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Q&A: How to Dine

82 posts in this topic

When I eat out by myself I generally prefer to sit at the bar, if there is one. I feel more comfortable, and I also find that the service is usually good. Depending on how busy it is, it can also be easier to converse with the bartender about the menu, restaurant, etc. than with a waiter. I think it's the better choice when dining alone, but I wonder if I'm missing anything by not choosing to sit at a table. Any opinion?


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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To the contrary, Janet: I think the bar is often the best place to sit in any restaurant that takes bar dining seriously. There are a few local restaurants where Ellen and I make a point of sitting at the bar even when tables are available and even when we're not having cocktails. A well-schooled bartender will know as much about the menu as anyone, and the bar at most any restaurant tends to be closely monitored by management. I mean, I wouldn't recommend the bar for a multi-hour, extended tasting menu -- the ergonomics of stools and counters just aren't right -- but for most anything else the bar is a great choice for two people or even three if you can grab a corner.

Establishing a relationship with the bartender is also one of the quickest, surest ways to become a known customer. Bartenders tend to have elephantine memories, and you can be sure that if you make an impression on your first visit you'll be welcomed by name on your second.

Needless to say, this is doubly true at sushi bars, where the people sitting at the bar are being served by the actual chef. There's very rarely a good reason for sitting at a table when sitting at the sushi bar is a viable option.

I wouldn't worry about feeling uncomfortable dining alone at a table, though. Modern restaurants are hip to the fact that solo diners expect to be taken seriously. In the mid 1990s I heard tales of substandard treatment for solo diners, especially from women and minorities, but I rarely hear such complaints anymore. A lot of evolution has occurred in this area in just the past decade.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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2006 is will most likely become the year where I will have eaten more meals in restaurants than at home.

I personally prefer a table but I'll take the bar if I see that the establishment is busy. I don't think you're missing anything from not taking the table but it's often more quiet and a better bet to unwind especially if the day has gone to hell. My experience however has been that service at the table is better than that at the bar.

And always being nice to staff does pay off in the long run. If you're having a crappy one, let them know in advance.

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To the contrary, Janet: I think the bar is often the best place to sit in any restaurant that takes bar dining seriously. There are a few local restaurants where Ellen and I make a point of sitting at the bar even when tables are available and even when we're not having cocktails. A well-schooled bartender will know as much about the menu as anyone, and the bar at most any restaurant tends to be closely monitored by management. I mean, I wouldn't recommend the bar for a multi-hour, extended tasting menu -- the ergonomics of stools and counters just aren't right -- but for most anything else the bar is a great choice for two people or even three if you can grab a corner.

Establishing a relationship with the bartender is also one of the quickest, surest ways to become a known customer. Bartenders tend to have elephantine memories, and you can be sure that if you make an impression on your first visit you'll be welcomed by name on your second.

Needless to say, this is doubly true at sushi bars, where the people sitting at the bar are being served by the actual chef. There's very rarely a good reason for sitting at a table when sitting at the sushi bar is a viable option.

I wouldn't worry about feeling uncomfortable dining alone at a table, though. Modern restaurants are hip to the fact that solo diners expect to be taken seriously. In the mid 1990s I heard tales of substandard treatment for solo diners, especially from women and minorities, but I rarely hear such complaints anymore. A lot of evolution has occurred in this area in just the past decade.

Bar dining is something I love when visiting America which doesn't seem to exist in Australia. It's great for the solo diner, even for tasting menus and I've never felt that I've recieved substandard service.


PS: I am a guy.

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This is a very enjoyable article, and full of good advice. However, leaving aside the exact details, I think it's the spirit that Steven conveys that speaks to me the most. That sense of having to work a little to get the best out of the experience is crucial.

In many ways, having confidence is the most important thing about eating out for me. I have only recently got over the intimidation I used to feel in upscale restaurants. The first time I ate at a Michelin-starred establishment I was really quite nervous. Luckily, on that particular evening, the head waiter recognised (by our age if nothing else) that this was probably a new experience for us and immediately put us at our ease. He explained that our job was to relax and enjoy ourselves, to feel free to ask any questions we might have, and to look for advice wherever needed. It seemed so obvious really. They weren't there to test us. They weren't there to judge us for being inexperienced diners. Quite the opposite in fact, they were there to help us to enjoy our dinner. We took him at his word and had a fantastic time.

Because we were interested, asked about the food and wine, and didn't try to pretend we were anything other than what we were, we built up a rapport that made everything else easy. It wasn't a question of chatting to the staff at length, nobody was over-familiar (it was a French restaurant with mainly French waiters, after all), but there was give and take that meant everything just worked seamlessly. By the time we left, we almost felt like “regulars”… although due to the constraints of the wallet we are anything but.

As I've become more "experienced", the one aspect I think a lot of people stumble over is the interaction with the wine list and sommelier. It seems to me there is a feeling out there that asking the sommelier for advice betrays some sort of ignorance. As pointed out in the article, nothing could be further from the truth. The method you suggested is pretty much the way I go about ordering wine myself. Certainly, as my wine understanding grows, it's easier to explain what I'm looking for with confidence, and I’m quite happy to say no to suggestions as well as yes. Ultimately, the sommelier should know more about the wine list than anyone. Totally ignoring this expertise seems like folly to me. Of course, discussing wines with the sommelier and being genuinely interested also helps to build the rapport mentioned earlier. A little polite and friendly interaction can go a long way towards ensuring attentive service, since he or she is generally a pretty important person "on the floor".

However, one area where there’s definitely still room for improvement in my own dining experience is speaking up when something is unsatisfactory. I’m not so good at this (like most Irish people in restaurants, actually). Sometimes the intimidation is just too much. As unhappy as I was with the service at Paul Bocuse, I can’t imagine ever complaining in such a temple of gastronomy. I’ll have to work on that.

Thanks again for the enjoyable article. I may have to hunt out your book!

Si

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Thanks for your comments, Si. I think one stumbling block for a lot of people is, as you indicate, a conceptual problem with the concept of "confidence." Confidence isn't about pretending you're something you're not. True confidence is sometimes just the confidence to be ignorant.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Since adopting the Shaw Method (disclosure: I've had the pleasure of seeing it in action first-hand a few times, so my mileage might be different than others'), my dining experience has improved immeasurably. I can attest that beoming a "regular" is not nearly as difficult as it seems, and that that relationship can make each experience much more enjoyable. An example: at a place that I've visited just a few times, I was recently served a complimentary dish. The food was excellent and special, but what really stood out was how it was served: on a platter lined with print-outs of my eG Forums posts! Flattery aside, it seemed to me that this was a stunning illustration of one of Steven's essential points -- that a restaurant appreciates good customers as much as customers appreciate good food and service. Anyway, enough testimonial, because I have an actual question.

In one part of your class, Steven, you suggest asking the staff what they recommend:

One of the most basic lines of inquiry, which can lead to a highly productive dialogue, is asking servers what their favorite dishes are, and what dishes the chef considers specialties of the house.

A little later, you describe the practice of upselling:

A server should always ask if you want these things (at most restaurants it's a requirement of the job and servers will get in trouble if they don’t do it), but should never aggressively try to upsell you on anything. If that happens, just smile knowingly and say, "No, thank you."

These two practices create a quandary. In my experience, especially in less than top-tier restaurants, upselling (or whatever you'd call it) is often used to move items that are getting old, or are overstocked. Most likely as a result of the day's staff meeting, waitstaff are told to "push the snapper," or urged to sell the special -- "special" being defined as "something we need to get rid of in a hurry."

How can you tell when this is happening? In other words, how can you ensure that a server will tell you what's really good, as opposed to what he's been told to tell you is really good?


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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That's definitely an issue, and there are several other issues that can cause servers to give you bad information. For example, if you ask what's good you'll almost always be told what's popular. But of course, if what's popular is what's good then the best restaurant in the world is McDonald's.

The mission, then, is to get the server off script. There are a few ways to do this. Certainly, some servers are just too dense ever to go off script. But usually you can break through.

First, establishing that personal rapport early on creates a situation where the server starts working for you. Remember, servers in restaurants are basically independent contractors -- the restaurant is paying less than half of their fee and you (or, rather, customers in general) are paying more than half -- so once they sort out all their issues there's nothing to stop them from having loyalty to you. Once a server decides to take the act of serving you seriously, you'll often find that you get the inside line on stuff and that they sell the mandatory quota crap to the other tables.

Second, as I hinted above, the more specific your questions are the more likely you are to take the server off script. "What's good?" is not nearly as effective as "I have X, Y and Z preferences; what's good?"

Third, use your intuition and your ability to read people. You don't have to listen to everything a server says. Sometimes you're just not going to get good advice from the server. Good advice from the server is the preferred course of action, but there are several levels of backup available to you: you've already been online doing research about the restaurant before going (right?), you're good at reading menus and know basic stuff like "Don't order the steak at a fish restaurant" and "Don't order veal Marsala at the Greek diner," and you can tell if a server is feeding you a pack of lies.

And if all else fails, you can always get a slice of pizza afterwards.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Dear Steven,

I'm so ashamed!

I am able to scrape enough pennies together every once in a while to visit a seriously wonderful place. When I do, I want to be able to experience, as best I can, the full range of that restaurant's skills. And that means that I often do the two things that seem to me to drive some restauranteurs nuts: order lots of apps and split like crazy. Sometimes the servers are fine with it, but other times, you can just see them calculating the lost tips they expect. (We tip extremely well, so that's not the point.)

At a place like José Andrés's Zaytinya or a sushi joint, this is not an issue. But at other places structured around multi-course meals, well, sometimes I just I want to hide under my table!!

Tell me, please: should I cease and desist this practice and visit only when I can pay a full ride? Or is my shame unnecessary?

Sincerely,

Hungry in Providence


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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You should feel totally comfortable ordering whatever the heck the menu allows -- and then some. Look, if a restaurant's management is dead set against people ordering two starters and no mains or desserts, then it's the restaurant's responsibility to force a prix fixe menu where you pay a lump sum for a starter, a main and a dessert. And even at such a restaurant, I see no harm in asking if you can swap a main for two starters or if you can grab a couple of dishes from the tasting menu for a small supplement. The worst thing that can happen is that they'll say no, and there's nothing wrong with asking exactly how much they'll charge for a special order.

In terms of the way servers react to such strategies, if they can't appreciate your creativity that's too bad for them. I talk a lot in my book and public presentations about getting on the good side of the waitstaff, but that's not the only way to enjoy a meal. Sometimes you need to be willing to push your agenda whether a server wants to cooperate or not. Of course good servers will never let their irritation show, but if a bad server gets irritated because you order a lot of appetizers and share then I think you should seize the day and have some fun with the situation.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Another solo dining question:

I travel a lot for work and often dine alone. I really like to try the eG recommendations when I go to a new city. However, I do have a habit of always bringing along something to read.

I wouldn't say that I get rude service, but just rather perfunctory service.

Should I break this habit? It sounds like I am missing out on a lot of that bartender gossip and camaraderie, that you are all enjoying.

How badly are readers looked on by the wait staff?


Pamela Fanstill aka "PamelaF"

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Sometimes it pays to be creative with ordering from the menu. At Monsoon in Seattle they offer freshly squeezed orange juice and mimosas. We knew that we were going to be there for a while so I ordered two glasses of orange juice and a bottle of champagne and made our own mimosas. Saved a couple of bucks that way.

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This is a great thread, and I look forward to picking up further tips as it develops.

I thought I might share a story which may be relevant. A while back, I was at a "two-hat" restaurant in Sydney located in one of the city's iconic landmarks. The hat system works like Michelin stars, with three at the top. This restaurant has since inexplicably gone on to win three hats.

Anyway, my table was being "served" by a waiter who quite clearly wins the "worst ever" award in my books. He seemed to spend lapses in service making unwelcome remarks and inappropriate gestures to my rather attractive friend while describing the oyster special that evening. He also spent some time performing the "pulling tea" trick with his water jug and a glass behind our backs, trying to project the image of a multi-talented Lothario, who somehow ended up waiting at tables instead of pursuing his true calling at the circus.

I ordered an oxtail starter, which was pretty bad. The meat had been picked off the bone, which I would rather not have done but I don't count it as a fault, but the meat, which you would expect to be gently chewy, gelatinous etc etc after many hours slow-cooking, had numerous hard corners and edges to it which made it unpalatable. Other members of my party tasted it and came to the same conclusion.

I asked the "waiter" in the politest possible way, not that he deserved the courtesy, to please remove the dish as it was poorly done. He does this, comes back and tells me "Chef XXX has tasted the dish and he sees nothing wrong with it. However, we will take it off the bill. I should let you know, sir, that we have had seventeen covers order the oxtail this evening and we have not had a single complaint except for yours."

At this point, I lose it. I have been eating good oxtail all my life and resent this bastard who questions my judgment. So I tell him "Well, obviously you have had seventeen covers who have never had good oxtail before." Chastened, he retreats to the kitchen, and service actually picks up from that point on. But for me, the night is well and truly lost. I scarf my replacement scallop dish (ordinary) and ask for the tab. True to his word, the oxtail does not appear on the bill, I walk out the door for KFC and never return to the restaurant again.

Politeness to a point is necessary, but there are times when you have picked a dog of a restaurant or waiter and nothing polite or courteous you say is going to change things. This chap clearly didn't have any "personal problems" and clearly took delight in making a spectacle of himself.

Don't think I enjoyed this for a minute. I like to think that I treat my fellow humans with decency, but there comes a time when the aggrieved diner must take charge and tell the waiter where to put his attitude. If the consumer is paying, and paying handsomely, for a service, he is entitled to be taken seriously and to derive some satisfaction from it.

I would appreciate comments on this string of events, my conclusion and whether my reaction was justified in the circumstances.


Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink

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Julian, of course your reaction -- or a harsher one -- was justified! However, it was not necessarily the strategy most likely to be effective. There's only so much you can accomplish via direct interaction with your server. As soon as it becomes clear that your server is a dud, the next complaint should go to management. Just get up from the table like you're going to the bathroom, hunt down a manager and explain what's going on. Most of the time the manager is horrified to hear it and will take swift and decisive action. If not, there's always KFC.

Kent, way to go.

Pamela, readers (and iPod listeners, notebook computer users, etc.) are not looked upon as bad by waitstaff at all. It's just a question of interpreting signals: experienced servers assume that if you're reading a book or otherwise absorbed in a project then you want to be left alone to the greatest extent possible.

For my part, when I dine alone, I never pull out a book or anything like that. I converse extensively with the staff -- in most good restaurants, waitstaff know to give extra attention to solo diners who seem to want it -- and when I'm not doing that I'm either paying attention to my food, reading the wine list or scanning the room to see what's happening at the other tables. I guess there are some customers, women in particular, who use the book to avoid being hit on by waiters, but on the extremely rare occasion that I've been hit on by a waiter (or, even rarer still, a waitress) I've considered it a compliment. Some other folks, I think, use the book to avoid eye contact with other customers who might pity them for being alone, but if people stare at me I just stare back -- that usually fixes the situation, and it's fun!


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Recently, I was dining at a very upscale French restaurant with a friend. The restaurant was not busy (it was 5:00 PM, after work on a Wednesday) and we had a very friendly waiter. A VERY friendly waiter. He was obviously bored and told us every detail of his boring life. I hate to be rude and so I subtlely tried ignoring him, giving him quick, short answers and looking back to my food to let him know that I really didn't want to talk about his wife and baby. I wanted to visit with my friend and enjoy my meal. I was afraid to even ask him any questions about the food because that would just start him up talking again! Any idea as to how I could have handled this better without being downright rude?

Jean Blanchard

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"It was so nice talking to you. I wish we could talk all day. Unfortunately we've got to have a meeting right now. Thanks!"


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I just read this course, and enjoyed it. One of our great pleasures is eating at great restaurants; due to where we live, that mostly occurs on vacation (which are structured around places with great food and restaurants), though we go out at home too, less frequently.

Our first experience (a number of years ago) at a Michelin-starred restaurant turned out to be much less intimidating than we expected, because the staff was so kind and thoughtful.

We have, I think, reached the point - much earlier in life than I expected, given a busy life, house in suburban wasteland, two young kids, etc. - where we have become "regulars" at a extremely well-regarded restaurant in our area (long drive from our house). We didn't intend to become regulars there - we just love the place so much that we use any excuse to eat there, despite the distance. And, in retrospect, it's the sommelier/co-owner that gives the place its vibe. He recognized us on a recent visit (we've talked to him each time we've eaten there), and came over to acknowledge that he recognized us, even before we were seated, which led to a conversation about their recent staff trip to Europe and article about him in a recent industry mag. And we'd already been impressed that he (or someone!) remembered what wine we'd ordered on previous visits.

Anyway, we visited the restaurant again this week. We had indicated on our earlier visit that we were returning, soon, to celebrate a special occasion. And also, when I called the restaurant that day to ask a question, I mentioned in passing that we were celebrating a special occasion. When we arrived, we were disappointed to see that our "friend" (in quotes only because I wouldn't want to presume) was off that night. And the only acknowledgement of us or our special occasion was a comment from the waiter "I think some of you have been here before." (All of our group of 4 had been previously). The food (and the service) were both as fabulous as ever, it's just that, I thought, the extra something special was missing.

So, a two-part question. Specifically, what should one expect from a familiar restaurant when celebrating a special occasion? I wasn't fishing for a free dessert, but possibly congratulations from our server, or something like that (I mean, I'd been kind of starting to feel like family). And then secondly, what is the impact that a good person in the front of the house (or back) can provide - whether it's the maitre de', owner, chef, or in this case, a sommelier/co-owner with a lot of personality? I've been thinking about it a lot since our meal, and have decided one person like that can have a huge influence on the restaurant.

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Staff turnover in the restaurant business is rapid, and even the top executives of a restaurant have days off (or they open a second restaurant and disappear, or there's a falling out, etc.). Thus, it's always best to remember that the entity you're trying to cultivate is the restaurant and not one specific member of the staff. While it's always tempting and comfortable to ask, for example, to be served by the same captain on every visit, long-term it's best to establish multiple points of contact, learn as many names as possible and generally be known by the whole staff. That way, no matter when you show up, there will be someone there who will take care of you -- and once you achieve that level of insiderishness, the staff will usually engage in internal competition to see who can do the most for you. Needless to say, this is only a strategy you're going to want to use at a place where you visit several times a year over a period of years.

The other thing to bear in mind is that, while staff turnover is high, a lot of good servers stay in the industry for a long time -- and usually in the same general location. Very often the best servers focus on hot, new restaurants. There are guys in New York who I know from now-closed restaurants like Lespinasse who are constantly popping up at whatever the latest three- or four-star contender is. Once you have that network established, you can often walk in to a brand-new place where you've never been before and get treated like family right away.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Speaking of going back to favorite restaurants, how do you balance trying new places with sticking to old favorites?

That is, given a limited number of dinners out, it's tempting for me to always go to one of a few places where I'm known, the food is good, etc. I like trying new places, but given the expense, if I have mediocre food -- or worse, mediocre service -- then I kick myself for just not sticking with a known quantity.

On the other hand, my old favorites were once new, so I know it's not impossible to expand my list. And I feel sort of parochial that I don't know more restaurants, especially in a city like San Francisco (where I live), which has great restaurants in every neighborhood.

How do you balance the two?


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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Restaurants can be new in two ways: new as in newly opened, and new as in new to you.

My feeling is that unless you're rich or a member of the food press, you should generally avoid newly opened restaurants. By newly opened I mean less than a year old. It really does take a full year or more for most restaurants to hit their strides -- and a lot of them don't even last the year, so you'll be none the worse for having stayed away.

In terms of visiting restaurants that are new to you, by the time a restaurant has been in business for a year, you should be able to make an informed decision about whether or not to put the place on your short list of places to try. All the professional reviews will be in, there will be online commentary, word-of-mouth, etc.

Then the question becomes what ratio of familiar to untried restaurants will work for you. There are no hard-and-fast rules here. I think it's important to do both, but some people are going to prefer a different mix. I have a friend who almost always goes to familiar restaurants but, once a month, he goes with the same group of three friends and they always try a new (to the group) restaurant. They almost always go for lunch, which is a great way to test a new place because the financial commitment/risk is reduced. What I'd definitely recommend against is ever trying a new (newly opened or new to you) restaurant for an important meal -- kind of like how you shouldn't cook a new recipe for a dinner party.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Fine essay... sometimes it's refreshing to have what would seem common sense to be spelled out. Dining can be intimidating, indeed!

This question is slightly related... but considering your expertise (and the fact that you mentioned wrangling children in the article), I figured it may be appropriate.

What is the etiquette of dining out with children? I have a two year old and with him, there is always a certain amount of chatter and debris. The last thing I'd like to do is disturb other guests... but, eating out at just Mexican and Pho gets a little tiresome. Unfortunately, due to our monetary restraints, a babysitter is very very rare. (It's a choice between a good meal with the lad, or a cheap meal without). I try to make fairly elaborate meals at home... and I just want the same done for me at least once every week or two!

There is a wealth of "kid friendly dining" suggestions out there... but sometimes I want to try some of the general suggestions I see mentioned in eG! I live in a great food city now and I want to make the most of it.

He is generally an exceptionally well behaved boy, but like any toddler, he has his moments (although we can pre-gauge him well enough to know whether or not we should cancel all together). However, where should one draw the line on where they take a small child? What are the best clues?

Do you have any tips on how the make the most of your dining experience with a special customer in tow? And I don't mean by the staff catering to him at all, necessarily.

Thanks!

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I'm just learning the ropes myself. Our only child turned one today, so my only serious experience pertains to dining out with a baby -- which in many ways is easier (if the stork brings you the right baby) than dining out with a toddler who can walk, talk, scream and throw stuff. I think you just have to use your judgment (one good rule of thumb: if the restaurant has high chairs and booster seats, you should feel totally comfortable bringing a young child), follow the Golden Rule, etc. For us, that has meant that we've definitely dropped down a level of dining for meals where we don't have babysitting. For the past year we've been choosing mostly really good but essentially casual places with plenty of background noise. Once we had to bail out mid-meal because the baby was melting down. I suppose the people at the next table were inconvenienced during the five minutes it took us to extract ourselves from the restaurant while the baby was screaming, and I guess I feel a little bad for them, but, you know, we're propagating the damn human race and doing the best we can. The other 100 or so times we've taken him out to eat it has been without incident. Last night we were at a place and he was waving to everybody in the room and they were all waving back.

Oh, and it always helps to have your kid wear an eGullet Society infant/toddler tee-shirt. It lets people know the family is serious about dining:

gallery_3085_3027_9828.jpg

Beyond that, I don't really think I have anything brilliant to add to the already extensive eG Forums discussion we've had on this issue.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The shameless plug for the eG t-shirts gave me quite a laugh and your adorable child is a very good model.

I understand that is eCGI class is about how diners can take charge of

their restaurant experience, however, your book IS called "Turning the

Tables", so I would be interested in your advice to restaurateurs.

What are the top five (or ten) things that you, as an experienced

diner, want to find in a restaurant?


Pamela Fanstill aka "PamelaF"

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