Restaurants – How to Select the Right One?
by Prof. Dr. Anabel Ternès - Social entrepreneur, author, speaker and managing director
We are a generation who loves to eat out.
Most of us are lucky enough to have some choices of different restaurants around. Many of us are even dining out on a daily basis. But while this is undoubtedly very convenient, it also has its challenges.
Not every new restaurant is a success.
We can visit the same place every day, safe in the knowledge that they know our name, our favorite foods and any allergies. Or we can branch out and try new restaurants, flavors and cuisines. We want to keep things interesting but I’m sure we’ve all had those experiences where we tried a new restaurant and promptly wished we’d gone to our go-to place instead. Food poisoning, bad service and a loud environment can all be the price we pay for trying somewhere new.
There are different ways on finding the right restaurants. Asking friends for recommendations often gives us new ideas, albeit not always practical ones. We don't want to drive an hour each way to visit a particular friend’s favorite restaurant. And battle the traffic across town to make our reservation we’ve waited two months for; which can be tricky, if the policy of giving away tables is strict. And last but not least the taste of our friends don't need to fit to ours.
In the end it is just all about quality.
Online recommendations may work better. Sites like TripAdviser and OpenTable all have a wealth of reviews and rankings. You can search for different criteria, such as cuisine, location and price range. Of course this can mean work, i.e. reading reviews for getting the real picture. And even then after checking different answers you can never be sure, how independent the comments are. In the end it is just all about quality.
Quality in restaurants - this is in general something very individual, depending on the experiences you made and the standard you are used to.
For me it means food in good quality, smell, taste and decoration, service, which is friendly, transparent, well trained and fast as well as a clean environment.
In a perfect world I'd know about the noise levels and the clientele, the friendliness of the staff, whether the portions are measly or generous, the tables are big or small, there’s Wi-Fi provision or not, if they cater to allergies or whether I’ll be treated like a ‘Harry and Sally’ fussy customer when I tell them what I am allowed to eat and what I must avoid.
But in total: Sustainability is the key for me. And that means:
- if the food is seasonal, organic, fair traded and regional;
- if the restaurant cares about water and energy consumption, recycling and waste avoidance and;
- how the restaurant treats its employees, suppliers, guests and neighboring residents.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association, www.thesra.org, seems to be a good choice to find the right restaurant straight ahead. It offers addresses for sustainable restaurants in Great Britain and sets the standards.
Greentable offers now something similar, based on these standards for Germany: www.greentable.de. Who is interested in finding a really sustainable restaurant in Great Britain or Germany just needs to go on these websites and check them out.