What Makes Me Fall In Love With a Restaurant
A friend recently asked me what I look for in a restaurant; what keeps me coming back. Besides the obvious- good food, there are a few other things that add an eatery to my gluttony arsenal. The menu has to be creative and have enough variety to appeal to my different palate moods. A breakfast sandwich consisting of a fried egg, bacon, and cheddar cheese sorts me out after a self-indulgent late night out. On sunny days in summer I crave a light, fresh dish with seasonal ingredients. Most often, I love being exposed to a new combination of ingredients that are interesting, balanced, and leaves me wanting more.
It also matters to me that the restaurant is clean. Who wants pistachio crusted pork tenderloin with a side of hair? I enjoy a diverse crowd at a restaurant but that does not include flies and mice.
Ambiance is critical. I once went to an excellent restaurant in the Third Ward and while I adored the food, I was blinded by a poorly placed light shining in my eyes. Aside from not being able to see my companion, I could not fully enjoy the chef's aesthetic creation.
Consistency matters. It's easy for a restaurant to become sloppy. The chef burns out, high turnover can mean under-trained staff, a switch to cheaper ingredients, etc. If I am going back to a restaurant I hope to have the same quality of experience, if not better, then the time before.
I also note the service. It's disappointing when you are made to feel like a server's burden. I love restaurants where you are greeted with a hearty or warm welcome and seated as if they know your mother and they had been expecting you all day. I fall in love with restaurants where the environment is gracious and warm, with no pretense. It doesn't matter how good the food is, if there is an air of stuffiness, coldness, and superiority, it kills the experience.
What do you look for in a restaurant? I'd love to hear some feedback!