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

Boston Chef Barbara Lynch on Her Love of Instagram, Her Biggest Competition + Pig Bladders

Boston Chef Barbara Lynch

Those who’ve enjoyed the unforgettable white tablecloth experience at Menton or toasted with a craft cocktail at Drink may be surprised with the New England specialty that Boston chef Barbara Lynch kicks back with — anyone not from Boston, that is. The James Beard Award winner and sole female Relais & Châteaux grand chef in North America has stayed true to her humble roots while creating an empire for fine-dining and imbibing just a few miles down the road from where she grew up as one of seven kids and entered the hospitality industry as a waitress. Today, she has three kids of her own, six restaurants, the demonstration kitchen Stir, and a legacy that makes her a household name in one of the country’s most historic cities.

So a chef can’t eat four-course dinners every night. What’s your typical meal or favorite indulgence?

If I make something for myself quickly, it’s probably spicy hummus and cucumbers and lettuce. But I love fried clams and French fries.

Sounds like a true Bostonian! You were one of the first people to take the step and invest in the Seaport District and now it’s booming. But why take a chance when you did?

I just love being part of a community. A community strengthens your success in a way, and you’re always part of it. Fort Point had soul. Those old warehouses still had bones in them even though they were empty. It was desolate but I even knew as a kid that I wanted to be there. … I’m so glad I did three restaurants [Menton, Sportello, and Drink] instead of one at the same time. That would have been a $@*&ing temple sticking out down there, and you need the support and diversity. Now every two seconds there’s another building going up and it’s different than I envisioned — I thought it would be more of an urban environment with a school or a grocery store. But I’m still glad.

Boston Chef Barbara Lynch

Why not branch out of Boston, and lend your name to like, a hotel restaurant in Vegas or something?

I don’t have partners, so I don’t just go in and do a turnkey. I don’t want to go in and sell a name. Not to say I wouldn’t with the right deal and that I feel my team is ready to move with me. It’s like giving birth and saying, ‘Oh, okay, I didn’t really like this kid, I’ll just give it away,’ and walk away. I can’t do it. It’s not me.

Did you know as a kid that you wanted to be a chef?

I was definitely around 12 or 13, and I was talking myself into ‘I’m a chef. I want to be a chef.’ I literally thought I was going to own a sub shop, though, not be where I am now. My pivotal moment was my first job on a boat [a Martha’s Vineyard dinner cruise]. It was a huge success, and I said, ‘Wow, this is fun!’ That’s the difference between our company and others. We’re here 90-plus hours a week, so you’ve got to just have fun with it. It’s going to be hard sometimes, but, most of all, it should be a great place to work.Continue Reading

July 2016 Restaurant Weeks: Celebrate Your City’s Culinary Scene for Less

July 2016 Restaurant WeeksWhether you’re traveling or staying local this summer, discounted dining is coming to a metropolitan area near you, thanks to July 2016 restaurant weeks.

* NYC French Restaurant Week offers sumptuous meals for the revolutionary prices of $17.89, $35.78 + $178.90 in celebration of Bastille Week, through July 17. Make a reservation.

* Toronto Summerlicious features $18 ,$23 + $28 lunches and $28, $38 + $48 dinners, July 8-24. Make a reservation.

* Providence Restaurant Weeks brings you $14.95 lunches and $29.95 and $34.94 dinners, July 10-23. Make a reservation.

* Restaurant Week Baton Rouge serves up $15, $20, $25, $30 + $35 prix-fixe menus, July 11-16. Make a reservation.

* Clayton Restaurant Week is your chance to enjoy three-course $25 + $35 dinners, July 11-17. Make a reservation.

* University City Dining Days in Philadelphia showcases $15, $25 + $35 dinners, July 14-24. Make a reservation.

* Charlottesville Restaurant Week in Virginia beckons with $19, $29 + $39 dinners, July 15-23. Make a reservation.

* Gwinnett Restaurant Week has three-course prix-fixe lunches and dinners for just $25, July 17-21. Make a reservation.

* Mpls-St. Paul Magazine Restaurant Week lets you choose from $10, $15 + $20 lunches and $25, $30 + $35 dinners, July 17-22. Make a reservation.

* Restaurant Week Columbus starts soon. Book now for $15, $20, $25, $30 + $35 meals, July 18-23. Make a reservation.Continue Reading

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa on Fashionable Food, Paris + Yuzu

Nobu Matsuhisa

Last week the OpenTable team threw our third annual Champagne and sushi party at Matsuhisa during the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. We were honored to be joined by Nobu Matsuhisa himself, the renowned chef and international restaurateur behind more than 30 restaurants featuring his signature Japanese fusion cuisine.

We took the opportunity to ask Nobu all about his success, challenges, and what he’s learned along the way. Read on for his best advice.Continue Reading