Eating at a restaurant is one of life’s most precious activity. There are many reasons why that is so, but it generally lies in the fact that this very notion simply involves sitting, talking and relaxing. Today’s society has seen an incremental surge in the food service scene and it isn’t surprising that we are constantly bombarded with a new eating trend or a location waiting to serve us diverse range of food. Whether old or new, food comes and goes, but what remains is the dining experience we encounter at each and every restaurant we visit. Sometimes there are so much options available that we are, essentially, taking for granted such enigmatic features that often goes unnoticed when dining. When was the last time you properly remembered every detail of a dining experience? There is a considerable depth of awareness that we should endeavour at restaurants, and today we explore them by harnessing all the features of the eating space that confronts us the moment we walk in. This isn’t a guide on how to behave in a restaurant, it is a thought on how to spend an ideal moment of time there by reaping the pleasures of good food as well as good scenery.

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Choose a restaurant, go somewhere else that you haven’t been to before. It is understandable that most of the time you would want to go with someone familiar, but if no one is available why not go alone? You won’t have to share anything, which can lead to a hefty bill if you are intending to have a full treat. Going through the menu, choose something you wouldn’t normally go for and risk the surprise. If the description is unclear ask the waiter. Of course if you know there’s a dish definitely guaranteed to please your tastebuds then go for it. Though quite tempting it is to ask the waiter which dish is most recommended, this has a potential to be based purely on either their own preference or what the average customer orders. Skip this advice and choose for yourself. As for the specials, don’t automatically assume its precious, most of the time these are usually stocks that need to be cleared, and so if the classic menu is desired then so it should be.

When the dish arrives, halt and keep that phone away for just a second. Look at the dish, appreciate the layout of each ingredients as, usually, this has been thoroughly contemplated about by the chef. Not going near pretentious territory, but is there an art to it? Absorb the interactions that each ingredients have for each other. Smell the dish (no need to dig your head down too deep) and allow the aromas to intoxicate your mood. Is the dish a surprise? Ok, respecting the dish completed. We couldn’t let this go completely, but it’s photo time. The reason to acknowledge the dish before recording its presence is that often once we have taken the image, we dive straight into the food, going for the taste and letting go of that split-second beautifulness when the dish arrives, choosing instead to appreciate its visual elegance through a screen. Must we take about 10 pictures of the same thing? A couple of snaps and we are good to go.

When eating, yes engage in conversation if with company, but also look around the room. The ambience and feel of the place should be observed to garner a sense of belonging to the present. It is interesting to see how waiters burst out the kitchen corridor carefully carrying divine plates and gently placing them right below our noses. When you eat and look around, you can see the vibrant, yet beautiful, chaos that tumults the atmosphere of the restaurant and this is a scene much felt when we open our eyes to the surrounding scene when eating. You will notice too the carefulness engendered by the waiter when we are focused on their movements as opposed to periods when we forget their presence. Acknowledging the aesthetics of the place is therefore as importance as enjoying the displaying of the plate, which altogether wallows us in a moment of, quite literally, pure bliss. A striking action, and not always easy to do, is to remember the names of your ordered dish, whether in your own language or another. It is, I believe, a skill that is crucial when describing the experience we had to others. Just as we wouldn’t forget cities we visited on holidays, so you shouldn’t forget titles of magnificent dishes.

Approaching the end of a meal, or even before, waiters usually ask how the dishes were. Most often than not, a typical answer would usually swerve to a conclusion that it was great or good. There is no inclination that this is automatically your response, but it is a general perceiving answer. I do feel though that as much as we should gratify accepting the whole experience of dining, there is also a notion of equally giving back, and in this form, through providing honest feedback. Even if it meant a dish being a little too salty or lacking a desirable structure, then through your opinion that will ensure the next customer (of that dish) will be, though unaware, thankful. But more important than this, feedback is a genuine gesture that rewards us with a better feeling had we received a flawed dish, however tiny. A positive comment is much more valuable when it’s true.

Going to any restaurant these days seems like a norm to most of us. However, there is a clear fine line between being present in the restaurant and actually treasuring your presence in a restaurant. Of course at the end of the day you have the freedom to do whatever you please, but there is, sometimes, a scope that goes disregarded at certain times, especially with such distraction from gadgets and the ever-so-busy daily juggle. An unforgettable dining experience begins the moment we choose which restaurant to spend the next couple of hours in to the moment we walk out from its doors. Apart from when hurriedness is called for, what a waste it would be to simply arrive just for the food and leaving as soon as. Having to make clear observation on your surrounding need not relate to slow-living. It encompasses, instead, a tiny input of awareness of what takes place in split seconds and the honour of truly living in the present. Next time you are eating out, hone the principles of a memorable dining experience and begin to cherish all the benefits from every penny that is spent on the occasion.

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