Awkward situations at restaurants make me cringe. Especially that time I did not like my food but didn’t know how to send it back. So I toyed around with it until the dinner was done. Then made myself a ham sandwich at home. *Cries in hunger.*

So I’m here today to tell you, you don’t have to feel alone. There’s many like you and I in the world. Only that one of us chose to share a way out of this rabbit hole.

1. If it takes it, make it.

If the restaurant takes reservations. It is in your best interests to make one. Especially on rush hour nights like Friday an Saturday night. This avoids you shuffling and getting impatient which may take away from your dining experience. Apps like Yelp, Open Table are very interactive for this. As well, try not to inconvenience the establishment. Be on time. Perhaps even 10 minutes early. If you are running late, call in at least half an hour before. And if you are not gong to make it, give at least 12-24 hour notice. Think ratios.

2. Napkins and cutlery

Normally, napkins take up a great deal of space on a restaurant table. So as soon as  everyone is seated, that is the best time to unwrap your napkin and place on your lap. Making room for drinks and awkward conversation. Tempting as it may be to wave the flag of America, do not do it.

Similarly, try and learn what cutlery to use for your courses. But don’t fuss over it too much. It makes the entire ordeal harder than it needs to be. Ask for more or less as needed. Just be sure to not overwhelm your Cameriere. Ref to no 4.

3.  When in doubt, ask.

I personally tend to peek through the menu before I go to a restaurant. This way I know what to expect. And this way do not take 30 minutes trying to decipher the menu. Many restaurants will give ample time to order anyway and other establishments may explain the menu specials to you.

Some restaurants change their menu regularly, and you need to be sure that what you think the meal is, is what you’ll get. So ask. And avoid my awkward situation above. The reverse is true. Even if you already know the menu by heart, be still and listen.

4. Pardon Monsieur

Be kind to your server. More often than not, they are doing the best they can. And more often than not, your tinder date is making a report card. Of course there will be outliers. Like the servers who are rude and take your order as if you refused to refinance their mortgage. In which case let it reflect in the tip. Not on your tongue. ‘Please’, ‘thank you’, ‘when you get a chance’ are all very appreciated. Make mama proud.

Things to consider when tipping:

1.Your server’s attitude and demeanor.

2. Your attitude and demeanor.

5. Bartenders are great listeners.

If you made a reservation (or not) and your table is still being worked on, grab a drink by the bar as you wait. There is usually a space for you whether seated or standing. Best that could happen, the drinks lighten you and your companion’s mood for the night. Worst, you have to forgo appetizers to make up for the budget change.

Which brings me to the next part, which I only learned this restaurant week. If your dinner ends in the middle of dinner service, pay your bill and continue your conversation at the bar, freeing up space for other diners.

6. Pay-up Pal!

When paying the bill, it makes it easier for the server to know early enough that you will be splitting the check. Especially in large group settings. Unless dictated otherwise by predetermined dates, my partner and I go right down the middle. Yes he got two more drinks than I did. But I did get the appetizer AND the salad. The nitty gritty will work itself out in the comfort of the ride back home. Not while your waitress waits to cash in her tips.

Speaking of cashing in, sometimes it is end of service at the restaurant but you want to hang around. In this case, pay your bill THEN continue to pretend to listen to your companion. Or better yet, ref to no. 5. Your server will thank you for it.

Stay tuned for part 2.