Restaurants and Simplicity

I have been thinking recently about eating out in restaurants. Of course just the mention of ‘going out’ brings to mind Jerry Seinfeld’s bit on ‘going out’; “Of course we’re all out now, not one of us is at home right now…”. It’s a funny routine, if you don’t know it then check it out. But back to my thoughts. I’ve never been a big fan of restaurants. You may already be wondering why that is, but please don’t fret. You’ll find out soon enough if you continue to read this.

When I have broached the subject in the past people always have the same arguments for going to the restaurant. They say that it’s easier than cooking for yourself. Now, despite that being a monumentally lazy excuse, I don’t really understand it. I mean, there’s so much more involved. The entire process is much more complex than you think.

You decide that you want to go to a restaurant, then you have to decide who it is that you want to go with. What kind of food do you want? So, which restaurant are we going to go to? Then, these preliminary decisions made, you must decide when you are going to go. When is everyone available? Are you going to combine this experience with any other evening activities? Are we going to see a show? Are we going to have drinks? Are we going dancing? Then if so, what order are going to do it all in? It all comes down to that one big question; What time do you want the table?

Even once all that preparation is through, there is still more to come. The big day arrives. Everyone is excited in anticipation of the great feast. Some people will even have skipped lunch so that when the time comes, they can really let loose. Invariably you get dressed up and then you have to decide how you are going to get there. Are we walking or do we need some form of transport? If so, are we driving or drinking? Who’s driving? Who’s drinking? Maybe we should take a taxi? How many taxis do we need? Once all of this is sorted and you get to the restaurant, a whole new conundrum announces itself. Who is going to sit where? So once everyone is sat down, then comes the time to order. What are you getting? I don’t know, are you having a starter? Shall we get drinks? Do we want wine? Bread for the table? Even at the end of the meal there are problems to be overcome. Who’s paying, and how much should we tip?

There is no way to convince me that all of this is easier than a bit of DIY cookery. But this isn’t the only issue with restaurants. The whole concept of the restaurant I find a little unsettling. You don’t know what happens to your food before it arrives at the table. Some of the time you aren’t even 100% sure what is in the food. All we have to go on is a brief blurb written in the menu. You don’t know what it has been through. It gets prepared by a person you don’t know , in a room you can’t see, in far less time than you would reasonably expect it to take. These things concern me, but maybe I’m a little distrustful. Don’t even get me started on buffets. Where did that idea spring from? Who walked into a restaurant and thought; “How can we make this less hygienic?”

People also argue that you go to a restaurant for the ambience. I don’t really understand that either. Why do we pay to go and sit in a large, noisy room filled with people that we don’t know to eat our meals? Why do we reserve a time slot to go and relive the school canteen experience of our youth, albeit in a slightly more sophisticated manner? A brief search online reveals that almost every restaurant in the city in which I currently live will deliver the majority of items on their menu to your house if you are particularly set on paying through the nose for slightly fancier food. Perhaps this will become the future of dining. I suspect this will remain an aspect of our culture that I shall never fully understand, however clearly I am missing something.