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Missing in Action: Table Salt

Yesterday on his personal blog, Michael Bauer, the restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, made a very interesting point. According to Bauer, salt has gone missing from restaurant tables: "In the last week I've been to three places where I had to ask for salt." When I started to think about restaurants I recently visited, I realized he was right! It's no longer standard for a salt and pepper shaker to be on each table. Chefs may argue that the salt is missing from tables because the dish is properly seasoned, but Bauer begs to differ:

It smacks of arrogance on the part of the chef. This implies that the chef knows what's best, and the customer should accept it. It also subtly implies the chef doesn't care if diners are pleased.

Although I don't mind if a table lacks salt, the debate is pretty interesting. What do you think of Bauer's claim? Have restaurants in your neck of the woods banished salt? Does a chef's decision to remove salt from the tables make him arrogant?


Join The Conversation
corcar86 corcar86 8 years
Yes! While I understand that perhaps a chef would prefer the food to be eaten the way he or she intended perhaps inferring no additional salt or pepper should be needed, pallets vary from person to person and I think it is proper to give them the option to add additional salt and pepper as they see fit. In fact, I prefer to get my food "under-seasoned" if anything and then I can add the S&P to my own liking! (Which is prob a result of growing up with a mother who loves to drown things in salt, butter, mayo, you name it lol even she was surprised when her doctor told her she had great cholesterol for someone her age lolol!)
chiefdishwasher chiefdishwasher 8 years
Tonight I asked my sever at Beyond The Glory if he could bring me some pepper. He did...just pepper. This was the first time that my server brought me just pepper and not salt and pepper. He brought me what I wanted. If I wanted salt and pepper I would have asked for it.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I havent eaten out in more than a year, but from what i remember the food was overly salty anyway.
lexichloe lexichloe 8 years
Our favorite restaurants usually don't have salt or pepper on the table. Some waiters ask you for "freshly ground pepper." The salt thing is more of a healthy approach in my eyes, one that is needed. Most of the food brought to our tables are already salted appropriately.
FactCheckinCuz FactCheckinCuz 8 years
i think it depends on the restaurant. in many cases, it just isn't visually appealing for a salt and pepper shaker to sit on the table. not to mention, they probably don't get wiped often enough and are a haven for germs/bacteria and dried-up crusy food bits. i worked at a semi-formal bistro and we didn't put the S/P shakers on the table for the dinner table setting, but always included it them for brunch. i agree with foxie about the health issues, though. Perhaps it will eventually be taboo to have salt on the table at all. I find that when I'm out to eat I rarely, if ever ask for salt.
milosmommy milosmommy 8 years
I don't think that's right. While it irritates me when people add it before even tasting the food, I think it should still always be there choice on whether or not their food needs seasoning. Sheesh what are these chefs the soup nazis or something. lol
kathili kathili 8 years
I think it should be on tables, and would probably think the restaurant terribly stingy if it wasn't, but I think it's ridiculous to consider the chef arrogant for it.
mtiger mtiger 8 years
I like lots of salt and pepper on my food. I think it should always be on the table, whether the food needs it or not. Some people like lots of salt and pepper, and it should be available to them.
Peggasus Peggasus 8 years
In high-end places (not that we go to places like that much!), I have noticed this is the norm. While I DO think it is a bit arrogant, on the other hand I do have trust in a fine(r) chef's instincts more than I would at, say, Applebee's. My brother-in-law had an interview once (IBM) where they noticed if a person salted their food before tasting it, and extrapolated that into a personality trait of a person making a judgement before having all the facts (or something to that effect), which makes some sense, in a way. Me? Sometimes I don't put salt on the table if I think the food is perfectly well-seasoned as it is, so I guess I am arrogant too! (Do as I say, not as I do! Ha!)
Food Food 8 years
I absolutely agree with Michael Bauer, and I've been noticing the same thing lately at restaurants, too.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 8 years
i haven't really noticed since i don't salt or pepper my food, but it is strange to me because people do have varying degrees of tastes and some require more pepper or salt to their meals. it's rather pretenious of a chef to think that their meal will satisfy everyone the way it is. maybe so, but there will be those that will want more to their dish.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
I've never noticed this, but I have noticed fewer pepper shakers on tables, I suppose because it's de rigeur for the waiter to grind pepper onto your plate for you? I like a lot of salt, so it would bother me not to have it available.
Alissa-TG Alissa-TG 8 years
I have heard about this happening. Fortunately for me I have no had salt missing from my table recently, however, I have found some not-so-fancy places have taken the ketchup off the table, and I have had to ask for that.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i've noticed that i have to ask for salt in a couple places, but i don't know if there's really any true reason behind it. i think that for a chef to think that their food is seasoned enough for everyone is just so out there. you can't know what everyone's tastes and palates are can you ?
verily verily 8 years
Just because the chef feels it is properly seasoned does not mean the customer feels the same way. People have varying levels of sensitivity to salt.
flyingroo flyingroo 8 years
Most restaurant food is oversalted anyway so no real loss.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 8 years
My hubby is a salt fiend so he definitely notices when there's no salt/pepper on the table. The last place we went to that didn't have it on the table was the SALTIEST meal I've ever had out.
356UIK 356UIK 8 years
Yes, I've heard this a long time ago. I have noticed this at the nicer places I've been. It makes sense to me. If you go somewhere more upscale with an actual chef and not just cooks, I dont think its pretentious for them not to give you salt.
foxie foxie 8 years
I hadn't noticed because I don't use salt, but now that I'm thinking about it, I really HAVEN'T seen the shakers lately! Oh well, maybe it will keep people from dousing their food in the unhealthy seasoning.
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