Baltimore Snacker, Kitchenography and some other bloggers inspired this subsection of my Pigtown*Design blog.
It turns out that I eat out a lot more than many people, and lived with a chef for a few years, spent time in Louisiana learning to cook and did some catering. So perhaps I am kind of qualified to write about cooking and food. I am not hyper-critical, but I do know what is good and bad in a restaurant.
I think service should be prompt and polite. You should be greeted by the server and brought a menu within a few minutes of being seated, whether you seat yourself or are seated.
I think that, within reason, you should be allowed substitutions. If you want something left off a dish, that's not incorporated into the dish, the kitchen should leave it off. However, "California" ordering is not acceptable. This is when I order a Caesar Salad with Chicken, but instead of chicken, I want salmon, and instead of romaine lettuce, I want iceberg, and instead of Caesar dressing, I want Ranch. Well, that's no longer a Caesar salad, honey!
I think that prices should be reasonable for what you're getting. I think that $6.00 for a bagel and cup of coffee is a bit much - especially for Baltimore. However, a recent dinner at $57 for three, including wine, is a great price.
I think that the restaurant should be clean - and you can usually gauge this by looking at the bathrooms. If they don't care enough to clean the bathrooms, then what in the world does the kitchen look like?
I think restaurant owners should have their customers' best interests at heart, because they're the ones who are paying the price. Make sure the music's at a reasonable level. People go out to eat so they can catch up with friends, make plans with lovers, and discuss their day. If you can't hear yourself think then you can't converse. Set the lighting at a level where the majority of the patrons can read the menu without having to give them a flashlight.
Because I am currently living in Baltimore, I will mainly be writing about Baltimore-area restaurants. Bon Apetit!