Going to dinner in Europe means making an evening out of it.
( see my post Thank you for inspiring me )
Can you imaging what I thought when I had dinner in America for the first time? My (German) boyfriend and I were just in the country for a few days and one evening we went for dinner, all dressed up.
Oversees, America is famous for their steaks (and rightfully so, what a difference) so, of course we wanted to try them first. It did not take us long to find a steakhouse actually we were surprise of how many of them were in town. So we walk in, saw a nice table and set down, well that was not ok, the waitress told us that we have to “Be seated” we did not get the picture, we were already sitting.
Anyway, we had to wait for 10 minutes till we were seated (I will never understand why there are empty tables in a restaurant but at the same time there is a waiting line)
Ok. So, now we wanted to have a few drinks and some bread and than look at the menu, and wrong again the waiter gave us the menus before we even had a drink ?! We looked at each other and said, guess they are in a hurry and want to close early today (we got to the restaurant around 9 pm, normal dinner time for Europeans) Finally our drinks arrived and we took our merry time to look around and stare at peoples plates and (after the waiter come back 3 times in 10 minutes) we felt obligated to open the menu.
The moment we open the menu he was back asking again if we had decided. . . .
By now he was really getting on my nerves, we did not have a chance to relax or enjoy the atmosphere or start a conversation, this guy was in my face every 2 minutes! But than again, being a guest in the country I did not want to be unfriendly. So, we ordered or tried to, of course we had a million questions, what is this, what is that, what comes with it? (now we were getting on his nerves) It took a while and I was surprised that I could pick and choose if I wanted a soup or salad and what kind of dressing I wanted on the salad, and if I wanted fries or baked potato or pasta or broccoli or or or.(in Germany the chef decides what goes best with the meat and you are stuck with his choice, if you want to change it you are in trouble and if they let you have something else you always pay an extra charge for it) Long story short, the food was fantastic, but every time I stopped eating for a minute or so, the waiter was back and I had to fight to keep my plate.(by now as you can imagine, everybody else in the restaurant was gone) but we figured it is not even 10 pm and the late crowd will come in soon. Well, the late crowd never arrived and when they started to vacuum around us, we finally got the hint (we had totally ignored the little piece of paper the waiter had put on our table) It was our check. . . . Why would they put the check on the table when I hadn’t asked for it yet?
Yes, I tipped 20%, but trust me I didn’t do it because I was such a happy camper, I just did it because I had read somewhere that the waiters live on tip and that it is expected of you to give them 15 to 20% So, when we went home one thing was crystal clear, either that is the way they do things around here or we found the most horrible restaurant in town. Well, our next 3 or 4 dinning experiences were pretty much the same (and we left very puzzled and confused) but we realized, this is the American way, the faster the service the better.