Eating out is so commonplace that many people do not give too much thought to the restaurant they go to. Food and the occasions when we consume food should be moments of celebration, regardless of how significant it may be. There really is just no reason why people should not enjoy themselves when they eat out at restaurants. Unfortunately, not every restaurant is up to par. Whether you are just stepping out for a meal or are celebrating an important event, there are important things you need to watch out for. Here are ten red flags to keep an eye on:
1. The restaurant’s kitchen is closing
No matter how good a restaurant is if the kitchen is closing the moment you stepped into the establishment, the food that will be served may not be as fresh, and the crew may not be as accommodating. The reasons are simple – the food that is left on the kitchen counter may have been prepared hours ago, and the crew may be cleaning up and too tired to give you the best service.
2. Untidy restrooms
No customer should put up with a dirty restroom. The best restaurants are those that make sure that their facilities are taken care of. If the restroom is dirty, it is likely that the same hygiene approach is given to the kitchen. Watch out for dirty sinks, overflowing trash bins, absence of hand soap, and dirty toilets if you happen to be in a restaurant with a dirty restroom, best leave and find someplace else to dine.
3. No ingredient labeling
UK-based food hygiene training company The Hub recommends going only to restaurants that clearly display product labels. True, most restaurants would not give away everything on their menu to keep their secret recipes safe, but it is important to ask what goes into your food. If you have allergies, always let the server know before ordering. Many restaurants actually list common allergens on their menu, such as peanuts, milk, and eggs.
4. Blaring music
Good music and good food are a terrific mix, but the volume of the music can affect how much you eat. According to an article that appeared on Dr. Oz’s site, loud music actually drives you to eat more. Music helps set the mood, which means it could affect eating habits. With loud, fast music, you not only order more food, but you also eat faster. Restaurants may also play loud music to ensure that people finish up quickly. If you are not in a hurry and do mind eating quickly, best avoid restaurants that keep their volume at a high level.
5. It is next door to a popular tourist spot
Some people like restaurants that attract a lot of people and while many of these restaurants serve great food, they should be treated with caution. Matt Kiefer of Hostelgeeks recommends finding another place to eat instead. Many restaurants that do business next to a tourist attraction could be tourist traps. This equates to high price tags for food that may not be of high quality. For local flavor and reliable service, consider food establishments that locals go to instead.
6. Mystery meat
Meat should be recognizable when it is served to you. Be wary of restaurants that serve mystery meat as its top tier entree. Thrillist recommends checking out the menu for more information about the cut and even how the animal was raised. Try asking the server as well. If he/she cannot answer you, the restaurant may not really understand quality food and is not likely serving it.
7. Menu items not in season
Many people prefer to know where their food comes from and every customer who eats out expects their food to have at least an acceptable level of freshness. When checking the menu, look for items that are in season and watch out for those that are not. Ingredients that are not in the season should not appear on the menu. If they do, they are probably preserved, frozen, or canned. No self-respecting restaurant should label their food fresh if their ingredients are out of season. The only exceptions to this are high-end restaurants that fly in their ingredients from the source regularly. These restaurants may charge more, but at least they offer food directly from the source and are capable of serving the ingredients fresh.
8. Bad service
There is no such thing as a perfect service, and even the best restaurant servers may have off days time and again. However, any restaurant that provides bad service where servers are disrespectful, unhygienic, or messes up customer orders does not deserve your patronage. Slip-ups can and do occur, but if bad service is more the norm than the exception, it is a sign that the management does not uphold any service standard that respects its customers.
9. Bad reviews
There is that occasional fake review from a disgruntled customer or competitor, but in general, great restaurants get great reviews. Sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and the army of legitimate food bloggers out on the internet offer invaluable service to the rest of us, winnowing the bad restaurants from the good ones. If you want to check out which restaurant to head to tonight, you can simply search online for a restaurant in your location and make a choice based on your preferences and the ratings offered. Actual and true (read: reasonable) reviews are a great resource for when you want to find a place to enjoy dinner. Often, what you find in these reviews can be surprising.
10. Dirty dish ware and glasses
If there is a lipstick stain on that glass that you have not touched yet, it is likely that it was not washed properly (or at all). Good restaurants ensure that their dishes and utensils are washed, kept clean, stored, and handled carefully. Unclean glasses and dishes increase the risk of contamination and could even expose diners to harmful bacteria and cause food to spoil more quickly. Always check the glass and dish ware before eating. If you find something is amiss, it could be a forgivable one-time slip-up, or it could be a warning for you to go elsewhere.
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Kingfishers Waterfront Bar & Grill
23840 River Rd, Maple Ridge, BC V2W 1B7