With so many new restaurants opening in almost every town and city, how does one go about choosing the best to dine at? If you are eating out with your partner or a couple of friends it is often easy to choose, but if you are with a large group, for a work outing, party or family celebration, there are a lot of opinions and tastes to take into consideration. Not least is the possibility that people within the group may have different religious views or dietary requirements.
Below are some of the factors to take into account before going ahead and making that final booking:
- What type of cuisine do you/your companion(s) enjoy most? – French, Italian, Indian? Always the most difficult obstacle when eating with a group, and sometimes with a partner too!
- Are there any members of the group who have special dietary requirements such as vegetarian, Halal or Kosher food? – If so, does the restaurant provide an adequate range of dishes on its menu?
- Dress code? – For some people this is as important as the food. Do people want to dress up, go completely casual or somewhere in-between?
- If you’re looking to book for a special occasion such as Valentine’s day or New Years Eve do you need to book in advance? – If you are eating out with a group of people (six or more) then you should certainly check booking requirements. Large restaurants may be able to accommodate unexpected groups, but smaller restaurants will probably struggle. Eating out on popular nights, especially at a busy restaurant, may require you to book well in advance – don’t leave it to the last minute.
- Do you have a set budget of how much you want to pay for your meal or are you feeling flush? – Not much of an issue if it’s just you and you partner, however, there’s bound to be one or two tight wads in any large group, working out a budget before you start looking for a restaurant is a good way to keep everybody happy. When making enquiries ask about discounts for group bookings.
- Can you take your own wine/beer? – Some restaurants allow this, it’s worth asking if you want to save a few pennies.
Once you have this information you can go about the business of finding somewhere…the internet is the best place to start…
The majority of restaurants can now be found on the internet simply by typing in the restaurant’s name and location. If you don’t know the names of any restaurants or you want to try somewhere new, simplify your search – ‘restaurants city name‘ or ‘italian restaurant city name‘.
Search the net for reviews of the one(s) you have in mind. Search for local food blogs that cover your town/city as these may have detailed reviews of the restaurants you are interested in. Sometimes the details include the menu, prices, cleanliness and level of service.
You may also find money off coupons.
Remember that not all restaurants have an all singing and dancing website. Some of the older, well-established restaurants may not even have a website, but don’t be put off by this.
The problem with the internet is that it can sometimes give a false impression. Now it’s time to ask friends, family members and colleagues; word of mouth and recommendations often have more sway than a food blog or online restaurant review.
And don’t forget the traditional media of print.
A good place also to read about new and established restaurants is in your local newspaper. Many have restaurant reviews or features within the food and drink section.
I hope you find these tips useful.