You may or may not have noticed I haven’t done a restaurant review in quite some time. This is for a number of reasons; partly that I have been more focused on my own recipe creations and cooking, partly because I wanted to go back to enjoying food when I’m out with friends rather than feeling the need to constantly be judging it. That said, if you follow me on Instagram (@feedyoursoul_perth) you will know I’m still one of those people who take photos of my food at restaurants…
I recently read an article that I can’t stop thinking about. It was about the way that dining out has changed in the last decade. Basically, it was discussing how the invention of the internet and subsequently smart phones and constant connectivity has slowed down the rate of service (not customer service, the amount of covers able to be done in a day/night) and increased the amount of customer complaints.
I want to put forward a diners’ experience, not that I disagree with anything that was written in the article, in fact, I went out to dinner the evening I read it and was acutely aware the entire night that I was unwittingly following the script to perfection!
It goes a little something like this: we turn up to your chosen restaurant and are seated. Get the menu, don’t even pick it up for at least 5-10 minutes because we’re too busy chatting and catching up. Wait staff ask if we would like drinks, better look at the drinks menu but give us a few more minutes to decide before we order. Order drinks (but do you have organic wine?). Still don’t look at the food menu.
If we’re in a large group; don’t forget to check in on Yelp! and answer all their annoying (sorry Yelp!) questions about whether they accept credit cards and are good for kids, make sure someone checks in on Facebook too, so everyone knows where we are and that we’re all together and having an amazing time, eating amazing food and generally revelling in our amazingness.
Wait staff bring drinks and ask if we’re ready to order food, any food, maybe even just entrees to get us started? For the love of food, just order SOMETHING people, please! Heaven forbid it be a share menu… That’s just asking for trouble! How many people deciding on how many dishes? How many would you recommend for this many people? As if that’s not bad enough, if you’re anything like my beloved friends (and they know I love them!): which dishes can be made gluten free? Which are dairy free? We will share but this person won’t because they’re paleo/vegetarian/vegan/gaps/fodmaps/intolerant/allergic/blabla/etc.
Finally, we are free to chat whilst we wait for our food. Gone are the days when it was considered rude to have your phone out whilst dining with friends… (This does not apply to date night people! Put your phone away!) How else would we show each other what an awesome dinner we had at ‘such and such’ last week? And did you see that ‘thing’ on the ‘gram’ from ‘what’s her name’? Let’s not even get started on Tinder… Is it possible that those who aren’t single are the ones who are most curious about it?
Food arrives. Prime phone time. Make sure everybody gets sufficient pictures! Can you light up my food so I can take a good pic? Do restaurants dim lighting to discourage food photography, I wonder? It does make me laugh when a big group of us bombard a restaurant and subsequently our poor Instagram followers with all the same pictures. Now, move your glass, it’s photobombing my pic.
As a general rule, I think most of my friends hold off posting pics on social media until after we’ve eaten. I don’t think we’ve ever returned a meal to the kitchen because it was cold by the time we eventually started eating as was suggested in the original article. I personally think it’s fair to say that would be poor form.
Food gobbled, it’s time to digest and start wondering about the dessert menu. Now, I know we said before we were gluten free/paleo/vegetarian/vegan/gaps/fodmaps/intolerant/allergic/blabla/etc. but that chocolate fondant with peanut butter mousse, salted caramel, chocolate ganache, tempered white chocolate, popping candy, micro herbs and a sprinkling of fairy dust sounds far too good to refuse so let’s take one each and be done with it.
Oh, of course you’ll split the bill, right?!
Social media is one of the biggest forms of self promotion and free advertising available and even now, I feel that Urbanspoon and even actual websites have taken a back seat to Instagram – why would you look at an online menu when you can search their hashtag and SEE the food? Or just go to their Instagram page?
Eating out is more than just eating, it is a fully social experience, a meal can last an entire evening. It is a leisurely activity and there’s nothing I enjoy more than being at a restaurant where they take all of your questions and quirks with a smile, offer great service and food but also, embrace social media. I love posting pictures on Instagram of an incredible meal that I have savoured every bite of and sharing it with my followers in the hope that they might try it for themselves. You know what else I love? When places like your pics on Instagram – seriously, chuck us a ‘like’, we love that s***! #fangirlmoment.
Two places I really want to spotlight for being absolutely spectacular and inspiring in terms of service, food, atmosphere, ethos, and social media presence are The Precinct (@the_precinct) and The Greenhouse (@greenhouseperth). Thank you for being so accommodating to us every time we visit. Thank you for offering table service. Thank you for your patience and smiles and thanks for liking our pics on Insta!
Top left: Granola at Mrs. S, Maylands
Top right: Tomato Medley at The Precinct
Bottom left: Meatballs at Harvest Espresso
Bottom right: Porridge at Silo, Melbourne – now reopened as Brothl.