May 15, 2007

Restaurant Rules

Whenever I go out to eat I try to follow a few simple rules, whether it is some fancy schmancy restaurant, or whether it's just the Olive Garden. Wait, who am I kidding, I don't eat at Olive Garden. Ok, Ok, whether it's fancy, or whether it's Hot Rods on a rowdy Friday night:

1. Order something you wouldn't make at home.
Now I don't religiously follow this, obviously, because I do cook a lot at home, but for the most part I think that if you have to go through the inconvenience of finding parking, waiting to be seated/waiting in line, and waiting to pay, I think the end result should be something fun, or new, or full of expensive ingredients I don't have in my pantry. I mean otherwise, really what's the point? Why go through all the hassle to pay someone else to chop your lettuce for you? Unless of course that lettuce is covered with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette from Jack's Urban Eats, which -- MY GOD -- can somebody get me that recipe? Mmm, it's delish!

2. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.
After working in a coffee shop for years, it never ceased to amaze me how rude people could be to those handling their food. Didn't they realize that the only thing standing in the way of their delicious handcrafted beverage, and a passable-but-seriously-tampered-with concoction that just looked liked a delicious handcrafted beverage, was the way they treated the person behind the counter? I'm not saying everyone should have kissed my feet, but it sort of went without saying that if you were a jerk, instead of typing your name above your drink when I took your order, I typed BGD (Bitch Gets Decaf). Here's your $4 afternoon pick me up, dick! (said with a smile, of course). Now certainly, everyone is not as spiteful as I was after working in retail for almost 9 years, but just in case, I'm quite nice to my food server, even if my order does come out wrong.

3. Oh yeah, and be a good tipper. Enough Said.

4. If I hate it -- I give it one more chance -- then if I still hate it, I just don't go back.
But seriously, there is nothing worse than someone going off on a blanket tirade about how terrible some restaurant is when they have only been there one time. Maybe it was an off night? Chefs are human. Maybe you didn't order their best dish? Maybe their concept just isn't for you? But might I suggest trying it one more time, and seeing how it goes? If you continue to dislike it, fine. Go ahead and scratch that off your list of places to make a Friday night reservation. But for god's sake, whatever you do, don't keep going back there and reiterating to the wait staff how terrible everything they serve is everytime you go there, and how you hope it doesn't happen again this time. Ugh! I'm doing the full body eye roll right this minute. Maybe this is also residual baggage from working at Peet's for way too long, but as far as I'm concerned - if you don't like a restaurant -- DON'T GO THERE. I know, novel concept, eh?

So none of this is rocket science, I suppose, or really revolutionary in any way, but I got to thinking about it while reading this article by Ann Patchett that gives 7 Reasons the Food is Better at Home. I'm all for eating out, but I thought it was cute...and so true! Although unfortunately at my house, there is a man that jumps out of the pantry and offers me dessert when I'm already full. That must be why I still eat it, right?

Do you have any rules when you dine out?

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