People who often go to restaurants like Alinea and Applebee’s know that there’s some thought that goes into ordering. There’s knowing how to pre-dinner cocktails, and there’s also the matter of choosing meal courses and ordering the correct wine for your meal.
Frequent restaurant-goers know how important it is to have already made their choice of dishes by the time the server goes to their table to take orders. You don’t want to keep the server waiting while you make up your mind because other people are waiting for their turn as well.
So once you’re ready to order you close the menu as this will signal the server that you’re ready. Then if you’re dining with a group and you would like separate checks, be sure to inform your server before they get your orders.
This information must never be given at the end of the meal. That’s because doing so slows down service not just for your table but also for everyone else because they will have to spend time preparing your separate checks.
Ordering Your Drinks
If you want to order your drink but everyone in your group hasn’t arrived yet, it’s OK. Those who will arrive late can order their drinks when they get there. Now if there’s a host, you should wait for them to ask the guests what drinks they want to get.
You may have a few questions when it comes to ordering food, such as:
- Should I order the same number of courses as the others on my table?
- When should I order?
- What should I order?
When you’re going Dutch, you can order pretty much whatever you want. For example, if someone orders an appetizer, you don’t have to order one for yourself. If you want a bread basket or a glass of wine, feel free to order these items.
But if it’s a hosted meal, again, you leave it to the host to order for everyone unless they urge you to order whatever you like. As a courtesy to them however, you shouldn’t order the most expensive items on the menu.
Other things to note when it comes to ordering food are:
If you have already narrowed down your choices, you can ask the server which dish/dishes they can recommend. They may enumerate their daily specials, and it’s OK to ask the cost of the dishes.
If the servings are huge, you can tell the server that you’d like to share your order with the group (BTW you should tip generously if ordering food for sharing as they have to deal with extra plates and utensils).
If you want a leisurely conversation while enjoying your meal, order dishes that you can eat with ease. Lobster, pastas and unboned fish may be messy and may be inconvenient to eat when chatting. Also try not to order food you’re not familiar with when you’re with a group.
Dinner wine should be ordered after you’ve ordered your dishes. You can pick a wine that goes best with the most number of dishes you’re ordering.
The server will bring an unopened bottle of wine to the table and will show it to the person who ordered. They will then uncorks the bottle and pour a bit of wine into your glass. You’ll need to sniff this and then take a sip. If you’re ok with it, you say “that’s fine.” If something’s off, you tell the server.
Red wine glasses are usually filled half-way, while white wine glasses are filled three-quarters full.
Here’s a tutorial on how to order wine: