Miss.Manners came in a little late so I ended up ordering food that barely satiated anyone's hunger. Eventually we called the waiter and repeated the entire dinner order all over again!
After the fiasco (you should have seen the looks on the hungry faces when the dinner portion arrived. I got half a piece of Naan from someone's plate after I asked for it!), I grilled Miss.Manners for some tips and here is what she had to say:
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to order food for everyone present, don't panic. Use your eyes, head, a dash of humor and save the day.
- As you read the menu, look around and count the number of people at the table.
- Don't assume everyone will share your taste for mushroom soup and scallion pancakes. Subtly call out some dishes that you think are good and see how the guests react. If you get a long drawn out OK, change the dish.
- Keep varying step 2 until you get a good list of dishes that everyone can enjoy.
- Go for the Law of Averages when determining the quantity of food to order. If you know the eating habits of the people you are out to dinner with, simply estimate the quantity that each person may eat of the dish you are planning to order and add it up. If you do not know everyone's eating habits, err on the generous side and order a tad more than you think is the right quantity.
- Strike a balance between variety and quantity. If there are more than four people at dinner, go in for two or three different items in suitable quantities instead of ordering a portion each of six different items.
- Make sure that every dish can go around the table atleast once with a generous tablespoon helping for each person. If it is breads, make sure everyone gets atleast a piece or two (depending upon the size of the piece) with a couple of pieces to spare on the plate after everyone has been served.
- Never assume everyone is terribly hungry because you are.
- Never assume everyone is not hungry because you are not.
- If you are bad at estimating quantity of food, get help from the people seated on either side of you.
- Get the waiter to help you understand the serving portion in the restaurant. Don't assume that one portion of Malai Kofta has just two Koftas floating around. Ask.
- Establish a rapport with the waiter so that he can replenish dishes that you nod at.
- Don't yell across the table and wave around to get your point across. Try the passing-the-message approach to communicate/clarify your choice of items.
- Make sure your estimate has some room for dessert.
- Ideally, let people make their own dessert choice. If not, you cannot go wrong with Vanilla ice-cream, a variety of sauces and nuts for flavor and fruit salad.
- Finally, keep the conversation about the dinner items flowing. You will get loads of feedback on how you fared at your choice.
There! Loads of tips from Miss.Manners. I am looking forward to the next time I need to do the ordering.
While on food, check out what Jason's post had to say about ordering food.