dining

How picky is your pallet?

Recent studies revealed that Americans spend 25 percent of their meals away from home. Eating at restaurants has become a national pastime.

Not only are they a way to get away from home and lighten the work load, eating out is a way to interact with loved ones without having to spend hours making a meal.

As food costs continue to rise, more people are looking to spend their money wisely.

Fine restaurants can offer you value and a stellar dining experience. Here are some things to consider when selecting a fine restaurant.

Ratings

Restaurant ratings are only as good as the publication rating them. Most people read Zagat reviews for an impartial and detailed opinion about restaurants.

Since 1979, this publication has doled out thoughts about the quality of food and service at a variety of restaurants. Zagat gives a total of 30 points to any given establishment. Restaurants are given letter grades to help consumers find the best dining experiences in their area.

Michelin is another brand of restaurant guides. Since the early 1900s, this company, better known for its tires, has published restaurant guides for various countries around the world.

Unlike Zagat, Michelin relies on professionals to personally visit each restaurant. The company gives each recognized restaurant a rating from one to five stars. There is also additional information about cost effectiveness and scenery.

Trip Advisor is a reliable online source for restaurant rankings. Readers can search for restaurants by cuisine and location. Then they can read what writers think about the establishment.

Food

Each fine restaurant has its own cuisine and specialty. Most high-quality dining establishments will post their menus on their websites.

Ask each person in your party what kind of cuisine they prefer. Take special diets into consideration. Restaurants usually offer heart-healthy or low carbohydrate options. If you cannot find information on their website, call them. Servers and hosts who answer the phone should be able to tell you about their menu for the evening.

Budget

When money is tight, there are ways you can get a better deal. The lunch menus at most restaurants are usually cheaper than dinner. Other dining establishments have great deals in the middle of the afternoon. Eating off-hours is a fabulous way to try a restaurant’s offerings without breaking your budget.

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Fine dining establishments offer specials, which may change daily. It is perfectly acceptable to ask about the specials when making a reservation. If you are making a reservation for a large party, you might order the special for everyone. It will save you time, and it takes the guesswork out of figuring out the bill.

Many five-star restaurants now offer coupons to encourage new business. You might find these coupons on Facebook or the restaurant’s website. Check to see if you need to print the coupon before visiting the restaurant. Your local newspaper may have advertisements from local restaurants with discounts and menu specials.

Tasting Menus

Restaurant connoisseurs should look for establishments with tasting menus that present 7-9 courses of seasonal offerings that change daily.

Tasting menus give you small portions of many dishes. It allows you to familiarize yourself with a wide range of courses. It ensures that your eating experience will stay fresh continuously.

Eating at a five-star restaurant doesn’t have to be daunting. Just check the reviews first and stay on budget. Eating from the tasting menu will help you understand the chef’s food style, and give you examples to choose from to help make your decision.

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