Elizabeth Large's Top 10 Things To Expect When Dining Out With A Restaurant Critic

July 15, 2009|By ELIZABETH LARGE

Everyone wants to go reviewing with a restaurant critic, I'm not sure why. I guess it's partly to see how the process works and partly to get free food. And maybe partly to have a story to dine out on. The reality is, as you might expect, that the companion doesn't have quite so much fun as people think. Here are my Top 10 Things to Expect When Dining Out With a Restaurant Critic:


When you get to the restaurant, the critic will always get the seat that has the best view of the dining room.


If you order too much alcohol or your drinks are very expensive, the restaurant critic will look daggers at you. Especially as she has to keep a clear head, which means severely limiting her intake.


If you get into a fascinating conversation with the other dinner guests before you've ordered, you will be sharply reprimanded for not staying "on task."


If you really want to be accommodating and you say, "I'll have anything" when asked what you want, she'll roll her eyes and you won't be invited back because you're not being helpful.


If you want to be helpful so you immediately speak up and say, "I'll have the calamari and the chicken marengo," you won't be invited back because you're pushy and demanding.


If you care too much about food and love, love, love fried oysters, your heart will be broken. She'll catch on and won't let you order them every time because she gets tired of describing the "crisp, gold exterior."


You want the delicious-sounding rib eye steak. The restaurant critic tells you that's too boring and you need to order the house specialty, Caribbean meat loaf with pineapple-tarragon salsa.


You love going on reviews but you're trying to watch your weight, so you say you'd like to order the house salad as a first course. She tells you salads are forbidden as a first course. You can order the cream of crab bisque with whipped cream and a house salad, but a salad by itself doesn't count as an appetizer.


You have the most delicious piece of grouper with a beurre blanc you've ever tasted in front of you. You would kill to eat this dish in peace. The restaurant critic insists you give a large chunk of it to her to taste, and also to share it with the other guests at the table since they are happy to give you a piece of their Caribbean meat loaf.


You are stuffed. Almost sick. You didn't mean to eat the whole thing. The restaurant critic informs you pleasantly that you can't not order dessert. No, it can't be the seasonal berries or the sorbet. It has to be the fried cheesecake with bananas Foster topping. You don't have to eat it, right? You can just take one bite and let her taste it? The server will ask you if you want a to-go box.

Readers talk back

I can't believe you've been holding out on us. There is a restaurant in Baltimore that serves Caribbean meat loaf?

Posted by: Robert of Cross Keys

This is the most entertaining Top Ten that I can remember. You should just go to print as is. Of course, we'll still talk and talk. ...

Posted by: Eve

Best. List. Ever.

Posted by: Baltofoodie


My husband read it and said, "Hmmm, sounds exactly like when you go out to dinner with a group of friends." Sadly, he's right. I tell my friends what looks good (because I can't possibly order all of the things that look good to ME), what they should order and then demand that they share. The good news is that I am usually right and they are happy with what I ordered for them. I'm such a friend, eh?

Posted by: Maggi

We could also use a "Top 10 things to do or not do w/ in-laws when dining out." My personal pet peeve was one whipping out a calculator to get to the penny what their part of the tip was. JUST GUESTIMATE! (& this was before the recession)

Posted by: Brad

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