Eating At Restaurants
You’re ready to eat! Maybe you’ve walked past a restaurant that looks good and you want to go in, or maybe there’s a place that guidebooks (or locals!) have recommended that you want to try.
You don’t always need to book a table at a restaurant if you want to eat there. Sometimes it’s possible to get a table spontaneously if you’re hungry and see somewhere you like. If you really want to eat in a particular restaurant, it’s a good idea to reserve a table. Then it’s guaranteed you’ll be able to eat there and you won’t miss out!
If you know where you want to eat in advance, you can call the restaurant. You could even call them before you start your holiday if you’re really organised! If you’re exploring the city and happen to see somewhere that looks wonderful, you can go in and reserve a table for later. Either way, the conversation is the same.
Look at the dialogues below. What information do you need to give the restaurant?
A: Good afternoon. How can I help you?
B: I’d like to book a table for tomorrow evening, please.
A: Certainly. How many for?
B: There will be four of us.
A: What time would you like to book for?
B: Around 7pm, if possible.
A: That’s no problem. Can I take your name?
B: It’s Westbrook.
A: So, that’s a table for four at 7pm tomorrow evening?
B: Perfect! Thank you.
A: Hello, this is Wayfarer Restaurant.
B: Hello. I was wondering if I could book a table, please?
A: Of course. When is it for?
B: It’s for next Friday. The 18th of June.
A: What time would you like the table?
B: Would 6:30pm be possible?
A: Yes, that shouldn’t be a problem. How many is the booking for?
B: It’s for two people.
A: That’s a table for two at 6:30pm on 18th of June.
B: That’s correct.
A: May I take your name?
B: Yes, it’s Lawson.
When you reserve a table, you need to give these details:
Number of People
Sometimes you may need to give your phone number so that the restaurant can contact you if there’s a problem with your booking or you are late.
The UK has a wide range of national dishes that vary from region to region. Often, our food is hearty and substantial. For example, most of our traditional dishes are based on lamb, pork, fish and beef. These are usually served with potatoes (chips, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes) and some vegetables. Traditional British food isn’t necessarily elegant, which is why you may not find it if you go to a fancy restaurant! You’re more likely to find it in a pub, which we’ll look at in the next lesson.
Here is a list of common items you may see on a menu in the UK – particularly if you’re visiting Scotland!
Cullen skink – a soup made with smoked haddock, potatoes and cream.
Fish and chips – Cod or haddock fried in batter, with some chips.
Black pudding – a sausage made of oats, fat and blood.
Haggis – Sheep’s heart, liver and lungs! This is mixed with onion and spices, then placed in the sheep’s stomach to cook. (It sounds disgusting but it’s actually delicious if you don’t think too much about what you’re eating.)
Maybe there’s something on the menu you don’t recognise, or you’re not sure what to order. Your server is there to help you. Look at the following dialogues to see how you can ask for assistance.
A: Good evening. Are you ready to order?
B: Not yet. Could you help me? I’m not sure what Cullen skink is.
A: It’s a soup made with cream, potatoes and smoked haddock. It has a strong flavour.
B: What about the scallops?
A: The scallops are lightly fried and come with some back pudding sprinkled on top. It has a mild flavour.
B: Hmmm…it’s difficult to decide. Which would you recommend?
A: The scallops are the most popular.
B: In that case I’ll order the scallops. Thank you.
A: Good evening. What can I get you?
B: Which food on the menu is the most traditional?
A: That’s definitely the haggis!
B: I’m not sure. I’ve read about it but I don’t think I’d like it.
A: If you don’t want to try the haggis, you might prefer the fish and chips. The fish is caught locally so it’s very fresh.
B: That sounds like a better idea. Yes, I’ll order the fish and chips, thank you.
Some useful questions you can ask your server if you need some advice are:
What would you recommend? (Use this if you’re talking about all of the options on the menu.)
Which would you recommend? (Use this if you are talking about just a few items on the menu and need help to decide.)
Which dish is the most…(popular/unusual/traditional/spicy)
What’s the ….. like? (Here you are asking the server to describe the dish.)
I’m not sure what…is. Could you explain/describe it to me?
Are the ingredients sourced locally? (Food that is ‘sourced locally’ means it comes from nearby.)