Overcomplicated Menu Order
"I bet that when serious heroin addicts go to purchase their heroin, they do not tolerate waiting in line while some dilettante in front of them orders a hazelnut smack-a-cino with cinnamon sprinkles."
A character makes an order in a restaurant or cafe that is so ludicrously complicated it'll be a wonder if the waiter/barista/cashier can remember half of it. This is frequently used to show pretentiousness on the part of the one making the order, though Rule of Funny
is often just as likely an explanation.
This is done particularly often with espresso beverages, custom cocktails and food with overly-precise details, although incidents of the character ordering off the menu also count.
Usually a subtrope of Drink Order
. See also Must Have Caffeine
. May be a trait of an Unsatisfiable Customer
. Compare Complexity Addiction
which has a similar theme, but with plans instead of food/drink. Compare and contrast Cordon Bleugh Chef
when it's the chef that likes to be overcomplicated (and with often disastrous results).
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Anime and Manga
- In Nichijou, after Yukko fails miserably at ordering off the complicated new coffee list, she invites Mio to the same coffee shop to watch her fail, but Mio flawlessly recites one of these.
- In the first series of Ojamajo Doremi, Doremi gets one of these at her first apprentice witch exam, which is to conjure up whatever is requested by the examiners. She doesn't pass.
- In one of the DR And Quinch stories from the comic book series 2000 AD, D.R. wants to appear eccentric at a fancy restaurant and so orders four dozen lobsters, wearing Prussian Blue waistcoats. Then when they're delivered, he complains that the waistcoats are Turquoise Blue, "and where are the chocolate-covered ant's brains?"
- From the MLP:FIM fic Avocation, we have a "venti two-thirds decaf low-fat soy caramel macchiato with whipped cream, mocha sprinkles, and a sprig of hay. And a cranberry orange-peel scone."
- In the Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera, Groucho, playing the shady social consultant Otis B. Driftwood and operating solely along the lines of the Rule of Funny, orders two to three portions of what seems to be everything on the menu in an illogical way, punctuating his selections after each item with an order for "three hard-boiled eggs" for the stowaways hiding in his stateroom.
- Casino Royale (the Daniel Craig version) puts a twist on the usual James Bond martini by having him order one consisting of: "Two measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice and add a thin slice of lemon peel." And after four of the other people at the table decide they want one too, Le Chiffre sarcastically wonders aloud if anyone's interested in playing poker instead of drinking. This is also a Mythology Gag to a specific scene in the books. Bonds' order is recreated exactly, right down to the waiter's pleased expression.
- Jack Nicholson's character in Five Easy Pieces wants an omelet with wheat toast. The hostile waitress refuses to accommodate him, so he orders his omelet with no potatoes, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, "hold the lettuce, hold the tomato, hold the mayo. And hold the chicken salad."
- The restaurant scene in LA Story has the people at the table order espressos of escalating length, with Harris topping them all (and setting the rest of the table telling the waiter to add a twist of lemon to the orders they've already made).
Harris: I'll have a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon.
- In Tampopo there's a scene where a bunch of businessmen visit a French restaurant. Each person defers up the ladder of seniority until the CEO of the company orders (something bland and safe for people new to French cuisine, as I recall.) Each person down the chain of command promptly orders the same thing—except the most junior executive. He turns out to be an expert on French food, and makes a complex order that thrills the waiter, but embarrasses the heck out of everyone else.
- Inverted in Dude, Where's My Car?, when the boys place a fairly straightforward drive-through order and the worker complicates it by repeatedly asking "And then?"
- Good Burger:
Connie: Hello, my name is Connie Muldoon, I'm hosting a family reunion and my oven has run amok! I think it's the heat actuator. Anyhoo, I'd like to order... *Speech increases the more she talks* Three Good Meals, four Junior Good Meals, a seventeen-piece order of your Good Chunks, and on two of the Junior Good Meals, I need to substitute the Good Cookies for Good Pies. Now don't fret if that's extra, I'll pony up the overage. And, uh, oh, on the regular Good Meals, I need two of the Good Burgers to have ketchup, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, but no onion, I've got an interview this afternoon. Let's see, that takes care of everyone but Uncle Leslie who doesn't eat meat but, of course, he does eat dairy, so I don't get it. Let's get Leslie a Good Chickwich with some Good Fries, and a Good Root Beer all to go. But I would like to have my beverage while I wait. Now, total me up.
- In When Harry Met Sally, Sally's Establishing Character Moment is this order in a diner:
Sally: I'd like the chef salad, please, with the oil and vinegar on the side. And the apple pie a la mode. But I'd like the pie heated, and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side. And I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it's real. If it's out of a can, then nothing.
Waitress: Not even the pie?
Sally: No, then the pie, but not heated.
- Comedian Tim Hawkins had a wife list one of these when a husband asks his wife "what she wants" at Starbucks.
Wife: All right, here's what I want. Listen. Listen; this is what I want. I want a tall, skinny, sugar-free, decaf soy vanilla latte, extra hot, whipped cream, double sleeve, no cup.
Husband (turning to clerk): Please tell me you got that!
- A Russian joke. A man walks in a bar and orders a cocktail:
Give me a Yabba Dabba Chillie Willie Rum & Whiskey Bowfinger, cool, shaken, not stirred, with a slice of lemon!
Excuse me sir. I couldn't hear you clearly. You said you want a Yabba Dabba Chillie Willie Rum & Whiskey Bowfinger, cool, shaken, not stirred, with a slice of what exactly?
- When Kate wants to discharge herself from the hospital in The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul and isn't allowed, she convinces the hospital they want her to leave by attempting to get a pizza delivered, something she knows is impossible in London. At one point she tries to get a motorbike courier firm to order and collect "an American Hot with a list of additional peppers and mushrooms and cheeses which the controller of the courier service refused even to attempt to remember".
- A Running Gag on The Big Bang Theory, with Sheldon being very specific on how he wants his food prepared. It was also done once with Leonard's mother.
- In the episode where Sheldon decides to work at the Cheesecake Factory in order to let his mind work on a physics problem, Leonard gives him an extra-complicated order in revenge for all the times Sheldon did it to him.
- In the TV show version of Clueless Cher and Dee have a favorite restaurant to go to for lunch period, which has "the best" Chinese Chicken Salad - which they order without the chicken or dressing. They basically pay $12 for a bowl of lettuce.
- In an episode of Cheers Diane convinces Sam to let her be the bartender for the evening rather than just being a waitress. An order comes in for a Bloody Mary, a particularly complex mixed drink. Naturally Diane doesn't know how to make it so she looks it up in a bartender's manual, taking a long time to make sure it's just right. As she finishes, she remarks that it is a complicated drink. Sam agrees, which is why he always mixes up a big batch before the evening starts and stores it in the minifridge behind the bar.
- Zig-Zagged in an episode of Frasier where, before Martin gets to the coffee house (Martin being a more down-to-earth food kind of person) Niles orders him a biscotti "but when you bring it to the table call it a cookie." The waitress dutifully brings it, only for Martin to correct her. "Thank you dear, but it's called a biscotti."
- In Malcolm in the Middle, Craig orders one of these at the restaurant where Reese works and tells him to listen carefully as he doesn't want to waste calories by repeating it.
- In an early Sesame Street skit, Ernie asks an ice-cream man for a Chocolate, Strawberry, Peach, Vanilla, Banana, Pistachio, Peppermint, Lemon, Orange, Butterscotch ice-cream cone. Amazingly enough, the ice-cream man delivers! But Ernie is inconsolably P.O.ed because the cone was prepared upside-down. Watch it here.
- The Spoils Of Babylon "The Age of the Bastard": While Devon cannot get a vegetation option at the steakhouse that somehow fits in the tiny submarine, Cynthia's order just gets more and more complicated.
Cynthia: Oh, and another thing?
Waiter: Yes, ma'am?
Cynthia: Ah, yes, could I have a carafe of tomato soup, two turkey legs
Waiter: Very nice.
Cynthia: I'd like some cold cereal with some hot milk, two pots of tea, and a white wine in a coffee mug with a little bit of salt in it.
Waiter: Okay, salt in it.
Cynthia: Thank you so much.
Waiter: Very good. Thank you.
Cynthia: Thank you. Oh, and one more thing.
Cynthia: Could I have a cotton blend napkin? Sometimes when you iron out the regular napkins, they're too itchy for my thighs.
Waiter: I understand.
- Portlandia includes a sketch in which a starving couple wander into an overly gourmet burger joint and are exhausted by the barrage of options they're forced to navigate just to order a simple burger. They're then forced to start over because the menu changed while they were ordering.
Magazines and Newspaper Columns
- Discussed at length in the Dave Barry column "Decaf Poopacino," as a source of immense frustration for people who need plain ordinary coffee to wake up in the morning. The column takes its title from its subject, the world's most expensive coffee obtained from the excrement of a tropical weasel. It also contains this quote, which speaks for itself:
"These consumers are always ordering mutant beverages with names like 'mocha-almond-honey-vinaigrette lattespressacino,' beverages that must be made one at a time via a lengthy and complex process involving approximately one coffee bean, three quarts of dairy products and what appears to be a small nuclear reactor."
- A now-discontinued column in the Raleigh, NC newspaper the News & Observer once complained that Starbucks should institute a separate line for folks who just want regular coffee.
- Done a few times in Zits. One strip observes that the more complicated the coffee order, the more high-maintenance the girlfriend.
- Girl Genius: From the Twitter of Othar Trigvassen:
We can't just walk out, and I'll bet the garbage and mortuary wagons are routinely inspected. This calls for desperate, unsavory measures.
Chez Leon, one of the best restaurants in the city. The Master dines here frequently. Oslaka is puzzled. Didn't we just eat? Indeed we did.
The waiter and I spend twenty minutes discussing our meal choices. I demand only the freshest and most exacting dishes. He almost smiles.
The meal is brought. It' a masterpiece of presentation. The chef himself appears and compliments me on the suggestions I made. He weeps.
He waits for me to eat. I hesitate, and then ask for a bottle of ketchup. We are tossed out the city gates less that 3 minutes later.
- xkcd orders $15.05 worth of appetizers, expecting the waiter to figure out what quantities of which items to serve in order to reach that number. The joke is that the costs listed on the menu just happen to mean that the waiter is being asked to solve a complex mathematical problem.
- Spongebob Squarepants:
- In "Pickles", Bubble Bass makes an order using a string of complicated Hash House Lingo, to which Squidward dryly replies "We serve food here, sir."
- In "Bubble Buddy", Spongebob asked Squidward to make a meal for his bubble buddy at Krusty Krab, which are not just overly specific, but has to be remade several times (it'd be hard to go to the details). And at the end, Squidward and Mr. Krabs are given bubble tips and money... which pop, maddening the two.