Do you want to be doubly doted on when you dine out? Treated like a regular even when you’re a rookie at a new restaurant? We’ve rounded up some insider tips to help you help restaurant staff make sure your next meal out is a terrific one.
- Start the night right. Arrive promptly for your restaurant reservation. If you’re running late, call and speak with the hostess to find out how long your table can be held – and understand that it probably isn’t indefinitely.
- Follow the restaurant’s rules. If photography or cell phones aren’t permitted in the dining room, don’t start snapping pictures or making calls. And, if the menu says “no substitutions,” inquire at your own risk.
- Own your own allergies. If you’ve got a food allergy, communicate clearly and concisely what ingredients you must avoid. When in doubt, don’t order it when you’re out. Also, don’t fib about food allergies to avoid an ingredient you don’t love.
- Parents just have to understand. If your child is out of sorts or refuses to remain seated, do your child and your fellow diners a favor by turning your night out into takeout. Most restaurants will gladly wrap your order to go, so you can enjoy it at home.
- Don’t pull rank right away. If your meal isn’t going your way, ask your server for exactly what you need to right the night. Avoid asking for a manager straightaway, unless your waiter is unresponsive to your requests.
- Don’t suffer in silence. If your food or drink isn’t to your liking, share this with your server when she checks in with you. Restaurant staff would much prefer to correct a problem in the moment, rather than have you leave unhappy.
- No separate checks, please. If you can’t figure out how to politely divide up your bill among your dining companions, you may need new dining companions. Creating separate checks for one table creates logistical problems, even though servers are usually willing to do it.
- Think outside your tipping bottom line. Everyone has his or her own formula for tipping, but if you receive exceptional service, take that under consideration and consider leaving a bit extra for the wait staff.
- Don’t review or tweet while you eat. If you’re not enjoying a dining experience – or even if you are – resist the urge to post a review online during or immediately after dining. Instead, finish your meal, and go home and think about it. You’ll have better perspective in the morning, especially if you enjoyed a few cocktails.
- Lighten up. Remember that this is all about food and fun. If your martini isn’t dry enough or your server drops your check too soon, it’s not the end of the world or the ruination of your meal. Almost everything can be righted. If you focus on the whole experience – the company, the hospitality, the meal, the setting – you’ll probably come away feeling like you’ve had a great time.
What are some of your tips to make sure you have a memorable meal? Do you agree or disagree with any of ours? Share your thoughts here or join the discussion on Facebook.