If you have a specific time constraint, communicate this to the host or Maitre’d upon arrival or to your server at the beginning of your meal. Don’t make assumptions about how much time you have, then expect the rest of your five-course tasting to occur in less than a half an hour. Serving flavorful food elegantly is a complex formula that coordinates the time, effort and talent of many individuals, so knowing your schedule ahead of time will help us shepherd your table through the experience in the appropriate intervals.
Your waiter isn’t only asking for a complete order because he wants to turn your table. In some cases, he is trying to avoid the wrath of a tyrannical chef. Most of the time, though, he is trying to help you have a better meal. We know you just want to “fire up some appies!” but there is a delicate progression in restaurant kitchens and you should honor your role in preserving that balance. In some restaurants, if we allow you to order appetizers and entrees piecemeal it is near impossible to organize the “firing” of those dishes in a manner where the timing will be right for every table. A restaurant is a complex ecosystem where many parts must work in synchrony to make service go smoothly. Partial orders are a wrench in that plan that can and will often disrupt the equilibrium that is necessary for a restaurant to function properly. It’s no problem if you want to add something to your order in the middle of your meal, just don’t order your courses incrementally. If you are worried about being rushed, express this to your server.
If you need to divide the check into separate payments, it’s a lot to ask for your server to itemize the bill for everyone at the table. Just provide multiple credit cards and kindly ask him to divide the check in whatever denominations you determine for each individual. You do the math. Or, better yet, collect cash payments in the different amounts from each person and pay in one lump sum–including gratuity of course. It’s lazy to expect a busy server to calculate how much each person owes based on what he ordered, so don’t do it. If you haven’t worked on a restaurant POS system, then you can’t imagine what a royal pain in the ass it is to itemize someone’s bill when you have other tables who need attention.