Confusing Menus; Celebs Cut Calories with Kiddie Cutlery; Daniel Turns 20 + More News

celeb-cutlery
Will TMZ soon publish a groundbreaking photo of a celeb dining with children’s cutlery? One can only dream.

Dining news from around the web and around the world…

* Can’t decide what to order? Blame the menu. [The Guardian]

* Plan on dining better. Here’s how. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

* How celebs stay thin and dine out all the time? Tiny cutlery. I’m not even kidding. [Times of India]

* Going out to eat with kids can be challenging. And, it can be even rougher if they’re your grandkids. [STLToday.com]

* Happy birthday, Daniel. The iconic Manhattan restaurant turns 20, and Chef Boulud reflects. [Serious Eats]

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100 Restaurants with the Best Service in the U.S.: 2012 Diners’ Choice Awards

Downton Abbey's footmen wore gloves, but we don't know of many contemporary wait professionals who do.

In recognition of how vital service is to the dining experience, we are pleased to announce the 2012 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the 100 restaurants in the United States providing the best service.  These awards reflect the combined opinions of nearly 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Regionally, the honorees span 29 states and Washington, D.C. The South reinforces the notion of southern hospitality, with 22 restaurants in the region being singled out for best service. The Northeast boasts 15 winning restaurants, including 10 in New York alone. The Pacific region accounts for 14 winners, 10 of which are in California, as does the Mid-Atlantic, with six restaurants in Virginia claiming spots. Eleven winners come from the Great Lakes Region, four of which are in the Twin Cities area. The Pacific Northwest and the Southwest follow with seven honorees apiece. The Rocky Mountain States count five winners, while the Central Plains has four, three of which are in Missouri. One restaurant in Hawaii also earned a nod.

Superior service can be found across a number of cuisines. Restaurants serving American food, however, account for 40 winners. French restaurants earned 25 places on the list. Steakhouses followed with 17 spots. Seven Italian restaurants are among the winners. Other cuisines include continental, global international, Japanese, seafood, and sushi.

The Diners’ Choice Awards for the top 100 restaurants providing the best service, which include Bluestem in Kansas City, Daniel in New York, and Uchiko in Austin, are generated from nearly 5 million reviews collected from verified OpenTable diners between February 2011 and January 2012.  All restaurants with a minimum number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration.  Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the highest average rating in the service category.

Is your favorite restaurant among the winners? Weigh in here or over on Facebook.

50 Best Service Restaurants in the U.S.; Le Bernardin Chef Eric Ripert Reacts to Win

The pepper mills remain in the kitchen at Executive Chef Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin.

We are pleased to announce the 50 winners of the 2011 OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards for Restaurants Providing the Best ServiceThe list of winners is derived from 7 million+ reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

With a whopping 19 of the winning restaurants located in the South, including three from Charleston, South Carolina, it’s clear that Southern hospitality is alive and well. The West is second best with 13 of its restaurants landing spots, followed by the Northeast with 12 winners, and the Midwest with five honorees. Restaurants in the always-influential states of California and New York earned, respectively, nine and six nods from OpenTable diners.

Restaurants serving American cuisine earned an impressive 13 awards. Overall, however, French restaurants remain the gold standard for white-glove service, with 18 of the Diners’ Choice Award recipients serving the cuisine of France, which just so happens to be the birthplace of fine dining. In honor of his win, Executive Chef Eric Ripert of award-winning French restaurant Le Bernardin shared his perspective on service.

Congratulations on yet another achievement for you and your staff at Le Bernardin. What’s the single biggest challenge in delivering the level of service Le Bernardin does?

Our obsession is consistency. We have very high standards for delivering the ultimate experience to our clients. It’s not an easy task and then we have to duplicate that for each individual, each service and every day.

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How to Be a Good Diner (or How Not to Wind Up on ‘Waiter Rant’)

Stock PhotoCNN.com recently ran a story about restaurant service with advice from our friend Steve Dublanica, the former professional wait staffer behind the snarky Waiter Rant blog and author of the book Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip — Confessions of a Cynical Waiter (HarperCollins). In it, he provides some tips for being a good patron, including not treating a restaurant as if it’s a day care center (Clean up after your kids.), not requesting an off-menu dish unless you accept the consequences (It might not taste great.), and refraining from showing up sans a reservation yet expecting the best table in the house (Use OpenTable.).

A few diner don’ts that come to my mind are things I’ve seen very recently. First, don’t ask a waiter to go through the entire menu with you. Use your reading comprehension skills and then ask specific questions. I saw a couple make a very patient server walk them through a five-page menu. It took 15 minutes on a busy Saturday night. This was not Daniel, mind you — just a lovely, unpretentious Mexican restaurant with entrees under $20 apiece. Next, if you have a food allergy, ask if certain ingredients are in a particular dish instead of giving your server a graphic explanation of your allergy. S/he probably doesn’t care, and it’s an overshare. Also, if you’re a picky eater, don’t make a face when the server explains the specials and they sound unappetizing to you. It’s not polite. Finally, if you don’t like your meal, speak up immediately (and kindly). Don’t wait until it’s too late to fix it and then simply rant about it later online. Give wait staff and managers an opportunity to serve you something you’ll enjoy.

What are your don’ts for diners when they’re out at restaurants? What have some of your past companions done to drive your server (and you!) crazy during a meal? Share your suggestions and stories here or on our Facebook.