With Restaurant Week in Chicago coming, I thought I’d revive the posts I’ve done with things you should or shouldn’t be doing. You can also incorporate some of these to First Date No-no’s if you like. I’m personally not a fan of Restaurant Week and don’t make big plans to dine out. I know for some it’s about finding new places but having worked both the kitchen and service for them…I take a pass. The people who dine feel a bit more entitled that week for some reason as if they’re doing you a favor.
Let’s get the hits rolling…
- Don’t get wasted! Are you an alcoholic? Most Restaurant Week menus are 3 courses. So you’re expected to be in and out in about an hour-ish. You shouldn’t camp out with multiple drinks and dominate a table. There are many others dining out and restaurants are often at capacity. If you’re on a first date, a glass or two of something, unless it’s bourbon then one, is plenty. You want to be relaxed not describing why your parents never understood you before the entree.
- NO Substitutions – But Joe I have an allergy! – Great, Google or call ahead like you would before a first date. If you can eat the menu victory and if you can’t, ask if they are willing to substitute. If they aren’t, pick another place, no one likes to dine with someone who makes a scene. And yes, we all know you Googled us before the date!
- GroupOn or Coupon – you’re not on some freaky reality show where we care how much you’ve saved at the grocery store. You’re already getting a discount no one likes a cheap ass. If you are a cheap ass, just think about the 7-11 coffee you’re giving up. I know you wouldn’t pay THAT much at Starbucks.
- Be Polite – You would THINK this was a given. I feel like some weird mother but it’s amazing to see how rude some people can be to the waiter or busboy. They aren’t your servants and your date should notice because eventually that’s how they’ll talk about you – when you’re not around!
- Be Patient – If you’re stoked for your 7:30pm reservation today, great. Realize you may have to wait a few minutes past that because someone may be breaking my rules. Again, don’t be wasted, substituting the shit out of the preapproved menu and trying to use another coupon. Because now 7:30pm turns in to 7:45pm and that party is upset despite the fact they can see there are no tables and a full bar. The restaurant hostess is not Moses and won’t part the dining room to create a table. Be Patient…enjoy the conversation. Find out how much your date loves country music or if they’ll be insisting you run every 5k in town – that is if they’re the one for you.
- Have a Plan - I hear this often from single female friends - guys show up without a plan! WTF, lazy ass, BE A MAN. In that vein, make a reservation! Don’t plan on showing up in most restaurants during this week without a reservation. You’ll wait eons if you even get sat or be jockeying at the bar. Sun Tzu said you win all battles with preparation –let’s not kid a date is a bit of a battle.
- TIP Well! – Do you think she’s impressed you’re taking her out on a first date to a reduced priced menu? If so, date two should be for all the shrimp you can eat for $11.99. BTW, you won’t get a second date if that’s the option. Anyway…tip well. Just because it’s a cheaper menu doesn’t mean you’re getting lesser service. Someone is still taking your order, pouring you drinks, bringing you drinks, bringing you the food, checking in everything is ok, bringing you coffee and catering to any outrageous requests. Imagine your boss saying your commission is cut during sales promotions…how thrilled would you be? Exactly.
- Don’t Linger – eat, enjoy, talk, laugh, maybe fall in love a little –take that warm glow to the bar or someplace else or her place. Perhaps go home and leave her wanting more! BUT DON’T LINGER! You’re in a restaurant not a park.
- Tell your friends – tweet or post on fb or take a million pictures for instagram but share how much fun the night was and how great the food tasted. Restaurants would love the free Press to your friends. You would tell them about your date why not tell them about dinner.
- DON’T BLOG about it – I write a food blog for fun. I don’t think everything I do should be blogged about. Pick your moments. But, this week isn’t one of them. Promoting the place and giving your critique is one thing but judging them based on this menu and experience is unfair. Give them a second chance. Sometimes a first date was just ok but we’re all nervous and if you like how the other person looks and they put forth an effort perhaps it was an off day.
That’s all I got. I hope this helps you enjoy not only the week but you got a laugh or two about dating. Remember, if you’re a horror story at the date, you’ll be the horror story they laugh about on the next first date!
Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org