What do you LIKE about restaurants?

I’m arrogant - but honest - enough to claim that few restaurants cook food for me as well as I do at home*, which frustrates me quite a lot. But when they do… my goodness it’s good. Which is why I treat myself (or friends treat me) to a proper gourmet meal about once or twice a year.

In the last few years I’ve been to Shanahan’s on the Green and Patrick Gilbaud’s in Dublin, Le Caprice, Gordon Ramsay at Claridges, and Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. I love it when a restaurant isn’t just about the food, but the whole experience. The meal at Le Manoir (a taster menu of ten courses) took more than four hours to get through and was an amazing experience all round, in incredible surroundings, with superb staff who just appeared exactly when needed then buggered off; it was pretty much the best food I’ve ever tasted in my life, too.

Lined up soon are the Fat Duck, and breakfast at the Wolseley. And my lovely wife gave me a day’s cookery class at Le Manoir too. I am very privileged.

*With the exception of Indian and Chinese, which are very hard for me to do properly, and I suck at cooking rice too; plus you don’t get that ‘authentic’ inauthentic restaurant taste when you’re cooking from a recipe book that has the actual, rather than the ‘made to UK tastes’, recipes.

Being waited on.

Trying things I can’t cook at home.

Trying wine and beer I haven’t tried before.

I like being in restaurant atmosphere with other people, including my wife. I think it helps stimulate conversation.

My wife and I have made it one of our missions to find the world’s best crab cakes (other than mine - honestly, I’ve never had any that were better than I make at home).

Where is this wonderful crab cake you speak of?

I’m in Central VA, BTW, and the Bay is an easy trip.

Like jjimm, I don’t necessarily go to a restaurant for the quality of the food-- my wife is a great cook and I enjoy her dishes as well as most anything I could get eating out. I go for the pleasure of being waited on. When everything goes smoothly and I feel like the waiter really made an effort to take care of me, that waiter is getting an awesome tip. This is why a buffet or serve-yourself format holds almost no appeal for me. If I wanted to prepare my own plate, fill my own drink, etc., I would just do it at home.

I love going out to eat. I especially love the lunch-shopping combo. I love to linger for a long time, trying different appetizers and sipping drinks and talking and laughing for a couple hours. I’m happy to tip well for the opportunity to hang around and chat with my friends for a while without having to play hostess.

Specifics:
I love the $tarbucks I go to regularly (and this is why I go there regularly) because the people are great. They’re friendly and talkative. They remember me and my drink and when they screw up (which is easy because although my drink is easy, it’s confusing) they offer to fix it without trying to lay blame on anyone/thing else. I love them there and actually enjoy going there.

I love the Ghengis Grill where we eat often because the grill guys always seem to enjoy their job. They try to impress the customers with little tricks of flipping the shrimp off the sticks (makes no sense unless you have ever been to a mongolian-style place, but it’s similar to a hibachi grill) – always earning an extra tip and applause from our family.

I love the Fortune House – where the Chinese-food-nazi (think soup nazi from Seinfeld with a Chinese accent) works. The food is amazing which more than makes up for the attitude of the owner :smiley: I’ve been in there enough that she likes me and even smiles occasionally now, but still, did I mention the food is amazing?

In general:

I like not having to cook when I get off work at 5:00, have to pick the kids up from school/marching band practice and have a meeting for the band boosters at 7:00. It’s easy, it’s handy, and worth the cost. I like not having to clean the kitchen, the dishes or the table afterwards.

I like the fact that while I love ethnic foods, I don’t so much like cooking them, so I can get them pretty easily just by going out. Greek food? I always screw it up at home, but there is this fabulous place in town where the guy’s wife (who is Pakistani, so her Greek has an interesting flair) makes the food from scratch – even th spanakopita (YUM!)

It’s the Edgewater Restaurant, on Mayo Road off Route 2 a couple miles south of the South River bridge. They’re only open Wednesday-Sunday, and they don’t take reservations so midafternoon Saturday is probably the only time there isn’t a wait, but they’re worth every moment of the drive.

And I’ll bet their crab cakes are better than yours!

Enjoying food I couldn’t/wouldn’t make myself. Cute waitresses. Better coffee than at home. A chance to talk to my wife. Change in atmosphere. Not having to do the dishes.

I love having a chance to talk to my husband, especially if we’re out without the little one. I still remember the first time we went out alone after he was born. The waiter came up to us and asked us what we wanted to drink and we just goggled at him for a moment. So many choices, and we didn’t have to do a darn thing - just sit there!

It was also the first time in nearly six months I’d had a meal without nursing my child at the same time or doing a hundred other things with my hands. It was such a novel and pleasurable experience that my head almost exploded.

I still get a little of that feeling whenever I go to a restaurant alone with my husband. Even when the little man is there, it’s nice to have someone else cook and clean up afterward.

As others have said, we’re pretty good cooks so going out is more about not having to clean the kitchen/do the dishes or about eating things that are too hard/messy to prepare at home (like anything deep fried). Or getting those ethnic foods that I just don’t know how to prepare correctly at home.

I like going to a place that I go to regularly, being recognized and treated just a bit special for it. It doesn’t have to be fancy cuisine, or even necessarily great food. Not having to cook, not having to do dishes - being able to eat, talk with the Wife or Kid, then get up and leave is really nice.

For example, we’re pretty much regulars at one these places in the next town. I’d say once a week, we drop in after the Wife runs her regular Avon deliveries. Waitresses, servers all stop by our table to say hi. They just finished and opened one in our town, about half as far from our house as our regular place is, but we’ll keep going to the one we have.

It’s friendly, the beer’s cold, the wings are very good (Spicy Garlic, mmmmmmmmm), there’s a big TV with a game on anywhere you sit. A night for the two of us with drinks and a tip come to less than $40 most nights. Can’t beat, that I say.

I cook great Thai food, but the cost of making it for myself is often double what it would be if I go out and order it. Even a simple veggie burger can be like this - after buying the buns, cheese, lettuce, tomato and Garden Burger I’m right up at where I would be if I just walked across the street and bought one at Chili’s.

Try Pisces, in the Hyatt on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Pricey, but the crabcakes are worth it.

All sorts of things. Sometimes it’s the ambience, sometimes the food itself, sometimes the fact that it comes fast…mostly because I don’t nhave to clean up (although I do anyways).

I don’t have to cook.
I don’t have to clean up.
It’s fun whether I’m with one person, a group or by myself.
Did I mention I don’t have to cook or clean up?

It’s Special. When I was a kid, we didn’t go out to eat - maybe once a year. To this day, it’s Special.

I know - it sounds stupid.

That’s what’s great about the Edgewater Restaurant – it’s a local secret, and deservedly so, because it is not pricy and the seafood is just amazing.

I always enjoy getting wonderful service in a restaurant. Perhaps we got spoiled living in New Orleans, where exceptional service was the norm, but it sure makes for a pleasant dining experience.

And when my son was a teenager, we used to love to take him to various ethnic holes-in-the-wall to try new and different cuisines. We still laugh about his adventures with the spicy jerk chicken at the Jamaican place, and one of his favorite evenings ever was when he walked up to the little Korean hangout near where we lived to eat their spicy noodles, and then called home to see if he could stay to enjoy the drunken Korean karaoke, which they had politely asked his permission before starting up (since we were the only non-Koreans we ever saw in that place, but we were regulars). Of course we said yes – how could we deny him the pleasure? :smiley:

ETA: Which he was only watching, not participating in, I hasten to add!

Mexican food and spinach artichoke dip. drool

It’s so good.