How do you feel about tipping? What if it was suddenly forced on you?

The two of us went to one of my favorite restaurants the other night, had a decent meal, average service, and enjoyed ourselves. When the bill was brought out, the numbers looked right and we were just about to throw the card into the folder when we noticed that the tip had already been included. An 18% tip. For two people.

Now, normally, I am known to leave a killer tip if the service is good. Even if the food isn't at it's best, if I believe everyone is trying, I tip accordingly. I have worked with the public far too long to not respect how hard it can be some days to wait tables and deal with all kinds of people. I try to express my gratitude with a good tip.

But the moment you tell me how much I have to tip, my hackles go up. By including an 18% tip on the bill and not mentioning it at all I felt that not only was it sneaky but it was offensive. It assumed that I was going to stiff the waitress. Assumed that the tip I was going to leave was not going to be enough. Also, it just looked darned shady when the waitress didn't bother to mention it to us and also still have a line for tip on the credit card receipt. Lastly, is it legal to enforce a tip?

Do I have a right to be offended or is the restaurant right for enforcing a tip on small parties?


Now on to some killer food you can make at home. Go on and leave a tip jar out for yourself, because you are guaranteed a little lovin' for making these.


Best Ever Barbecued Ribs

from Bon Appetit July 2012


  • 2 ½ tbs kosher salt
  • 1 tbs dry mustard
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • ½ teas cayenne
  • ½ teas black pepper
  • 8 lbs baby back ribs or St. Louis-style spareribs
  • Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 ½ cups barbecue sauce


Preheat 350 degrees F. Combine the salt, mustard, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper in a resealable container. Place each rack of ribs on a double layer of foil; sprinkle rub all over the ribs. Get in there, get dirty, and rub it in. Wrap racks individually and divide racks onto baking sheets.

Bake ribs until very tender, but not falling apart, about 2 hours for baby back and 3 hours for spareribs. Carefully unwrap ribs, reserving any juices. Let ribs cool completely. Cover and chill juices. Rewrap ribs in foil and chill.

Build a medium hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Add broth to rib juices, to measure 1 ½ cups. Whisk in the barbecue sauce until blended.

Grill ribs, basting with sauce and turning frequently until lacquered and charred in places and heated through, 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board; cut between ribs to separate. Transfer to a platter and serve with additional barbecue sauce if desired.

*Ribs can be baked up to 3 days ahead. The flavor will be more developed and the cold ribs hold together better on the grill as they heat through.






Charred Corn Salad with Basil and Tomatoes


  • 12 ears of corn, husked
  • 6 tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper


Build a medium hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Rub corn with 1 tbs oil. Grill corn, turning frequently, until corn is charred and heated through, 10-12 minutes. Remove from grill; when cook enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs and transfer to a large bowl.

Place onion in a strainer and rinse with cold water to mellow its flavor. Drain well. Mix onion, remaining oil, tomatoes, basil, ¼ cup lime juice, and thyme into the corn. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more lime juice if needed.




  1. Belinda @zomppa says:

    18% required for 2 people?? Yeah, I'd be mad. I get when parties are above 6, but I like to be able to determine my own.

  2. Gerry @ Foodness Gracious says:

    I'd be pissed at this too...I think a tip can never be decided upon until the meal is finished, and totally shady by not mentioning it!

  3. Toby @ Plate Fodder says:

    In 30+ years working in and around restaurants - that's a first. My guess it that it's an isolated incident and not something condoned or mandated by the establishment. Although, with the whole Server AS Cashier procedure in restaurants, operators open themselves up for unlimited graft, short checks and just all out theft. It may even be a glitch in the check processing.

    If it were me, I'd approach the management and bring it to their attention.

    If, in fact it IS company policy.... arrange a meeting; let them know how much you have attributed to their bottom line over the years; and find a new favorite restaurant.

    Now with the cornfields popping out the goods in record amounts here - that corn salad looks just the ticket for a late summer BBQ.!

  4. Kate@Diethood says:

    Yes, you have all the right to be offended. A tip should not be forced... it should be deserved. And for a table of two?! Come on! I always tip 20% so that waitress would have lost not on just 2%, but on the entire 18% after our confrontation. 🙂

    I want to get my hands on those ribs. Stat.

  5. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time says:

    I would have asked them to remove the tip and yeah, I'd have been very offended. I hope you followed up with the server about what happened.

    I know there was some kind of salad in this post, but i don't remember it at all because I saw meat. Grilled meat. Grilled rib meat. Wow, oh wow. Those look amazing. They're perfect. I'm in love.

  6. kimberly (unrivaledkitch) says:

    I think in the food community we are mindful of these issues and tipping but sometimes some places have rings of people who are not tipping at the level that is even remotely acceptable which might be the reason that a place like this includes tip. I don't agree with small party gratuity, if gratuity is included it should be stated on the menu somewhere or disclosed to you. I know of a couple of places that I go to that place gratuity on small parties but I know that they are going to do it so it doesn't bother me, less work on my part especially if they deserve the tip anyway. I hope you're waitress deserved her tip and I'm pretty sure they don't mean to offend you but if you feel that's not appropriate take it up with the manager, I'm sure others have.

    Beautiful ribs and the corn seems like a perfect side for a delicious meal. Gorgeous photos

  7. movita beaucoup says:

    Holy crow! I mean the ribs & salad - they look epic. As for the built-in-tip, it's pretty clear that you looked dodgy. Were you wearing jogging pants?

  8. Vicki @ WITK says:

    I would have been mad about the already added tip. There is a possibility I might have not noticed and tipped more! On big parties I can see adding it in for ease of paying the bill. A party of two, no way!

  9. What did you do; you left me hanging. It happened to me and I went to the hostess and asked if this was a new routine for them. I didn't check and was going to add a small tip since the service was very slow and not very friendly but my friend noticed that the bill (she's a math whiz) didn't add up right. I loved the restaurant and their food but was deciding not to return when I got a call from the owner apologizing. The waiter wasn't fired but he sure got an attitude adjustment. Oh, and I crossed out the added tip and added a much smaller tip than I had originally planned.

  10. I made the ribs last night...very good.. What was left over from last night, I refrigerated, I warmed them on the grill as instructed and they were awesome. My husband said they were they very best. I had been using the rib rub from "The Thrill of the Grill" and cooking in oven on 275, they were quite good, but not as good as this recipe. I will look no farther....for a baby back recipe...THIS IS "THE BEST EVER RIB!" recipe.

  11. Mike Wascher says:

    I've been running into this more & more. I've seen it more in tourist areas.

    AFAIK you are never required to tip, whether it is automatically added or not. I have politely asked that the tip be removed, the waitperson's response has varied but my intended tip was always adjusted accordingly. Usually I by crossing the "suggestion" out & entering my own amount, but I make a point of informing them of my disdain for the practice.

    Oh yes, imply by look or word or by being a damn bitch that I am being cheap or a cheat and you will get less of a tip. I tip well, and I will reward someone who deserves it.

    BTW, did the 18% get calculated on the bill + tax? I do NOT tip on taxes, that is not a "service" that I reward. Their customer for taxes is the governor, they should ask him for a tip! Often the pre-calculated tip amounts I see at the bottom of the bill are over-calculated like this too.

  12. Bibs @ Tasteometer says:

    I believe tipping should be at the discretion of the diners. I always check menus thoroughly before ordering as I believe it to be a legal element to make diners aware if it is the establishments policy to add a percentage to the final bill in addition to individual prices stated on the menu. I have been disappointed on occasions and the only tip I leave in that situation are my complaints!!!!!

    Nice recipes.

  13. Adding a tip is enough to piss me off, especially without telling me beforehand.

    But to do that AND leaving a line for a tip AND not warn me is enough to make me leave a small or no tip. I did that once, checked the bill and they had added their tip in, in addition to the small tip I had added (service was really bad). A call to the credit card company fixed that.

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