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You Really Love Your Pepper Mills

Mike Sanson's recent editorial about one of his pet peeves — the pepper mill routine — put a burr under the saddle of many readers. Most of you would rather see Sanson jump in the lake than get rid of your pepper mills.

I'd have to wholeheartedly disagree with you. I love to dine out and to try new places and dishes. I have been to restaurants where they did not put salt and pepper on the table and I find it irritating. I understand the creative pride that a chef feels over his or her dish and the feeling that they have gotten it just right. However, I find it to be rather presumptuous and arrogant to assume that everyone should enjoy the dish as is.

Chris Gaudreau
General Manager
Gurnee, IL

NOT ALL PEOPLE AGREE WITH THE HEAD CHEF. MAYBE THEY WANT MORE SALT or pepper. And what if someone said there is way too much salt on my food. If we had to depend on someone else and their palate, why not just let him order for us? And why not allow the head chef to apply his amount of steak sauce? Baskin Robbins has 31 different flavors because we are all different.

Andrew Shapiro
Catherine's Restaurant
Bensalem, PA

I COULDN'T RESIST SENDING AN EMAIL TO STATE, YES, WE HERE AT MORTON'S, at The Palm, at Capital Grille and at Old Homestead are in love with the pepper mill sequence of service. But, as a snooty diner as well, I love fresh cracked pepper on my salads. A fresh wedge or Caesar salad is just not the same without it! Can't say the same for any other course.

Maria Lewis
Sales and Marketing
Morton's The Steakhouse
Bethesda, MD

I HAVE A CUSTOMER that sent me hate mail that said If I do not get pepper mills on the tables, that she is never coming back. I am one of those people who looks at the stuff on the table (salt, pepper, condiments) as dirty and probably never wiped down. I like when people offer pepper on the food that needs it, but I think it's true that some people just season without even tasting.

Doug Katz
Shaker Heights, OH

AT BIN 112 WE DO NOT HAVE SALT AND PEPPER ON THE TABLE AND do offer peppermill upon request, but neither is usually requested. But at Strip Club 104, our new restaurant, we tried to follow what worked at our previous restaurant and, boy, they tore us apart: What, no pepper mill when you bring our steak? Some people just like to bitch and some people just do not appreciate good food, but they pay the bills so make them happy.

Jason E. Clark
Executive Chef / Owner
BIN112 on Trade Street;
The Strip Club 104, A Steak House
Greer, SC

THE PEPPER MILL TOPIC RESONATED WITH ME BECAUSE MY STAFF has often asked me to offer “the medieval weapon” ( I loved that!). I just have not. It's one more thing to stock, inventory, clean, maintain, etc. My first response was, “Hey, I paid for it, if I want pepper on it I will put pepper on it!” Here is the fun part. After a while and after I let several others read your article, I thought, wait a minute Joe, he has a point! If any dish is prepared properly and deliciously, it should not need additional seasoning!

Joe Priest
General Manager
Reedville Café
Hillsboro, OR

IN DEFENSE OF THE MEDIEVAL WEAPON, OUR SERVERS ONLY BRING OUT the peppermill for salads delivered to the tables. We do have salt, pepper and assorted hot sauces in the bar area mainly for the small plates and oysters we serve. If a customer requests salt or pepper after the meal is presented to the table, I and/or the chef will immediately talk to the customer politely to see if there is anything that needs to be addressed, or if it is their personal preference.

Rocco Cinqueranelli
Dylan's Raw Bar & Grille
Grosse Pointe Park, MI

RATTLE SNAKE EYEBROWS ON TOAST POINTS, SANS THE PEPPER MILL, maybe the latest and greatest offering in Key West or New York. But in little old Grand Haven, MI, a pan-roasted salmon filet with the option of a pepper mill performance is welcomed and viewed as a nice touch. A profitable restaurant operates under the philosophy of exceeding guest expectations at every phase of the dining experience. To offer a service even though it may be declined is an opportunity to add value.

Steve Loftis
Harbor Restaurants
Grand Haven, Michigan

YOUR THOUGHT-PROVOKING OBSERVATION ON RESTAURANT DINING is spot on with regard to the ubiquitous offering of the pepper grinder at the table, which certainly draws my pique about my entree's in-kitchen seasoning. I always politely but firmly refused the service at my table. I see it as a classic steakhouse move, appropriate for those who desire an au poivre effect on their rib eye or a showy service flourish among business associates. But beyond that, it's thoroughly unnecessary. Thankfully, none of my restaurant clients in the Boston area indulge in this practice.

Chris Lyons
Chris Lyons Communications

I AM A FAN OF PEPPER, HOWEVER I DON'T ADD UNTIL I HAVE TASTED the dish. My grandfather would banish you from the dinner table if you so much as picked up a salt or pepper shaker without tasting first. It's a mortal sin to season a dish without tasting first. I think he was right.

Candace Cooler
Marketing Secretary
Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino
Laughlin, NV