keep. Coming. Back. French people socialize at meal time, so you’re probably interrupting something. Not only that, unless there’s a fire, you’re only there to serve us water, which will be messy and loud thanks to your obsession with ice cubes. Ditch the cubes (see #3).
11. I can see you waiting for me to pay my check already.
10. Between the ice water and excessive AC, we’re freezing our butts off over here. Waiting tables is hard work, so maybe wear an undershirt and some deoderant? Turn down the AC and be like the French: embrace a little healthy glow.
9. One loud party in a quiet restaurant. This is for our fellow diners: Chad, your story of the heirloom tomato that looked exactly like a dildo may be haha funny, but it’s not share-it-with-the-room funny.
8. It there’s a mini-sip left in my glass then I AM NOT DONE DRINKING MY WINE so don’t take my glass.
7. DO NOT bring me the check if you haven’t given me a chance to order coffee or dessert.
6. The tip. This is stressful for you, too, n’est-ce pas? Ditch the tip America. Pay your servers a decent effing wage already and reflect this in the price of your food. You’re just setting all of us up for disappointment.
5. “We’re in America,” says the French tourist, “let’s have breakfast at a diner! […] Wait, this isn’t coffee… What is this? Maybe some milk – did it just turn gray?” In the US only go to a diner when you don’t want coffee.
4. “We don’t seat uncompleted parties.” We get it: at a US restaurant, time is money. Seated diners should be constantly increasing their bills and you want to cycle as many paying customers through as possible in an evening. Get in. Fill up. Get out. Nonetheless, having a host/ess remind you of this reality is a horrible way to kick of an evening.
3. In France, restaurants put a “carafe d’eau” on your table. It’s usually an old wine bottle that’s been cleaned and filled with tap water. When it’s empty, they replace it with another one. Simple, effective, no ice needed. American waitstaff: embrace the carafe.
2. With tax and tip, it’s not just a check, it’s a reality check.
1. Speaking of the tip, go ahead and add it on for us — just be sure to tell us so that we don’t think you’re trying to get us to tip twice. The restaurant experience is one of the biggest culture shocks that French people will experience in the US. If it was frustrating for us, it was probably frustrating for you. That doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be paid. THAT is how the French do restaurants.