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robert brown

Taking Notes in Restaurants

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I actually stood up, tapped my fork to my glass to get everybody's attention, as if I was making a toast, and asked if they'd be silent for a moment while we took the video.  They were all happy to.

:blink:

I'm simply speechless.

Aside from that, I have taken notes about many other things than the meal in restaurants, especially while travelling...I've never noticed anyone payng much attention to it.


Edited by *Deborah* (log)

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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I pretend to be a tourist. :wink:

Seriously, I've never had any trouble taking notes in restaurants. From my journalism days, I often did interviews over lunch. I simply used a small leather memo holder and wrote small. This assumes I was dining with someone else. By myself, I'd just pretend I was making notes to myself about something else. No one ever asked or looked askance.

Photos? I didn't really do those regularly until recently, now that I have a digital camera, but even in the "old days," when traveling, I'd photograph particularly impressive dishes. (No flash.) Again, never any problem. Tourists do that all the time.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I also take a moleskin book, they are small and fit nicely on the table. I've never gone out of my way to make it look like I wasn't taking notes, or pictures for that matter (with out flash). Restaurants never seem to mind and we've even had signed menus sent out to us by the chef before, comped desserts/wines and kitchen tours.

Really Nice! I LOVE that story!

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Y'know, I haven't yet gotten into taking notes on restaurant meals in a big way (although I see that coming... :biggrin: ). But, when dining alone, I have frequently pulled out the notepad or Daytimer I always carry with me, just to scribble general notes-to-myself to pass the time. Nobody has ever asked me about it. I figure if they did, I'd simply tell them I'm a writer and I'm jotting down ideas for my next story. (In fact, oftentimes that has been exactly true.)

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I don't like to spend too much time writing during the meal. I jot down some notes and then sit and write out more at my leisure. If I can do it soon afterwards, it helps.

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Bryan, are you now the reviewer for the paper in Durham?

That is a long term goal. For now, I'm just updating my food journal since I'm eating especially well this summer in New York. In the past I would simply write down impressions after the meal. Now, however, I want to take notes as I'm eating so I miss as little as possible.

Thanks for all the advice everyone. It seems that I need to invest in a decent quality notebook that travels well.

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This may be an absolutely startling idea in an age when everyone seems to eat solely for the purpose of posting pictures and long editorial reviews on web-sites - but why don't you simply leave everything (the notepads - recorders - digital cameras - and all the other gizmos) home and relax and enjoy your meals?

For those of us who aren't professional something or others in the food industry (critics - chefs - whatever) - the point of fine dining is to enjoy the experience - not to record it for posterity.

As someone who cruises through (and I do mean cruise - I don't pore over every word) a lot of web material to decide where I do and don't want to eat - I can tell you that I don't need digital photos - or blow-by-blow descriptions of every aspect of every dish - to make up my mind. I simply need a general description of the experience - and a simple thumbs up - or thumbs down. And a little background info on the person who writes the message - so I can give appropriate weight to what he or she says.

In fact - at a certain point - all the postings become counter-productive. If everyone has "been there - done that" - and posted all their photos - and their endless notes about their experiences in a given place - what's in it for me to go there? Al lthe mystery is gone. I swear - I didn't have Oysters and Pearls at Per Se because I'd seen so many photographs and read so many descriptions of it that I was bored with it before I got to the restaurant.

By the way - does anyone here think that if they walk into a high end restaurant - and everyone has his or her notepad - and is taking endless photos - that the whole restaurant experience is kind of a total turnoff? I do. Robyn

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I carry one of these in my purse all the time. I've used it in many situations when I felt a little self-conscious about taking notes, like noting prices in stores - it's very small and looks very business-like if someone even notices. I've taken wine tasting notes and jotted down ideas for dishes many times.

Marcia.


Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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"Everyone" in restaurants isn't taking notes and photos, Robyn. And there is always someone to be offended by someone else, in this world, it seems. I was being sarcastic when I said I'm shameless, as I don't think that what I do is shameful in any regard. Nor do I didn't let it bother me too much if someone at the next table is acting umphy. I'm as discreet as I can be, and if there's a camera on the table, BFD.

No one compelled to read all the reports and blogs that people are creating, are they?

Thanks for all the advice everyone.  It seems that I need to invest in a decent quality notebook that travels well.

The Moleskine (pronounced "mol-a-skeen'-a"--it has nothing to do with the skin of moles) pocket journal I linked to upthread is a really nice size, and the paper is delicious. However I confess to being a stationery and pen junkie. They're wonderful little books with a great history among artists and writers, and I love when people recognize them.

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There is nothing I love more than a meal where no one is taking photographs, notes, etc. Since I write about food for a living, the opportunity to dine unfettered is increasingly important to me. After a couple of months of nothing but working meals, I can easily forget how delightful a meal focused on conversation and the relaxed enjoyment of the food can be. When I am working I tend to rely on memory, copies of menus and writing things down immediately after the meal as opposed to setting up "shop" in the restaurant - sometimes it is unavoidable but I try to keep it to minimum.


"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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There is nothing I love more than a meal where no one is taking photographs, notes, etc. Since I write about food for a living, the opportunity to dine unfettered is increasingly important to me. After a couple of months of nothing but working meals, I can easily forget how delightful a meal  focused on conversation and the relaxed enjoyment of the food can be. When I am working I tend to rely on memory, copies of menus and writing things down immediately after the meal as opposed to setting up "shop" in the restaurant - sometimes it is unavoidable but I try to keep it to minimum.

I agree with you.

And I do what you do. If I want to commit a meal to memory for some reason - like writing it up on a food board - I get a copy of the menu to remind me of the particulars of the dishes I ate. If I can't remember what I thought about the dish the next day - well that's a pretty sorry commentary.

Perhaps I am living right - but I have never seen anyone taking pictures or notes in any restaurant where I've dined - even the high/very high end ones.

When I'm at high end restaurants - I am usually a visitor in other peoples' cities - and I try to be a courteous guest. At our last high end meal - at Aurora in Dallas - we had a locally famous person - Mr. Nasher - of the Nasher museum - and a companion - sitting on one side - and an animated party of 4 sitting on the other. They all were obviously regular patrons. If I had whipped out my notepad and digital camera - they probably would have looked at me as if I had recently escaped from a trailer park to vacation at Six Flags. I would have interfered with their enjoyment of their meals - and invited the wrath of the owner/chef. It's been a few days - and without notes and pictures - I can tell you everything I ate there - and what I thought about it. I am close to 60. If people are younger than I am - and can't remember a meal they think they liked a few days after the fact - they need to do memory exercises. Robyn

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