Send a six-pack to the kitchen: A charming bar list addition or just annoying?

AnchorSteam6pack.jpg
Send a six-pack of Anchor Steam to the kitchen at Pizzeria Locale
It's been an entry on the beverage menu at Table 6 for ages, but we're starting to see a common line popping up on drink lists around town: an invitation to diners to send a six-pack of beer to the kitchen -- an invitation that caused quite a bit of controversy when Table 6 chef Scott Parker suggested diners reward his kitchen with beer rather than verbal kudos.

But it's not just Table 6 that's issuing the overture: In the last week, we've spotted it on the menus at The Berkshire and Pizzeria Locale -- and we've talked to another bartender who's been toying with adding it to his list.

And we can't decide if we think that's a charming way to interact with the kitchen or an annoying way to extort more money from a guest while cheapening the whole reason you'd send drinks to the back of the house in the first place.

Don't get us wrong: We think sending beers to the people responsible for cooking your food is a great plan. If you do it of your own accord, it's typically perceived as a signal that you're in the industry (or that you're hip to the way the industry works), and it can buy you extra love from the line, like extra courses, an appetizer or a dessert. And the back of the house doesn't share the gratuity you leave for the waiter, so it's a nice way to tell the chef how much you liked the food. This can also be accomplished by rolling up to the host stand with a rack of beers (though, uh, incur the legal consequences at your own risk) or doing a round of shots with the cooks.

But that whole wink-wink-nudge-nudge is sort of lost in translation when a restaurant is telling you to do it, no? It just seems like a less authentic way to be a part of the club, right?

Then again, the people sweating in front of the ovens on the other side of the swinging doors definitely deserve some gratitude -- and why not remind diners of that?

Maybe the apt comparison here is the Food Network: It tunes more people in to the cool secrets of the restaurant industry while cheapening those secrets at the same time.

Leave your thoughts on this subject in the comments.

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7 comments
Mr.AHHSM
Mr.AHHSM

With that six pack can you also send an eight ball

Adrian Kimberly
Adrian Kimberly

Even after more than a decade as a professional (i.e., paid) restaurant reviewer, I've not been aware of the apparent the so-called food-insider "tradition" that calls for sending a six-pack of suds to the (HARD-WORKING!) kitchen staff, but must admit that the idea is intriguing. In my printed reviews I never fail to name as many of the staff as possible and honor their work. Several times our publication has used photos of the cooks and other back-of-the-house employees and singled them out as professionals.

But I certainly wouldn't consider sending beers at the behest of some menu reminder. That strikes me as just another way to add to the restaurant's bottom line and cheapens the gesture. I would imagine that somewhere in the back of that kitchen reside a group of folks who merely look up as the beer arrives and shrugs, as they get back to work cleaning seafood.

But, as some here observed, half-a-gesture is better than none, I suppose.

5280man
5280man

As if eating out wasn't already over-priced, now the diners have to buy drinks for the cooks. "uh, hold on waiter, let me get that food for you, you look like you need a smoke break". How bout the bartender takes a break and I'll get a round for the house.

GFTW
GFTW

Industry insiders can distinguish themselves by sending hookers to the kitchen.

Jessehall
Jessehall

Laura, you are right. It should be a cool thing you do on your own and putting it on a menu is so lame. No classy move at all.

Widow
Widow

The servers and bartenders are the only ones that should be sending drinks to the kitchen. They benefit the most from the kitchen's hard work, and the many times I see them doing shots with each other on the house, seems it won't cost 'em a dime either.

How about this?, every free beer you give me for warming a seat at your bar and making the place look more lively, I'll reciprocate by buying a beer for the kitchen. win-win.

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