Have you ever been on vacation and read a brochure in your hotel about a fabulous restaurant, get your taste buds all excited and then walk in only to have your heart broken with bad service or a mediocre meal? I have some dining tips that might not guarantee the perfect experience, but most certainly will help in the selection process.
1. Plan ahead for your first night in an unknown city — go online and find a Zagat-rated restaurant that is not too fancy. Travel makes you tired and sometimes impatient, so select a comfortable bistro with a menu that fits the flavor of the city you are visiting.
2. Ask servers at fine dining restaurants where they recommend. They often have the palate and experience to assist with no other agenda.
3. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” If you find a special gem of an eatery stay with
it for another meal or two OR ask the chef where the recommend. They will
understand what you are looking for and send you to some off the main path
4. Try out a restaurant for appetizers and a cocktail. If you like the atmosphere and service, book for the following night. “Grazing” gives you an opportunity to
find exactly what you are looking for and the chance to try several places
5. Find a wonderful gourmet store — a bottle of wine, great bread, cheese and pastry in a local garden or park is a gastronomic pleasure in the right venue and always beats room service.
6. Some of the best meals are inside a roadside stand (fried clams in Maine,
hot cider in Vermont and a good sausage and peppers outside of a baseball park).
7. Learn what the region is known for and look outside the four blocks where you are staying.
8. Enjoy yourselves, on vacation. It is just a meal, worse comes to worse, go out for a second meal or decadent desserts and ports to make up for a disappointing one — life is all about the next culinary pleasure any way! Bon Appetit.
Dining tips from Chef Judi Gallagher