When you visit a good restaurant you will know it, and of course visiting a bad one isn’t’ just about bad food.
Part of the fun of dining out is the pleasure of company. I don’t want to feel pressured into eating or drinking quickly. I want time to enjoy my food, drink and company.
A busy restaurant is a good sign, freshly prepared food, an atmosphere and hopefully attentive staff.
Service is another main point. I’d like to be served when needed not waiting about continually trying to catch their eye. I also don’t want to be fending them off and trying to get peace to enjoy my meal! I’ve also been in places where the owner has decided that he loves me, has known me for years and is his best friend, not a good move.
I like to ask friends, look online to see what others are tweeting about and sometimes its just the decision that the place looks good. There is that magical thing that pulls me inside. If only they could bottle it, I would sell it to restaurants and retire a happy, rich woman.
When visiting abroad I utilise travel forums, local guides as well as popping a question or two onto review boards. Personal recommendation always sways me a little bit more than a publication with an advert in it. If somewhere is busy, especially with locals, I see this as a good sign.
Affordability is another key point. There really is not point in having a great restaurant if no one can afford to visit you.
Things which put me off are:-
- huge menus in small restaurants – is this bought in? Frozen? Microwaved? Too much range and not enough taste comes to mind.
- far too many tables crowded into a small space. I don’t really want to hear every piece of conversation from the next table.
- laminated menus, makes me think that they don’t change their menu often and don’t utilise seasonal produce.
- staff who buzz around aimlessly. Either around all the time or they appear non existent when you need one.
Things that make me smile:-
- Fresh, seasonal food prepared with passion
- attentive, well trained staff
- space to enjoy my food
- time to enjoy my food, drink and company