Informational Friday. I've attached some footage and pictures of mine with their respective restaurant locations (if applicable), in case any of you cared to visit these places ☺️
  1. Because free food.
    Hah, that was obnoxious of me; but yes, this does actually happen. Often referred to as "Compliments of the Chef."
  2. 1. First and foremost, be on time to your reservation
    This should be a given but set a good impression and start off on the right foot. Also, dress appropriately if there is a dress code! Keep a pair of heels or an extra suit jacket in your car to quickly throw on in these situations.
  3. 2. Comment on a specific part of the dish
    When the staff asks how you are enjoying your meal, instead of, "oh, it's good," try to compliment with something more tangible, like "the yuzu kosho added a nice subtlety that tied the meal together" or "the coffee grounds really amplified the taste of the venison." This will signal to your waiter that you appreciate the food prepared and you may be rewarded through the chain of command. Take the time to isolate the tastes/textures and you will find the commentary comes naturally.
  4. 3. Engage with your server
    They may have just been yelled at by their previous table or need someone to make their shift go by faster; you never know a person's situation, so make it enjoyable for them. Be kind; they value interaction, just like you. I always enjoy seeing the appreciation in their eyes after they divulge little details about their life.
  5. 4. That being said, be the table that servers keep wanting to come back to
    When I was dining at The Bazaar a couple of years ago, I had this wonderful server who I bonded with. Admittedly, she was embarrassed for assuming that my date and I would be stuck-up, but relieved to find that we could always make her laugh. She made a point of stopping by our table after every time she attended to the tables giving her grief, in attempt to brighten her mood.
  6. 5. Be open to trying new things
    Chefs thrive on being innovative, so try to resist having too many restrictions or being picky about certain foods. This will qualify you as a good candidate to test some new recipes they've been conjuring up!
  7. 6. If a restaurant has the following qualities:
  8. Farm-to-table
    A number of farm-to-table restaurants change up the menu often due to what is available seasonally. They like to introduce local produce not as commonly found or share items from their own garden to present creations to their audience.
  9. Tasting menu
    If the restaurant you are dining at offers a tasting menu, jump at the opportunity! The staff is already aware that you are interested in trying a variety of different courses, so they usually throw in an extra 2 or 3 dishes, in addition, not listed on the menu.
  10. Molecular gastronomy
    As you may have noticed so far, I have an affinity towards liquid nitrogen. Molecular gastronomy tests the boundaries on how common ingredients can be changed using different cooking methods. It's a fun experience for the diners and it is a creative outlet for chefs to incorporate new elements of flavor.
  11. 7. Opt for sitting at the counter
    This gives you the best view of the kitchen and an opportunity to interact with the staff. When I sat at the counter at Taco Maria, I had the honor of conversing with some of the culinary artists. This was before Jonathan Gold wrote about it in his Top 101 Restaurants- I was genuinely shocked to find that he placed the restaurant so low on his list. So you can imagine how proud I was when they moved from the 75th spot all the way up to 2nd in 2015.
  12. 8. Dine during non-peak hours
    Weekends are usually the busiest, so the kitchen may be too busy attending to all guests to offer these perks during meals. Dining at a time like Restaurant Week or a popular holiday, like Valentines Day, are probably not ideal since they'll already have their hands full dealing with large quantities.
  13. 9. Smile
    This should be another given. But smiling and being pleasant can go a lot way. Some people have mentioned that they always seem to receive great service whenever they dine out with me, which never occurred to me as anything out of the ordinary. What you give back is what you'll receive in return, and it will create a unique dining experience different than the average patron.
  14. 10. Thank everyone you come across
    An actual sincere and heartfelt thank you, not a quick thanks sans eye contact. I always try to make an effort to stop whatever I am doing (even if it's a fascinating conversation) and genuinely give a proper 'thank you' to every person that takes the time to make my experience more enjoyable.