Top Qualities of a Good Restaurant
Eating out should be a relaxing, unwinding, and enjoyable experience. It should be an opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal in a great atmosphere. Whether you’re going to a delicious family restaurant, a Michelin-rated bistro, or a simple burger bar, you want to have the best time you can. The food, service, cleanliness, and a few other minor touches make all the difference when dining out. On average, Americans eat out at restaurants around four times per week. These are some of the top qualities of a good restaurant to help you distinguish the best from the rest.
It All Starts With The Bread
One of the top qualities of a great restaurant is a generous basket of warm and crusty being placed on the table before anyone has even ordered. Whether the complimentary bread is sourdough, honey wheat brown bread, or a plain white loaf, it should be accompanied by a ramekin of butter that has been warmed up to the perfect temperature for spreading. Some restaurants will serve a few slices of soft Italian bread and a bowl of olive oil for dipping, most often as an accompaniment to Italian food at an authentic Italian restaurant. Case in point, the best restaurants do not overlook the importance of bread.
They Do The Basics Well
Many restaurant writers and food connoisseurs will tell you that the best way to judge a restaurant is how well they prepare the simplest dishes, such as a roast chicken or mixed green salad. A chef’s preparation of these simple dishes is often an indicator of the restaurant’s quality across the board. It may be tempting to order an eclectic dish with seasonal ingredients, but these simple dishes are the best way to judge a chef’s quality of ingredients, attention to detail, and overall talent.
When there are fewer components to a dish, each one has its chance to shine. A simple green salad should be mostly mixed greens, whether it is iceberg, romaine, arugula, butter lettuces, bitter greens, or even some parsley leaves. Some hard salty cheese can be grated or shaved over top, such as parmesan or pecorino. The right amount of fat, vinegar, and salt should be present in an appropriate ratio to the greens. Finally, the salad should be well tossed to ensure every leaf is well coated in the dressing. This is what you should look for in a well made mixed greens salad, one of the top qualities of a good restaurant.
A roast chicken is another example of a simple dish that the best restaurants should do well. A beautifully browned roasted chicken sitting on top of a pool of its own juices is perhaps one of the most iconic dishes in all of cuisine. It is a dish that allows the simple flavors to shine, such as lemon, butter, olive oil, black pepper, garlic, and a few herbs such as thyme or rosemary. A simple roast chicken is best served with that simple mixed green salad and a piece of fresh baguette.
Once you know a restaurant can handle the basics well, consistency is key to determining the quality of a restaurant. Are fresh greens always being used in the salad? Is the roast chicken always cooked to the right doneness to allow for a perfectly juicy interior? These are the kinds of things you should be on the look out for when determining a restaurant’s consistency. Your favorite dish should always taste the same as it did the last time. Ultimately, a restaurant’s consistency is what will always have you coming back for more.
Other than handling the basics of good cuisine well, the best restaurants will offer something that is unique to them. When people decide to dine out, they are generally looking for something different or something they cannot get at home or their regular diner. There may be a number of restaurants that offer good food and service in a certain area, but a truly great restaurant will have one or several unique offerings or features that a customer will remember and compel them to make a return visit.
A Knowledgeable Wait Staff
Another one of the top qualities of a good restaurant is a knowledgeable wait staff. A good restaurant will train their servers adequately and not throw them right into the fire on their first day. Some restaurants even require new servers to memorize the entire menu and shadow another experienced waiter or waitress for a few weeks before waiting a table on their own. This way, the servers can thoroughly answer any questions about the menu and specials, along with the wine list, and make recommendations to customers based on their individual taste. This is much easier for the server if they have tasted every item on the menu, which most good restaurants require.
If applicable, knowledgeable bartenders are another one of many important qualities of a good restaurant. A restaurant’s bartenders should also have an extensive knowledge of the wine list, along with a familiarity with classic cocktails. Often times a restaurant will station a young or inexperienced server behind the bar who would struggle with even the most basic popular cocktails.
A well trained and knowledgeable wait staff should also be able to work together as a team. One of the qualities of a good restaurant is that every member of the wait staff is working to ensure that every guest has a positive experience. For a restaurant to run smoothly, the wait staff has to work as a team to ensure that plates are constantly being cleared for the next course and the necessary utensils and proper condiments are on the table before the guests ask for them. The servers, buspersons, food runners, and hosts need to work together to make sure this happens. A guest should also feel comfortable approaching any member of the wait staff with a request, not just those assigned to their table. They may not be able to accommodate the request, but they can communicate it accordingly.
Restaurant Atmosphere and Ambience
Designing a restaurant’s interior requires more than just a sense of style or eye for decor. A restaurant’s atmosphere should match the food that is being served, along with the price. This is another one of the top qualities of a good restaurant. No matter the atmosphere of the dining room, the seating should be comfortable, the tables should be large enough for the dining ware, and the wait staff’s uniforms should match the rest of the restaurant’s style. The temperature of the dining room is also an important factor in a restaurant’s comfortability. It should not be too cold during the winter or too hot during the summer. In this case, proper heating and air conditioning is key.
There are many other factors that go into establishing a restaurant’s ambience, such as the location, flooring, lighting, background music, and window blinds and shades, which all provide ambience and comfort for the guests. A restaurant’s location can work wonders for its atmosphere, such as in the case of a beachfront or waterfront restaurant.
One of the hallmark qualities of a good restaurant and a sign of a skilled kitchen and wait staff is excellent timing. If soup and salad are ordered as an accompaniment to a main dish, it should always come first without having to ask. If appetizers are ordered, they should be served before the main entrees. Most importantly, a table should all receive their entrees at the same time. No one wants to sit and wait while other members of their party enjoy their entrees. This should be obvious protocol but not something all restaurants are able to execute well.
Another one of the qualities of a good restaurant wait staff is the ability to anticipate your needs. A good service staff will keep patrons’ water glasses filled throughout the meal, without them asking to ask. This is an added bonus if the restaurant offers free homemade sparkling water. Plates should be cleared promptly after the guest is finished with them. Dirty silverware should also be cleared with the plates and replaced with each course.
Clean floors are one of the top qualities of a good restaurant. Sticky floors can be incredibly displeasing, but there should never be pieces of food, liquid, crumbs, or broken crayons on the floor in the dining area. Because this could be a safety hazard, it should be taken care of well before a guest even gets close. Consider a restaurant’s overall safety as well. Having visible security services can provide a deterrent to potential criminals and protection for the guests.
A clean bathroom is one of a few qualities of a good restaurant that is often overlooked. In a restaurant, the cleanliness of the front of the house, kitchen, and bathroom usually goes hand in hand. Even if the building is older and the restroom has not been recently renovated, the restaurant should ensure that all plumbing fixtures are functioning properly and the garbage is not overflowing. To prevent this, local trash removal should come by frequently. The bathroom doors should also lock properly, hooks should be provided, and the bathroom should be well-stocked with soap and paper products. This is an addition to the regular cleanliness and aesthetics a restaurant bathroom should provide.
All surfaces in the bathroom should be disinfected frequently and all drains should be draining properly. If not, a drain cleaning will be necessary to remove any clogs. If you notice water pooling in the sink, you should get it fixed right away. This is a sign there is a blockage in the plumbing system. If not properly corrected, clogged drains could eventually cause pipes to burst or crack, leading to flooding. Therefore, clogged drains are something you never want to see in a restaurant bathroom. The restaurant may have to close down for a flood cleanup contractor to come in and clean up after the unfortunate flooding incident.
The Price Factor
When eating out, some people like to forget about the price and just have an enjoyable and relaxing evening out. Others have to remain conscientious about money and stay on a strict budget when eating out. When you dine out, you are actually paying for the entire experience that a restaurant has to offer, not just the food. This is why the prices at different restaurants may vary, despite similar quality of food. Most people assume the higher the price the higher the quality, which is not always true. There are a few other factors that go into determining prices, such as atmosphere and service.
Most people enjoy dining out at a restaurant where they feel they are getting the best value for their money. Unreasonably high prices will discourage customers from returning. On the other hand, unreasonably low prices will raise suspicions regarding the quality of food that is being served. If you dine out at a bad restaurant, you might have to pay for more than just a bad meal, you might find yourself having to invest in gastroenterology services.
An Attention To Detail
A restaurant’s attention to detail can refer to many different things, but it is always one of the qualities of a good restaurant. For some, it is the type of ice used in drinks or cocktails. People look for rectangular, square, or spherical shaped pieces of ice as a sign that the restaurant has an attention to detail. For others, the ketchup on the table is an indicator. Many customers are adamant about having a name brand of ketchup rather than a generic brand or a fancier artisanal brand. In a more expensive restaurant, your cloth napkin should be folded at your place when you get up to use the bathroom. In a more casual restaurant, extra paper napkins should already be placed on the tables. This attention to detail is one of the best indicators and qualities of a good restaurant.
Since what makes a restaurant good or bad can ultimately be subjective, perhaps the best sign of a truly good restaurant, whether it is a drive-in, a fancy sit down restaurant, or even a food truck, is that you keep going back to it.