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You Can Take It with You: The Etiquette of the Doggie Bag #hackdining

Doggie Bag BlogJust because a meal has ended doesn’t mean you’ve taken your last bite. Doggie bags allow you to extend a dining experience beyond the confines of your restaurant reservation, while also helping cut down on food waste and saving you some time in the kitchen later on. The tradition began in Rome during the sixth century B.C. Banquet goers would wrap up extra food in a napkin to signal to their host just how much they enjoyed the meal. However, the modern practice – and the name doggie bag itself – came to fruition in the States during World War II, when diners were encouraged to their leftovers to feed their pets, though it soon became apparent that diners – not Rover – were the usual recipients of the unfinished meals. This new practice opened up a proverbial Pandora’s bag of etiquette issues, which are still present today. Here are six tips on how to deal with the doggie bag.

No Shame

Whether you’re dining in a budget-friendly eatery or a high-end restaurant, you can always ask for a doggie bag. Some diners don’t want to ask for their leftovers when dining in four-star restaurants because they don’t want to appear cheap. They shouldn’t feel poorly about making the request. Just because an establishment has nice silverware, white tablecloths, and a tasting menu that costs more than the average car payment doesn’t mean they don’t have takeaway containers in the back. Don’t worry; the staff is more than happy to put the remainder of your truffle topped cacio e pepe in a box for you, so you can eat it later that night when you’re in bed catching up on Game of Thrones.

Sharing is Caring

Everyone is entitled to take home the remains of their own meal, of course. (It’s also perfectly acceptable to “gift” your uneaten portion to someone else at the table.). However, it gets trickier when it comes to dividing up family style entrees between two or more guests. Before simply claiming the giant rectangle of lasagna sitting at the center of the table, ask your dining companions if anyone else would like to take some home. If someone else is interested as well, either divide up the leftovers yourself or ask the staff to do it for you.

Pack Wisely

Getting home and opening your doggie bag to find that a sauce has leaked out, the bread is soggy, or a component is missing can be disappointing – and may even cause you to throw the food out. To prevent such waste from happening, politely request that any dips or spreads be packed separately, sandwiches or rolls be wrapped in aluminum foil, and be sure to specifically point out what leftovers you’d like to take home. Some restaurants will simply bring you takeout containers, so you can wrap everything up to your liking.Continue Reading

Check Splitting Etiquette: The Art of Painlessly Dividing the Bill #hackdining

Check Splitting EtiquetteDining out with a group of friends, going on a date, or having dinner with a few out-of-town relatives should be a joyful occasion. But these memorable meals can descend into a mess of confusion, disproportionate payouts, and hurt feelings when it comes time to split the check. Save the table that collective pain and be thoughtful to your server by following these seven tips for gracefully dividing the bill.

When Someone Treats

If one contingent of the party insists on paying for the meal either upfront or when the check is presented, it’s still good form to offer to cover the tip. Consider it a gesture of thanks and goodwill. The host may turn you down, but at least you’ve made the offer.

Advance Warning

Asking the server to split up the bill at the end of the meal is an inconsiderate, messy move. If you’d like separate checks, request them before anyone has ordered. It will still require the server to do more work, but it will make it easier for them to keep everyone’s various charges separate. Remember, many restaurants cap the maximum number of check splits and some won’t do separate checks at all. (They usually note this one the menu, but, if they don’t, you should ask about their policy at the start of the meal). Call ahead if you’re going to ask to split a check more than four ways to make sure they can accommodate your group.

Elect a Foreman

Someone needs to take control of divvying up the check. Allowing everyone to eyeball the receipt and guestimate what they owe often doesn’t end well. If people under pay and there’s still enough to cover the check, no one will fight to put more money in to ensure the server is tipped appropriately (FYI: if you have a large party that is taking up a lot of your server’s time, you should tip 20 percent or more). So nominate the math major in the party or take on the job yourself to ensure the check splitting goes as smoothly and speedily as possible.

Equality is Easy

The easiest way to split the check is to simply divide it evenly amongst the diners and agree on the percentage tip you’ll each leave. If you’re dining with a group of longtime friends who ate and drank approximately the same meal – everyone had two cocktails and shared a series of small plates – then this is an easy route.

Steak and Wine Vs. Salad and Water

Don’t split the bill equally if one dining companion pointedly ordered a side salad and water, while the rest of you split three bottles of wine and each ordered steaks. Your friend may be on a tight budget but still wanted to see you all, so don’t punish them for coming out. If you’re the diner with a limited budget, make sure you request a separate check at the beginning of the meal so you don’t need to explain your circumstances to the group.Continue Reading

May 2016 Restaurant Weeks: Savings in Arizona + Oregon

May 2016 Restaurant Weeks

Enjoy dining discounts in Arizona and Oregon this month…

* Oregon Wine Month is something to cheer about (and t0!) with its month-long celebration of Oregon wineries across the state. Participating restaurants will offer special Oregon wine lists, wine flights, or specialty prix-fixe, three-course menus through May 31. Make a reservation.

* Arizona Restaurant Week invites you to take advantage of special multi-course $33 or $44 three-course meals, May 20-29. Make a reservation.Continue Reading

10 Things We Learned at the 2016 Cherry Bombe Jubilee

OpenTable had the privilege of being a sponsor of the 2016 Cherry Bombe Jubilee held yesterday at Manhattan’s Highline Hotel. Culinary legends, journalists, small business owners, and more gathered to listen, learn, and get inspired by the past and excited for the future of women in food. Here are 10 takeaways, ICYMI.

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Make soup. The Hemsley sisters of UK catering company Hemsley + Hemsley are huge soup and bone broth advocates. “This should be the first things kids learn to make.”

“Get a job in a kitchen; it makes you a better boss.” Amanda Hess had the privilege of working in a completely civilized kitchen under Jodi Adams, but subsequent gigs weren’t quite as heavenly, and she was inspired to lead based on lessons learned at the former.

Looking for the next big thing in food (or any industry)? Look for white space. Find out what’s missing and fill the void.

Don’t get too judge-y about non-organic labels. A lot of farmers aren’t growing certified organic because they simply cannot afford to lose an entire crop to disease or pests. Their profit margins are already perilously thin; according to the USDA, most farmers make less than $80,000. That’s not much money for folks who need to be a chemist, a scientist, and a mechanic in order to manage their farms.

Mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, is prevalent in the culinary industry. This is due, in large part, to the overwhelming demands of the job. Only 3.5% of respondents to a survey on ChefswithIssues.com indicated that their mental health issues are NOT tied to the profession. If you’re suffering, you can visit the site (founded by foodista Kat Kinsman) for support and resources.

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A restaurant owner will always hire a woman as a chef – if she’s the owner. Back in the day (the day being 1982), female chefs were a rarity – and even more so if they weren’t chef-owners of their own restaurants. The critic Mimi Sheraton counted just one who was a hired gun at the time. Things have shifted, but there’s still quite a way to go.Continue Reading