We've all been there: sitting at a restaurant with a plate of food we don't want, pondering whether to send it back. On the one hand, you want what you ordered. On the other hand, you fear your fish will be marinated in spit. But there are many legit reasons to send food back, reasons that won't draw your server's vengeance -- like if the food's raw, or your ice cream is actually a steak.
In the interest of propriety, we've surveyed many servers and chefs and come up with the truly legit reasons for sending food back... and just as many completely asinine requests you should never make.
Acceptable to send back: Your steak is improperly prepared
If you ordered a medium-rare steak and got a hockey puck, it's perfectly reasonable to send it back. Likewise, if you ordered it well-done and it's bloody, you're an idiot. No steak should be well-done. But if that's what you ordered, you're an idiot who should get what he asked for.
Unacceptable to send back: You ordered your steak incorrectly
It's not the chef's fault you said "medium-well" when you meant "medium-rare," and a restaurant's not gonna eat the cost of a $50 porterhouse because you misspoke. Also, again, why did you order it like that?!
Acceptable to send back: Your food is burned
If you get a pork chop that resembles charcoal, you shouldn't have to eat it.
Unacceptable to send back: You didn't realize that char is part of the recipe
You're at a wood-fired pizza place and don't like the little char marks on the crust? Get thee to a Little Caesar's.
Acceptable to send back: Your food is undercooked
Raw food's gross, especially when it's something like chicken that can totally make you sick if you eat it.
Unacceptable to send back: You didn't realize what you ordered is raw
Tartare and ceviche aren't just fancy foreign words, and they're not gonna throw it on the grill for you.
Acceptable to send back: You ordered a dish minus an item you're allergic to, and it's in there anyway
There's no sense in dying because you ate a risotto with red peppers in it after the server specifically told you it wasn't a problem to get it without peppers. Your desire not to die justifies your sending it back.
Unacceptable to send back: You ordered something you're obviously allergic to
You have gluten allergies, yet you ordered a breaded chicken sandwich on sourdough with a hefeweizen and a side of flour. You're a moron.