13 Dining Lessons We’ve Learned

Life is full of lessons, and over the last 2 years of penning this blog we’ve learned several. A dinner date used to be going to a restaurant and ordering familiar items; now it consists of trying to find things we might not ordinarily order from recommendations around us. A valuable lesson we’ve learned is that many of you give great suggestions on items to order, so we often crowd-source before hitting a new spot.

In addition to asking for other opinions on restaurants, here are the 13 dining lessons we’ve learned over the last 2 years:

    1. Burgers are NOT all the same, and everyone adds a twist to call it their own.  And when a server recommends their burger over all the items on an otherwise impressive menu, BELIEVE your server (as happened to us at Mintwood Place…) Pictured: Nage DC burger NageBurger-5
    2. You should always have an open mind when it comes to food. Try everything at least once. We cautiously tried Barnacles earlier in the year, and Scott reluctantly tries mushrooms every time it’s included on a dish.(Pictured: SER’s “Barnacles”) SER-12
    3. Always save room for dessert. You never know when the pastry chef is the real champion of a restaurant. (Pictured: Carmine’s “Titanic” and 1789’s “Bourbon Baked Apple”)
    4. Ask the server for the insider’s recommendation. Is there something the kitchen staff loves?
    5. Pretty points count, if a meal is plated well it already starts with a leg-up. We love when the attempt is made to make it pretty… (Pictured: Blackwall Hitch’s “Braised Short Rib”)BlackwallHitchALX-5
    6. Not everyone needs to agree. We’re all entitled to our own opinion about different dishes, but appreciate the effort and concept the restaurant is trying to achieve.
    7. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave food on the plate. Don’t feel you’re insulting the chef by not finishing every last bite, especially when you’re saving room for dessert.
    8. Limit the cocktails before dinner. Your meal is going to be more enjoyable if you can actually taste it. (Pictured: Wine Flight at The Grille at Morrison House, cocktails from Ambar, and cocktails from Copperwood Tavern)TheGrille-13 Ambar-3 copperwoodtavern-6
    9. Be kind and visit twice before passing final judgement. In a city with so many restaurant openings, it tends to be difficult, but it’s important to remember that just because one night didn’t live up to expectations it doesn’t mean the next won’t knock your socks off.
    10. It’s OK to Google certain items on the menu so you’re not setting yourself up for disappointment. If you don’t know what something is you can ask or pull out your phone.
    11. No matter how unique or traditional it looks – good food is good food – no frills necessary. (Pictured: Mason Social’s “Louisiana BBQ Sliders”) masonsocial2-8
    12. Be honest if there is a hiccup in your food. If you’re missing something or it doesn’t taste right,  let the server know. This gives the kitchen an opportunity to correct things for you and potentially other diners if something is truly amiss.
    13. Whenever you get the opportunity, go out of your comfort zone.

This list will certainly continue to grow as we maneuver our way through this incredible dining scene. What are some of the things you’ve learned after eating out? Any words of wisdom?


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