DEAR MISS MANNERS: This has happened to me a few times at various restaurants, and I never know what to do. It's about entrees arriving at different times.
For example, I was dining with three friends. Two of us ordered regular entrees, while the others ordered entree salads. The salads arrived first, but it took another 15 minutes for the other two entrees to arrive.
Should the people served first go ahead and start eating? Should they wait for all to be served? Should the people who are still waiting tell the others to go ahead?
Does it make a difference if the first people to be served have a hot meal rather than a cold one? I know the restaurant should serve the entire table at once, but what must one do when that does not happen?
GENTLE READER: You do need to take matters into your own hands, as Miss Manners believes that waiting for the restaurant to solve the problem will only result in everyone's meal being room temperature.
It is up to the people who did not receive food to tell the others to go ahead. This should be done after a brief pause to see if the waitstaff are going to catch up -- regardless of the temperature of the food, the room, the diners or the staff.