29 Aug 2023

Brush up Your Restaurant Behaviour

Eating out these days can be an expensive treat and it is understandable that customers expect to be well treated and looked after. However, paying for a meal never entitles restaurant diners to be rude, and there are many ways in which inconsiderate and thoughtless behaviour can really mar the restaurant experience, both for yourself and for other diners. Take a look at our restaurant recommendations to ensure that you will never give offence:

•Research beforehand
These days it’s so easy to quickly check out a restaurant online before committing to it. That way, you will be able to see sample menus and you can decide if it’s offering you a suitable type of food and price range. It would be foolish to invite a vegan to a restaurant that proudly trumpets its meaty credentials. By the same token, researching beforehand will ensure that you’re not completely floored by the prices and forced to order a tiny meal because you can’t afford a main course.

•Respect the Menu
The menus are there for a reason. They represent the food that the restaurant is offering, reflecting the availability of seasonal ingredients and the chef’s particular skills and specialities. You should therefore confine yourself to ordering from the menu, unless – because of allergies or intolerances – you need to substitute or withhold one particular ingredient. Asking for something that is not featured on the menu at all is not a display of power or rugged individuality, it is simply rude and over-demanding.

•Adhere to the Booking
If you’ve booked a table for eight at 9pm it is understandably disruptive to turn up at 10pm with a party of twelve. Whilst most restaurants will do their utmost to accommodate you (it’s in their interests after all), you are being extremely inconsiderate. They may well have to juggle numbers, re-allocate seats to other diners, move tables around. And if you’re over 45 minutes late you really can’t expect busy restaurants to hold your table – they quite understandably will assume you’re not coming and be anxious to reassign the table. It’s always best to communicate changes of plan by phone, or to send an email message. Finally, if you’ve booked a table outside and the evening is less than balmy, you do not have an automatic right to be moved inside. There may well not be room, and you have made your choice at your own risk.

•Never be a no-show diner
If you book, you should turn up. If you can’t do so, you should cancel beforehand. It’s extremely rude to just ignore your booking and go elsewhere – restaurants plan for a certain number of diners each evening and may even have turned other people away to accommodate you. By the same token, if you have booked for a large party and have ended up with half your planned number, let the restaurant know beforehand. They will appreciate the opportunity to re-allocate tables and may be able to accommodate more walk-up diners.

•It’s a restaurant not a studio
We all know that some diners feel compelled to post pictures of every meal on Instagram, but if you’re going to take pictures, do so discreetly and don’t disturb other diners or get in the way of busy waiters. Standing up and walking around the table to get the perfect bird’s eye view of your plate, or fiddling around with the lighting so your meal is sufficiently illuminated can immediately disrupt an atmosphere of candlelit serenity.

•Don’t muddle up dislikes and intolerances
While it’s perfectly acceptable to flag up allergies and intolerances when you’re booking a table or when you arrive in a restaurant, it is extremely irritating if you confuse “intolerance” (an inability to digest certain types of food) with simply disliking certain foods. This tendency is particularly irksome when a person who has decreed that they have an intolerance undergoes a change of heart at the restaurant, tucking into the delicious home-cooked bread (despite a supposed gluten intolerance), and being tempted by the home-made ice-cream (even though they made a fuss about being lactose intolerant). Restaurants take real allergies and intolerances very seriously and may find making meals that adhere to these restrictions creates a lot of extra work. Being messed around by people who are merely experimenting with dietary fads is a real waste of time.

•Communicate with your waiter
A successful restaurant meal involves establishing a congenial relationship with your waiter. The best way to do this is to talk to the waiter directly, ask polite questions, seek advice or explanations. If you’ve finished your bottle of wine, signal your waiter to bring another, don’t put your empty bottle upside-down in the wine-cooler – a peremptory gesture that might be overlooked. If you’re getting fretful because your meal is taking a long time to arrive, make polite enquiries. You will have a much better evening if you talk directly to your waiters, make courteous requests, and don’t expect them to anticipate your every need.


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