When Things Go Wrong at the Business Meal, Part 2: Mistaken Orders

When Things Go Wrong at the Business Meal, Deborah Goldstein, The Three TomatoesAt this point, it may have become my most resonant motto: When dining out for business, the occasion is not about the meal….it’s about the business. However, it’s pretty hard to ignore the “meal” part of this equation. This is after all a situation wherein we will be ingesting food, which, depending on the individual, can range from being a health/allergy concern, to a sacrament, to a chance to acquire some protein during a rigidly-scheduled work day. With this in mind, let’s finally delve into the familiar sphere of food service trip-ups and their most realistic solutions from the business diner’s perspective.

When Food is Not The Focus For You
For those of us business diners who are not picky eaters or cursed by food allergies, a good general rule when the wrong dish arrives for you at the table, and it’s established that no one else ordered it, is to simply let it go. Case in point: You order a roasted half chicken, salmon arrives at your place setting, and you don’t dislike salmon. The appropriate reaction: Enjoy your salmon. This will save time, eliminate fuss, and keep the focus on the business at hand.

The Work-Around
Another common food service trip-up is when the correct dish arrives, but not how you ordered it. This, too, requires little or no fuss on your part, and need not even be made public. Silently work around the mistake, and keep the conversation on track. Did you order a steak cooked medium-rare, only to find the meat medium-well? You know the drill: The rarest part is in the middle, so start eating there. Did your meat arrive too rare? Work from the outside in. Is your pasta over-cooked? Just be thankful your sweetbreads were not undercooked, and dig in.

When Food is a Real Concern For You
For the rest of us (myself included), sometimes receiving the wrong dish is just not a tolerable scenario. Consider that salmon situation. Perhaps seafood often makes you ill, or like me, you are turned off by fattier fish. How do you correct the mistake without disrupting the rhythm of the business meeting or the meal? The best solution here is to send back your salmon, but not necessarily for what you originally ordered. Ask instead for an item that’s quick to prepare (soup is a perfect contender), as this will allow you to be served more quickly and finish your meal in sync with the rest of your party.

Put The Odds in Your Favor
Although steak, pork chops, rack of lamb, lobster, and linguini with clam sauce all sound delightful, they are far from practical at business meals. Think realistically: If the dish has a high probability of being wrongly prepared, or requires a bib and wet napkins to consume, it might be a good idea to steer clear. More practical options include chopped salads, chowder, risotto, gnocchi, rigatoni, penne, scallops, and any other hands-free, single utensil dish that sounds tasty. Simple problems sometimes have simple solutions.

When Things Go Wrong at the Business Meal, Debroah Goldstein, The Three TomatoesDeborah Goldstein is the founder of the Women’s Advancement Compact, a community driven to support the health, well-being & success potential of NYC professionals. Deborah is also the founder of Goldie’s Table Matters, providing education and entertainment to both corporate and private clients nationwide.

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