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Being a good restaurant customer

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I want to be a good customer and order appropriately. I don't go out very often, but when I do, it is usually to a fine establishment. If I intend to order a bottle of wine, is it ok to order it when the waiter asks for our drink order? It seems that when the waiter asks If we'll be having drinks, he or she is expecting a cocktail order. For me, that would be a bit too much alcohol. A lot of times, it's hard to make a good wine selection before you place your dinner order. I feel funny asking for just water at the drink order. I guess I could order a cocktail, and then wine by the glass, but a lot of time the selection is limited. What is your advice?

At fine Italian restaurants, There are so many courses. Primi, Insalata, Pasta, Secondi, Entree. How are you supposed to order? Primi are appetizers. Insalata I understand. Do you order one thing from the other categories?

Thanks for the help!
post #2 of 11
I'm no wine buff. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But, I have had so much luck with the house red that that's what we stick to.
You'll get loads of better answers than this one, re. wine pairing, or what to ask for. But we've eaten Italian, Thai, Turkish, Indian and French and found the restaurant has always chosen a fabulous, relatively cheap house wine to compliment everything we've eaten.

If in doubt, I would choose your menu first then ask the wine waiter to reccommend a suitable wine.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #3 of 11
handling the "drink order" bit is easy:

'Thanks but we're having wine with dinner but I would like a glass of water/tea/soda/<whatever>/and the every popular <nothing, thanks>'

now, if you've gone to your favorite spot and made up you mind before you got in the car, 'tonight is calamari!' you can probably pick out a wine ind advance of see the menu and/or hearing the specials.

if that bit doesn't work out, then there is the situation of 'and just how fussy are you about your wine&food parings...?' that's a difficult question for anyone to answer - some folk be happy with the house red / house white, others get right cotton picking particular.
post #4 of 11
What I do, is ask the server.

If you are questioning yourself as a customer, which you are, then you are NOT a problem customer and you should feel free to let the server answer all of your questions. It's their job.

Your drink order is what you make of it. In other words, YES, it could easily be a bottle OR glass of wine. It doesn't have to be a cocktail. I don't feel bad EVER for asking for a mild digestive (otherwise known as "soda'").

I usually use the server's ideas, but if they seem uneducated I'll use my own educated picks. It really is the waiter's job to know and use E.S.P. to get you what you want...

Don't be intimidated. They're working for you, not vice versa.

skirting the Italian courses, someone more knowledgeable respond.
post #5 of 11
Seems to me you are putting the cart before the horse.

The front of house staff in a fine restaurant is there to serve you, not the other way around. You are paying for the priviledge of being catered to---otherwise you could just go to a chain restaurant and accept shoddy service and lower prices.

That said, there is no reason for you to ever feel intimidated, or that you have to do something based on some sort of secret rules affecting ordering.

In the circumstances you describe, for instance, I would say something like, "we'll be ordering wine with the meal." Or even, "just water for now." If you want to feel kind of insy, try, "I'll have water with a slice of lime."

That's all it should take.

Same with food service. You order as much or as little from an a la carte menu as you wish. Some people might want to go through all five courses. You might just want an appetiser and maybe a pasta. Both of you would be correct in what you ordered.

Personally, given the oversized portions restaurants serve nowadays, there's no way I could work my way through the entire menu. But the point is, I wouldn't feel the least bit out of place ordering, say, a salad and maincourse.

Just remember the golden rule: you've got the gold, so you make the rules.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 11
Its your money, do as YOU LIKE. When the waitstaff come up for the cocktail order tell them you would like to start with a btl of wine and ice water. Life isn't a chore, neither is going to a restaurant. The waitstaff could care less what you drink or when you drink it...........Life is fun, enjoy it...............They eat like that in Italy, order what you want the way you want it. Its to much food IMHO their way. They make a night of it, we don't.....................Bill
post #7 of 11
My suggestion is that since you are the customer it is really your choice what you should order and when you should order. My suggestion would be that if you have picked a wine by the time the server asks you for your drink order just say I would like this particular wine and water on the side as well. You don't have to order any fancy kind of drink if you don't want to at all. Also if you have not picked a wine yet then I would just say right now I want water but I am trying to figure out what wine I want so can we have a few minutes? Or you can ask for that servers opinion which is never a bad idea because they can help you with your drink order and they don't have to wait for you to figure it out.
post #8 of 11
Also I really is your decision what you want to order and what you don't want to order. Thats the servers job is to cater to your needs not whats more conveinent for them. So they can wait while you figure out what wine you want and just give you water, nut the main thing they do is cater to You so it is really your decision what you want and when you want it.
post #9 of 11
Very simple, when the server comes, just ask for the wine list, indicating you wanna go straight to the grape and skipping cocktails.
Re ordering from established sections, no rules and no formality applies. Order what you want from wherever, just LOL, do it with confidence!
post #10 of 11
If you're not picky and easy to please, go with a glass of the house wine. Never fails. At least for me.
post #11 of 11
Italian food/wine pairing isn't hard at all. If you want a seafood dish, go Marsala Ambra or Oro. If you want red meat or pork, go Chianti or Marsala Rubino or house red.

Otherwise, just ask to speak with the Sommelier or the Bar Steward. If they don't have one on site, just go with your gut.

Edit to add: Ambra is considerably sweeter than most wine. If you don't like sweet wines, stick to Oro as a white.
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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