The other day I went to support my awesome friend, singer & songwriter Ese Peters at his Taruwa gig at Bogobiri. My friends were all there eating away so they offered me food. Meanwhile, I was very thirsty so I hailed the waiter and said “Sir please do you have freshly squeezed juice?”
“We Do!” the waiter calmly replied
“Oh ok what juices do you have available?” with a confused look he replied “Pineapple Juice and Watermelon” . I was upset that they didn’t have Orange juice but I decided to have a fruit cocktail so I ask them to mix me a cocktail “with a bit of ginger and a squeeze of Lemon or Lime” My friends were already asking why I was being difficult, especially with the look the waiter had on his face like I was punishing him. Then, he said they had no ginger. “You don’t have ginger? Don’t you have kitchen?”
My juice arrived a few minutes later with no hint whatsoever of lime or lemon and was as lukewarm as Ikogosi water spring meeting point.
So what’s the point of my story? It is perfectly normal to ask for “strange and seeming difficult” favours at a restaurant for a few of these reasons
1. You’re paying customer.
When you go to restaurant you’re not at the mercy of the waiter or even chef. I know as kitchen people we grumble and complain when we get strange orders “Please can I have my steak extra well done?” “May I have just greens beans with Salmon instead of the Prawns” Yes we hate it but again we remember they are cashing out. They our business and pay for the month and hopefully year as often as they keep coming.
With all being said and done. I’m not signing a bill that empowers you to be an obnoxious villain and at your next restaurant visit. However, if you’ve been to a restaurant you love time after time and you just want a change or you’re on this diet or something just ask for something slightly different around what they already have on the menu.
For example when I go to orchid Bistro in Ikeja and I always have my mix of Orange, Carrot Grapefruit Lime and Ginger Juice. It’s not on their menu but I asked if I could mix all the individual ones I saw on the menu and they agreed. The only problem now is that every time I go there, even if it’s to say “Hi!” they’re making it for me.
Remember, you’re a paying customer and you have the power; but be ready to pay for the extra at all times if it costs a bit more and you don’t look silly.
2. You may inspire the chef.
Many dishes have been invented because customers ask for something different. You can never tell, your idea may sit well with the chef and he scores a home run and a dish is named right after you.
3. They have it in their restaurant so why not?
When I go to GET arena for a quick lunch there have been times I’ve ordered the shrimp that normally comes with the noodles. I ask for it to be served with Jollof rice or with a salad on the days I’m in my “No Carbs” zone. The idea is they have it on their menu and in the kitchen so why not? The restaurant just needs to bill me.
If i ordered Garlic bread at a restaurant I’d probably ask for some olive and balsamic vinegar and rock salt to mix to dip my bread into
Why not make a different salad for yourself? “Please can I have rocket leaves with a chicken breast grilled and sliced over with a chilli balsamic dressing and fresh cracked black pepper Thank you *insert smile*
The above should be such a hustle because all these items are on their salad menu so why not?
The issue here is the “Nigerian Factor” You find people saying “Oga why are you stressing me jo?” “This your ovesabi too much”
However, in a regular restaurant they would be bending back over to make sure your satisfied. I mean you’r e not going to do it every time. It’s really a matter of asking firmly and being polite,
Drinks here aren’t left out. In fact I do this for drinks more than food. Ask the bartender “Hello please what’s that new recipe that has given you sleepless nights that you’ve been waiting to try I want to do something new tonight” or “Hi, can I have Malibu in my pineapple sour?” “Please can we mix this liquor with that spirit and top with soda?” and of course please charge me accordingly
That is what I usually do and guess what? I get it every time and the bartenders are usually grateful for a new recipe.
So I wrote this for people who think they cannot ask for food/service outside the menu. You may look difficult but as a chef and food provider I’d want your satisfaction over whatever money you’re paying because that would guarantee your long term patronage.
I hope I’ve shared something awesome with everyone today.
Guys! Remember that December (and Christmas) is upon us so if you have any suggestions on what you’d like to read on BN Cuisine With Chef Fregz please leave a comment or send an email to features(at)bellanaija(dot)com
Have a flavour filled weekend!
Chef Fregz loves to cook! He is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris Culinary Arts School in France and hosts monthly “Chef Fregz Specials” where he whips up a yummy menu with a different theme each time then everyone enjoys a taste.He also caters special events and private dinners. To find out more, visit theskinnychefthatcould.com