Lets resolve to enjoy eating out more in 2013. Here are my tips:
• Be a mensch: A crack in your wine glass should get you a fresh pour in a different bowl, not a free drink. Dont treat every restaurant slip as a chance to get more than you ordered.
• Show up on time: When youre seriously late, you inconvenience more people than you might realize: the hostess, the server, the diners scheduled for the table after you. The president can speed through town without stopping for red lights and other traffic. You cant. Plan accordingly.
• Leave the attitude at home: Dont bring your bad day at the office or the fight with your kids into the restaurant. Make an effort to enjoy the occasion.
• Dress for the occasion: No one expects you to put on a tie and jacket for a night of beer and barbecue, but you might want to dig deeper into your closet for a venue where celebrations are frequent or formality is observed. Youll blend in better. Plus, youll make the folks around you, who have taken the time to iron a shirt and press some slacks and maybe hire a babysitter, feel as if their hard-earned money is being spent at the right place. Dressing up a little isnt showing off. Its showing respect for the restaurant and for others around you.
• Save the grooming for a private place: Do not file your nails, floss your teeth or change a babys diaper in a public dining room. (Ive seen all three. None whets the appetite.) Restaurants have areas called restrooms where personal grooming is better undertaken. And while were on the subject, putting your feet, bare or covered, on the seat of another chair is a turn-off, too. This isnt your living room. Its shared space. Pretend Miss Manners is dining with you.
• Dont hog the table: If its a busy weekend and youve paid the bill, be a chum and make way for the next party. Or at least dont linger beyond 10 minutes. The industry has a name for those who dont know when to say goodbye: campers.
• Speak up! Waiters arent mind-readers. If your wine is too warm, your fish is too cold or you just discovered there are peanuts where you didnt expect (and dont want) them, thats the moment to share the news with the restaurant (and in a pleasant tone). It doesnt do anyone any good to complain about the issue afterward. Give the restaurant a chance to recover and perhaps even impress you.
• Acknowledge the staff: If youve enjoyed your experience, tell the server and his or her manager. And remember that busboys, coat checkers, valet parkers and bartenders all contribute to a meal away from home, too. Few of us tire of hearing thank you.