Let’s face it, dining out is expensive and can even be stressful – getting a reservation, making sure there’s enough money on your card, covering the tip, there’s a lot to it. So if you’re going to dine out, why not make sure you do it the right way, so you and the restaurant staff all have a really enjoyable, memorable time?
Pick the right restaurant
You don’t want to go to go to a loud sports bar for an intimate date or a business discussion. By the same metric, you wouldn’t want to have a casual business lunch at the most expensive white table cloth restaurant around. If you let the restaurant know what sort of dining experience you want to have in advance they can save a spot for you as even just different rooms in the same restaurant can be quite a different experience.
Servers and management will know where to put you for the best possible experience so don’t be shy and call ahead, maybe they’ll have weekly specials or freebies they can tell you about as well. Speaking of, if you have a party of 8 or more, definitely call ahead to make sure they can accommodate you, a big table can be a challenge for a stretched thin waitstaff or kitchen.
At the right time
Timing is everything in getting the best food and service. The day of the week makes a big difference. Going on a Friday or Saturday, or a popular holiday, ensures the restaurant will be packed and the servers and kitchen staff busy and frazzled. Going around 6 or 7 for dinner ensures they’ll be at their busiest as well. If you can dine during off hours (though, please, not too close to closing time!) you can get much better service and a fine experience. As to holidays, if you can go before or after, it’ll work a lot better. It might not be as romantic to have Valentine’s day dinner the day after, but it’ll be a lot more fun than sitting in line for half an hour with nothing to eat!
Know the menu
Many times when food is sent back, it’s because people didn’t know what they were ordering. You can save the trouble by paying attention to the menu closely and asking your server any questions you might have. A silly question before is better than sending a dish back later. Restaurants can make reasonable accommodations for a number of dietary restrictions, though it also pays to have reasonable expectations – there’s not a lot of gluten free options you can get at an Italian restaurant.
So, there you have it, take these three steps and you can dine smartly and really enjoy yourself!