While you make some valid points, I must contest a few of your gripes:
1. If these are "general practices" of restaurants, why are your expectations different? Because these general practices are "customs, policies, and systems," wouldn't it stand to reason that these "general practices" should, in fact, be expected?
2. Tables. Don't blame the hostess for the quantity of tables and seats crammed into a restaurant -- that's determined by the owner. The hostess is only there to greet you and seat you. If the table by the service station is the last one in the house, you can either take the table or go somewhere else to eat.
3. Happy hour. It's designed for the thirsty post-work bar crowd, not for tables designated for dining in. If you know anything about running a restaurant, happy hour is bar-only for a reason. It's better than no happy hour at all. And bar food at happy hour is typically finger food. Not a big deal if you're standing.
4. Salt and pepper shakers. It's disappointing to see a food editor take such a sarcastic and disparaging tone. Yes, when a good chef puts together a particular dish, it is done so with intention. When you review a restaurant, do you "obliterate" the food with pepper first and then try it? Or do you let the food stand on its own merit?
5. Bread service. Bread is not an appetizer. It's an accompaniment to the meal. So don't be surprised if you don't get bread until you get your meal.
6. Operating hours. It's a definitely bummer when a restaurant isn't open when it says it will be, but if this is such a frequent problem, why don't you just call ahead to make sure it will be open? You can probably look up the number on your smartphone. Technology is the way of the future, after all.
7. Cash only. There are a few different types of fees involved when accepting credit cards. A business typically ends up paying about 2 to 3%. If a cash-only business starts accepting credit cards, it will be reflected in the price of goods offered to the consumer. You will end up paying for the convenience of using your credit card. A cash-only policy isn't going to deter someone from eating at a good restaurant. Just be prepared. If you think 2% is an insignificant amount, I guess you didn't mind when Cuyahoga County had raised its sales tax from 6% to 8%.
8. Finally, which places are you going to where they hand out plastic dinnerware and have bathroom keys? I thought those were only at fast food joints, not at restaurants that get the attention of a newspaper/magazine review. By the way, if you're a grown up who has a problem asking for a bathroom key, didn't you know that everyone poops? Not a big deal: http://www.amazon.com/Everyone-Turtleback-Library-Binding-Edition/dp/0613685725
Don't sweat the small stuff.
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