It’s a rather interesting phenomenon when you experience silver service for the first time. I’m sure most of us obsess about what clothes we should wear, only to second guess ourselves at the last minute and perform a complete make over. Additionally, more often than not, as this coincides with a special occasion and we therefore put unrealistic expectations on the night.
Already a nervous wreck, we then enter the restaurant only to be greeted by a well dressed maitre d with a funny accent who looks you up and down. You feel judged as you take your seat and look around the restaurant like an idiot hoping to see someone famous.
The menu is explained to you and a lot of big words are said (many of which sound like gibberish and must be made up) and often your waitress can come across as very condescending. At this point, you might feel you made the wrong decision coming here. Fortunately for you, it’s mostly in your head. You would actually be surprised how much these restaurants will put up with. Considering the amount you’re paying (e.g. $20 for a bottle of water is completely ridiculous), they damn well should.
So what can you do to get your nerves under control and start enjoying your night? How about trying the following:
This tip is one of my all time favourites. Often when I hear how the main dishes are prepared, the waiter waffles on and on, describing things you’ve immediately forgotten. To this I say, flip straight to the side dishes and get them to describe their mash potato and recommend food and wine to match. I’m pretty sure you know something about mash potato and/or garden salads, so chances are you will start to feel more comfortable and begin having a more enjoyable night.
Note: My favourite mash of all time comes from EST in Sydney
Just do it. To quote Nike, the restaurant wants you to ‘just do it.’ It’s their best form of free advertising, so start taking them as soon as you get there and then you can start feeling more relaxed now that you’ve got those first few awkward snaps out of the way. Just remember to turn off the flash if you’re going to be continuously taking photos.
To make your photos and memories truly unique, you could GoPro your meal. I recently did this at EST and my waitress was so amused she even offered to help me film my food being brought to me. Don’t think I’d do it again though, she wasn’t a very good camera woman.
I don’t think you will come across more interesting diners as you do when eating at a fancy restaurant. There are of course some typical diners that you can count on being there; the rich guy with his trophy wife/escort for the night, the ‘rich’ Asian couple constantly putting their night up on social media and the birthday group where everyone is trying to out dress each other.
However, once you’ve had your fun making up these people’s back story, you might notice the guy trying to win his girl back, the couple that are mid argument or the dad making up for never being there for his kids significant events. Chances are as you people watch, the night will get more and more interesting and you will realise that you are just the same as someone else in the venue. Just don’t forget the real reason you came here tonight. Otherwise it would be a waste.
This night is about you. So if you don’t feel like you belong, why not make up a story so that you do? The wait staff will probably know, but for the price you are playing they will play along. We’ve always imagined what it would be like to be so rich that you never have to work again, so why not pretend for tonight?
Hopefully by now you are feeling more relaxed and realised that a fancy restaurant is just like any other restaurant except that because you pay more, you get to get away with more. Happy dining and Happy Valentine’s Day.
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