Saturday, January 12, 2013
When it comes to my travels I like to think of myself as a spur of the moment traveler. I make reservations for my first night in any city, however after that if I am traveling around I like to play it by ear. My thoughts on dining are the same. Before I go somewhere I will research the restaurants in the area. Sometimes there is a restaurant that just seems to be the place to try. One place to start is with tripadvisor.
However there is a word of caution. In the smaller towns and villages a place may get a great review but that is just because there is nowhere else to eat. I have been disappointed like this. But then again I have been pleasantly surprised.
As a general rule I tend to avoid any eating establishment that is close to a tourist site and has the menu in multiple languages. I may be missing out on a great place, but tourist trap comes to mind. Often times by just walking around the corner or a few blocks you can find a much better restaurant. Another way I sometimes choose a restaurant is by looking at the food on the tables and the people who are eating there. My mussels and fries above is an example of this Darwinian method. Spending a few hours in a seaside community I saw a restaurant where everyone was enjoying a plate of mussels and fries. The restaurant was packed and the mussels looked fresh. I can still taste them.
When it comes to selecting a restaurant in a larger city I will usually either email them myself or have the hotel make a reservation. This is one of the advantages of the internet. Most restaurants will have their menu posted on the internet. It does take out some of the fun when you preselect your menu from miles away, however a reservation is a guarantee of getting a seat. For some restaurants it is essential. While I like to keep my schedule flexible why chance it and end up with a 10 pm sitting if you could have an earlier seating. Irregardless of the length of my vacation I will only make 1 or 2 reservations. I just do not want to be restricted. A word about reservations. Show up on time.
Once in Paris I was dining at a little restaurant. A group of 4 came in 30-45 minutes late for their seating. Their reservation had been taken over by another party many minutes ago. What astonished me as I watched the exchange was their astonishment that the restaurant had not held the table for them. Think of it as a date-would you wait 45 minutes for your date to show up. They tried to intimidate the owner into a table and then resorted to begging listing how this had been on the list of places to try for months and they were only here for a few more days. It quite simply did not work. Nor should it.
Ultimately remember a great meal is very subjective. It is really about what you like. I have eaten at places with great reviews and not really seen what the fuss is all about. I have chosen places with no ambiance and can still fondly remember the food. My only request of myself is that I do not go somewhere and miss the opportunity to try a dish because I just did not know it existed.
This is my contribution to Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads and Saturday Snapshots hosted by At Home with Books.
How do you choose where to eat?