Sending food back to the kitchen– to do or not to do?

This afternoon I went to a diner for lunch and ordered quesadillas. What I got was a soggy mess — the combination of condensation, moisture from the cheese goo and the pico de gallo turned the tortilla into a limp, wet rag. While munching on my mom’s sweet potato fries, I debated whether or not to send my food back. I usually opt to let these things slide, because it seems prissy and not worth the effort or the anxiety of wondering if the waiter will add his personal touch to the make-up dish. And it is just classless to ask for your money back. But this quesadilla was seriously pathetic, wallowing in its greasy shallow pool and cringing at the disdain I was casting on it. So when the waiter came back I told him I could not eat the quesadilla because it was too wet, lifting the tops off to better display the disaster beneath. I think he saw what I saw, so he quickly took it back to the kitchen. He came back saying that the mozz was to blame, its molten liquid rendering sodden all it touched, implying that a replacement order would yield similarly soggy results. I mentioned ordering quesadillas there, and elsewhere, in the past without this issue but was ready to drop it, amiably, not wanting to antagonize him. But he nicely offered to replace them with another type of quesadilla and pack them to go since we had to leave. With crisp chicken quesadillas in hand I left a relatively happy camper but wonder if I should have said anything in the first place. Even though the waiter clearly saw what was wrong with the dish, he did seem surprised when I asked him to take it back. I imagine that for a diner that does pretty straightforward food, customer complaints are rare — mediocre food is acceptable, even expected at such an establishment. In that context, it is possible my complaint was inappropriate and out of place. I console myself with the conviction that such a gesture is nothing more than a little slap in the face, which all of us can use from time to time, and justifiably gives a restaurant reason to reconsider how things are done and the standards in place. Being a middling Jersey diner aint no excuse for slacking off and not living up to the expectations of reasonable suburban housewives.

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