Pubs - Eating ?

Mar 15th, 2008, 12:20 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Pubs - Eating ?

Although I have been to Britain several times, I don't feel that I have mastered Pub 'etiquette' - so a couple of questions.
We are not big drinkers but love to eat in pubs. However I am always confused about when someone will come to our table to take our orders and when we should order our food at the bar? Unless there is a big obvious sign - how do I know which is appropriate - other than sitting there like a dummy until it becomes obvious no-one is taking orders at tables?
Same is true for drinks - when to order from the bar tender and when not? Also tipping etiquette for bar tenders and servers - who to tip and what %?
Thanks for any clarification.
semiramis is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 12:40 PM
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Almost invariably order at the bar and pay with order, tipping not required. If in doubt, ask.

PatrickLondon is online now  
Mar 15th, 2008, 12:52 PM
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Only tip if your order at the table and then no more than 10 per cent
BarbBelle is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 01:53 PM
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Always go to bar, they'll tell you nicely if they have table service. (It's very eccentric of me, I suppose, but I don't like pubs where they serve you at your table. It just doesn't seem right.) There will usually be menus at the bar, you can certainly take one and have a look at your table, then go back, returning the menu, and place your order. Or they may have a blackboard with the specials for the day.

Even when they deliver your order to the table, the servers rarely do anything else to deserve a tip. In the U.S. and Canada, waiters are constantly checking back with you re: water, drinks, etc. but we've rarely had that experience in a pub in the U.K. But that's fine with me, as I say, I'd rather they didn't become restaurants.
rickmav is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 08:07 PM
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95+% of the time you will order at the bar -- and in the other 5%-10%, most everyone will try to order at the bar before being told there is table service. So the barman won't think it at all weird that you try to order at the bar too.

janisj is online now  
Mar 16th, 2008, 12:49 AM
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janis is right. there is no secret formula and you won't look like a dummy for asking or just going up to the bar to try to order. however, there are some clues to table service....

more modern looking pubs in cities tend to have table service more than the more traditional ones. the other confusion is whether or not they have table service for drinks also.

quite often service is so dismal in these pubs that do table service that you can sit there forever without ever being acknowledged.

no tips unless there is proper table service (meaning your full order is taken at the table). no tips for just food delivery when it is ordered at the barand no tips at the bar.

Although if you must tip where it is not the norm, nobody will get offended or confused.
walkinaround is offline  
Mar 16th, 2008, 01:24 AM
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Order at the bar.

In some pubs you will see a number fixed to the table. When you go to the bar you will need this number to make sure your food comes to the right place.

No one is going to worry if you ask - i live here and in unfamiliar pubs i have to ask things like "do you bring the cutlery or do I need to get my own?"

Tipping in pubs is rare - only tip if you feel the service is exceptional.
sashh is offline  
Mar 16th, 2008, 02:38 AM
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Some places don't have numbers on the tables, but the bar staff give you something (e.g. a flag, a wooden spoon) with a number on it. At one time, some places gave you a pager, so that if you were siting at a table in the garden a long way from the building, they would call you to collect your food.

It's the uncertainty that makes pub meals exciting. Then there is the food itself...
chartley is online now  
Mar 16th, 2008, 02:40 AM
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It is usually pretty obvious whether a place has table service or not. In general it is only gastro-pubs that do this.

Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Mar 16th, 2008, 05:17 AM
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Thx for all the replies - unless I see a large "table service" sign I will first attempt to order at the bar. This seems to be the "best" course of action.
semiramis is offline  
Mar 17th, 2008, 01:24 AM
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99% 0f pubs

Drinks - always go to the bar to order and collect. No tipping but if you really want to you you can offer 'and one for yourself' (a drink) and they will usually just take the money value instead saying 'I'll have it later'. However, maybe I'm just a very mean person, but I've never done this in my life. It's more the sort of thing you do if you are a friendly regular than a visitor.

Food - find a table first, take note of any number on it, then go to bar to order and pay. Usually they will bring the food to your table. No need to tip.
nona1 is offline  

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