Too many people are intimidated when they dine out.
Intimidated by the menu. Intimidated by the wine list. Intimidated by the server. But it shouldn’t be that way. Without customers, restaurants would be out of business. So, we need to take control of the dining-out experience, and toward that end, we offer four restaurant rules.
(Note: If you can remember only one of these rules, make it No. 1.)
1. You’re the boss. You are paying for a service that should include good food served in a timely manner by friendly people. This does not give you a free pass to send back a dish just because it’s not to your taste or to abuse the wait staff, but it does entitle you to be treated courteously and to be served a well-prepared meal. So, be assertive… but be polite.
2. Ask for help. The right wine can transform a nice meal into a memorable culinary experience. The sommelier or wine steward should be trained to suggest wines that complement the dishes.
3. Be specific. Don’t be shy about giving the sommelier a price range for the wine being selected. It’s not a crime to watch your nickels and dimes. If you want to spend no more than $50 on a bottle, let that be known.
4. Be brave. It would be the easiest thing in the world to cocoon yourself in your comfort zone, ordering Chardonnay with the chicken breast and Cabernet with the steak. But dining out provides opportunities to widen your horizons and to discover new food-and-wine pairing possibilities. Thai or Tex-Mex? Try Riesling or Gewurztraminer. Seafood? Try Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. And never be afraid to simply match country with cuisine — an Italian wine with Italian fare, for example.
Dining out should be fun. You can assure that it is by taking control of the experience.