What do you LIKE about restaurants?

After reading and participating in the restaurant peeve thread, I thought I would start one about things I like about the service at restaurants.

One of mine: I go to an “all you can stuff” Chinese restaurant about once a week. I usually go between 2-3 in the afternoon. Lunch crowd is dying down, and they are taking the stale stuff off of the buffet.

Reasons I keep going back:

When I enter, and hostess sees “Party of One Holding Book”, I get a well-lit table with enough room for the book beside my plate.

When waitress approaches and asks what I wish to drink, she leaves a straw ( which I don’t use in a beverage but makes a great bookmark) and extra napkins at my seat. Extra napkins are important to me at a meal/buffet where I might be eating finger food.

When I go back to the buffet: if the plate is near the edge of the table and appears to have little/nothing/shells on it and it is picked up and replaced with a clean plate: JOY!!

If I have lingered by a dish that I like, but appears to have been “resting” a while - often a waitress will come by to let me know that “fresh” is on the buffet.

If a plate appears to be “in progress” and I have gone for some sauce, it is left alone. Maybe with a few more napkins.

Fellow Dopers, I have observed that we like to bitch. We also love to celebrate, so let us share that which we find wonderful in food service!

I love that the place near here with Chinese buffet has a “Mongolian BBQ” where you throw together a plate and they cook it in front of you. They are really polite and you can’t find better meat in a restaurant in this town (IMHO).

The people at our Buffalo Wild Wings are pretty nice, and it’s only crowded on weekends and drinking nights, so it’s usually not too bad of a place to sit down and eat. They leave one television on CNN so I don’t have to watch sports the whole time (but I can if I want).

Of course, I love restaurants because I don’t have to cook or do dishes…but that’s just me.

Brendon Small

People bring food (several courses if you like) and drink (alcoholic or non, as you wish) right to your table, without your having to do anything but ask. For millennia humankind could barely imagine such luxury. And now we take it for granted!

Also, the bringers of said viands are generally friendly, pleasant, and surprisingly often physically attractive! (I like the females, but again, it’s your choice.)

Your mother can’t tell you what to eat or not eat (unless you’re taking her with you).

Restaurants are sometimes very pleasant places, with enjoyable atmosphere, decor, music and mood. In all but a few cases, you the diner are protected from weather, traffic, falling tree limbs and wild animals. The classier establishments may even offer to check your coat or parcels.

And did I mention the free ice water? All you can choke down! You could ask for a GALLON and they’d bring it right on!

As a mother, by the time I get everyone else served and the little one’s food cut up and I get to sit down and eat, it’s cold and I hardly even want it anymore, it was so much work. Going out to eat puts me on the same level as everyone else- getting served and waited on, for once. I love it and will continue to engage in it in the future.

I get to eat food that I wouldn’t normally cook at home, either because it’s too finicky or I just don’t know how to cook it. I also love that someone else has to do the dishes! :smiley:

There is a great little place near my house in DC. It is in walking distance, the owner knows us and I like it because it has a unique and pleasant feel to it. I love that it is not generic.

Ditto in spades :stuck_out_tongue:

For a while, I had a routine of eating at a small-town cafe every other Friday night. I would go late, after their rush, and take a book. It was a luxury to walk in, sit down, tell the waitress, “The usual, please,” and have someone bring me food that I didn’t have to cook and then take away the dishes that I didn’t have to wash.

An hour of uninterrupted reading time; also a luxury.

The usual: salad, fried catfish, red beans, cole slaw, fries, unsweet iced tea, and chocolate pie.

I miss my Friday night treat.

I don’t cook it.
I don’t clean the table.
I can eat in a town 100 miles away when I’m hungry.

It’s food that’s way better than I can cook (if I even know how). At my sushi bar, they know what I like and even make special things just for me because they like me. They even sort of remember my name. They all call me “Chibby-San” (Shorty).

I get to eat things that I don’t have to cook, or shop for the ingredients for, and I don’t have to wash the dishes. The food I eat out is usually (and deliberately chosen because it’s) stuff I don’t cook at home, at places that do it well.

I love cooking, but I also love eating in restaurants.

I am single person. I can get a single serving of something, eat it once, and not have a bunch of leftovers. I don’t have to buy every ingrediant in the dish, which would cost more than I would like, and work at preparing it and cleaning up.

The sushi bar is one of my favorite restaurant experiences, and when I go out with my fiancé, we normally eat at the bar. There are a few we like to visit, but it’s always a big visual feast: you can watch the sushi chefs at work, there are always displays of platters and other sushi-related items, sometimes there is art to look at, and it’s always a relaxed atmosphere where people come to unwind at the end of the day. The food is always good, it’s extremely fresh, and there’s almost always something new to try. It’s also a great social experience when we go in groups; the food never really gets in the way of conversation, and sometimes inspires it.

I like the fact that the instant my tea glass hits the table empty, some one appears out of nowhere to fill it up. I like it when, after about 6 or 8 refills, someone just leaves a pitcher of tea on the table. If I could just get someone to put the required number of Splenda packets in each glass for me, I’d be in heaven.

Ah, but around here you have to be constantly on guard against a sweet tea refill.

There’s a little pub down the street from our house. The missus and I go there about once a week. Deep-frying at home is a pain in the neck, and it would be doubly a pain in the neck if one of us wanted fries and the other onion rings (as usual), but the nice people at the restaurant do it for us without complaint. I would find it inconvenient to maintain a tap at home, but the nice people at the restaurant kindly provide cold drafts of Guinness for me. The place is pleasant, the staff smile at us and remember our order, and the missus and I can carry on a conversation since there is never any music playing and the TVs are all muted. Also, they happily provide horseradish on the side for my sandwich.

I have to second (or third or fourth) how much I love going to a restaurant by myself, with a book. I have a couple of places where I am a regular all by myself, and they bring my food promptly and without much interruption. Not only is someone bringing me delicious food and cold beer or tea, but they refill my drink without continually pestering me about it - they just take care of it for me. That way, I can sit and read without interruption, whether it is a tome I need to finish for class or simply something I am enjoying for myself, and I can read it without looking at/ worrying about the laundry that needs to be folded, or the dishes which need to be done, or the boxes I need to unpack. Bliss!

There’s an Italian place the city that I love.

The waiters and waitresses are always happy. The food is delicious and well priced. And the atmosphere is so delightfully festive.

One anecdote that sums up the reason this place is my favorite:
My family had eaten dinner there one night, but hadn’t been able to finish the enormous portioned meal. My mom asked for hers to be boxed up to take home. A few minutes after the plates were cleared, the waiter came back to our table, looking sheepish and apologetic. He said that he had accidentally thrown away the meal my mom had asked to be boxed up… and he offered to have a new one cooked for her at no extra charge.

My mom refused, but the whole family was amazed at how considerate the restaurant was and how far they were willing to go to rectify a mistake.

There’s a truly delightful little family-run restaurant just around the corner for us that serves the best crab cakes in the entire universe. And at half the price of the fancy restaurants elsewhere in town. If we could even manage to reproduce the deliciousness of those crab cakes (which are more like softball-sized hunks of pure crab with just enough sauce to hold them together and the lightest coating in the world just so they can be deep fried, with several delicious sides, all for $14.99 on Wednesdays, $15.99 the rest of the time!), we could not do it for twice the price, I swear to you. Their other dishes are equally amazing. The “fried clams” are not the typical little clams you see, but huge wonderful fresh clams lightly fried to perfection. And on and on; there’s not a dish on their menu that isn’t wonderful. (Not that I’d know; I’ve seen other people order other things, but I’ve never made it past those two!)

And they are unfailingly pleasant, they provide refill containers of beverages right on your table, make a fresh pot of coffee for Papa Tiger, and there is never a delay in service, even when the place is completely full, which is it from the moment they open their doors till they close, for obvious reasons. It’s always spotlessly clean, everyone there is courteous and cheerful no matter how busy they are, and literally the only fault we can find with the place is that they only have iceberg lettuce on the salad bar. Piffle! For that amazing seafood? We’ll just substitute an extra vegetable, which they also do cheerfully – no problem substituting, just ask them!

And the kicker? There’s only one waitress who handles the entire main dining room, and yet she never misses a beat. Clearly she’s been doing it since she’s a teenager; the family teenagers are now in training to follow in her footsteps someday, but they’ll have a long wait, at the rate she’s going. And even the teenagers are cheerful and unfailingly polite, a nice change from typical teenage sullenness one encounters in so many other food service places.

Have I mentioned that this paragon of restaurantly virtues is literally around the corner from our house? And that they have the best crab cakes in the universe?

PJ Brown’s
When we go to PJ Brown’s, they know us by name. A few times we have heard the couple ahead of us told that without a reservation, they cannot be seated, yet they will find a way to feed us. The owner will alert us to a single bottle of great wine that we might like. If a favorite is not on the menu, it can often be made anyway. Three hour dinners are not uncommon. Mmmmmmmmm.