S2 E8: "A fancy restaurant mislead me! Was I right to refuse to pay the bill?"

Season 2, Episode 8: “A Fancy Restaurant Misled Me! Was I Right to Refuse to Pay the Bill?”

We Bitches are many things—king makers, trendsetters, practitioners of all the best grandma hobbies. We’re also unapologetically obsessed with r/AmItheAsshole, Reddit’s glorious channel dedicated to the important and if-you-had-to-ask-you-already-know question “Am I the Asshole?”

This week we just could not fucking resist pulling a money-related question straight from r/AITA. Trust me: it was worth it. Dedicated readers and listeners will recall just how strongly we feel about the etiquette of tipping servers in these United States. So naturally, this one got our hackles up. Hopefully it will get your *cackles* up!

Read on for a phonetic spelling of gnocchi from an irritatingly oblivious guy who “likes to eat,” but only if the food is stolen and/or McDonalds. And ladies (just making an educated guess here), he’s recently single!

This week’s question

Today’s letter comes to us from Reddit because we couldn’t fucking resist the bait:

Am I the asshole for refusing to pay at a restaurant that was false advertising?

So my girlfriend (her 27, me 28) wants to go to this fancy new restaurant in the city that she’s heard good things about. We get there and it seems like one of those hipster places but whatever, I’m hungry. I look at the menu and this place is crazy expensive—like every dish is more than $15-$20 and half the ingredients I’ve never heard of. I order the bison steak ($26) and my girlfriend orders some weird pasta, noki I think ($18). Very important, these were listed as ENTREES on the menu. Mind you, with drinks plus tip this is going to come out to over $60, which is already ridiculous for dinner for two people.

So anyway we order as we are starving. My steak arrives and I am shocked, it’s like 6 small pieces of sliced steak with some weird sauce on the side and a small handful of salad. I joke to the waiter ‘where’s the rest of my steak?’ and he explains they serve smaller portions at this restaurant because they focus on getting the highest quality ingredients. I don’t care if this bison was blessed by the Pope himself! It’s absurd to charge that much for such a small bit of steak, it’s highway robbery. When I go to restaurants I expect an entree to fill me up and be enough for leftovers.

I’m complaining to my girlfriend and she’s getting annoyed with me. Similar situation with her pasta, it was like maybe 12 pieces of noki dressed up with some frou frou bullshit.

Granted, the food was pretty good but I cannot get over how tiny these portions are. I’m a big guy and I like to eat, what can I say?

When the waiter comes back I inform him we will not be paying for our meal, and that they are falsely advertising entrees that barely qualify as a light snack. My girlfriend is begging me to stop but that’s where we’re different, I don’t let businesses push me around and rip me off.

A manager comes and apologizes but asks us to leave. I don’t end up paying as they realized I called them out on their bullshit. My girlfriend is silent the entire time on the way back. I’m still hungry so I drive through McDonald’s and get a burger, and when I did that she asked to be dropped off at her place.

It’s now the next day and I’m starting to think I didn’t handle the situation as well as I could have (I could have probably just asked for a discount). My girlfriend hasn’t responded to my texts so now I’m starting to think I’m an asshole. Am I the asshole?

– Some fool on r/AmItheAsshole

SPOILER ALERT: YES.

True fact: the cutting room floor of this episode is a mess of sighs, groans, the whisper of our fingertips rubbing our temples, and one primal indignant scream. We’re big guys, and we like to scream, what can we say!

For more on the topics of tipping and how to not be a garbage person:

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Episode transcript (click to reveal)

Piggy  0:02 

We’d like to thank our Patreon donors. So this time, thanks to Lindsay, Lacey, Kim, and Sandra. And we’d like to give an extra special thanks to Sydney, Aaron, and Olivia. I don’t know if you know this, but Sydney, Aaron, and Olivia are always the first to be chosen when it came time to break up into teams in gym class.

Kitty  0:23 

My God, I didn’t know we had those kind of people for fans.

Piggy  0:28 

I know! They’re top shelf fans.

0:30 (intro music)

Kitty  1:00 

How would you rate, right now, your space madness?

Piggy  1:04 

Oh, my space madness?

Kitty  1:06 

Yeah. How’s your space madness doing?

Piggy  1:07 

Oh sweet fucking Jesus. It’s manifesting in weird ways. I’m an extroverted introvert. So, I value my alone time and my time to just hide and be like … nobody knows what I’m doing. I could be, you know, writing the next Great American novel, but more likely I’m reading a magazine on the toilet.

Actually no, it’s never a magazine. I’m always reading trashy science fiction on the toilet, let’s be honest. But now that I can’t just pop over to a friend’s and be like, “I made this bread, have some extra” — like the little normal grandma things that I do to maintain human relationships — now that I can’t do those things, I am finding less fulfillment in my introvert time.

Kitty  2:03 

Yeah, that’s like a tale as old as time. I have been informed by the CDC that I’m not allowed to touch my face. Turns out, the only thing I want to do while trapped in this mortal coil is touch my fucking face.

Piggy  2:19 

I just want to rub my face. I’m doing it right now. Can you hear it in the microphone? (random microphone noises)

Yes, I just want to rub my face. I just want to shake hands with people. I just want to cough into the air without covering it with anything. Like I want to thrust my arms behind me and push my chest out and just be (deep cough sound) into the middle of the street. I just want that for myself.

Kitty  2:44 

You know what? I’m hanging in there.

Piggy  2:45 

I’m very glad to hear that. Very glad to hear that. With your space madness.

Kitty  2:49 

Yeah, I’m Kitty.

Piggy  2:51 

I’m Piggy.

Kitty  2:52 

We’re the bitches in Bitches Get Riches.

Piggy  2:54 

And we’re a crew of rogue-ish Space Pirates flouting the rules, the Galactic Empire.

Kitty  2:59 

(scared voice) And I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

Piggy  3:03 

Our time on this planet is limited.

Kitty  3:05 

So let’s get started.

Piggy  3:06 

Today’s letter comes to us from Reddit because I could not fucking resist this bait.

Kitty  3:12 

Yeah, so excited. This is so juicy and fucked up. I love it.

Piggy  3:16 

So, “Am I the asshole for refusing to pay at a restaurant that was false advertising? “

I’m gonna read the whole damn thing because it’s mwah. “So my girlfriend (her 27, me 28) wants to go to this fancy new restaurant in the city that she’s heard good things about. We get there and it seems like one of those hipster places but whatever, I’m hungry. I look at the menu and this place is crazy expensive—like every dish is more than $15-$20 and half the ingredients I’ve never heard of. I order the bison steak ($26) and my girlfriend orders some weird pasta, noki I think ($18).”

And I want to just take a moment to say he spells gnocchi, n-o-k-i. This is of course the Italian word gnocchi, aka potato pasta, which is spelled [sic] g-n-o-c-c-i. All right. “Very important, these were listed as ENTREES on the menu.”

Kitty  4:11 

ALL CAPS ENTREES!

Piggy  4:13 

“Mind you, with drinks plus tip, this is going to come out to over $60, which is already ridiculous for dinner for two people.”

Kitty  4:21 

(quietly) Oh my God.

Piggy  4:21 

“So anyway we order as we are starving. My steak arrives and I am shocked, it’s like 6 small pieces of sliced steak with some weird sauce on the side and a small handful of salad. I joke to the waiter ‘where’s the rest of my steak?’ and he explains they serve smaller portions at this restaurant because they focus on getting the highest quality ingredients. I don’t care if this bison was blessed by the Pope himself! It’s absurd to charge that much for such a small bit of steak. When I go to restaurants I expect an entree to fill me up and be enough for leftovers.”

“I’m complaining to my girlfriend and she’s getting annoyed with me. Similar situation with her pasta, it was maybe 12 pieces of noki dressed up with some…

Kitty  4:57 

Noki.

Piggy  4:58 

“…frou frou bullshit.”

“Granted, the food was pretty good but I cannot get over how tiny these portions are. I’m a big guy and I like to eat, what can I say? “

“When the waiter comes back I inform him we will not be paying for our meal, and that they are falsely advertising entrees that barely qualify as a light snack. My girlfriend is begging me to stop but that’s where we’re different, I don’t let businesses push me around and rip me off.”

“A manager comes and apologizes but asks us to leave. I don’t end up paying as they realized I called them out on their bullshit. My girlfriend is silent the entire time on the way back. I’m still hungry so I drive through McDonald’s and get a burger, and when I did that she asked to be dropped off at her place.”

“It’s now the next day and I’m starting to think I didn’t handle the situation as well as I could have (I could have probably just asked for a discount). My girlfriend hasn’t responded to my texts so now I’m starting to think I’m an asshole. Am I the asshole? “

Kitty, is he the asshole?

Kitty  6:00 

I want you to know how long ago I read this, and how quickly I hit the email this to yourself button. Because I just knew that one day, we would be living in a world where you and I were at the 88% threshold of full space madness. And we would just need a question that was liberatingly allowing us to just come down real hard on an anonymous internet individual.

Piggy  6:32 

I want to say right off the bat. It’s going to be hard not to come off as classist in my answer to this.

Kitty  6:40 

How so?

Piggy  6:40 

But fuck this guy. Well, so the whole like $60 is too much for a dinner for two…

And I’m like, have you ever been to a nice restaurant? Because $60 with drinks … holy shit, that’s a steal.

Kitty  6:57 

So I kind of had this experience of growing up in a very rural part of the country. Most of your options for dining out are fast food, which are designed to be as cheap as possible.

And then, within a year of going to school, I remember going to visit friends in New York City. They were like, “Oh, don’t worry about the cost of things.” Because he knew I was a little bit stressed about the price of the trip. And they were like, “Don’t worry. We know some really cheap places to eat.”

So they take me to their really cheap places to eat. And I got an omelet. The omelet cost me $18. I was not thrilled about that. I was not happy about that. And so part of this is — I don’t even think it has quite so much to do with classes as just relative prices for things in your area.

Piggy  7:52 

Yeah, it’s like a cultural misunderstanding. I don’t go out to eat very often, but when I do, I will not go to a chain. I will go to a highly-rated restaurant. A frou-frou hipster joint, to use this person’s language.

Kitty  8:07 

Yeah, you fucking frou-frou hipster.

It’s good that you’re apologizing for being classist, you frou-frou fucking hipster.

Piggy  8:17 

Frou-frou fucking hipster. So, to me, getting gnocchi and some steak with “some weird sauce on the side,” next to a small handful of salad … like that doesn’t sound unusual to me.

Kitty  8:32 

Some weird sauce means wasn’t ketchup.

Piggy  8:36 

Wasn’t ketchup or mayonnaise. Or ranch. It wasn’t ranch.

Kitty  8:37 

(faking offense) How dare you call out ranch like this.

Piggy  8:41 

Listen…

Kitty  8:41 

I feel personally attacked. I’m from a flyover state.

Piggy  8:45 

You fucking should. Here’s the thing. When I moved out west, I met people from many of the flyover states. And any time we went out to eat, they all asked for a side of ranch with whatever it is they were eating.

Kitty  9:02 

Correct.

Piggy  9:02 

It doesn’t matter … like it was a salad side. It was like a burger and fries. If you had pasta. Every fucking dish. (baby voice) “Um, can I get a side of ranch with that?”

Kitty  9:16 

(hushing) Listen. If you’re from the Midwest, asking for a side of ranch, like a pot of ranch. That’s like asking for pepper, or maybe for you, being of the Italian persuasion, asking for some olive oil for your bread.

Can you imagine if someone was like, “Why would you want olive oil, dontcha want butter?”

Piggy  9:41 

And I’d be like, no, Philistine,

Kitty  9:44 

We’re really dancing around the question here, which is — is this person the asshole?

Piggy  9:51 

Yes!

Kitty  9:51 

Yes, you’re the asshole.

Piggy  9:53 

If you stiff a dining establishment after eating there, you’re an asshole unless there’s like a whole family of cockroaches in your food. Yes, you’re the asshole.

Kitty  10:04 

If it’s a full, intact nuclear family.

Piggy  10:07 

Yes, they look like the sticker family on the back of a minivan. Like that level intact. Like roach family in your food.

Kitty  10:17 

A whole family of cockroaches, which you discovered on the final bite. To me, this is a big thing when you’re asking for a refund. How much of that thing that you’re asking for a refund on did you consume?

So actually, right now, I’m playing a video game. So, a couple of times while I’ve been playing, the game has frozen. I’m not pleased about that. I’m annoyed that it’s not working the way that it’s supposed to.

But if you look at how long I’ve been playing that game, it’s over 12 hours. And at that point, I’m like, it’s true that this did not rise to my expectations. But am I going to ask for a refund on it?

No, because I paid $8 for it, and I have definitely gotten my money’s worth in terms of how much I have been playing it. I will continue to play it. I will just save more often. And that’s how I feel about ordering at a restaurant too. If there’s something seriously wrong with your food, you better not be eating it.

Piggy  11:19 

Send it back.

Kitty  11:19 

If you eat the whole thing and then say, (in a creepy, childish, and upset voice) “I’m so hungry. Give me money back. Give me free food. Because…” Wait for it. (in a normal voice) “Because I’m a big guy, and I like to eat.”

Piggy  11:35 

His poor girlfriend. I hope she dumped him after this.

Kitty  11:38 

I hope so too.

Piggy  11:39 

This is so mortifying. She heard of a fancy new restaurant in the city, and she heard it was good and she wanted to try it out. She wanted to have this nice date with her boyfriend.

And he totally cocked it up. Like, oh my God, I would have just died of embarrassment right there. And I’m surprised … I don’t know what their financial position is. Clearly, they don’t live together, thank goodness.

But I’m confused about why she didn’t just pay for the meal or pay for her half of the meal, but I absolutely don’t blame the manager for being like, “Get the fuck out.”

Kitty  12:15 

So my husband and I, we have an agreement, kind of an unspoken one, that if one of us doesn’t love our food, but the other person is clearly, really enjoying theirs — the person who got the not super fantastic dish will pantomime having a fantastic time anyway.

And we can talk about it later, because why ruin the time out?

Piggy  12:39 

Don’t yuck on my yum.

Kitty  12:41 

Yes, don’t yuck my yum is great advice to live by. So, what is the appropriate way to handle being dissatisfied with the food that you’re served in a restaurant? If the food that you get is wrong, an incorrect order or if it’s burnt or if it’s raw. Or if it’s as Gordon Ramsay would say, (in an aggressive, British voice) “raw”.

Then, obviously, yes, say something. Send the food back.

Now, let’s talk about what do you do if you’re at a restaurant, and there’s something more subjectively that you don’t love about the food. What do you do in those instances when it’s like, “This isn’t inedible, but I don’t love this.”

Piggy  13:23 

I mean, I personally would not send it back in that case. I value new experiences, especially of the gustatory nature. So, I personally would try it, and be like, “Well, that was an interesting experience.” And then pay for my fucking experience. And then if I’m still hungry, there’s a box of Girl Scout cookies in the cabinet when I get home.

Kitty  13:44 

I agree 1,000%. I think the whole point of going to restaurants is novelty. It means that you may not get the exact same experience that you hope that you get every single time.

Piggy  13:59 

Exactly, I feel like … what’s the purpose of going to a restaurant, right? You and I, we both cook and we’re frugal people, so probably 95% of time, I’m cooking at home. When I go out to a restaurant, I don’t want to eat something that I could cook at home.

I want the six smaller pieces of meat with “some weird sauce on the side” because that weird sauce is why I’m eating it. I want to try something new. And for his poor girlfriend, she clearly was interested in trying this experience out, and he fucking ruined it for her because he couldn’t step outside of his comfort zone.

Kitty  14:37 

I do think it’s kind of telling that where he went afterwards was McDonald’s. And no shade on McDonalds, I love me an Egg McMuffin when I’m in an airport. Hell yeah.

Piggy  14:48 

Oh, they’re my preferred airport food.

Kitty  14:49 

Exactly. Their fries are drugs. Legal drugs.

Piggy  14:56 

#beeftallow for life.

Kitty  14:58 

The thing is that when you go to get fast food, one of the good things about fast food is that it’s cheap. The other is that it’s fast. And the third is that it’s extremely consistent. The McDonald’s fries you get in Toledo are the same as they are in Little Rock and they’re the same as they are in New York City. Maybe not the same in Japan.

But, to sort of psychoanalyze this dude, I think they’re going to restaurants for very different reasons. And when I say, “Fucking dump him. Dump this dude.” I say that for a lot of reasons. I think being shitty to service people merits dumping. I think that his attitude is fucking annoying, and I would not personally truck with it.

Piggy  15:43 

God, no.

Kitty  15:44 

Setting all of that aside, I do see very differing priorities here.

Piggy  15:48 

Yeah, there’s different values.

Kitty  15:48 

She’s wanting to go and explore something brand new. And he has this kind of like, “I’m extremely annoyed that I went somewhere new and then got a novel, new experience. How dare you?”

Piggy  16:03 

“How dare you take me to a ‘fancy’ new place in the city and then give me fancy new city food. Like how dare you give me what I should have expected?”

I think you were on the right track when you were saying they just have different values. I will quote the TV classic Dexter. Love and happiness is wanting the same things out of life. Because I absolutely agree with that.

My spouse and I don’t have the same interests across the board. We aren’t 100% the same in every way. But when it comes down to our core values and where we want to be in 60 years, we agree 1,000%.

Kitty  16:44 

That does help a lot. I think there’s one last thing that I feel the need to hang a little Christmas candle upon.

Piggy  16:54 

Oh, please do.

Kitty  16:55 

The phrase “false advertising.”

Piggy  16:58 

Yes. I’m glad you brought that up.

Kitty  17:00 

That makes me think about a sort of male Karen. You think that there are these kind of magic words that you can say that will make service people tremble. I demand to speak to a manager and then everyone’s blasted backward by like a brilliant flash of light as you’ve spoken the magic words.

Yes, we can now change all policies, abandon all past protocol to rearrange the world so that it works in your favor. I think “false advertising” … he also sort of expected this blinding flash of light where it was like, “No, please don’t!”

The implicit threat with “false advertising” is that I’m gonna sue you. And this sort of authoritarian streak of — this service person has done their job. I placed an order with him, he brought me the correct order. I’m sure he refreshed your water and your bread or whatever, as you were dining at this fine establishment. This sounds like a place I would love to eat.

Did he do his job? Yes. So are you going to pay him, or are you going to try to stiff him?

And I think this is ultimately what a lot of that Karen behavior boils down to is: Are you attempting to hold responsible the person who symbolically in your head is most closely associated with the perceived grievance, like say the person who is serving the food or the person who is standing behind the counter at customer service, or are you going to think more deeply about who has power in a situation to change policies?

Who sets the portion sizing here? Is it this server? No, it is not.

Piggy  18:58 

God no. Tip your waitstaff.

Kitty  18:59 

Tip your fucking waitstaff. An emotionally mature person is someone who, even if things are just not going their way and they’re not pleased…

…Lord knows I’ve been in situations where I feel like I’ve gotten really crap customer service and pissed about something. And I want to be pissed at somebody about it.

But you have to make sure that that gun that you’re holding is pointed at the correct person before you start putting your finger on the trigger. Otherwise, all you are doing, most likely, is shouting at the most lowly paid person who has no control.

Piggy  19:38 

The proper way to handle the situation, I believe, was for him to eat the food and fucking pay for it. And then in the car ride home be like, “Hey, you know what, I actually didn’t enjoy that experience. I know it was your idea, and you’re excited about it, but I really expect something different from a restaurant experience. I’d prefer that next time you want to try a restaurant like that, take one of your friends instead. I want to go do something else. Now, by the way let’s stop at McDonald’s because I’m still hungry.”

Kitty  20:08 

If big portion sizes are something that you value, that’s something that this guy should know that about himself at this point. And the lesson he should take away from this isn’t like, “Oh, instead of demanding free food, should I just demand a discount food?”

Like wrong impulse, my dude. You need to think about this in terms of — I am a really difficult person when I’m hungry. I get really angry.

Piggy  20:40 

Oh, he was totally hangry.

Kitty  20:41 

And I get very flummoxed when I’m given too little food. So you know what, in the future, if my girl wants to go somewhere nice, then I’ll research it beforehand to make sure the portion sizes are up to my big guy likes to eat standards.

Piggy  20:57 

And maybe have a snack beforehand.

Kitty  21:00 

Listen, pregame it. Eat some fucking pretzels, goddammit, we’re going somewhere nice.

Piggy  21:06 

Pack a power bar.

Kitty  21:08 

Are you good with that?

Piggy  21:09 

I’m good with that.

Kitty  21:11 

Listeners, if there’s a question you’d like for us to answer, go to bitchesgetriches.com and click Ask the Bitches.

Piggy  21:16 

There’s only one way to guarantee that we’ll answer your question, and that’s to become a Patreon donor.

Kitty  21:21 

If you like what we do and you want us to keep going, please become a Patreon donor and support us with whatever donation amount you are comfortable with. We don’t need a lot. A small donation’s just fine.

Piggy  21:31 

And we also have a merch store where you can buy t-shirts and printable worksheets and more.

Kitty  21:39 

Finally, there’s some free things you can do to say thanks.

Please rate and review us on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, whatever you use. It bumps us up on the charts and makes us easier to find. You can follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest, and subscribe to our articles so you never miss a new one. You can do all of that at bitchesgetriches.com.

Piggy  21:59 

Hey, uh, is there anything else they should know?

Kitty  22:00 

Yeah, I made dog treats. I used a little cookie cutter that’s shaped like a bone, but I think it got warped in the last few times that it has gone through the dishwasher because…um, yeah, I just made like 45 little, tiny dicks.

Piggy  22:17 

I knew where that was going as soon as you said they got warped.

Piggy & Kitty  22:17 

Bitches out.

17 thoughts to “Season 2, Episode 8: “A Fancy Restaurant Misled Me! Was I Right to Refuse to Pay the Bill?””

  1. Based on girlfriend’s reaction, she has hopefully realized (former?) boyfriend is not something she wants on the menu.

    1. Listen. Sometimes ya gotta pull an all-nighter to keep yer blog/podcast/day job plates spinning! I’m here from the future to tell you that decision has circadian AND grammatical consequences.

  2. If you eat the food you have to pay, period. If you are concerned about the amount of food in an entrée then you ask before you order it. That guy is a cretin.

  3. That happened to us once. Some restaurants are designed for you to buy multiple courses. They tend to be expensive. My husband and I have an agreement that he doesn’t have to take me to a restaurant with countable food (6 string beans in our case). With online menus and restaurant pictures and reviews, there is no excuse going to a restaurant you can’t afford. Our solution that evening was to thank the server, pay the bill with tip and head to Burger King so my husband did not go home hungry. I will go out for countable food with my friends.

    1. I made a similar agreement with my boyfriend. Countable food and small plates are for either 1) my girlfriends and I, or 2) special occasions. The only time we have intentionally went for tiny plates and countable food was when I won the Hamilton ticket lottery, and since the tickets were $10 a piece, we splurged on food.

  4. I’m constantly confused by American food portions. Is it normal to expect to be full after an entree? To me (in Australia), the entree is the starter and thus a smaller portion of food. If you want to be full you would order a main meal.

    1. Interesting! In the US a small portion that you eat first is an appetizer, and the main dish of the night is called an entree. I’m filing this away for the days when we can all travel again.

    2. Oh, interesting! Here we would call the first small course an appetizer, or a starter. An entree would be the main course! Unless it’s a small plates/tapas situation, you should be pretty full after it, though there’s always dessert! Thank you for saving me from inevitable confusion and hanger whenever I finally get to Australia.

      1. In French an entrée means an appetizer. I was confused for a long time when I heard Americans mention an entree as a main meal (I am French).
        Regarding the post : my opinion is if you eat you pay. If you want to complain, do it before you eat.

  5. OH LORD this question really grinds my gears. In the age of Yelp & Google reviews, to not research ahead of time is just silly. Agree, YTA!

    Something my husband and I do when eating at a restaurant (what is that even like now?), is order a bunch of stuff and then ask the server, “is this a good amount of food for 2 hungry people?” They obviously know their food & portion sizes and can suggest more/less food.

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