DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my husband and I went to a restaurant with another couple, they ordered an appetizer of Parmesan fries in addition to their entrees. My husband and I just ordered entrees.
The waitress placed the appetizer in the center of the table, and our friends told us to help ourselves. My husband and I only ate about two fries each, since it was not our appetizer.
When the check came, we noticed that the waitress split the price of the appetizer between the two checks. We didn’t say anything and just paid our half without protest. After all, it wasn’t as if paying for half an appetizer was going to set us back.
I honestly don’t think our friends even realized that we were charged for half of their appetizer. While this isn’t something to be petty about, I hope that this is not a common practice, as I really don’t want to pay for other people’s food. Was the restaurant correct for assuming that the cost should be split, and what should we do if it happens again?
GENTLE READER: Given how strong feelings run on the subject of bill splitting, Miss Manners advises waitresses and waiters, since they are barred from hiding under the table, to request specific instructions from the diners. If they do not, you could turn to the other couple and ask, “How would you like to split this?”