Sarah-Jane Bedwell, SELF magazine
One of my favorite things to do over the weekend is to round up my friends and have long, relaxing dinners. We're all so busy, so dinner is the perfect opportunity for us to catch up! Most of the time we head to a restaurant in town, and I always ask the waiter a few questions to make sure I know how my food is prepared so I can make the smartest selection. Here's a handy list of questions to ask YOUR waiter:
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What's your favorite dish on the menu? If you want to ensure that you are going to get something yummy, this is the question to ask. Servers have generally tried everything on the menu and are very open and honest about their favorite dishes. I have never been disappointed when I ordered something that the server recommended! As an added bonus, as they describe the dish, you have a better idea how it's prepared, how fresh it is and of the flavors in the dish. For example, the server might say, "My favorite dish is the red snapper, it was just caught today and so flavorful it didn't even need a sauce! The chef just grilled it and topped it with fresh, local arugula and tomatoes."
What is the entree served with? I've made the mistake of ordering too much food when I don't ask this question, and my entree turns up with a full portion of a side item, such as a bed of rice, that is not listed in the menu description. Once you know what that item is, you can find out how it is prepared and ask to make a substitution, if you'd like. This will help you save money and ensure you don't eat too much by ordering a whole separate side.
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How is that prepared? This is an important question no matter what the menu says and no matter what item you are ordering. The menu may simply say, "steamed seasonal vegetables," but I've found out the hard way that that doesn't always mean they are simply steamed. Like when veggies come out drenched in butter and heavily seasoned -- not what I was expecting!
Which one is made in-house? I like to ask this question when ordering salad dressings or desserts, because restaurants tend to buy these pre-made. Foods that are made in-house are generally fresher and tastier than ready-made foods. Plus, they tend to be made with simpler ingredients and require fewer (if any) preservatives, which is a good thing in my book.
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Is this dish big enough to share? Before I started asking this question, I can't tell you how many times I would order something and end up with enough to feed three people. A server can help you determine if the dish is big enough to share on its own or if it would be good to order salads on the side as well. Plus, sharing helps lower the bill!
What questions do you ask servers when you are dining out to ensure you order tasty, healthy dishes?
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