The Problem-Solving Guide to Restaurants
Ask for Help
Problem: The air-conditioning is blasting; youre freezing.
Solution: We know that all seats arent created equal when it comes to A/C, says Hanson. So if youre not comfortable, let us know. Dont be disparaging; just explain that youre shivering. The restaurant should quickly figure out a way to warm you up without overheating the other diners. At Le Français, this may mean changing your table. Or if youre female, it may mean bringing you a shawl to drape around your shoulders. But few restaurants will lower the thermostat for one diner and risk making the others hot. And you shouldnt expect them to.
Problem: So many menu options, so little time. Where should you begin?
Solution: First, know the following: The top and bottom items on menus are usually things restaurants want to sell a lot of (theyre getting a good cost-to-price ratio on them, says LaBan); the specials often include savory items the chef has plucked at the farmers market or fish store and is eager to cook with; signature dishes are what the chef is known for (they are usually marked as such on the menu); and tasting menus (which generally consist of six to seven mini dishes and matching wines) are the best way to enjoy the full range of a chefs work. That said, if youre still clueless, ask for the waiters recommendation, but avoid questions like Is the trout good? says Philippa Rizopoulos, who waited tables at New Yorks beloved French oasis Tartine for four years. Instead, give the waiter a framework: Im in the mood for fish. Any suggestions? or The pasta looks amazing. Can you recommend two or three?