Service of Sharing

February 22nd, 2016

Categories: Restaurant, Service, Service Personality, Sharing

Half a portion

While some remember every course they ate at a remarkable restaurant, I tend to recall details of fabulous or lackluster service and that I liked the food.

Years ago I invited someone to lunch to thank them for a kindness at a lovely, now defunct, midtown restaurant. We decided to split an appetizer and each ordered a main course. When the appetizer arrived I was mortified: There was one scallop in sauce, hardly enough for one much less two. The waiter hadn’t said a word.

Cafe FiorelloRecently I was with a guest at Café Fiorello, across from Lincoln Center, and benefited from the opposite experience. We both had a yen for lasagna. The waiter asked if we were planning to split it, which we hadn’t considered, and having once been burned, I asked him about portion size. Satisfied, we followed his suggestion, shared a salad as well and when the lasagna came—expertly divided in the kitchen and artfully plated–we were so grateful. The portions filled each plate and after eating far too much of the bread and salad, neither of us could finish our half.

I’m always delighted to observe anyone do their job both well and beyond the call. Have you experienced a wonderful meal thanks, at least in part, to the wait staff? Have you run into a snag by sharing a portion that was far too small to split?

Waiter at table


8 Responses to “Service of Sharing”

  1. hb Said:

    I’m glad that you had the experience that you did at Fiorello’s. I remember eating there with a friend at the antipasto bar there and how generously they heaped our plates with delicious tidbits. Good to know that still have a policy of putting the customer first. I wish there were more places like that in New York.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I am always amazed at any restaurant that goes to the trouble and expense to look fabulous, prepare great food and give short shrift to service. I would not have thought less of the restaurant had my guest and I each received a full portion of lasagna. However by doing us a favor, the waiter put us in a good mood, we probably spent about the same as in addition we ordered wine, coffee and the salad so his employer didn’t lose anything and whenever I think of Fiorello’s now I smile!

  3. Donna Boyle Schwartz Said:

    Donna wrote on Facebook: We’ve had a similar experience trying to split plates for the in-laws (93 years young) and we’ll never go back to some restaurants because they made it seem like splitting portions was a criminal offense!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    As the population ages, if some restaurants want to continue in business, they’d best change their tunes. On the other hand, I’ve been in some places that clearly do not want older people around and they make it clear in several ways. Makes me sad.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    I don’t share often, and haven’t been cheated. Fiorello is a fine establishment, but an opera/ballet loving friend and I have migrated down a block or two to a high end sandwich place which runs us less than one third of the cost. We end up very well fed, and with fuller pocketbooks! The savings are often spent at the Opera Shop, where the memories are longer lasting!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I didn’t feel cheated by the waiter in the first instance as the sizes of the portions aren’t his responsibility. I could have used his counsel, had he shared that the portion was miniscule. He clearly didn’t know and if he did, he didn’t think it was his job to say anything. Lesson learned: Now I ask if the subject of sharing comes up and I’m not familiar with the restaurant!

    The night we went to Fiorello’s was one of those fiercely cold ones so we were happy it was steps away from the door at Lincoln Center. My guest was staying with family in the city and had arrived a few days before when the weather was mild and wasn’t dressed for the surprise cold. Nice to know there are less expensive options in that great neighborhood.

  7. Hank Goldman Said:

    Recently had a lot of fun at a birthday dinner…Waiter was very cooperative, and helped make it fun.

    Sharing doesn’t seem to be the problem that it used to be… Decades back the menus once said, no sharing! That stank

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I understand that a restaurant needs to make money so if I do share, I make sure that I spend a decent amount of money on other things such as wine [very profitable for them] or salad or sides. If a person has dietary issues or can’t eat that much it seems silly to force them to waste food. Often they can order two appetizers and that ends up costing the same as one main course. Some restaurants offer two sizes of main dish which is great so you can try an appetizer and have room for both.

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