Being treated well in a restaurant setting used to be the norm. Not just the idea of "the customer is always right," but a sense of well-being for the customer to be treated well and to enjoy the experience.
The chase is a huge part of the allure of hipster food. Service, well, can take a backseat.
A customer can be treated poorly in the best of establishments. And a customer can receive great service with hipster food. Consumers want the best of both worlds.
Some would genuinely argue that with hipster food, part of the appeal is the snobbery. Places that assume you want to pay for water, even when you indicate that you don't want to do so. Offering no substitutions, not out of inconvenience but because "the chef has envisioned a product and won't deviate from the plan." Places that might treat you better if you were a little bit cuter or had the most ultimate awesome hipster beard.
One particular negative experience comes to mind: tried out a hipster place known for really excellent fried chicken. There was a smaller indoor space and a larger outdoor space. Wanted to sit outside but was shuffled inside. Was I not cool enough to sit outside?
Sat inside at the bar. Felt out of place, a bit self-conscious. I just wanted to eat.
Got the food, ate some of it. Food was OK not tremendous. Didn't feel like staying so gathered the food. Only after I left, I found the inside of the chicken to be underdone. Regular readers know I wouldn't complain about a burger being undercooked, but chicken is a different story. Have not been back since.
Even if that place had served really good fried chicken — and it didn't — the attitude and hassle wouldn't have been worth it — not even in a to-go package.
Hipster food is also fascinating because they have the ability to convince themselves that the food is so awesome and you would be a fool not to go there. While some of the food experiences are nice enough, you feel like you've been cheated, even if the food was good.
I grew up in a small town world where family restaurants abounded. Huge variety of menu options, an inviting kids menu, and lots of food along with smiles and friendly service — all at a decent price point.
Substitutions were easily granted, and the staff were glad you were there in the restaurant.
Friday nights were very popular at one particular family restaurant from my youth. Payday was a good day not to eat out since Mom grocery shopped her way to exhaustion in the afternoon. Even though you had to wait a while for a table (not in a hipster ironic fashion), you still got seated and your food pretty quickly. And you usually left happier than when you started.
You may not get the best bang for your buck in an Italian restaurant. But I do enjoy the way I'm treated in most Italian establishments. All but a couple of the family restaurants that I grew up with are gone. Eating at a homey Italian restaurant is the closest I get to being treated like family (yes, that is Olive Garden's slogan, but more authentic Italian restaurants live the motto.
The ideal dining experience would combine a bit from both worlds. We do want locally sourced food with a richness in taste. We don't need huge portions of food. We don't want to have to shout to hear the person 3 feet in front of us. We do want to feel truly welcome.
Flexibility for substitutions but a more limited menu. Good tasting food, pleasant atmosphere, but without the attitude.
I no longer need to sit at the cool table. I still want good food but I enjoy being treated like I matter. If that means eating hipster food in a nearby park on a picnic table or at home. Chances are you'll be better off spending a little more to fix the food yourself, making your own soundtrack for dinner. Eating at home means you'll always be treated like you are #1.