“The Art of Eating Out”

We may be moving away from rigid rules and restrictions regarding most aspects of life, but when it comes to eating out, a few guidelines may just be the ticket to a better experience for all. After all, social gatherings do call for some rules or etiquette.

Since we tend to think as customers, we do not pay much attention to any inconveniences that restaurants and cafes may face due to our actions. For instance if, after making able reservations, we are very late, the restaurant will have to juggle a bit to accommodate us when we do turn up, which may also have an impact on their other customers.

Good service is something we all expect, but spare a thought to the countless times the waiting staff are faced with unnecessary rudeness from customers, often just because we don’t know any better. Let’s be clear on this, the term ‘ordering food’ refers to the food, not to staff being ordered around. I agree that service is not great at every place and that it can be hard to attract the attention of staff, but don’t you think that snapping or whistling at them is demeaning?

Getting distracted by our own chit-chat often means that we do not order our food for ages. And then of course, we complain that it takes too long. Make a point of ordering first, you have the whole meal to catch up with friends.

When ordering dishes to be shared amongst everyone, be considerate of others’ preferences. Most restaurants are very helpful with determining the quantities you would need, so discuss with the waiting staff. Cafes and restaurants are also very accommodating with special requests, so ask for less sugar in your drink, or for more dressing with your salad, if you like. Spicier, less spicy, cut chilies, all these are common requests these days.

When eating with family or friends, do you try food from others’ plates? And invite others to do the same? Some people are fine with this, but ask, just to be safe.

Bad experiences with food. We’ve all had these, but believe me, telling the staff politely, instead of making a song and dance about it, works better. It’s perfectly acceptable to send it back, and most places would offer you a replacement.

Getting together for a meal with a big group, of course there’s bound to be loud chatter and even louder laughter. But if you see people at other tables staring, it may be time to tone it down. Anyhow, laughter or not, steer clear of ‘bathroom humour’.

These are some views shared by most of us, and they are unfortunately quite negative. Perhaps it is high time we all made more of an effort to create more positive experiences.

Words by Fasah Ahmed