I take restauranting very seriously. Some people think it just consists of walking into a restaurant, choosing something from the menu, eating it, paying for it, and leaving. But that is how amateurs do it. If you want to go pro, more needs to be done. Good restauranting begins way before you even enter an eatery. Like any sport, you need to train before you play. The training here consists of gathering all the information you can on this restaurant.
My restauranting begins with the downloading of the menu and the careful studying of said menu. I read the menu like a good novel, using my imagination to mentally create the described dishes and conceptualize what they would taste like. After reading each category, I begin by eliminating the options I am sure I do not want to order. This leaves me with the ‘definitely want to try items’. I found eliminating what I don’t want first is easier than trying to decide outright what I do want to try.
The next thing I do is look up pictures of both the food and the interior. The decor of the restaurant can say a lot about the place. One thing I do look at is lighting. Capturing my food in pictures and videos is very important to me and do so in a poorly lit restaurant is the bane of my existence. Stop rolling your eyes, you know you feel the same. FYI: I opt for lunches at dimly lit places. Looking up pictures of the dishes they offer allows me to estimate portion sizes as well as plating. This helps determine, for example, how many appetizers will be ordered. The last thing I look up are the reviews. In all honesty, I rarely read specific review before I try a restaurant for the first time. I mostly look up star ratings and out of how many. That gives me a general idea, which is all I need at this stage of the game, or should I say training session.
Once in the restaurant, at the table, with a menu in my hand, it’s game time. I reread the menu to see if there have been any addition or substitutions. It is very important to listen to the specials of the day, they might be better then the actual menu. Having done my prep work, I know more or less how many dishes need to be ordered to achieve the proper amount of fullness. It is important at this early stage to decide whether dessert will be attempted. If there is a dessert worthy of my appetite, I have to allocate some precious stomach real-estate. I’m not the ‘ask the waiter for suggestions’ type of person, but if they decide to give their recommendations, I will factor them into my final decisions making. One must not be so arrogant as to think they know it all.
If my dining partners would allow me to do all the choosing, they would be so much better off. I am the menu-whisperer. But I can’t come out and say this to their faces; so I have been told repeatedly. So I suggest my choices and try to insist, as least aggressively as possible, that we go with my instinct. I’m usually always right, another thing I have been informed that people don’t like to hear.
Now you would think that after you have paid and started the digestion process, that your restauranting is over. There still remains the assessment of the experience. In other words, would I add this restaurant to my list of go-to restaurants? Was what was ordered sufficient or too much? What could have made the experience better and do I have any control over that? You might think I am taking this too seriously, that is because you are an amateur and you will never go pro!
Sorry, I didn’t mean to snap at you, it’s just that I am right and you are wrong. Long story short, if restauranting was a sport in the Olympics I would be a multiple cold medalist by now.
In the picture above is the aligot I ate in paris at Ambassade d’Auvergne.