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A meal you don't like is not necessarily a bad one

By Thelma Domenici
For the Journal
          Dear Thelma: When ordering a meal at a restaurant, if it does not meet your taste or order expectations (such as the chile is extremely hot), what do you suggest? I find myself continually ordering the food I have previously enjoyed without being as experimental as I'd like. Eating out is a luxury, but I still want to actually enjoy what is ordered without an uncomfortable confrontation. Please understand, I am not a particularly picky person, I just want to enjoy my meal. Am I committed to paying for it if I don't like it? Is it proper to ask for a different meal? Your insight will be appreciated by others experiencing this same dining dilemma.
        A: If you've experimented with your order and you don't like it, you are committed to pay for your meal. The restaurant has not made a mistake, and you are obliged to pay whether you enjoyed what you ordered or not.
        However, if a mistake was made on the restaurant's part, such as bringing you the wrong meal or failing to cook your steak as ordered, the establishment is typically willing to do what it can to get it right and see that you leave happy. In this case, you would get your server's attention, explain the problem and ask how it might be fixed.
        So let your conscience be your guide. Is it that you don't like the meal you ordered, or is there really something wrong with it? If it's wrong, the restaurant should fix it. It's always best to approach these types of situations with a pleasant tone and an attitude that shows you are happy and willing to work with your server to resolve the problem.
        Dear Thelma: What is the proper way to address a legally married same-sex couple in a formal invitation?
        A: In a formal invitation, list the names on the envelope alphabetically on separate lines, each name beginning with the guest's courtesy or professional title. Then follow with the remainder of the address.
        Dear Thelma: I'm writing about your response to the VP who had to attend a business function around dinnertime and wondered what to do about eating. I've been a vegetarian for a long time and have found that it sometimes makes people uncomfortable in a dining situation. So, when I need to attend a business function where food is served, I eat before I go. This way, I don't have to try to find something innocuous on the menu or draw any attention to my choice of diet. This makes for a comfortable environment for both me and the business associates I'm with.
        A: Thanks for exemplifying what it means to truly show respect for others by not calling unnecessary attention to yourself, especially in a situation that you've observed can make others uncomfortable. We are at our most mannerly when we do what we can to make others comfortable, even if it means an inconvenience to us. I applaud you for that.
        But I hope you're not missing out on too many dining occasions. Most hosts of events and dinners have become aware that many people are vegetarians and they do what they can to show respect for all their guests. Most invitations I receive these days ask me for a diet preference or include a vegetarian choice. Many restaurants offer vegetarian options as well. When you have the opportunity, you may try to steer the selection of restaurants in the direction of such an establishment.
        Good meals and good manners never go out of style.
        Have a question about etiquette? You can ask it at www.askthelma.com. Thelma Domenici is CEO of Thelma Domenici & Associates, offering corporate coaching and contemporary social skills development programs to all ages.

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