Motivations for dining out range from simply not having anything to eat at home to impressing a date or making a wedding proposal. Come to think of it, more than holding special occasions at home, restaurants are the venue for life’s many celebrations–from first dates, engagement parties, wedding receptions, baby showers and anniversaries. Even everyday situations oftentimes involve dining out–a quick breakfast at a neighborhood coffee shop before rushing to the office, busy working lunches and weekend brunches with loved ones at a family restaurant.
Regardless of the occasion, there is a level of expectation that needs to be met wherever a meal is consumed. Since eating out can be expensive, naturally one wants to have an exceptional experience. One shouldn’t expect a fine dining meal in a fast food joint but should at least receive the minimum “hot food served hot and cold food served cold” in a timely and professional manner.
Quality restaurants should provide a pleasing overall dining experience from the food (a good selection of appetizers, main courses to desserts and beverages) to service (fast, timely, accurate and professional) to ambiance. It is virtually impossible to be perfect 100% of the time but if a restaurant is always out of several of its dishes, then it’s time to bring this to management’s attention. The same goes for delayed service when the restaurant’s not even full. There are standards for the service staff to the number of covers depending on the level of service–a fine dining establishment has a smaller ratio compared to a self service or casual dining restaurant. The wait staff should be friendly, courteous and fully conversant with the entire menu selection and be able to make appropriate recommendations.
Another positive indication is that food and service is not compromised even when it is busy. Other factors that seem trivial but are important in creating a positive impression are the spacing of the tables, the acoustics, music, decor.
Value for money is an all important factor to consider as this ups the ante in overall expectation the more expensive a meal is. This is the justification for snooty establishments with sky rocketing prices and a long reservation list. They can command high prices as long as they meet and exceed expectations for using the best ingredients; hiring the most seasoned chefs, service staff complete with receptionists, supervisors, managers and sommeliers; using the finest table ware; thereby providing a memorable dining experience.