If you’ve read a few of our blogs, you might be asking... do they ever go to a bad restaurant?? The answer is… usually no. I really can’t remember the last time we had a bad meal out. However, this isn’t just by luck or chance. We know our preferences, do research, follow our instincts, and set our expectations before visiting a restaurant. The little time we spend doing this pays off!
Before even looking at what’s available, we think about our preferences and what we’re looking for. A great example has come up a lot on this trip… Todd and I don’t eat much fried food. We also love fish. There are tons of restaurants on the Great Lakes that specialize in fish, but it’s almost always prepared fried. Before even looking at restaurants we know that we need to check the menus and if the food is all fried we skip the spot, even if it’s well known and has great reviews.
We read reviews on Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor to narrow down our choices, and we don’t just look at the number of stars. Sometimes restaurants are downgraded for things we don’t care about… someone may think lots of salads on a menu is bad, but that’s a plus for us. Also, the reviews reveal a lot about atmosphere… the restaurant may sound great, but if it’s not a kid friendly environment we move on.
Instincts are a big deal… we’ve walked in to plenty of places and walked out… they just didn’t feel right. Some of the things that tip us off… nobody’s there but the surrounding restaurants are busy, nobody greets us, people already eating don’t look happy and/or are leaving lots of food on their plates, servers standing around talking while drinks on tables are unfilled, everyone looks super rushed, no kids and the environment seems more adult appropriate… we always say that we’d rather wait at the best and most crowded restaurant in town than get served quickly at the worst.
Expectations are huge. Sometimes there aren’t a lot of options and it’s important to be realistic about what we’re getting. I’m a big salad eater… not just because salads are healthy, I really love them. Sometimes salad just isn’t in the cards… I make this judgement by looking around to see if the salads look fresh, or if anyone even has ordered one. I look at the types of salads on the menu… What are the options? Are they unique indicating that someone cared enough to come up with an idea? If it looks like I’ll be disappointed with the quality of the salad, I look for other things on the menu.
What if we do have a bad experience? We do talk to the restaurant management to let them know. For example, during our time in Tobermory we were looking for some quick take-out salads. I stopped in a coffee shop that advertised light meals. No alarm bells went off and they had take-out garden salads on the menu… perfect! While they were making the salads I paid. For 2 large garden salads the charge was $25… that seemed high to me but I wanted to see the salads first. When they gave me the salads I was shocked… they were very small… maybe both salads together would be worth $10. Instead of walking away mad I let them know my concern. The manager wasn’t there to talk to, so I just asked for my money back and left.
We love food and trying new restaurants. We take every meal seriously and enjoy spending the time to make great restaurant choices!