By Katie East
Unfortunately, there’s not an etiquette course on ordering at a restaurant. Sure, there will always be hotel concierges giving fork lessons to whores like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. But, there needs to be a modern day how-to on the ordering process. Some of you diners are making it awkward at the table.
The most important rule: sharing is caring. Never be stingy when it comes to offering bites to a friend. No one is going to fault you for not wanting to swap spoons/saliva, but putting a little piece on someone’s plate is a necessity. You totally look like a jerk if you refuse. I don’t care if you’re an only child or have boundary issues; sharing is a must when enjoying a meal with loved ones.
I like for everyone to talk about what they’re ordering before the meal. It’s a fun little restaurant ritual that offers me great pleasure. Ordering redundancy is something I simply don’t tolerate when out to eat. In a group of four or less, two people should never order the same thing. First of all, what about sharing? We just went over that!
Also, double ordering just gives you a bad cross section of the menu to critique. If everyone ordered the fish then how can you know if anything else at the restaurant is any good? The only exception to this rule is when at a steakhouse, and you damn well better get a variety of sides to split. Family style 4 life!
If you want to take sharing to the next level, try going splitsies. That’s what I call ordering two different entrees and splitting them with a friend. You get to try two different meals for the price of one! Throw some appetizers in there, and you have a bonafide smorgasbord.
I don’t eat out as much as I used to, and I find it difficult to choose just one thing when I do. Splitsies offers a better chance that you’ll really love what you’re eating. Plus, it’s a fun bonding experience with whomever you’re sharing with. “We both don’t like tomatoes? Interesting!” You might even try something new that fits their tastebuds and end up loving it.
If splitsies isn’t an option, the plethora of entrees can be somewhat overwhelming. If too many dishes look delicious, then ordering anxiety can creep up. You ever look at the menu for twenty minutes, slowly calculating what two items to choose between? Then, at the last minute, you go rogue and ordering burger.
When experiencing ordering anxiety, I always play server’s favorite. That’s where I ask the server to choose between two dishes I’m interested in. Asking him or her something specific gets them out of their stock favorite dish answer.
It’s usually pretty easy to tell which dish you want to eat more after hearing their explanation. And, if you hate your food, you can always blame the server later. I’d much rather get mentally mad at an outside party than at myself for not ordering something awesome.
Warning: sometimes servers get super pumped about what they like and forget your original question. For instance, if you ask about the tuna tacos and the server talks about the kale that comes with the tuna steak, you might end up with an awkward moment when you have to return the wrong dish.
“But…the tacos didn’t come with the kale though.” Lay off the leafy greens, bro. You might have over stimulated your brain into only being able to talk about kale.
I’m not innocent when it comes to imposing an order on someone. Don’t order chicken fingers if you’re over 10 years old and you want to dine with me. I literally will not allow it from any of my friends unless we are at Raising Cane’s.
Your ass better branch out a bit. You don’t have to spring for the kale salad, but a restaurant should make you try something new, not reinforce the poor eating habits you developed as a child.
Of course, dining out should always be enjoyable. As rarely as I go out to eat I really want to enjoy the experience. No one wants to go home pissed off that they wasted money on gross food. Following this dining formula will usually get you a good meal that lasts longer in your memory than just in your stomach.