When you bring a date to a restaurant, you have an audience the whole time: the ever-watching staff. It’s time we learned something from them.
I reached out to a range of restauranteurs, servers and hosts, all of whom have seen the best and worst of our wining and dining behavior, to get their tips and etiquette insights on dining out with a date. We’ll be releasing the results over the course of the next two weeks. First up:
Advice on securing a good table at a busy restaurant?
Julian Brizzi (Co-owner, Rucola, Brooklyn): Arrive early and talk to host. The more information you give a restaurant the better. Tell them that you are on a date and the host will generally try to help you out.
Erica Schwartzberg (Host, Isa, Brooklyn): Open Table’s reservation page has a field that allows you to make special requests.
Michael Terlecki (Manager, L’Orignal, Montreal): Unless you know somebody at the restaurant Open Table is a good way to book. Say that it’s a special occasion. A good host will make note of this and place you accordingly.
Chloe Harrison (Server, La Superior, Brooklyn): Come early and wait. Be patient. Common courtesy is a lost art. Coming off as entitled is a bad thing.
Alexandria LaPorte ( Manager, Cafe Mogador, Brooklyn): The best way to get a good table is to point out the one you’d like and say that you’re cool with drinking at the bar until the table is ready. It’s so refreshing when someone is polite about the table they want instead of being weirdly aggressive about it. One thing to remember when dining is that being friendly and polite gets you a hell of a long way. This shouldn’t be difficult, but it seems to be lost on so many people! I love treating sweet customers to a round of drinks, a new dish on the menu, or dessert. These small things can make a dinner date really special.
Traylor Phelps (Server, Sombre Mexican Kitchen, Ridgeland, MS): Simply wait for the table you want.
Eileen Curran (Server, Cooper’s Craft and Kitchen, Manhattan): Research the seating and book in advance (Open Table).
Daniel Notkin (restauranteur and oysterman, Old Port Oyster Co., Montreal): Restaurant workers are bombarded with people who are not nice.The best advice is to be nice. You’ll be surprised how much people want to help you.
Check back tomorrow for the next installment of Table for Two!
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