Worth complaining

How many times have we sent back a dish in a restaurant, or had the urge to do so but lacked the courage? Or, cowardly in the extreme, how often have we replied that everything was fine when asked by the waiter - even though it was not?

We should never hesitate. Talking to the owner of a top Malaga restaurant recently, it is clear that everyone benefits when we complain promptly. "It is very gratifying when new customers comes back to repeat the experience," he said, "but if they do not, it is likely that the first meal was not up to standard."

Most restaurants are prepared to do almost anything to assure customer satisfaction. Replacing a dish costs little and even giving a free bottle of wine is not a financial burden. "But it is really upsetting when someone publishes criticisms on websites and social media about things they never mentioned when they were in the restaurant!"

There are the timeless complaints, like for example, "the hummus tasted too much of chick peas", "the colour of the plate clashed with that of the food", "the meat-eaters at the next table showed no respect for us vegans", "the guacamole had too many avocados", "the chicken pieces in the salad were tough" (they were croutons), etc...

It is calculated that 40 per cent of diners never complain, and of these half do not do so for fear of the 'chef's revenge', ergo, their new dish will have something horrible, and invisible, mixed into it. Another urban myth?

I watched a customer leaving a Marbella restaurant last week. Clearly upset, he growled at the owner, "And this is what you call a Michelin restaurant?" The answer: "Me? No. The Michelin Guide inspectors, yes."