When I dine in public with certain friends, I know ahead of time that I shall cringe. One friend makes all sorts of demands, asking for two salad dressings on the side, and that certain items not be included (such as salt) or substituted (rice for potatoes, for instance.)
Another friend takes forever to go through the wine list, comparing prices and wanting to know what sets one apart from another, not as a connoisseur but as a cheapskate (er, value seeker) trying to wring the most for her money. By the time she is ready to order, we are on our second drinks, fortifying ourselves for the silly requests to come: Most are very specific and somewhat unreasonable. When the bill arrives, she calculates the costs down to the penny. The only reason we include her in our select group is because she is smart and funny, but frankly, as a public diner she is a PAIN. Hear me, dahling?
In the Ten Commandments of Paris Dining, Fodor's mentions two commandments that speak to me:
Salad dressing on the side, omelettes without egg yolks, well-done steaks -- when a chef takes pride in his work, these things make him bristle. Try to save this type of request for cafés.
--- From the Forums: A Low-Carb Dieter Heading to Paris
It's fine to send a dish back to the kitchen, but don't expect to see it deducted from your bill.
--- From the Forums: Where was Your WORST Meal in Paris?
From talking to people in the industry, I know that waiters will think less of you and so will the kitchen, and even in the best of restaurants in the world, you and your dining companions may receive lesser service and lesser food because of your fussiness, so just stop already. If you think about it, one of the most beautiful things about eating at a restaurant is that what arrives at your table is the result of someone's life's work, so if you can't do them the honor of letting them do what they do best, maybe you should be eating elsewhere instead.
Dahlings, next time I visit Paris I will take Fodor's Ten Commandments to heart. Now, how to introduce them to my fussy friends?