Black Bear Diner And The Thrice Cooked, Twice Eaten Steak Of Disappointment

The Black Bear Diner in Colorado Springs twice served Jason the same undercooked steak. When he asked for a new steak, the server returned with the same steak cooked for a third time. When Jason told the server that the steak looked unappetizingly familiar, the server responded with “some story about her eating the old steak, and (unprompted) said that she couldn’t bring out the other steak because she had ate it, and got in trouble with her boss about it.”

Jason cc’d us on the letter he sent to the Black Bear’s den:

I am writing to let you know about my experience recently at the Black Bear Diner in Colorado Springs.

My family and I are regular customers at the restaurant. In fact, when my extended family comes to town, our first stop is usually ‘The Bear’. The food is always excellent, with generous portions, and the servers are attentive and friendly. Plus the sugar free peach cobbler is a rare treat for a diabetic like me. I can not recall a negative or unpleasant experience in your restaurant, until last night.

My wife and I stopped in for dinner on Wednesday night, 2/25/09 at about 7pm. I decided to order the $15.99 cowboy cut steak. When it was served, the first thing I noticed that one corner of the steak was burnt, and the inside was a purple mush. Being an experienced griller, I recognized that the steak, being as thick as it was, would have been difficult to cook to medium rare, as I had requested. I brought this to the attention of the server, and the (I assume) manager on duty. They agreed that it looked raw still, and sent it back to be put on the grill.

About 2-3 minutes later, my server returned with the steak (smaller, minus the part where I cut into to inspect it previously) I cut into another side, and notice that it is still purple, and the outside is almost black. I asked the manager if instead of recooking the steak for a third time, to please just cook a new one, and I would take it to go. (at this point, my wife is nearly finished with her meal) The manager looked clearly uncomfortable with the request, offering several excuses as to why that would be inconvenient, finally saying that it would take too long. When I asked how long we were talking, she said 10 minutes. I told her that I found that acceptable for a new steak, and had no problem waiting. She furrowed her brow, said okay and went back to the kitchen, loudly exclaiming “Hey wants a new steak!”.

About 7 minutes later she returns with the steak, and asks if it is cooked. I checked, and it was all brown inside. She leaves to get a to-go box. Inspecting, the steak, I realized that it was infact the same steak we started out with, complete with the missing sides cut off. I mention that to the server, and ask her to just be honest with me, and she told me some story about her eating the old steak, and (unprompted) said that she couldn’t bring out the other steak because she had ate it, and got in trouble with her boss about it. Deciding against calling her and the manager liars to their face, we opt to pay our bill (including the 15.99 for the mystery steak) and leave. Had that server actually eaten that steak, she would have gotten sick from it being so undercooked.

Once I got home, I took the steak out and tried it. It was incredibly over cooked (as a steak that’s been re-cooked 3 times would be), and had a funny chemical taste to it. After two bites, I had to discard it, over concern for my own health.

Now, I understand that mishaps can happen in a food service environment. Sometimes, things just don’t cook right. I can accept that without issue, as long as it is resolved appropriately when brought to your attention. What disturbs me the most, is that I was so blatantly lied to about the food. When I frequent a restaurant, I place a certain amount of trust in them to not sicken me with unsafe food. With the actions of the server and manager last night, my trust in Black Bear Diner is severely damaged.

While you can’t put a dollar figure to what trust is worth, I am also bothered that I paid $15.99 for this horrible experience. I respectfully request a refund of the amount I paid for this dinner. I can be contacted at the information at the end of this email to arrange for a refund, and to discuss this further if needed. I hope we can work to a satisfactory resolution of this issue.

Jason wrote a great letter and earned exactly the response he wanted from Black Bear:

I just got off the phone with Fay, the General Manager at the restaurant.

She acknowledged the mess up on their part, apologized repeatedly, and made assurances that the issue would be resolved by retraining the staff. She offered to not only refund for my meal, but our total ticket, as well as free dinner for my wife and I at our convenience. I am very pleased with the resolution, and her response.

Comments

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  1. dorianh49 says:

    Sounds like a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad place.

    • Kaessa says:

      @dorianh49: That’s actually very unusual for a Black Bear. We go to our local one frequently, and the service and food are always excellent. I think Jason may have just had the bad luck to have a sub-par server that evening.

      Glad to see it was resolved!

    • supercereal says:

      @dorianh49: Sounds like the kitchen of most restaurants out there. Having worked in several as a kid, I would never dream of sending my food back multiple times. After the first, you’re probably better off with a refund. Things aren’t getting better with each subsequent time.

      Not saying that this is excusable behavior by any means. He should certainly be compensated and apologized to. Just be warned that the kitchens in most restaurants like this are staffed with teens that could care less if you’re satisfied with your meal. Apathy is the price of cheap labor.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      I think their resolution was very appropriate, I’m glad they owned up to the problems and reconciled a long time customer.

      @dorianh49: You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time… they made things right with a customer. That’s the bottom line. The only terrible restaurant is the one that doesn’t realize how important long time customers are, they seem to.

    • ajlei says:

      @dorianh49: Don’t worry… I got your reference.

    • StreamOfConsciousness says:

      @dorianh49: Ahh…I miss that book. Time to dig it out after all these years.

  2. G_Money21 says:

    Who orders a steak from a diner? In Jersey (Birthplace of the diner with diners on EVERY CORNER) you only order 3 things, egg’s, pancakes, pork roll egg and cheese on a roll with disco fries, and Burgers. Thats it. Nothing else can be trusted at a diner, let alone a diner in Colorado.

    • drjayphd says:

      @G_Money21: It’s just a name, ya know, not an actual diner…

    • thnkwhatyouthnk says:

      @G_Money21: Not to be a dick or anything, but that’s 4 things. I wholeheartedly agree though, coming from a diner culture myself (Long Island, diner on every other corner with complimentary snobs inside most).

    • chuck0008 says:

      @G_Money21: How’s the weather up there on top of your high horse?

      • G_Money21 says:

        @chuck0008: We’re expecting 6-8 inches for tonights storm actually.

        Why am I on a high horse? Becuase I asked who orders a steak at a diner? You get what you pay for. $15 for a steak I wouldnt expect much, let alone one bought at a diner. I’m not trying to be a douche, just tellin the truth.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @G_Money21: prices of meat are geographic too. i used to live in a ‘cattle country’ part of the US where i could get a perfectly good steak for $15. now i live in ‘pig country’ and i can buy a pork loin at the grocery store for 99 cents a pound or less and beef is about $5 a pound for the cheap cuts and a moderately priced restaurant steak runs well over $20

        • Ratty says:

          @G_Money21: Where I used to live in the sticks in cattle country, $16 US buys you a 12 ounce grassfed porterhouse done exactly how you want it, garlic toast, and home fries. and it’s damn fine. So I’d expect quite a bit more thsan what was delivered here for the $16 the guy paid.

          Black Bear Diner isn’t exactly a diner in the NJ sense. It’s a family retaurant specializing in meat and potato type home cooking.

      • supercereal says:

        @chuck0008: High horse? It’s no secret that not every type of restaurant excels at serving up every type of dishe. One wouldn’t expect a fantastic filet mignon from the Wal-Mart grocery.

      • thnkwhatyouthnk says:

        @chuck0008: From your comment, I can tell that you’re not very familiar with US geography. No offense to G_Money21, but no one in New Jersey is on top of a high horse. Drive through North Jersey on a hot summer day with your windows down and you’ll understand.

        • ScottRose says:

          @thnkwhatyouthnk:

          but no one in New Jersey is on top of a high horse. Drive through North Jersey on a hot summer day with your windows down and you’ll understand.

          Maybe that smell is the south end of a northbound high-horse on the turnpike? /NewYorker

    • Skankingmike says:

      @G_Money21: Living in NJ and having eaten at a million diners there are regular nice diners and there are ‘Open late for the drunks’ diner.

      Personally i like the nicer ones.

      BTW you can’t get Taylor ham outside NJ the “Tristate” I know you said pork roll but anybody from NJ knows what you mean.

      • CFinWV says:

        @Skankingmike: You can’t? Wow, wonder how I’m able to buy it in WV…

        • CFinWV says:

          @CFinWV: To clarify though, I grew up in Philly so I’ve eaten Taylor’s since I was a kid. But happily we can buy it in WV, I even brought a few of the full rolls to my brother who now lives in Michigan because they can’t get it there.

    • kathyl says:

      @G_Money21: Can you let us all know what you find so especially substandard about Colorado? I’m really curious.

      • G_Money21 says:

        @kathyl: I dont find anything substandard about Colorado. Diners are a tristate NJ thing, therefore I made a generalization that we have the best. I wouldnt order a steak at ANY of our famous north jersey diners, so I wouldnt expect a better product at a diner in colordao. I would substitute a number of other states for colorado (I am not picking on colorado).

      • Superawesomerad says:

        @kathyl: Colorado Springs.

    • kc2idf says:

      @G_Money21: When you find a diner you like, you order whatever they offer that you want, plain and simple.

      Our family frequent a diner that is about six miles from our home, called the Glenville Queen, and with an occasional mishap, the food and service are really good for the dollar.

      On the other hand, there is another diner about half a mile from our house called “Blue Ribbon” which, frankly, doesn’t cut it.

      Privately owned eateries, regardless of style, will vary greatly. You can’t paint all diners with the same broad brush that you might paint all restaurants of a particular chain. To do so is to compare apples and oranges.

    • fatcop says:

      @G_Money21: What is with the porkroll all of a sudden? It’s advertised on the radio, it’s showing up here. What’s a midwesterner to do?

      jerseyboyporkroll.com

    • TaterTom says:

      @G_Money21: I don’t mean to echo ‘high horse’ comments, but diner doesn’t mean Jersey/Tri-state anymore. Wherever they originated [not disputing origin here] they’ve definitely sprouted up everywhere, and cannot be held to the same standards as the originals, good or bad.

      As was mentioned earlier in a different way, to each [establishment] their own. If you’ve got your local spot locked in, frequent it often, and have a bad experience, let them know in a respectable manner. I don’t think it was against that last statement to do so by printed word. Familiar with that type of work environment myself, it gives a certain air of importance to have correspondence-on-paper while coaching employees on such matters.

      Back to summarize my original point, the word ‘diner’ is not as specific as it once was, and was likely not intended to mean the Jersey pre-fab genre of restaurants you are so familiar with, especially out in Colorado.

    • raincntry says:

      Come on, you can get a good burger and fries at a diner.@G_Money21:

    • ekthesy says:

      @G_Money21:

      As a fellow frequenter of Jersey diners and a vegetarian, I have rarely been disappointed by diner Greek salads, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato, onion rings, and other non-meat fare. Frankly, it’s the meat you should stay away from…I always laugh when I see veal parm or steaks on the 16-page diner menus…who the hell would eat diner veal?

      Also, unless you’re just there for pie and coffee, you should be eating at diners which have done you well before…there’s a diner in New Providence where I only go for dessert and coffee because their food is bad but the waitresses are cute. When I want real food I go to the Union Plaza on 22.

      • G_Money21 says:

        @ekthesy: nothing beats the Tick Tock Diner Rt 3 in Clifton NJ

        • Trey Mahaffey says:

          @G_Money21:
          i spent 3 weeks in NJ one night.

          and what is up with having to take a right in order to make a left hand turn?

          i didn’t find any good restaurants in the area (Eatontown, Ft Monmouth) but you are right… they have numerous diners on almost every corner.

          and whats with having to go to the ABC store just to buy wine or beer? i don’t know what i would do if i had to go to the liquor store every time i wanted a beer.

      • iqag says:

        @ekthesy: I miss the Lido.

  3. fs2k2isfun says:

    How can you undercook a steak? I like mine simply charred on the outside. this sounds delicious to me.

  4. ViperBorg says:

    Seems like it was a one time thing, if they have been there before with no problems. The supposed manager seemed like a jerk, but all-in-all, an excellent resolution.

  5. CyrusOpeth says:

    If I’m a regular at a restaurant, they know me. If nothing else, I know who the servers are by name, and that is a great thing to know when talking with the manager.

    I think this guy blew it up way out of proportion. He should have simply talked with the manager in the next day or two and briefly recounted the story in a friendly, concerned customer manner. I’m sure he would have gotten the same response. That was the appropriate first step. But to turn this into a formal letter that he intends to blast all over the internet as a FIRST step is, frankly, WAY overkill. The length and detail of the letter were way too much, and the importance he placed on this anomaly was way over the top. (Now, if he was summarily ignored in his attempts to deal with it locally with that store manager, that’s another story.)

    Is this truly a Consumerist piece? This isn’t “the man is sticking it to you, watch out”. This was simple human error in a single instance, with no malice intended. To infer malice to the level he did is frightening.

    I have a story about a billing error, where some credit card charges were mixed up at my table. I signed for one amount, and was charged another. This happened twice, at a Longhorn that I frequent. A simple query of the manager was sufficient to get to the truth–it was a mistake, both times. He had the table’s receipts handy, and we immediately saw what happened. No big deal, and he acknowledged that the staff needed to be more careful. Turns out they were more careful as time went on–end of story. Not life changing, and not worth blasting out over the internet. Stuff happens. If we deal with human to human, mostly it’ll get straightened out and we all go on with our lives.

    • t0ph says:

      @CyrusOpeth: Agreed. Definitely a bit of an over-reaction

    • deadspork says:

      @CyrusOpeth: As a former food server, I would never have admitted to someone that I ate their food in the back. That’s pretty gross.

      • deadspork says:

        @deadspork: Dangit, I am so bad at using the reply function, lol.

        • floraposte says:

          @deadspork: It doesn’t sound like the server actually ate it, though; it seems like she just said that she did to cover up the fact that this was the same steak.

          However, Jason’s incorrect in his claim that she would have had to be sick from eating the steak. Sure, you can get sick from raw/undercooked beef. Most of the time, though, you won’t.

          • penuspenuspenus says:

            @floraposte: @unobservant: This letter stunk of fishing for freebies.

          • marsneedsrabbits says:

            @floraposte:

            As long as it has been seared briefly on the grill, it should be fine to eat. Back when I waitressed, people would occasionally order their steaks blue or blood rare, meaning ever-so-briefly seared to kill the nasty little guys, then plated.

            See: [en.wikipedia.org]

            The germs to be concerned about are generally on the cut surface, and killing those makes it safe to eat. The same is not true of ground meat, since what was once the surface of the cut is now mixed throughout.

            Searing does very little for parasites, but neither does most quick cooking methods, so the trick is to not eat infested beef to start with.

          • LandruBek says:

            @floraposte: That’s what I was thinking: untouched raw meat, such as the inside of an undercooked steak, is probably safe to eat, but I suppose it could give you indigestion. I think the more important question is, would it be delicious? Anyway, that’s the only “beef” I have with this post (*snork, hee hee*).

            But generally I’m wondering (and this is not directed at you, floraposte) what is with all the bitchy comments? “What?! A consumer got bad service, and the story somehow gets on the Consumerist? And restaurants outside Jersey called ‘diner’, with a violation of the sacred list of permissible orders? Using the internet to tell others about it? How can these things BE???” People, people! Stay positive!

            • TaterTom says:

              @LandruBek: I’m with you [i think] on this one. This seems like a story with a positive ending, a respectable action taken from both sides, and then published. Yeah, the bit about the server having to feel discomfort after purportedly eating the steak was a little much, but it looks like a respectable letter to the staff, and an above-the-call-of-duty response.

              Anywhere I frequent, they know me, but that’s because of my noticeable appearance, attitude, and appetite. Not everyone’s that way. I think there’s honor to be spoken of on the submitter’s part, not only for paying for the thrice-cooked steak, but writing a respectable complaint as well. Personally, I probably would have not been so respectable upon receiving the steak a third time and being lied to boldface by staff and management.

              I may be late to the party, but it looks like nothing was published without the positive response by the establishment included [correct me if I’m wrong], which is also noteworthy. Congrats for showing an overall positive experience on what would be a site littered with nothing but dreary tales otherwise.

    • macinjosh says:

      @CyrusOpeth: The manager was already involved in the initial ‘incident’, so I’m not sure talking to him the next day would be helpful.

  6. unobservant says:

    I love this.

    I had a similar experience (in that I was lied to by a server) and I didn’t bother to contact the management about it because I had no intention of ever returning to the establishment.

    This letter has the right amount of refund request and hint of the possibility of return, no matter how insincere.

  7. pbwingman says:

    It shouldn’t have taken a letter to fix the situation, but at least they took his complaint seriously and compensated him for the screw up. There are a couple restaurants I would actually go back to if they had even attempted to fix my (rare) terrible dining experiences.

  8. kidnextdoor says:

    This would not have happened if you were a vegetarian. Just sayin’.

  9. courtneywoah says:

    I wonder why the manager of the restaurant responded the way they did. I mean bottom line you want the customer to be happy, cooking a new steak is much cheaper in the long run, because they will likely return thus generating more money for the business.

  10. fredmertz says:

    “Area Man Gets Poor Service/Mediocre Food At Local Diner”

    Thank the heavens you have weekend editors.

    • Doug81 says:

      @fredmertz: Apparently, it’s a chain not just a local place.
      Granted, it’s not a national chain but if this chain exists where you live it can be an example of a familiar business addressing an issue well once it’s past the local “management”.

  11. Justin Kohler says:

    Is this seriously worth putting on Consumerist? You had a bad experience…. you had it resolved. Now if they completely ignored your request or responded with a big “F you” then I would think about posting the story. I think you exaggerated the situation.

    Next on consumerist:

    “I put my quarter in the vending machine and my chips didn’t come out!”

    • Skankingmike says:

      @Justin Kohler: I’d sue for triple damages.

    • unobservant says:

      @Justin Kohler: Could you do me a favour and tell me the name of this site?

      • CyrusOpeth says:

        @unobservant: Justin Kohler was right. This was a huge overreaction by some self-absorbed, entitlement-driven Me Generation member. God forbid ANYTHING should go wrong in his life–he’s ENTITLED to write long, overbearing letters about minute things AND blast them all over the internet. Right? As Justin said, “I put my quarter in the vneding machine and my chips didn’t come out!” That’s what this is the equivalent of, and the point is that it certainly isn’t worthy of Consumerist attention as it played out. Consumerist has to be careful not to turn into an irrelevant site full of “I got home and realized the McD’s cashier shorted me a nickel!” postings.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @Justin Kohler: It’s not always about bad service… they owned up to it and made things RIGHT FOR THE CONSUMER after a well written letter.

      Isn’t that the point of this website, to show how a level headed complaint can usually be resolved with the right tactics? To help other CONSUMERS, by either warning them of potentially bad business practices or just a good business who set things straight?

      It’s all in the best interest of the CONSUMER. Good or bad. Get used to it, or stop friggin reading.

      • CyrusOpeth says:

        @verucalise: “It’s not always about bad service… they owned up to it and made things RIGHT FOR THE CONSUMER after a well written letter.

        “Isn’t that the point of this website, to show how a level headed complaint can usually be resolved with the right tactics?”

        That was not the right tactic. He blew it up WAY out of proportion. He should have spoken one on one with the manager during a weekday, and he would have gotten exactly the same response. If he didn’t, he could then move up to corporate. But to move to corporate FIRST? AND blast it to the internet? Wrong, wrong, wrong.

        • LandruBek says:

          @CyrusOpeth: He did talk to the manager on duty, on the spot, and later to the general manager. I don’t see why waiting for a future weekday would be better: the manager’s job is to manage, isn’t it? This is just the sort of thing a manager should be capable of handling. How do you know he wrote a letter to corporate HQ? I didn’t see anything about the recipients. Seems to me he handled the bizarre situation basically right, right, right. More graciously than I would have, probably.

          Do I smell astroturf? This is the third time you’ve mentioned the OP’s “blast” to the internet, which was of course an email message. If that qualifies these days as a “blast,” then, well, I guess the terrorists have won. ;-)

          • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

            @LandruBek: Thank you. For those NOT paying attention- HE DID BRING IT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE MANAGER, who seemed to side with the server. If I had been served the same steak 3 different times, and the manager pussy footed around ordering a brand new steak cooked… well, lets just say I wouldn’t of been level headed.

            Step one- Try to resolve issues with your server. (Which didn’t work)
            Step two- Bring to the attention of the manager. (Which didn’t work AGAIN)
            Step three- Write a letter of complaint to the restaurant.

            No where did I see some overdramatic fool raising a ruckus over some stupid reason. THIS ISN’T THE EQUIVOLENT OF .25 CHIPS, this is a $15 steak. I’d like to point out that if he brought his concerns up multiple times, and they weren’t remedied, then he probably did the right thing. Pay the bill, and take it up with the restaurant later. I say kudos.

        • KillTheAcademy says:

          @CyrusOpeth: i think the point of all of this is that they guy was repeatedly lied to. he asked them to correct their error, which they NEVER did and then lied to him twice about it, plus the manager tried to weasel out of correcting the mistake.

          I’m very surprised that you of all posters here are taking the side of the business. This seems to be worse on the side of the business than some of the things you feel businesses need to be held accountable for. The gamestop/guitar hero shenanigans come to mind. That was a manager trying to do the job he or she was instructed to do, and standing up for their staff when a customer was treating them badly, and you were all over the store about how they should have just done what they guy wanted no questions asked. In this case, the resturant lied to the customer and never corrected THEIR error until the customer escalated it. and somehow that’s the customer’s fault? please explain.

          • KillTheAcademy says:

            @CyrusOpeth: oh and i will agree that this is not consumerist worthy. seeing how they guy got what he wanted by sort of doing what they suggest, but those posts are a dime a dozen. this reeks of “see look how right we are!”

    • aliasmisskat says:

      @Justin Kohler: Is the reason why you clicked through simply to read the whole story just so you could complain? This is a site for consumers, not just for stories about the big, bad, evil corporation screwing people. While the letter to the restaurant had some flaws, it was all in all a calm, respectful letter, and a good example of how to approach this kind of situation.

      Consumerist, however, is a service provided to you at no cost. Don’t like it? Don’t click. Simple.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      @Justin Kohler: Personally, I find it refreshing to see a story that might actually serve as a good example for others to follow if they encounter the same type of problem when dining out. Also, this is a consumer-centric site, which to me would suggest that the editorial team offer a range of stories, not just the type you find on Ripoffreport.com.

  12. bohemian says:

    The behavior of the server & manager was a bit bizarre. Claiming they ate your steak and then telling you they can’t cook another one. I didn’t know there was steak rationing in Colorado.

  13. Mooshie says:

    That funny chemical taste is the steak being dropped on the floor on purpose.

    • Benny Gesserit says:

      @Mooshie: Basted down with lysol during the last grill

    • lockdog says:

      @Mooshie: funny chemical taste coming out of a kitchen: My bet is the sanitizer they rinse the washed dishes in. It has just that sort chemically, but hard to identify smell that a person could take two bites before changing their mind about it.

  14. YungOne83 says:

    Working at a local restaurant where I work, going back 2 times is horrible…We wouldve asked them for something else and offered dessert and comp’d the whole meal. That’s how we try to keep our customers

  15. Aphex242 says:

    @undefined: This isn’t a Jersey diner in Colorado, this is a chain restaurant with 40 locations across six states, that sells a wide variety of steaks.

    Just so we’re clear.

  16. DeloresPompeii says:

    the chemical taste was the cleaning agent they sprayed on before regrilling it. Just to make sure it was nice and safe to eat for you. You were worried about getting sick form undercooked meat after all – a little sanitizing spray will help keep away the germies.

  17. zacwax says:

    I would have called over the manager instead of being passive aggressive about it and writing a letter two days later.

    • ovalseven says:

      @zacwax:

      Here’s the part of the story you missed:

      “The manager looked clearly uncomfortable with the request, offering several excuses as to why that would be inconvenient, finally saying that it would take too long.”

  18. Anonymous says:

    This proves the old adage that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The moral of the story is that if you suffer a horrible experience with food/service/etc the best way to get a satisfying outcome is to remain calm and civil and tell your side of the story without being a jerk about it. The chances are very good that you will compensated for your troubles.

    People make mistakes every day and nobody will respond well if you are beligerant, rude, and use foul language.

  19. Claytons says:

    And you better bet they wiped that steak on the floor or spit on it before they brought it back. Never, ever, ever send a meal back if it doesn’t meet your expectations. Ask anyone who’s worked in the kitchen of a restaurant what they’ve seen done to food sent back to the kitchen.

    Is it bad that I have little sympathy for this consumer? If it was bad just say “this isn’t what I am paying for” and walk out. Pay for what you’ve already had and refuse to pay for the steak. You won’t be breaking any laws. Or you can do what I do and accept that some restaurant meals will inevitably come out of the kitchen in less than ideal form, and use it to your advantage to get free desert or comped wine or even a comped meal if they botch it bad enough. But sending it back to the kitchen? Get real.

    • acklenheights says:

      @Claytons: Sending a poorly prepared item back to the kitchen is standard and accepted practice in America. Furthermore, “tampering” with someone’s food is typically a felony offense. What’s more, if I caught a sure sign of someone tampering with my food after they mishandled it in the first place, that person will wish they had bought a better life insurance plan.

      • Claytons says:

        @acklenheights: Someone’s got some anger!

        Have you ever worked in a restaurant kitchen? Those people are not only not afraid of whatever legal consequences come with getting caught wiping your steak across the floor, they also wouldn’t be scared of you. Kitchen’s employ a lot of rough folks these days.

        And while it might be standard practice to send a poorly prepared item back to a kitchen, most people are smart enough to know better. Sorry, but, that’s just the way the world works. You want to go around policing this great country’s restaurant kitchen with threats and sense of entitlement, be my guest, but you’re not going to last long.

        • Ratty says:

          @Claytons: What kind of crapholes did you work in? The lot of those people ought to be fired if they feel what they’re doing is acceptable. I did foodservice awhile, both in the kitchen and on the floor, and never saw anything remotely hostile to a customer for asking for re-cooked food. About the worst I saw was stuff go into a microwave and the cook say “they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

          • Claytons says:

            @Ratty: Ratty, you can go to restaurants with Michelin stars in Manhattan and the line cooks will tell you straight to your face that they participate in this behavior.

  20. macinjosh says:

    “Hi, folks. Welcome to staff training. I wanna get started by telling you that if a customer asks for a new steak, we shouldn’t be giving him/her the same one.” *checking notes* “Hmm, that’s all I have. Alright, get out there and push the dessert special”

  21. Inail says:

    WOW, around here, they won’t take anything back into the kitchen. If you don’t like what came, they redo the order and bring it fresh.

    ACTually, that’s a local health code law and I’m surprised that any place would take food back over the counter into the kitchen. Yuck.

  22. sirwired says:

    I think this letter may have been a little over the top. An undercooked steak is rather unlikely to make you sick. Possible, yes, but extremely unlikely. I suppose it may be unappetizing, but this is not a food safety issue.

    People eat Steak Tartar all the time, and that contains raw (as in, totally uncooked) chopped steak and a raw egg.

    • mattwiggins says:

      @sirwired:

      I’m going to have to agree here. I appreciate that this is a poor customer service experience, but there is nothing unsafe about a rare, (or even blue-rare) steak.

      I’ll grant that the server probably didn’t eat the steak, but to call them a liar on the grounds that the steak was rare and they would have been sick? Nuh-uh. The steak had hit the grill twice at that point. it was perfectly fine to eat. That aside, it would have taken MUCH longer to make anyone sick, even if it were raw and bacteria infested.

      Argue service, but leave the “health issue” behind unless they served it raw and at room temperature, it was perfectly safe to eat.

  23. Petra says:

    I have to applaud Jason here, and I think there’s a good reason this ended up on the Consumerist (for those of you who may wonder why this made it to the site).

    Jason’s letter was not only factual, but polite and open. He did not angrily make demands or say, “I will never eat here again!!!”, he offered his contact information and said that he’d like to discuss the situation and hopefully work out a resolution that was acceptable for both parties. And in the end, it paid off. I feel the Consumerist commenters could learn a thing or two from the way he handled his situation.

    • fatcop says:

      @Petra: Bravo. Couldn’t have stated it better myself…..Other to add that med-rare = yum, which of course we all know.

  24. savdavid says:

    He showed much restraint. I don’t think I could have been so nice.

  25. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    Please don’t waste my time with stories like this. Thank you.

  26. Sudonum says:

    A friend of mine tells the story about how he got an undercooked steak, gave it back to the server, and asked that they cook it some more and not microwave it. The server brought it back, my friend looked at it, someone determined that it had been zapped. He then looked under the steak, and found the veggie he had placed there before he sent the steak back to the kitchen, all while the server watched. He got another steak.

    Don’t know if it’s true or not, but I found it amusing and have wanted to try it if the occasion ever came up.

  27. frodolives35 says:

    I don’t understand why he did not just have the manager take it off his bill to begin with. I bet he tipped to. The op said it was brown all the way through the 3rd time, thats not med rare why did he except it. Even more weird why did he take home a stake that was not cooked correctly on 3 tries and eat it. I hope the op learned to stick up for himself when the problem occurs. The resturant came out of this looking better then the op.

  28. Kitteridge says:

    “said that she couldn’t bring out the other steak because she had ate it”

    Oy, my grammar organs just shut down.

  29. NightSteel says:

    There is a lot of questioning whether this is a story appropriate for the Consumerist, or whether Jason should have written his letter, and I want to say that I find this questioning inappropriate for three reasons: First, Jason was given the runaround by two different employees, one who purported to be a member of management. Second, though the risk to his health may have been slight, realistically, the fact that the restaurant employees did nothing about this risk is appalling. Third, the fact that it took writing a letter to corporate to get the situation satisfactorily resolved is yet another indicator that the company’s trust in the particular employees involved is misplaced.

    This third reason, in particular, could be said to be the Consumerist’s raison d’etre; shaming companies with bad customer service into providing the good service that they should have given in the first place. Thankfully, it did not come to that for this story in particular. However, this story could be used as an example of how to act in such a situation. Jason’s actions and letter were reasonable and straightforward, and if the resolution to the situation is acceptable to him, then I see no reason not to tell the story to other consumers, so that they may similarly get satisfactory resolutions to their problems.

    As for you detractors, I ask: How far, exactly, is one supposed to go locally before escalating a complaint beyond that level? Jason attempted to raise the issue with a manager, and the manager did not respond appropriately. I think it would be reasonable for Jason to assume that other members of the restaurant’s management team would have a similar response, as they all work together. There are only two reasonable possibilities here; either the restaurant’s general manager knew in advance that the particular manager on duty that night is deficient in the area of customer service, and by inaction accepted that deficiency, or the general manager was *not* familiar with this deficiency, and therefore could not act on it.

    Either would be an indication of bad management on the GM’s part, which *should* be brought to the attention of higher management. It was, and now the situation has been resolved to Jason’s satisfaction. So, how exactly was Jason wrong, and why exactly should this not be on this site?

  30. Douglas Keachie says:

    Gee, the cooks don’t have dogs? All the places I worked as a kid in college, the cooks would take even the stuff from the dishwasher to feed their dogs.

  31. the lesser of two weevils says:

    Ive had a few bad meals at Black Bear Diners, but usually their quality of food and service is very high. I would know, since Ive eaten at almost every one on the west coast, including the original in Mt. Shasta, CA. Once and a while you’ll find a bad location, though (Klamath Falls, OR).

    Great great food. If I weren’t on a diet Id eat there more often.

  32. LancerReiNi says:

    By “retraining” the staff does that also include the manager that was present the entire time of the incident?

    I’d imagine that the “retraining” basically means that the next time they eat there, they will get a hefty amount of spit & loogies in their food. Enjoy the saltiness of your steak sir!

  33. SoCalGNX says:

    Black Bear in other locations is not so hot either. Ok for salads and omelettes but not much else.

  34. davere says:

    Wouldn’t medium rare be pink in the middle and not brown all over?

  35. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    I had a similar experience at a Longhorn’s Steakhouse when I treated my mother there one time. Her steak (a Flo’s filet) came out nearly raw, despite having been ordered medium. They took it back and tried again, and again it was undercooked. A third time was required to get the steak cooked, and by then it was overcooked and nearing tough.

    The manager came by on his own and said because of how many steaks were being ordered at the time, it was likely the undercooking was a result of the steak having found its way to one of the areas of the cooking surface between heating elements and just didn’t cook as fast as it should have.

    Being that it was a reasonable explanation, I could accept that as an answer, though that didn’t explain why it still wasn’t cooked the second time. I will say that recooking a steak has been relatively tricky in my experiences cooking them at home, so I gave them a pass.

    The manager did offer us a free dinner for two, as well as dropping the cost of the steak off the dinner. The rest of the meal was fine, only the steak was wrong, and I quite enjoyed mine, and even shared some of it with my mother.

    What can I say? I’m a momma’s boy.

  36. MylesMDT says:

    You should have taken the steak with a “chemical” odor to your local health department. If indeed there were any foreign substances in it, a major shitstorm would proceed to fall from the sky on the diner.

    However, does this story really belong here? I mean really, you order a steak at a diner, and send it back multiple times. The manager on duty got huffy and wasn’t going to throw away a second steak when you sent that one back, as well.

  37. Subsound says:

    I had a similar issue at the Red Lobster in Broomfield (which I think is now gone because they drove away so many customers). Being a special occasion we actually order the lobster one night there, and after coming out the meat was still mostly translucent and the tamale had done it’s thing (the digestive track will poison the meat if it’s not cooked properly). When I complained the manager came out with the cook and said “Well, some people say it’s good that way”….when I pointed out the meat was nearly raw, translucent, and the tail meat was tinged a bright green he said very loudly “I guess this customer is a complainer”.

    I promptly stood up, handed him the plate and said “If you will take 2 bites, I will not have a problem. Otherwise stop wasting my time and do your job.” just as the same way. He looked at it, looked at me, and walked back to the kitchen to make me a new meal…and I never went back.

  38. BeerManMike says:

    Seems more like he thought he was entitled to some sort of extra service. Why even send it back TWO times, after one time it is enough. And taking a new steak home? who does that, expecially a diner steak. Ask for a refund after the first time back and stop by a fast food joint on the way home, much better than a over-cooked looking, tore-up, lukewarm steak.

  39. chilled says:

    I would much prefer a undercooked steak to a tough, well done one….

  40. flyromeo3 says:

    sounds like a whiny little bitch to me. If the steak wasnt properly cooked the second time what did you expect would happen on the third.

    Im sure there are more restaurants in that town other than black bear.

  41. divide says:

    I’ve eaten at Black Bear Diner — quite good! I’d rate it above a normal “diner” and it’s reasonably priced. If you like breakfast, try their homemade corned-beef hash! Mmmmm.

    Black Bear Diner:
    +1 for being tasty
    +1 for responding nicely to the OP

    p.s. – I know plenty of people who send their steak back to be cooked further if it’s not quite right. It’s an expensive item and erring on the side of pink when ordering isn’t a bad idea.

  42. Steve Carlin says:

    HAHAHA LOL Good for you for not letting them get away with bad service. I live in Colorado Springs and I refuse to eat there because of numerous similar stories that I’ve heard. That place used to be considered a 4 star restaurant, but the reputation for bad service has made it unappealing to many of the people I know, including me.