We all love to eat. But let’s face it: If you want to be a real gourmet, in search of ever higher culinary experiences, there comes a time when you’ll have to venture into a gourmet restaurant. While that may seem intimidating at first, it’s totally worth it.
To help you find your way and avoid all sorts of pitfalls, I’ve compiled a few tips just for you. The thoughts gathered together here come both from head chefs and members of the waiting staff. Once you’ve read and memorized these recommendations, you’ll be sure to steer clear of any storm you may encounter – so you can simply enjoy your food.
3 tips from the chef de cuisine
1. Don’t skip the appetizer!
When eating in a gourmet restaurant, you are expected to order appetizers. Appetizers are meant to prepare your palate for the ultimate culinary experience. Think about it like a swimming lesson before diving the Great Barrier Reef.
2. Don’t ‘mix & match’
Famous chefs see themselves as artists. So it’s in good taste to treat their work like any other work of art. If it is meant to go with a purée, embrace it! Each dish is composed as a refined bouquet of tastes complementing each other. Go for the full experience!
3. Go big or go home
Don’t order half portions. Ever! As I mentioned before, what you have on your plate is a piece of culinary art. Would you ever want to see just half of the Mona Lisa?
7 tips from the waiting staff
4. Get to know what you are going to eat
Read the menu beforehand so you know what to expect. It might not be the best idea to order pike-perch in a restaurant famous for its seasoned organic beef. Gourmet restaurants don’t usually serve fried chicken, even if you might feel like having some.
5. Don’t forget to make a reservation
Gourmet restaurants tend to be full in the evenings. Book your table to ensure that you have your spot in the culinary paradise secured. Skip this part and you may be in for some disappointment.
6. Don’t play “musical chairs”
Once the host has shown you to your table, stay there – unless there are some real inconveniences. Swapping tables is extra work for your waiter. If you have any specific preferences regarding table orientation, it’s good practice to say so when making your reservation.
7. Don’t be offensive
There are three types of people in every restaurant: waiters, cooks and other guests. Be nice to all of them. Treat the waiters as if they were ambassadors of delight, not your servants. Don’t yell at them. They see you, really. Just make polite eye contact instead of waving your hand. Unless you are the Queen of England.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask
Whether it is about the food, the table utensils or the wine recommendation – those guys in white shirts are there to help you. There’s nothing wrong in asking questions. A professionally schooled staff will not make you feel awkward. They love their job and are always happy to take you on a journey through their realm.
9. Don’t forget the etiquette
There is a certain code of conduct when dining in a gourmet restaurant. If your table manners need a little brushing up, then it’s time to review the basics. Work through your table utensils from the side to centre (they are placed in a proper order), put that napkin on your lap while eating, do not talk with your mouth full. And don’t yell at the waiter!
10. Don’t skimp on tips
Tipping your waiters is the ultimate way to let them know that you appreciate their work. And – let’s be honest – the best way of saying “Thank you”. Unless it is considered offensive in your country, don’t skip the tip. In Poland, the average tip is equal to 10% of the value of the meal. But if you made your waiter walk an extra mile for your comfort, you may want to consider a more generous amount.
Now you’re definitely ready to explore and enjoy gourmet restaurants all over the world!