Returning Restaurant Food When Things Go Wrong!

I have spent many years in restaurant kitchens and I would tell you that if your order comes to the table and its incorrect I would do one of four things:
  1. Eat it as is
  2. Refuse to pay for it. 
  3. Ask the plate to be redone properly as you asked for it, with new ingredients. (like if your steak was not cooked enough, do not accept the same steak back again after it was cooked longer, get a new steak cooked properly with new side items to go with it! -anything that's on the same plate-
  4. Refuse it and pick something else off the menu.
The reasoning behind this is if your food goes back to the kitchen to be 'fixed' several things immediately increase exponentially:
  • First and foremost if you do not eat it "as is" you will now be delayed in eating with the rest of your party, if that's not a problem, then continue on.
  • The chance your food will be microwaved if its not cooked well.(not a problem? Continue...)
  • When your food goes back into the kitchen how many people touch that plate? How many people are hovered over your food in the back? Was it handled incorrectly? What if someone coughed or sneezed over it? Does it get reheated or re-plated on or next to something you have an allergy to? Cross contamination from something passing over it? 
  • Kitchen staff 'messing' with your food because you sent it back during a busy time thus slowing everybody down and making people mad. At this point whether you were right, and/or picky doesn't matter to the kitchen and wait staff. And you can't see behind those doors can you? (although with the increased awareness, restaurant guidelines, and lawsuits...this may be a very minuscule possibility)
The chance of these things happening to your food multiply each time it goes back. If the restaurant your eating at is "upscale", fancy, or "high end" enough, they would never take that plate back to fix it, and give it to you again. They would remake it from "scratch". They would only take it back to get it out of your way. Some corporate and franchise restaurants have guidelines about food returning so there's a chance your replacement would be made from "scratch". If in doubt, ask!

Of course there are some people who are going to abuse this to "scam" free food, or an extra plate...but not if the restaurant standard is to remove the "wrong" plate at the arrival of the "right" plate.

Your safest bet for delicious hot food that has been handled minimally and correctly was the first time it came out.