Eating out can be a bit of a minefield.
And t here’s nothing worse than having a bad meal when you’ve been dreaming about it since you woke up.
Sometimes the food was undercooked, off the menu or cold.
Unfortunately, we’ve all been there.
But a restaurant inspector has revealed some of their best tips to help you dodge such situations in the future., 2Chill reports.
They said: “I ’m fully aware of how lucky I am to have this job, which has taken me all over the UK in search of fabulous food. I’ve had the best, and the most expensive, meals of my life along the way – and interestingly, the correlation between “best” and “expensive” is not as tight as you might think.
“I’ve also had some dismal experiences, worthy of Fawlty Towers.
“I’ve struggled with my weight, and probably downed more wine than was strictly necessary, but I’ve had the thrill of discovering amazing restaurants tucked down country lanes, in cities, on beaches and on loch edges in the wildest reaches of Scotland.
“I’ve often taken members of my family along for the ride, turning up at fancy hotels in a battered camper van and still being treated like royalty; all in all, it’s been the most delicious journey, and one that has informed my recreational eating too.”
After 20 years anonymously checking out the UK’s best restaurants, this is what they’ve learnt.
There’s a time and a place for chain restaurants, and some of them are excellent, but there’s a real thrill to discovering a true one-off.
Broadly speaking, it’s also more likely there will be less corner-cutting and fewer bought-in or mass-produced items in the kitchen.
Independent restaurants need your support now more than ever. They deliver variety and true personality, and there’s something special about knowing you won’t find the same restaurant with the same dishes in every city.
In my experience, the restaurants where staff lack warmth, take ages to greet or serve you or generally seem a bit “off” are usually bad all the way through. Rarely do you find a great kitchen behind a shoddy front of house operation.
I’ve walked out of restaurants where I’ve received a particularly poor welcome or been ignored for too long when I’m waiting to place my order.
Having said that, don’t throw your weight around or be rude. Working front-of-house is challenging, and I’ve seen too many customers use their position as a chance to be bullying or make unreasonable demands. So show empathy, be kind, and leave a tip if your waiters have earned it.
I’ve had to ask a huge amount of questions over the years, because even an experienced inspector can’t always identify every ingredient and technique has been used to make a dish.
Asking questions really heightens your enjoyment of your meal; it means that you slow down and savour each element, understanding what you’re eating and appreciating the work that went into creating it.
Don’t be shy about asking: a good restaurant will make sure its staff have sampled everything and know how to discuss the food with diners.
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I’ve seen pompous customers insist on ordering wines that don’t go with their food just because they want to show off their supposed knowledge of wines.
For my part, I’ve often stuck with the house wine simply because I’m on a budget. But if you want a glass of wine and really want to enjoy your food at its best, ask the waiter or sommelier what would go best with what you’ve ordered.
The right wine will truly elevate the whole eating experience. Yes, it may cost a bit more, but trust me – it’s worth it (and you can always ask the sommelier for recommendations within your budget – they’ll understand).