MODERN ETIQUETTE DESK: Last Saturday night, we took my mom out for an early dinner for her 70th birthday, four kids included, to an upscale Italian/steakhouse restaurant. (To locals: not that one; the other one.) It was odd that well over a half-hour after ordering, we still had received nothing but bread, and not seen our server in quite some time, so when he did finally emerge we asked him about the status of our first course. When he returned, he explained that, oops!, because of some electrical issue the printer in the kitchen hadn't been switched on, so they hadn't actually received our orders yet, but they were now finally being prepared. (Which raises the question: just what was the server doing in a relatively empty restaurant for all that time when he wasn't checking in on his table's order?) Compound that error with the unpardonable sin that a table which had ordered after us still received their first course before we did (mom: irate), add in the server's general not-getting-it of "really, we have kids here: bring whatever's ready as soon as it's ready," and it was near calamitous but-for the relatively resolute behavior of the kids, who didn't fall apart as well they could have. (One other server flub? He came over and asked us, "well, I guess you're not having dessert?", even though we had already confirmed with the hostess that it was a birthday celebration.)
Ultimately, the restaurant comped us for the entire ~$300 meal, so that's not my question. (Oddly, we were only told this in passing by our server -- well, I guess we're comping your meal (so stop complaining) -- after some question about the entrees, and not by the manager coming over with an apologetic we're really, really sorry as one would have expected.) This is the question: what, if anything should we have left as a tip? I'll give you the answer at which we arrived, later today.