Recently, after posting a Yelp review I perused some of the reviews for the restaurant which my husband and I had thoroughly enjoyed. This led to some further perusing and some mental meandering on peoples’ expectations and ideals when it comes to dining out.
What my conclusions were is that many times the expectations of diners and what standards are for most restaurants are not aligned. The restaurant reviews that inspired these thoughts showed a lack of understanding for what are considered to be the SOPs in upscale casual and fine dining.
This inspired me to create a list similar to the one at the end of the book Waiter Rant… but with a slightly softer tone.
So, in the spirit of increasing pleasure for all those dining out…foodies, non-foodies, couples, families, singles and groups.
- Make a reservation and keep it—also, be sure to confirm it. There is no shortage of times when reservations can be lost due to glitches on computers or with reservations systems. Also, be aware that if you make a reservation for a second seating, it is possible the party who was seated in the first seating may not get up exactly when needed.
- If you have not made a reservation and walk into a restaurant on Saturday night at 730 and insist that because tables are open they should be able to seat you, you must understand that the people who made 800 reservations for those tables actually want them.
- Be aware that booking systems track reservation habits. If you do not show up for three reservations most will not take further reservations.
- Service—the standards vary between different levels of restaurants—be aware of the differences and more pleasant dining experiences will follow. Hostesses will present your menus in casual restaurants, servers in finer restaurants.
- Timing of service—in nicer restaurants one should expect to have food coursed and enjoy course breaks. One should expect to have 10-15 minutes between courses…not as I witnessed one of the uninitiated do and berate a server for not having entrees on the table at the same time as we (I was dining with the uninitiated)were still eating appetizers, also, please allow time for everyone at the table to finish before expecting to move to the next course.
- If there is a problem with the food, address it politely. It will sometimes happen that a dish is not cooked properly or an errant hair will end up on a plate. Give the server or manager a chance to fix the problem—especially if the hair is not the color of the server or kitchen staff.
- If you have a question about portions sizes, ask. In the reviews which inspired this line of thought, there were numerous mentions of the size of the salads (which in all three cases were ordered as entrees)…this, despite the fact that the restaurants’ menu clearly has them listed as appetizers. Simple communication can avoid many problems and many disappointments.
- Tip commiserate with service…be aware that most servers make a little over two dollars an hour and their tips are both taxed and are also their primary income. Smile, say please and thank you, just as we were all taught.
If you would like to know more about cuisines from different regions do some research. Many of the restaurants in the US alter the food quite significantly from what is traditionally served in the country of origin. The more you research and find out about different cuisines the more you can enjoy the dining experience.