What Makes a Good Restaurant?

I recently found myself in a real pickle.  I was faced with the problem of having to tell dear friends of mine that although I immensely enjoyed the live entertainment played in their dining establishment, I couldn’t bring myself to order anything off the menu.  Praising the excellent wait staff also did very little to soften the blow. After frequenting this restaurant a number of times only to send back dish upon dish – a French Onion Soup without the stock, a frozen Sheppard’s Pie and Nachos with no condiments whatsoever – I knew it was time to spill the beans .

I’m a great believer in giving restaurants more than one go but when do you finally throw in the towel and call it quits?  Maybe the restaurant is conveniently close to home or the office. Or perhaps you hang on because the owner is an associate, friend or even worse – a relative.  Irrespective of all these facts it’s your time, it’s your money and you want it spent well. Recently, I began to ask avid foodies and restaurant connoisseurs what they felt constituted a good restaurant. Here’s what I came up with:

GREAT FOOD! –  People agree that good cuisine seems to be the most important ingredient of a great dining experience.  The restaurant doesn’t have to carry an extensive menu.  A more streamlined selection accompanied by a variety of daily specials ensures freshness and quality. A chef doesn’t have to have Cordon Bleu qualifications, as long as he or she has talent and passion.

QUALITY SERVICE – Any successful restaurateur knows that this goes hand in hand with great cuisine. Whether you’re eating at a bar/grille or a fine dining restaurant the service should be exceptional. An attentive, friendly staff that is not obtrusive is the key.  Getting up to look for your server can be equally as annoying as having your server pop by your table every few minutes.

CLEANLINESS – Curious if a restaurant has a clean kitchen? Just check out the bathrooms!  This should be a clear indicator of their standards. Another is Proof of Inspections signs posted on the front door and encouraged by the Public Health Inspector. If it’s not available just visit www.york.ca/yorksafe.

PRICE – The old adage, you get what you pay for doesn’t always ring true.  Higher prices should be congruent to an excellent, overall dining experience. Depending on the location some restaurants unfortunately will have to charge higher prices to due to hefty overhead costs. If your bill doesn’t correlate to the above then you’re getting ripped off.

AMBIENCE – Is the music so loud that your whole body is pulsating? Are you constantly elbowing the person sitting at the table next to you?  Although based on personal preference, these types of situations can put a damper on the entire experience.

ACCESSIBLITY – Is there parking available nearby? You may have to pay for parking or take a taxi which can add costs to your overall bill.

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