NEW YORK (MainStreet) Having lunch with a buddy years ago at a popular local diner, I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye. Glancing over, I saw a rather well-fed mouse sitting on the counter next to the coffee pot. Guess he was waiting for a to-go order. Breaking bread with a rodent is one of my pet peeves when it comes to eating out, but surprisingly it didn't even make a just-released list of complaints by American diners. The list was compiled by Urbanspoon and based on the frequency of complaints in user reviews and from expert feedback.
See if your pet -- or pest -- peeve is on the list.
Unsupervised kids Crying babies, kids throwing crackers, children running loose we've all had a quiet dinner interrupted by unruly young ones. Some parents are mortified by their offspring's behavior; others seem oblivious.
Slow service You're seated at a great table, appetite in full bloom and the wait begins. A glass of water and a buttered baguette does not a dinner make. Or, you complete what amounts to a satisfactory meal only to wait forever for the check.
Rapid table turns Just the opposite of a plodding waitstaff: shotgun servers. You have barely begun with the appetizers when the main course arrives. Your French onion soup is tasty, but the entrée's freshness is fading fast. Restaurants who turbo-charge turning tables are another common complaint.
No substitutions You're paying for the meal, you should "have it your way," right? Whether it's hold the onions, substitute the beans for the broccoli or put the dressing on the side, made-to-order meals shouldn't be a problem.
An unexplained wait Take a hungry customer and a long wait, and you've got a recipe for bad behavior. Especially if open tables are in plain sight.
Menu typos If they can't spell it right, can they cook it correctly? Some diners have an eye for detail, and for them, sloppy menus can be a cause for concern.
Overly affectionate couples The couple with the roasted hormones got a table but should get a room. We'll pass on the passion fruit and raspberry tart check please!
Table calls A complaint that requires no explanation: the phone call can wait.
Dirty silverware or glasses Lipstick on the glass, something solidified on the salad fork or a mouse on the counter by the coffee. 'Nuff said.
No partial-group seating Somebody's always late, so why make us wait for the straggler? We could be on our second cocktail by now.
Seated next to the NSA Sometimes it seems that the couple at the nearby table is enjoying your conversation more than theirs. Nosy nearby patrons is another diner pet peeve.
Party tables Forget the quiet dinner, a family reunion or frat party seems to be underway at the next table: over-the-top and over-served.
Indiscernible menus You point to the menu and say, "Now what is this?" You want a menu that is concise and complete not in need of interpretation.
Missing basics Where's the bread? Water? We don't have silverware. Sitting at a table that is missing the basics makes you wonder if you should have just brown-bagged lunch.
Weak drinks A screwdriver that is more ice cubes and water than juice and Grey Goose. Watered-down drinks are also on the list of common diner complaints.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet