Everyone thinks that the path to a pleasant dining experience rests in how much you tip, but the key to getting the most out of your meal begins the minute you decide to eat out, and it hinges on five key factors: choosing the restaurant, time of day, ordering, attitude, and payment. Let’s begin.
1) Choosing your restaurant.
In today’s volatile economy restaurant chains rise out of nowhere everyday just to sink just as quickly back into obscurity. However, literally hundreds of choices from national chains like Olive Garden, to refined New York steak houses or and mom and pop diners are available to people in every region of the country, on any budget. This then begs the question, “Where do I want to eat?”
Your night begins here, with this very simple yet important question. It’s more than just a matter of Italian food or vegan tacos – it’s about your expectations.
What do you want – “want” being the operative word? You can dine anywhere, but you’re choosing to be there so make it for the right reasons. Are you looking for fine dining and an extensive wine list to dazzle a client or a cozy booth to spend hours catching up with an out of town friend? We “go out” for more than just food – we pay for an experience, and even if you’re there for a quick bite, asking yourself a few questions can tease out your ideal atmosphere. Questions like:
Am I willing to wait a long time for a table?
Do they take reservations?
Is it loud?
Is it a family style restaurant?
Is it expensive?
Is the menu large or small?
Am I willing to try something new?
Am I in a hurry?
The answers to these few questions can help assess the mood you’re in, and a little forethought can save you a two hour wait in a noisy, kid-filled lobby to finally sit at a table in a restaurant that doesn’t serve salmon. Instead of just heading out the door and picking a restaurant based on the spinning marquis that catches your eye from the freeway, put a little thought into your expectations.
2) Choosing the time
Let’s say for the sake of argument that you choose a mid-sized regional chain. Excellent, most people do. You’ve been to an establishment like this before, even if it may be your first time at this particular chain or location, therefore you know what to expect, right? Not always. A restaurant is just like anything else, with its unpredictable qualities, but the one truth you can count on is that timing really is everything.
When you dine is almost as important