Restaurant Money Etiquette: 7 Foodie Rules For Sending Food Back

The long weekend is over, sadly, which means that it's time to get back to work. All the same, as summer vacations end and the real work of fall starts to get the best of us, we want to make sure that we continue to take a little time out for ourselves. To that end, we bring you a guide to getting the most from your restaurant experiences...and we wish you the time to have as many of them as you can responsibly afford.

You know the scene: You order a steak medium rare, but it’s definitely well-done when it arrives. You’d like to send it back to the kitchen, but you don’t want your friends, or the maître d’, or anyone, to judge you as a graceless complainer. It’s hard to know when it’s appropriate to send food back, but you are paying for a meal, so you should get what you want.

To avoid raised eyebrows from your dining companions, check out our slide show with 7 rules for dining out and sending food back:

View Slide Show

  • Alexa

    I had no clue that you should never send food back when you are dining for business. this is so interesting. thank you LearnVest!

  • Anonymous

    I once had to send food back during a business meal because the food was really undercooked. Kind of awkward and I felt like a jerk doing it.

  • DG

    What I recommend for undercooked food is to eat around the outside…leave the undercooked center camouflaged…where the opposite is urged for overcooked food. Hopefully the center of that steak has a little life left in it.

  • DG

    The business meal should be business focused. By sending back a dish, the pace and the tone of the meal is thrown off. Everyone is a little uncomfortable and unless your dining partners are savvy, you end up eating alone- after all others at the table have finished.

  • pensadora

    I sent food back once during a business meal . . . . because there was a large clump of hair cooked into it. I saw it and put the food (a sandwich) back down on my plate, not planning to say anything about it, but my coworker noticed it as well (yes, it was actually a clump of hair, not a single strand) and made a fuss over it so I sent it back. Completely awkward and embarassing.

  • Anonymous

    Good point about the time lag. Forgot all about that…

  • Anonymous

    Oof! That’s horrible! In this case you did the absolute right thing!

  • Anon

    This article was annoying to read because of the large non-informative stock photos. I had to scroll down past the large photo to read about 50 words of text. So I stopped reading at 3. Tip: unless the photos are the story (e.g. oscars dresses), use sparingly.

    • Crabpaws

      Completely agree. These slide show-type articles tend to be time-wasters — but they offer more ad and cross-sell exposure, which is why online publications like them. nnMy advice: Skip ‘em.