Eating Out - Ten Things That Make a Good Restaurant

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Many of us enjoy eating out, but what really makes for a memorable dining experience? Of course the food must be top priority – after all, we are there to eat - but what are the other factors that make a restaurant stand out from the competition?

1. First Impressions
The moment you step in the door, the restaurant begins to make an impression on you. Can you see the tables or is it dark and gloomy? Food always seem to be more enjoyable if you have natural lighting

2. Ambience
You’re in! Now, take a look around. Are you deafened by the music? Are you so close to the next table that you are forced to listen in to the conversation – whether you want to or not? Are you freezing, or too hot? The important thing is to be comfortable and relaxed.

3. Keep It Simple!
The décor should be simple, but with little touches of originality. Beware of the restaurant that tries to distract you with overly pretentious décor.

4. How’s the Menu?
Menus are there so you can make a choice, so they should contain a good variety of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. Add good soup and a decent cheese board and you have a well-laid out menu that doesn’t need a language degree to decipher…

5. Waiter – Or Waiting?
Your waiter should do just that, not you. The waiter’s job is to make you comfortable, take your order – and explain the menu if necessary – and bring your food without fuss. When you’ve finished, the waiter should clear away unobtrusively.

6. Local Food
Fresh ingredients make a huge difference to what finally appears on your table – what better way to ensure this than using local produce? Why bring in frozen salmon from Scotland when there’s a good supply locally? Just because food is brought in from exotic places doesn’t necessarily make it better. Also, there’s nothing to beat the quality of some foods prepared in-house. Freshly baked bread, sauces and pasta made from scratch, instead of store bought stuff, make a world of difference.  Remember how good your Mum’s cooking tasted? That’s because it was cooked on the spot. At least my Mum’s was…

7. Too Much Or Not Enough
Your food is supposed to be a culinary delight, not a challenge. Some restaurants try to impress with tiny, prettily dressed portions looking lost and forlorn amidst vast expanses of white plate. Others go to the opposite extreme and fill as much as they can on the plate, regardless of the taste conflicts between masses of ingredients. The Swedes have a word – lagom – that means just right. That’s how your plate should look.

8. How About Some Wine with That?
A good restaurant will have a variety of wines available at both ends of the price scale. There’s as much skill involved in having a good selection of cheaper wines as those in the high range. And making the wine available by the glass – and not just the house red or white – is a bonus.

9. Room for Dessert
A good restaurant will have a wide selection of skilfully produced desserts, designed to delight and cleanse your palate. Many critics consider that the dessert is where the chef can truly express creativity and flair. .

10. Empty wallet
Obviously you don’t want to break the bank for a meal, but you should feel you’ve got value for money with your restaurant experience.  A good restaurant lives or dies not just on the quality of food, but also on the quality of service and should not impose a service charge. If you feel you have received excellent service, then by all means reward your waiter, but this should be your choice to make.

While we’re on the subject of food, how about all the food words that are so easily mispronounced? The majority of these come from languages other than English, so unless you’re a native of France, Italy or Greece, it’s easy to stumble over them. To help, here is a list of the 25 most commonly mispronounced words . Feel free to disagree – like food, it’s all a matter of taste!

Cabernet Sauvignoncabber-nay-so-vinyawn
Coq au vincok-aw-van
Gheeghee ('g' as in 'get')
Hors d'oeuvresawe-derve
Pad Thaipod thai
Pinot Noirpee-noh-nwahr
Worcestershire Saucewooster-saws






















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