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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Check's Been Taken Care Of

If you're a chef's wife you know that one major and often overlooked perk of the job is free food! Sometimes I eat at restaurants thinking I'll get a free drink or two taken off the menu and then the bill comes and I feel like an idiot. Then again sometimes you think no one notices you're eating there and all of the sudden you're leaving a tip on a ONE CENT check. Well, I've quickly learned not to expect anything.

I have to say that working for Jean-Georges has given Erik and I plenty of times to be thankful when we eat at JGV family restaurants. I mean, the guy's not flying me to Vancouver to try his new dishes or anything, but Jean-Georges takes care of his own. So what to do when the server comes to your table and says that the bill has been taken care of? Not only have they comp'd your meal, but they sent extra courses, wine, and dessert. And since I never carry more than six bucks in cash, I have to sheepishly ask the server to run a bill for 1 penny, then leave a debit tip on that.

How to tip? How much do you leave when there is no bill? How much do you leave when they send tons of extra courses? How much do you tip when the service was awful for that matter? I always worry that I don't tip enough. And now with the restaurant industry suffering in NYC I feel a need to tip even more since other people who aren't able to-aren't.

What do you do when the check comes? Check out my new poll, too.

DCW_NYC
-Hilary-

12 comments:

am,rdh said...

i leave a tip like i would if i had to actually pay for all the food- i try to keep a mental tab and calculate 20%ish from there. i usually sit at the bar and my boyfriend expos to me so the service is usually good ;), but i always leave money for the bartender even though they didn't do much service wise.

Mary said...

I am a huge OVER tipper. It comes from the many years of being a server before being a cook. I understand that even when the service isn't so hot sometimes it's nothing personal it's just one of those days. I can usually even spot a mood and get exactly where it came from. Some people don't understand how hard it can be to do that job. Not only do you have to bust your but physically but you have play a part for many hours and many days in a row. I like to remember how I felt when I got a tip way bigger than I knew I deserved or even a good when one when I knew I busted my but and earned it. So I like to be that customer.. the one that made your day.

lonestarstudent said...

I tend to overtip, especially when my meal has been taken care of. I appreciate this perk of being married to a chef, but I want the servers to know that I appreciate the work they do as well. One of my craziest experiences though (with a very well known establishment) where the chef kept sending out courses we didn't order, wine to "try," etc. We got the bill and it was 3 times what it should have been with the food we orderd. We were charged for EVERYTHING. What were we supposed to do? We were full and drunk from the wine? We paid it. We've never been back.

Chef's Widow said...

We usually leave 30% on a normal restaurant check and $50 on a comped check. Unless we know dinner has been super duper pricey. Then we leave more.

SarahWM said...

I'm with AM...I try to keep track of what the actual cost would have been and tip at least 20% on that. Usually I'm only getting free stuff at my hubby's country club, and they don't take any cash. I have to ask my server to ring up a glass of wine so I can tip with a credit card!

Anonymous said...

I'm with some of the other ladies here, I try to decide how much the bill would've been and tip 20% on that. I think that's fair.

bb

Alyssa said...

This is my favorite perk - not just the free food & drink, but the wild tasting menu, the special bottle that's not on the list, the good table...

I'm a big tipper, especially when we're being taken care of by our friends. In my husband's restaurant, leaving a big tip is my way of apologizing for his, um, DIFFICULT behavior.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hil,

I tip the same 28$ based on the whole experience. I also send some $$ to the back of the house on occasion, which is harder to figure out. I don't know how many line cooks, chefs are in the kitchen. So all together it can be up to some 45% before I get out of there. (JGV joints don't accept wine as tips anymore) It's worth it though. Through my journey through different blogs on the internet, I have learned that tips are a big junk of the wages of the servers. I am very aware of this when I dine out. I have never had any bad experiences at JGV establishments so tips never dipped under 28% at Perry, Vong, MK or JG's. If I find I have to cut back, I just dine out less often, but still tip the same when I do.

I don't get full meal comps. I did get drink comps from the very nice (cute) manager at MK a few years ago, but he isn't in the dining room anymore. :(

Waiting for Spring!

~PassionFoodie.

Heather K. said...

We tip around 25% on a typical check, more for fabulous servive, less for service that is less than desired.

We have also had to have them ring in a drink so that we could charge a tip, but we do try to plan ahead.

Heather in Iowa

Melia said...

This is such a fabulous post because I can completely relate!!! I try to tip as much cash as I have on me when the cheque is taken care of, but the worst part is at his restaurant, the servers won't even take that from me!!! I have to sneak out the back and not say goodbye to anyone, or they will rush over and give me back my money.

Laura said...

For two people at my boyfriend's restaurant with cocktails and several courses, I usually live $40-50 per person.

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