Top Five Dining Companions to Avoid

Categories: Top Five

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NCReedPlayer
Even though I enjoy eating alone, I regard dining out with a friend to be one of life's supreme pleasures. But sometimes your "friend" reveals him or herself to be a less-than-ideal consumption companion. These defective diners in disguise might be otherwise normal people but in a restaurant setting prove just unbearable. Here are Five Dining Partners to Avoid (if you can help it).

5. The Malcontent. Sometimes one in the same with the excessively picky eater, the Malcontent is always dissatisfied with something, be it the service or the entrée selection or the seat cushions. "Horrible food and such small portions!" is the typical complaint of the Malcontent, whose Debbie Downer attitude prevents her and you from enjoying the meal.

4. The Drunk. I like to get hammered at a restaurant as much as the next person. But I, like most responsible, functioning alcoholics, try not to get plastered to the point of not being able to modulate the volume of my voice or make my way to the bathroom without falling into other tables. If you want to eat with the Drunk, get takeout.

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LauraFries.com
3. The Forager. My personal pet peeve. I am big on eating and not on sharing; therefore, it's rare I don't want everything on my plate. The classic Forager under-orders ("a cup, not a bowl"; "the side, not the entrée salad please") and then picks off others' plates to round out his meal. He may not be in touch with his hunger, he may not like to spend more than a few bucks, but he's definitely annoying, so leave him at home.

2. The Obnoxious Gourmand. Hypocrite, I hear some of you hiss. True, I love waxing on about the origins and history of food. HOWEVER, my medium is writing, not speech, and when I'm chowing down with a friend, I shut the fuck the up about the cacao content in my chocolate pudding.

1. The Under-Tipper/Under-Payer. Nothing casts a pall over a heretofore pleasurable meal like the nincompoop who looks at the bill and says, "So, my share is $50...guess I'll leave $3 for tip?" I understand math is not everyone's forte. If you missed the unit on percentages in school, then please rely on an electronic device to calculate gratuity. And as for the Under-Payer: Woe to the diner who, after three rounds of drinks and appetizers, slams down a fiver and says, "Gotta run, that's for me!" Yeah, you better run.



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46 comments
DCLisa01
DCLisa01

I only truly enjoy my dining experiences when I dine with my best friend, and/or boyfriend or family.  These people know I like to eat and drink a lot, share only when specific food portioning tactics have been put in place in advance, and split the bill down the middle with a generous 25% tip if all went well. (20% if not)  Eating out is my favorite pasttime. 

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

God, I always hated the underpayer.  It used to be inevitable that if we were in a group larger than 3 the bill would always be less and we'd have to pitch in for whatever loser was hiding behind the fact that they didn't pay their share (nor would they admit to it.  Thankfully these days it doesn't happen anymore.  One of the few perks of whittling down your friend circle over the years.

Tangyjoe
Tangyjoe

My friends let their child run around the table and grab food off peoples plates-and of course thought it was cute.  Her parents were upset with me when I grabbed her wrist and said "Whoa there Helen Keller, we don't just grab stuff off peoples plates, ask if you want something".

I guess another to add to the list is the one who it would never occur to that a Saturday night dinner invitation with another couple means you were expected to hire a sitter.

Bruce R
Bruce R

Nice list.  Here are five more:

ShitList--ShitList has a huge list of ingredients that they won't eat.  The list usually includes common ingredients like onions, peppers, celery, mushrooms, etc.  This annoying person will pick their food apart making piles on their plate of those items on their shitlist.

Self-Righteous--This person is sometimes, but not always, a vegetarian.  Each meal is an opportunity for them to recite pseudo-science about the health benefits of raw food and ginkgo biloba.

SmarterThanChef--This person makes special requests, forcing the chef to either compromise the meal or refuse the customer's request.  They ask for their filet mignon well done and without seasoning, and then complain that the food sucks and the chef is incompetent.  

WordTraveler--No matter how good something is, this person has had it way better in its country of origin.

Whatever--This person can't be bothered to form any sort of opinion.  Food is food. Don't bother trying to make something special because they don't really care.

GoodFriendBadTipper
GoodFriendBadTipper

My best friend is the under-tipper extreme. Regardless of meal, or price, or level of quality, he thinks the maximum tip is $5. Its to the point I am embarrassed to go out with he and his wife, because I don't want to cover his part of the tip. Or if we go to lunch during the week covering all the tip. If you can't afford to tip decent you shouldn't be going out to eat. 

rgwalt
rgwalt

The malcontent is my least favorite on a one-off occassion.  The mooch/forager is my least favorite on a regular basis.  I hate subsidizing someone else's meals!  These days I do separate checks if at all possible, and most everywhere I end up going is pretty good about it. 

Jim Ayres
Jim Ayres

Great list but Joanna, couldn't #4 have been stated in a way that doesn't make light of alcoholism?

POOPOOPLATTER
POOPOOPLATTER

Thank you for this article. I use to head a Wednesday dinner group. We always had a few that would eat appetizers and then only pay for their entree and no tip into the pool. Finally, we went only to restaurants where you pay first. That narrowed the group slightly. The Malcontent and Forager types doomed the group and now I happily eat on Wednesdays where I want and don't have to donate to the less fortunate.

trendy vibe
trendy vibe

Anyone using his or her phone or mobile device at the table for the purpose of talking, tweeting, taking pictures, BLOGGING, playing Angry Birds, etc. Please leave the table and go to the lobby if you MUST use your phone. Better yet, I'd love to see more finer dining establishments ban any such phone or device use in the dining area.

Culinary_Curmudgeon
Culinary_Curmudgeon

Or someone who constantly reminds everyone of the calories or cholesterol in what they're eating... 

trisch
trisch

Great top 5! I agree with them all. I once had dinner with a friend and a bunch of folks from her office (an engineering firm). The restaurant didn't do split bills, and somehow I got stuck with the task of collecting the $ (shouldn't the engineers who actually do math for a living have taken this task?). The first time the check went around, it came back about $50 short, so I sent it around again with a request for everyone to add a little more.  It came back $90 short. Lesson learned -- that's why the engineers didn't take on the math.

As for the forager, I once had a flatmate we nicknamed MoochMan because he refused to buy anything he couldn't mooch off us (laundry detergent, razors, soap, you name it). My other flatmate dealt with this by keeping only aquavit and pickled herring in the house. And I learned to eat every bit of food on my plate, including sucking the marrow out of chicken bones, whenever dining with MoochMan. It got to be quite a game to see how sad we could make him look by cleaning our plates.

Mike
Mike

The guy who orders everything up (the most expensive dish and a bottle of wine for him and his date), and then says lets spilt the bill.  F you, I just had a couple of beers and pasta.

TQro
TQro

What about eating with the skinny bitch?  I guess she'd fall in the Malcontent category.  Always having an issue with not being able to order something 'light'.  Always dissing your suggestions for a restaurant because everything on their menu is 'fattening'.  And she usually doesn't like anything 'ethnic'.  Always ordering a salad.  Shat, sit your arse down and eat already, I promise you will NOT become fat eating at this specific restaurant or having this specific meal! 

Great Top Five, BTW!

SirRon
SirRon

Fkn fantastic Top 5. Seriously, I'm not even joking. I'm shamed that you even have to see me like this.

Poop
Poop

Also, solution for dining with The Forager? Make them split the tab half and half.

Poop
Poop

Best dining companion? The one who like to share and go family style. Dining together is supposed to be a shared experience anyway.

ArchieLeach
ArchieLeach

I hate the Runner.  Not even a thanks. 

Bruce R
Bruce R

Borrowing from Spinal Tap, it would appear that your appeal is becoming more selective.

Honey_Badger
Honey_Badger

If you trip a rampaging child in a restaurant, and the parents are not paying enough attention to witness it, does the child really scream?

Stacy Zane
Stacy Zane

It pisses me off when I see snotty children misbehaving in restaurants. Or wiping their boogers under the table. You're telling me my extremely well-groomed and perfectly trained dog can't be in a restaurant because it's unsanitary but these children are ok? I guarantee if you took a germ swab, those delinquents would LOSE in cleanliness. Lose, I tell you! I would eat off my dog's paws she's so damn clean. I don't hate children either, I just hate gross ones.  

SirRon
SirRon

That does -- indeed -- sound cute.

Bruce R
Bruce R

Tangyjoe, you need to name this type of person.  How about:

TunedOutParent--a parent that lets their child misbehave in dining situations.  The parent often finds the nuisance child to be cute.

Having said that, clearly not all parents that dine with children are TunedOutParent.  Also, if you're hosting a dinner event you should probably specify whether children are invited.

 

KP
KP

Got one--a close friend is not only a vegetarian but a picky eater. A normally pleasant type of person, she transforms into this at the table:

TurnsNoseUpper--Comments negatively on every. single. thing. you order. See examples:

Asparagus always makes me think of stinky pee.Seafood just freaks me out. It's so dirty.That place uses too much cilantro. It makes me sick to my stomach to even think about it.You LIKE that? [disapproving frown]I'm not eating it because there's too many onions. Those aren't onions? They're jicama, you say? I love jicama! How'd you know it was jicama, that's so weird. The caipirinha is your favorite drink here? I'd love to try it. [sip] Disgusting.

And then proceeds to watch you eat each bite with a horrified look on their face, as if they're witnessing the most horrific car crash, again and again.

SirRon
SirRon

Bruce is so money, and he doesn't even know it.

Joanna O'Leary
Joanna O'Leary

Probably, but then I wouldn't be writing the article.

Joanna O'Leary
Joanna O'Leary

To Everyone: Thank you for your suggestions and kind words. Glad to know I am not totally out of touch when it comes to those less-than-ideal dining 'friends.'

Bruce R
Bruce R

Can I read the paper?  Or a book?  Or a Kindle?  I can see how someone talking loudly on their cell phone could be intrusive.  But if they're typing, reading, or doing the daily Jumble, then they're pretty much minding their own goddamn business.  Maybe you should try that.

SirRon
SirRon

I'm eating while reading this comment.

Urumomo
Urumomo

had a roommate (sp?) in the navy that hated onions -- my favorite - so , of course I decorated all my food with onion ,,ha ! like an electric fence. so cool .We were great friends but that dude could eat a whole frikin whale in 5 minutes. cool.  worked great!

Urumomo
Urumomo

aquavit and herring sounds FANTASTIC ! and i'm a native Houstonian. drop me a line at urumomo@msn.com ,, real name is Keith.

Peggy
Peggy

One part-way solution - even restaurants that won't split bills will often provide separate tabs for food and alcohol.  I normally request this for groups since I don't think it's fair for non-drinkers to foot my tab as a lush. ;-)

Laurie
Laurie

I once experienced this to the extreme at a bridal shower dinner. 20 ladies, half of who had an entree and a beer were asked to split the bill evenly at the end of the meal after watching the new inlaws consume bottles of wine, apps and dessert. When a few of us spoke up we were told we were ruining the brides night!

Honey_Badger
Honey_Badger

I'm a skinny bitch in that I eat healthy, and work out, and yeah...I'm skinny. I also love food. Almost every restaurant in town has SOMETHING healthy (or relatively healthy) that I can and will order from the menu's entrees list. On occasion, I eat food that isn't healthy at all, because, really? Life's too short to deny yourself an order of fries or bacon when you really REALLY want it. I know that occasional cream sauces or fried food will make me fat, nor will I run screaming from the restaurant to the gym for 45 minutes of cardio, because I just HAD to have cake for dessert. I enjoy my meal, and I go on with my life.If I go to a restaurant where I am hot exactly happy with the food, service or whatever -- despite someone else's raving about the place -- I keep it to myself. It's just one meal. I'm not going to make my friends feel like asses just because my tastes are different than theirs for some cuisines.Sounds like some skinny bitches out there are either too uptight, have no idea how to read a menu, or just like to kvetch. If you have one of those in your life, just make HER suggest the restaurant. At least she'll be happy, and the shoe's on the other foot WRT the malcontentedness.

Guest
Guest

Skinny bitch will still eat your fries. Which makes her a forager too :-)I've been making fun of skinny bees for years about this.

Joanna O'Leary
Joanna O'Leary

No worries. I promise to forget and to submit a lackluster T5 that you can rag on asap.

Cheflambo
Cheflambo

I have eaten with all of these people (some in-laws fall into more than one category) but the worst one is, indeed, the Malcontent.  Ive had people like this ruin entire meals for the SE and myself with endless whining about what's wrong with their food.  Offers to exchange entrees are refused.  Suggestions to send theirs back fall on deaf ears.  I've had to intervene when they began to browbeat the server, who got the order right, and did noting wrong except bring it to the table.  These are people who are mystefied about why they get bad service -- what waiter would want to return to this table, except to ask "Is ANYTHING OK?"

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

I agree, but I have a rule: I get the first bite, and the last bite, and you can't eat more than half of what I ordered unless I give it to you.

Dhepburn
Dhepburn

The best for me is the 'eye F@*#^R', the girl you've brought along who looks hungrily into your eyes, not obsessing about  what's on the plate, but hinting that dessert is going to be so much better.

Urumomo
Urumomo

drag it outside and eat "it" . probably get banned for that one .yeah ,,we all hate undeciplined children . the stuff I see everywhere is horrible . My dad would hand me my ass ,, back then ,, if I even thought to misbehave like I see kids around me now.

Bruce R
Bruce R

Very nice.  This person sounds like a combination of ShitList and SelfRighteous.  But I think TurnsNoseUpper deserves their own category, for the reasons you state.

An observation about vegetarians.  Some are cool, they just don't eat meat.  No problem.  But some are vegetarian because their shitlist is so long that meat happens to be on it. Being self-righteous because is an added bonus.

Wyatt
Wyatt

Nice Try, Christopher Walken

KP
KP

"But some are vegetarian because their shitlist is so long that meat happens to be on it."

I'm emailing her this thread. That is so dead-on.

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