How to Choose a Good Restaurant: The Editors Share Their Experience

by Staff

No matter how much we love cozy evenings with homemade treats, sometimes you still want to dress up and go to some restaurant according to your mood and zeal of the soul. Or on the way home from work, run to a new place for dinner, meet friends for a glass of wine. And if you are a traveler and get acquainted with the cuisine of a new country, you can only imagine how many interesting establishments await you.

What you should pay attention to when choosing a restaurant, what non-obvious things say a lot, what places it is better not to go at all, and where it is possible to try the best dishes in your life – we tell in the article.

Location, style, atmosphere

These components may vary by country. But restaurateurs who have been developing a family business for more than a year, preserving all the traditions, or have just realized a long-awaited project, most often treat their business with great care and concern. It all starts with the general concept and style of the institution.

Signage and facade design form the first impression, they can be repulsive, overly intrusive or endearing to passers-by. It’s not very pleasant to go to a restaurant if there are already flaws in the exterior: a broken sign, faulty lighting, out-of-season decor, a poorly organized veranda.

And how great it is when the institution has tables outside in warm weather. On a summer evening, get together in a noisy company, order snacks, lemonade, sparkling wine and talk heart to heart for a long, long time, tell stories, joke to the sounds of the city, immersed in greenery and sweet aromas. Or retire together somewhere at a table on the roof and enjoy the company, food and atmosphere.

This story also has a downside. The higher the floor where the restaurant is located, the closer the sea, river or cozy park, the higher prices can be. When it comes to business, almost everything is governed by market conditions. A good location is equal to the high cost of renting premises. And hence the size of the institution follows.

Huge restaurants and cafes with a large number of halls and tables require the same large number of staff and chefs. After all, if the kitchen is small, how long will you have to wait for your order and how to be sure that the dish is cooked a minute before, and not assembled from yesterday’s preparations?

Gastronomic masterpieces of famous chefs are often born in the small kitchens of cozy restaurants. They may not be located on the main streets, but somewhere in residential areas, only locals can know about them, and even a sign will not impress anyone. But in a small hall with subdued lights, pleasant music or cheerful laughter of visitors will sound, and on tidy tables covered with tablecloths, you will see fresh flower buds. Represented?

Of course, the style of the room can be completely different, but it should not stand out from the general concept. Pay attention to the interior and details, like Marimekko design –  they can often tell a lot.

Audience and comfort

A well-known rule says: if one restaurant is empty and quiet, and in an institution next door all the tables are occupied, it is better not to go to the first one. It helps a lot when traveling when there is no idea where to go to eat. Just watch the visitors: where are there more of them, are there companies of local residents, do they stay longer or is there an endless stream.

There are always exceptions to any rule. Once in Rome, I was standing in line at a popular restaurant. It stood for a long time, the queue moved slowly, and the waiter on the street very quickly poured sparkling wine into glasses for everyone waiting. The mood was getting better, and we went to the restaurant already cheerful and satisfied. Inside there was nowhere for an apple to fall, the visitors buzzed like a swarm of bees. On this, perhaps, everything. Neither the food nor the house wine was definitely worth the wait. Drinking sparkling wine around the corner of the establishment, the guests received much more pleasant emotions than inside in a stuffy hall at +35°C.

But this is just an exception, often in good cafes and restaurants there are few tables, many visitors and the atmosphere, as if you came somewhere for a common holiday: it can be crowded, but soulful and delicious.

Menu and content

Surely you have come across real menu-books with a large number of dishes more than once. At the sight of such a volume, the first thought is: “Now I’ll choose how to choose! That’s diversity!” And then it turns out that some of the positions are not available, the rest have to wait a long time due to the workload of the kitchen. Look carefully at the menu, evaluate its quality. Sometimes books with a list of dishes turn out to be so untidy that you no longer want to pick them up. And, on the contrary, a creative laconic presentation causes genuine delight.

A chef who develops a high-quality interesting menu will definitely focus on the style and theme of the establishment, and will include more seasonal products. So, in an Italian trattoria, you will be offered delicious pizza and pasta according to traditional recipes for this region, several typical desserts and drinks. It is unlikely that you will be able to order rolls, New York cheesecake or a couple of shots there. When you start The restaurant offers dishes from all over the world and drinks for every taste, it is worth considering whether everything will be as appetizing as it is stated.

Kitchen, food, cleanliness

Open kitchens are becoming more common in restaurants. So any visitor has the opportunity to observe how the chef and his team work, and how different dishes are prepared. This is a kind of dialogue with the client: everything is transparent, interesting, effective. If you enjoy watching chefs at work, ask for a table closer to the kitchen area. And when you want silence and solitude, it is better to sit at a distance, because life is always in full swing in the kitchen.

And now the waiter with the treasured plates is heading to your table. We turn on the auditor mode! In what dishes and how are treats served? It’s nice when unnecessary cutlery is removed from the table, and the serving is in the same style. There should be no chips and cracks on the plates, stains and drops on the glasses. A qualified waiter will provide a glass for water and the necessary cutlery if they are not on the table.

There is such a service that you do not have time to say, but everything you need has already been brought. Dishes are served as the plates are empty, the glass is filled, they are interested in whether everyone likes it. And you really like everything!

The final chord is purity. The restaurant can be forgiven for some shortcomings. But no matter how modest the institution is, it must be clean there. When the ladies’ room smells like spring, and there is hand cream and even good quality on the shelf, the female soul rejoices.

In fact, there can be much more criteria when choosing a restaurant. This figure is very subjective and based on personal experience. Surely you have something to add. Please share how you choose establishments and what you pay attention to first of all?

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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