Are restaurants trying to annoy you?

You might not know what a checkback is, but there’s a good chance you hate it all the same.

A checkback is simply the waiter returning to your table shortly after serving the food to ask if everything is ok.

Culturally we feel that restaurants are there to be critiqued, and many of us just like a good moan, but it’s still hard to see what’s so bad about this practice.

That is until you witness the ways in which certain restaurants are exploring new methods of making it deeply, powerfully annoying.

Firstly let’s look at it done well. Your food gets put down, you realize you should have ordered a side salad and you’re perilously close to running out of wine. The waiter swings by 90 seconds later and asks if everything is ok, can she get you anything else: Yatzee! Problem solved.

So how can you cock this up?

Well, some masterminds felt this didn’t quite do it for them. It didn’t connect the waiter with the customer. The questions needed to be more specific. Take these three examples from the restaurant business online of how the checkback SHOULD be done:

‘Are those onion rings as tasty as they look?’

‘Are your French fries hot and crisp?’

‘Have you ever had a better chocolate fudge pie?’

Creepy. As. Hell.

Thanks to the likes of them, I was recently asked “that burger looks juicy, is it awesome?”

It wasn’t awesome. I would rarely use the word to describe anything, let alone that particular burger. It was adequate, but now I was forced to either lie or hurt the poor chap’s feelings.

I’m not just a walking anachronism horrified by the way anyone younger than me speaks. In a similar establishment a young waiter breezed past and pointed at my meal “all good?” he said with a wavering thumbs-up, thumbs-down gesture. I answered with a thumbs-up, as my mouth was full.

“Another beer?” he added.

I nodded in reply and he was off. The perfect exchange.

This interaction can happen at any level of formality, but the fundamentals are the same: Is everything ok? Can I bring you anything else?

Anything beyond that tends to come across as an interrogation or an invitation to tell the waiter how awesome everything is.

In short, don’t do it. Please.