Being on holiday: at the restaurant

One of the best ways to get introduced to a country’s culture and traditions is through its gastronomy. It’s really tempting to go to fast food restaurants or bistros due to their cheaper rates and speedier service however we truly recommend, if you have the chance, to visit a traditional restaurant at least once every time you travel abroad and try some of its most renowned dishes.

Eating out is not only a Mediterranean habit, in fact, it is common practice in English speaking countries. There are different places to choose from, here you can find a list of the most popular ones

  • Restaurant: establishment where meals and refreshments are served to customers.
  • Pub: establishment for the sale of beer and other drinks, and sometimes also food, to be consumed on its premises.
  • Bistro; small informal European-style restaurant or bar which serves meals at reasonable prices
  • Café: a place where you can buy drinks, simple meals, and snacks, but not usually alcoholic drinks. If the weather is fine, it is possible to sit outside in many cases
  • Takeaway: A restaurant or shop selling cooked food to be eaten elsewhere.
  • Ethnic restaurant: establishment specialized in in a cuisine related to a particular nationality, using ingredients and cooking techniques that belong to that particular culture (e.g. Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Italian…)
  • Diner: A casual sit-down American restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In many cases, it is decorated 1950s style.

Now let’s see some useful vocabulary. Once you are seated at the table, usual requests will be:

  • May we see the menu, please?
  • What would you recommend?
  • Do you have any specials?
  • Could you please take our order?

When we order the food, we normally use the future simple:

  • For my starter, I’ll have…
  • For my main course, I’ll go for…
  • For my dessert, I’ll have…

The waiter/waitress, on the other hand, can also request some information from us:

  • How would you like you steak? (if you order meat, it can be rare, medium or done depending on how cooked you want it)
  • Would you like anything else?/Is that all?
  • May I recommend …?
  • May I get you any drinks?/would you like to see the wine list?
  • Would you like to see the desserts menu?

When we are having our meal, different problems can arise. To request assistance, we can call the waiter/waitress using a simple Excuse me. Depending on the nature of the request, we may say:

  • Our food is cold/this doesn’t taste right/this is too salty (problems with the dishes)
  • Excuse me, this isn’t what I ordered (wrong dishes)
  • Will it take long? We’ve been waiting for some time/is our food on its way? (waiting for the meal)

Once we finish our meal it is time to pay the bill. We have different ways to request it such as :

  • Could I have the bill, please?
  • The bill, please
  • Check, please

Additionally, questions related to payment might be:

  • Can we pay separately?
  • Do you take credit cards?
  • Is service charge included?

If we are happy with the meal and the service, we can also leave a tip (maximum 10-15 % of the total bill) unless, of course, service charge is included.

We really hope you find this useful next time you eat out in an English speaking country: bon appétit!

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