Although knowing the names of different types of dishes, food and styles of cooking is very important when ordering and eating in a restaurant, you also need to know how to complain. Being able to explain what the problem is (with the food or how the restaurant staff/employees have treated you) and complain politely in English will make the experience less frustrating and annoying. In this first of two online exercises on complaining/problems in a restaurant, we will look at vocabulary and phrases in English that are used for both common problems that customers have in restaurants and for complaining. We will look at phrases used when arriving at a restaurant and when you receive the wrong food. In addition, we will look at some phrases that waiters or waitresses use in these situations.
Read the following situation where four customers (Julie, Andrew, Sally & Peter) are having problems when eating in a restaurant. Focus on the words/phrases in BOLD and think about their meaning.
Waiter:'Good evening Madam, how can I help you?'
Julie:'Good evening. We have a reservation for 9pm in the name of Smith.'
Waiter:'A table for four, yes? I'm afraid that the table isn't available yet. If you'd like to wait at the bar, we'll call you over when it's ready.'
30 minutes later
Julie:'Excuse me, we've been waiting for 30 minutes for our table. Will it be much longer?'
Waiter:'Sorry about the delay, we're very busy tonight. I'll just go and check.'
2 minutes later
Waiter:'Your table is ready now. If you would like to come with me, I will show you to your table.'
5 minutes later when the customers are seated at their table
Andrew:'My god, the people at the table next to ours are shouting. I can't hear myself think!'
Julie:'They are talking very loud. I'll take care of it. I will speak to the waiter and see if we can move tables. Excuse me, would it be possible to change tables?'
Waiter:'Is there a problem with the table madam?'
Julie:'Not with the table, but the table next to us are speaking very loudly.'
Waiter:'I will ask them to quieten down, so you can enjoy your meal without the shouting.'
20 minutes later, the waiter is serving them their first course/starter
Andrew:'Excuse me, I didn't order the smoked salmon.'
Waiter:'I have smoked salmon written down here.'
Andrew:'I am afraid you are mistaken. I asked for the tomato and basil soup for my starter.'
Waiter:'I'm terribly sorry sir, I'll replace it straight away.'
Peter:'Excuse me, would it be possible to change my starter?'
Waiter:'Is there anything wrong with your prawn salad sir?'
Peter:'No, there isn't. I wasn't expecting the prawn salad to look like this.'
Waiter:'No problem sir. What would you like instead?'
Peter:'Could I have a caesar salad if it's no trouble?'
Waiter:'I am afraid we are sold out of the caesar salad. We don't have any more tonight. May I recommend the tomato and basil soup. It's very good.'
Waiter:'I'll bring the soups now.'
Below is a definition/description of each of the words in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.
When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.
Now that you understand the new vocabulary, practice them by creating your own sentences with the new words/phrases.