Does It Bother You When Restaurants Quickly Clear Your Plates?

One writer bemoans the premature clearing away of plates at restaurants, labeling it “the most annoying” trend.
Close-Up Of Waiter Setting Table In Restaurant

Close-Up Of Waiter Setting Table In Restaurant

Back in 2009, The New York Times ran a two-part list, written by restaurateur Bruce Buschel, of “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do.” Included on it were these three instructive items:

17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.

75. Do not ask if someone is finished when others are still eating that course.

76. Do not ask if a guest is finished the very second the guest is finished. Let guests digest, savor, reflect.

Solid advice, but Roberto A. Ferdman, a writer for the Washington Post’s Wonkblog who has a knack for keeping his finger on the zeitgeist, has noted an unfortunate recent trend, one he (or his clever headline writer) has dubbed “ the most annoying restaurant trend happening today”: the premature clearing away of plates, especially removing one diner’s dish from the table before his or her fellow diners have finished eating theirs.

Ferdman bemoans this abandonment of “a classic tenet of service etiquette”: “Rather than clear plates once everyone at the table has finished the meal, which has long been the custom, servers instead hover over diners, fingers twitching, until the very instant someone puts down a fork,” he writes. “Like vultures, they then promptly snatch up the silverware — along with everything else in front of the customer. If you're lucky, they might ask permission before stealing your plate.”

The trend makes for discomfort all around, he contends. Diners whose plates are cleared feel self-conscious about their eating speed, as do the ones whose plates have not been cleared.

Are restaurants deliberately rushing diners in order to make room for other diners? Is the wait staff simply clueless? Or are servers and restaurants operating under the belief that diners want their plates cleared tout de suite, even if others at their table are still eating?

Whatever the reason, here’s hoping restaurants get the message — loud and clear — that premature plate clearing is a drag.

Photo courtesy of iStock
Keep Reading

Next Up

What Does Moderation Mean?

Is “everything in moderation” a mantra you should adopt? Find out what it really means and how to do it.

How Does Bobby Flay Stay Fit?

Bobby Flay manages to stay trim despite life being immersed in food, and he’s eager to share his secrets in a new web series, Bobby Flay Fit, starting on January 14.

Ask HE: What Does “Natural” Mean?

You see it on everything from juice drinks and packages of meat, to boxes of cereal and bottles of vitamins. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the word “natural.” You might be surprised to learn what this term really means.

Why Does Your Steak 'Weep'?

That red liquid dripping from your filet mignon or rump roast? Nope, not blood ... “weep.”

Does the World Need Diet Avocados?

Because, yes, they do exist now.

Does Healthy Food Cost More Than Junk Food?

Does following a healthy diet mean dishing out more dough? Not necessarily. A new study published by the USDA revealed that junk food is not cheaper than healthy food.

Want a Better Egg? So Does Betsy Babcock

Want a better egg? Raise chickens in a pasture, says Betsy Babcock, owner of Handsome Brook Farm.