Think you know how to eat at a restaurant? OK, so it's not particularly complicated… enter, order, eat, pay, then leave. Of course, there's a difference between merely eating at restaurants and being a good customer, and better customers will usually receive better customer service. You'll also enjoy your dining experience more if you're realistic about what a restaurant can and can't do. So what are some tasty tricks for being an exemplary eater?
Running Late? Don't Assume They'll Wait
Don't expect a restaurant to hold your table if you're late for your reservation without letting them know. If you're likely to be more than five minutes late, make a quick call to let them know, otherwise that table might have been given to someone else by the time you arrive. You're probably there for a social occasion, but a restaurant is a business, and you can't expect them to wait patiently for the pleasure of your company.
Make Up Your Mind, Kid!
Dining with children? Your waiter or waitress might be standing there with a smile on their face, and yet they probably don't find it delightful when your child reads everything on the menu aloud. You know what your child is likely to enjoy, and time is a factor, so perhaps order for the younger members of your family. After all, you're the one paying for it!
Snap Out Of It
Don't snap your fingers at a waiter or waitress. It's not funny, and can be rather demeaning. Some people would hesitate to do this to a pet, so it's really not nice to do it to a person doing their job. Waiters and waitresses instinctively scan the room to check to see if a customer needs attention, but if they don't happen to see you, a polite "excuse me" will do the trick.
On The Menu/Off The Menu
Not all restaurants allow you to order something that's not on the menu. Their preparation process might not accommodate this, or the chef might not be in the mood for the extra work. If you need a slight amendment to something on the menu due to a dietary requirement, this is fine. It's generally no problem for your meal to be prepared using less salt, but you also need to be realistic. It's not so easy for the kitchen to make a pizza that's the same as the one on the menu, only with vegan ingredients.
Sometimes Waiting Is Best
Want to eat your meal at the same time as your companions? You might need to mention this to the serving staff. Many restaurants will bring a meal as soon as it's ready, and while this is usually a good thing, it can make the whole meal uneven. You might be wondering how you could lick your empty plate without being seen while your friend's plate hasn't yet arrived on the table. Ask your waiter or waitress to bring all meals at the same time, and they will. You're happy, and so the serving staff are happy. One or two of your table's meals might need to sit under a heat lamp for a brief period, but this doesn't really detract from the dining experience.
A Top Tip?
A number of restaurants include a section on their bills for you to add a tip, and you might think this is aimed at foreign visitors. Tipping isn't standard in Australia, but if your waitress or waiter has done a fantastic job, then it can be a lovely and unexpected way to show your appreciation. Having said that, it can be gratifying to live in Australia where hospitality staff are paid enough to live on, and don't need to rely upon the whims of their customers.
Most restaurants are doing their best to provide you with good food and service, and you can repay them by being a good customer. Of course, you'll actually need to pay them with money as well… Even the nicest of restaurant staff are quite strict about this! To show off your good restaurant etiquette, visit an eatery like Currambine Bar & Bistro.