What Makes The Perfect Dining Experience?

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    Nov 13, 2012
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What makes a restaurant really work for the diner? A place where you are going to stop off and get a quick lunch just needs to be clean, have good service, reasonable value and tasty food. But a restaurant where you're going to have what might be called a dining experience, well, that has to have a bit more going for it.

Of course there are many styles of restaurant. A noisy Chinese establishment where none of the staff seem to have a volume control, the tables have plastic cloths and the kids are doing their homework in the corner may well serve up the most divine food, and the atmosphere may just be part of the fun. But on the whole, when we are going out to have a nice dinner, we are looking for an all round pleasing experience which doesn't include listening to Auntie helping the kids with their long division.

So, what should a great restaurant offer? Well of course, above and beyond anything, wonderful food. And for me that means a short menu. No more than five appetizers, five entrees and five deserts. Any more, and I start to get suspicious that I am being fed out of the freezer. (Ethnic restaurants can get away with more items as they are often cooking using very fast methods.) I want to know that the chef was out this morning sourcing what I'm eating this evening. And I don't want to see a single thing on there describing itself as fresh which is actually out of season locally.

Descriptions should be clear and simple. I don't want to eat a dawn fresh, dew spangled mushroom, what does that mean anyway? Please tell me it's an organic chestnut mushroom from Dave's Farm down the road, but don't give me any flim flam.

Once past the menu, then the room itself. Linen should be clean and crisp, and yes, I want a large linen napkin as I am a messy eater and I am wearing my good clothes. Décor can be whatever seems right, but it should be clean and dusted. I don't want to spend the evening looking at a grubby china shepherdess in an alcove.

Music, well, I'm happy with a little modern jazz or light classical but it must be very, very quiet. Just enough to act as a background. I don't want to listen to your vintage Buddy Holly collection or a trumpet voluntary, at least, not when I'm eating.

Wine should be available by the (large) glass. With drunk driving a serious issue, I would rather drink a glass of something very good than risk going over the limit by finishing a bottle of something fairly bad, just because I paid for it.

Service should be attentive, and well paced. I want olives and home made bread on the table as soon as I sit down, along with olive oil and unsalted butter. That way I don't mind waiting for the courses to turn up. Fill the bread basket when it's empty. I'm not a stick insect. Allow us time to finish, don't hurry us, but clear that plate as soon as it's obvious it's done with. Ask us once only during the meal if all is well. When the food comes, I want it on the correct temperature plate.

At the end of an evening in a restaurant which obeys all these rules, I am not going to complain at a large bill, and there will be a hearty tip to go with it. Just in case anyone is interested, my favorite restaurant in the whole world is Yetman's, owned by Peter and Alison Yetman in Holt, Norfolk, England. They obey all these rules and more.

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Virginia Montgomery is a stay at home mom who enjoys writing articles for Interesting Articles.


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