Frank Chen

Frank Chen

food hopping culture

Do restaurants not like it when guests come and "snack"?

The reason I end up doing it is because I split my experiences and have multiple dinners at multiple restaurants, targeting key dishes that a place is best at.

I got curious about this question because I felt like I needed to justify my situation to the server, mostly because I felt bad about "picking" select items on the menu.

At the moment, I haven't encountered anyone who didn't understand that having multiple dinners is a weird thing to do - that might just be Los Angeles though. Most times I get nods of approval and a smile.

From the restaurant perspective, I would be a patron that generates a lower bill and a higher turnover.

From a chef perspective, my choice ruins the possibility of experiencing the whole breadth of the menu.

This brings up a battle between the "choice of the customer" (a la carte menu options) and the "choice (or art) of the chef" (tasting menu, no substitutions, etc). Sounds a little like building a product.

Trending in either direction places you in drastically different forms of service.

A focus on what the chef wants leads to a form of high art (a very defined user journey), and a focus on the customer leads to exceptional service (a product that works really well, or possibly a shitty "bells and whistles" product).

Concerned about turnover and how much the bill is generally leads to bad outcomes, since you're not focused on content or service.

In a way, if a restaurant is focused on the right things, then the snacking thing isn't an issue. I'm still experiencing some of the art, and the fact that an a la carte option exists tells me that's an experience that was intended.

And because those options existed, I had a great time without feeling pressure (except from my own overanalyzing mind). So, a great "product" experience overall, because someone focused on content and service.