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How to Complain in English About the Service in a Restaurant

One of the fundamental aspects of each culture is, without a doubt, the food. When travelling abroad, it is important to visit typical restaurants to get to know the place’s cuisine as well as to try local dishes. It is, however, good to know how to communicate with those who work in restaurants, in order to be able to express if we are not happy with the service or if we have special needs in the best way possible.

Above all, you must recognize that when we communicate in a language that is not our own, there can be one of two effects: on one hand, we could be more thoughtful and attentive in what we say, or, on the other hand, we run the risk of being too direct or even appearing rude if we limit ourselves to simply translating what we have in mind without paying attention to the form. That is why we have decided to offer you some phrases that could be useful if your plate of roast meat came out cold or if the oysters were too spicy. Let’s look at them together.

At the Table

Choosing a table at a restaurant is almost as important as choosing the restaurant itself. After sitting down, you might realize that you have not chosen the best place to have your dinner. In that case, how can you tell the waiter that you would like to change your table or to request that the air conditioning be turned down?

Do Not Say

I don’t want to sit here. It is too cold!

It’s Better to Say

Please, I would like to change tables as we are feeling a bit cold here.

 

Do Not Say

I want to sit outside and have a sea view!

It’s Better to Say

Is it possible to sit outside and have a sea view?

The Service

Another important aspect of having a pleasant evening in a place is, without a doubt, the table service. What happens if you don’t like the staff’s service?

Do Not Say

Please, be a bit faster. We have been waiting for too long!

It’s Better to Say

Do we need to wait much longer? We are a bit hungry!

 

Do Not Say

Why haven’t you brought us any napkins?

It’s Better to Say

Excuse me, we need some napkins.

The Food

And now the most delicate moment has arrived: the food. After a day spent hiking in the countryside or on long walks through the historic centre, you will definitely be very hungry. A dish that is too salty or tasteless could put even the most patient and complacent tourist’s nerves to the test. Here are some phrases you can use to not seem discourteous!

Do Not Say

This dish is terrible. There is too much salt!

It’s Better to Say

I am sorry but the dish is too salty for me. Could you bring another one with less salt?

 

Do Not Say

I told you before, I don’t like spicy dishes!

It’s Better to Say

Sorry! As I said before, chilli is not good for me and this dish is too spicy.

The Bill

Last, but not least, the bill has arrived. Maybe the place is fantastic, the service has been excellent, and the food has been magnificent, but the bill is not exactly what you were expecting. Would you like explain to the server that they have charged you for more drinks than you had, or to ask them to clarify some of your doubts? How do you do so?

Do Not Say

Why did you add the coke? We only had water.

It’s Better to Say

Sorry, there must be a mistake here as we didn’t drink coke.

 

Do Not Say

This bill doesn’t match with the price list!

It’s Better to Say

Excuse me, could you explain to me why we are paying this amount for the fish?

 

Do Not Say

This bill is too expensive!

It’s Better to Say

Excuse me, can I see the price list again before I pay? Just to understand better!

Now that you know the best way to express yourself in a restaurant in English, you can feel more relaxed and free to voice your requests when you find yourself in a restaurant abroad. This will encourage you to try the typical dishes and local delicacies in the places you visit on your next holiday. If you still feel the need for more help practicing your English, ABA English would be happy to meet your needs. They offer a simple and natural way to learn the best ways to express yourself in English.

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