My wife and I dined out last night. We were offered a complimentary appetizer. It was crab and artichoke dip, but we accepted it anyway.
Before it arrived, our waiter took our dinner order. This being our second meal of the evening, we ordered light: me a steak, her a salad. This sent the waiter reeling.
"Oh, when I offered you the complimentary appetizer, I though you both said you were ordering entrees," the waiter said.
Instead of lecturing him on what quid pro quo and complimentary mean, I told him to cancel the appetizer.
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"I already put the order in," he said. "We've got to get rid of it anyway."
Mmmm, this made me really want to eat an appetizer I can't stand. It arrived. I ate some. It was all about salt and oil. I ate some more while our meals took an unusually long time to arrive. When I eventually cut into my steak, it tasted like liver. I think I'm gonna take a sick day today.
UPDATE: A reader and restaurateur e-mailed me to note that accepting free food is a slippery slope. For the record, the complimentary appetizer was being offered to everyone in the house that night. Because the stink of the News Tribune's former, on-the-take restaurant critic still floats over my job like the Aroma of Tacoma II, I'll note my policy again: I take no free food unless I know it's being offered to other diners, or when protesting would compromise my professional anonymity ("No, I can't take that cheese sample because I'm the restaurant critic."). I don't solicit freebies.