Restaurant etiquette questions.

Old Mar 16th, 2003, 07:54 PM
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Restaurant etiquette questions.

1. Is it considered rude to only order one meal and share it?

2. How much should we tip our waiters?
michelle_reed1 is offline  
Old Mar 16th, 2003, 08:43 PM
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1. No.
2. Depends on where you are. Consult a tipping guide.
mitchrc is offline  
Old Mar 16th, 2003, 08:51 PM
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Why so concerned with what a waiter thinks???

If he/she thinks you are rude, don't leave a tip.
jor is offline  
Old Mar 16th, 2003, 08:52 PM
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I agree with above. We ask locals for the most accurate tipping etiquette because it varies in different places. In France service is always included by law no matter what anyone or the menu says. We were told this by a few restauranteurs. So just leave a little extra (what we think is a little and what europeans think is a little are very different) if you really thought the service was special. It is normal to leave small change (not considered rude like in the US). In Italy, you just leave whatever you want (that's what we were told anyway by locals). Many locals don't tip, and it's not considered rude. It seems to be expected though at touristy places. I think its just because the expectation was imported by foreign patrons.
SloPugs is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2003, 03:48 AM
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Hi Michelle,
Expect to be charged for sharing.
ira is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2003, 05:01 AM
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jor, I don't think michelle was just referring to being considered rude by the waiter, but generally rude according to local custom. Your statement that if the waiter thinks you are rude to stiff him of the tip, indicates what an ugly American you must be. If a person is rude and the waiter notices that, then why is that the waiter's fault?

I agree with most of the other comments about how it depends on where you are. It also depends on the type of place you are in. Just like at home. You might want to share a pizza at Pizza Hut, but I doubt if you'd order a single entree and share it while dining at a fancy full scale restaurant.
Old Mar 17th, 2003, 07:48 AM
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jor, in this string you ask:
'Why so concerned with what a waiter thinks???'

Yet in the France/US string you make the point that we should care what the rest of the world thinks.

Personally I consider the tip question much more complex than the Iraq question.

To the actual point of this post: in the US anyway, my wife and I will often share a meal and most times they will split the meal in the kitchen for us.

We tip on the bill and toss in a bit extra for the service.

mm is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2003, 07:59 AM
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I'm curious about meal sharing, too.

Like most Americans, we are used to meals consisting of salad, the entree, and desert, and our doctors are telling us to eat less.

Then I read about Italian restaurants that serve far more courses in a meal, and I wonder if the courses are smaller, or, if not, how one can eat that much and not get fatter. I had thought that perhaps getting the multi-course meal, but splitting it with my wife, would be the best solution. Can someone with experience advise me?
clevelandbrown is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2003, 08:25 AM
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In reply to clevelandbrown --

1) Yes, courses are smaller.
2) You're not required to eat lots of courses ("eat up your salad or no tiramasu for you, naughty American!" On our holidays in Italy, we often only have one course for lunch, and no one frowns.
3) Sharing -- We've only ever done this for dessert -- or rather, my husband orders the dessert and I ask for two spoons. The reaction is usually quite jolly.
marges is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2003, 08:26 AM
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What I recently found in Venice was sometimes the courses were smaller & sometimes not. In a nice restaurant for dinner, we sometimes split an appetizer and/or pasta course & then each had our own main course. Rightly or wrongly I don't think it's a problem to split "before" & "after" courses but feel less comfortable sharing a main course. There were times when I skipped the "main" course altogether & had pasta as my main course. Nobody seemed to blink.
mclaurie is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2003, 08:29 AM
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I think you will find portions in Europe a lot smaller than those at home. An entree-soup comes in a small bowl, fish is usually one filét, one boiled potato (or two), and a couple of spoonfuls sauce, meat is for example a steak (150-200 grams), rice and vegetables. Dessert is about one third of a typical desert in American restaurants. Traditional foods are sturdier.

If I would share my meal with somebody I would go hungry. And I am a small person and a woman, so I cannot imagine a man eating only half a portion.

Check first the size of a portion, and then decide if you really want to share.
elina is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2003, 08:34 AM
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I forgot: People usually don´t eat those three course meals for lunch. Lunch is a salad or a soup or a bowl of pasta. Dinner is three courses. But even then you can order only one course.

Perfectly OK to share a salad or a pizza.
elina is offline  
Old Mar 17th, 2003, 09:20 AM
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In first place, there is not law against ordering just one or two courses, on the other hand most Italians do not go along the "antipasto-primo-secondo-contorno-dessert" ritual. Most people will only have a couple of them (an antipasto witha primo, a primo and a contorno and so on). Primo is as much of a main course as secondo, therefore we often chose one of the two and not both. Only on special occasions we eat both.
Also, often enough Italians just skip desert: it is a threat that will allow ourselves on special occasions and not actually part of the meal. most usually we have sweet meals (breakfast and sometimes "merenda", a mid-afternoon snack) and salted meal (lunch and dinner). At home a desert is hardly ever served, except on sundays or on other special occasions, while most people prefer finish off the lunch or dinner with a fruit.
As for the portions, they may vary. Very upscale restaurants usually offer pretty small portions, so that you wiull have to eat many of their unsatisfying & very costly dishes in order to feel sated, trattoria and similar places offer larger portions with better value but not necessarly a lower quality.
It is not frowned upon to share a meal, but most usually people ho go to the restaurant in Italy prefer to swap the dishes instead of asking for a second dish and splitting the meal in two. Heat is a basic characteristic of many Italian foods (in northern and central Italy in particular) and keeping everything in one dish helps keep it hotter. Thus I can have a dish of pasta and my partner can have a dish of risotto, than halfway through them, we swap dishes.

As for tipping, the simple rule is DO NOT TIP. In Italy waiters and other personnell are fully paid by the owner (of the restaurant, of the hotel and so on). Only if you feel that the service has been extra good, than you may leave a small tip (1-2 euro is appropriate). Leaving large tips can be even offensive, implying some similarity to bribing or that the service was so foul that the owner ought to pay better the waiters. In touristy areas tips are not usually misinterpreted, and in some palces that are particularty thick with Us tourists they might even be expected, but than these palces area exactly those you should keep far from, at least if you want to taste real Italian cooking.
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Old Mar 17th, 2003, 01:11 PM
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My husband & I often share items, not to save money, but we can rarely finish a meal. Our goal is to make it to desert with room left in our bellies! We do this in both the US and abroad with no problems whatsoever. The one exception is high-end places with nouveau cuisine-type ,portions, in which case we order all on our own. It's different each time, but we most often order an appetizer (or 2 if they are really small), one orders soup, the other orders sald (then we taste a little of each), then we order a main dish to split (or if we really want different things we go ahead and order the two). We play it by ear, minimize wasting food (since we usually don't want to bring it back to the hotel), and we maximize the amount of dishes we get to try. If you are not in a hurry (and I should hope you can have many leisurely meals while on vacation), you can order a course, then order the next after you finish the first. Then you'll get a better idea if you really want that next course. I learned to do it this way from my greek friend and it is really a nice way to order when you are having a good time relaxing, talking, taking in a great atmosphere and drinking along the way. We always tip generously for good service and everyone is happy. I wouldn't worry if you feel like splitting any courses. The only thing I think that would be unacceptable is ordering just one dish total followed by a measly tip. They still have to set and clear two places.
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