Restaurants: What makes you go back?

Does terrible food or bad service turn you off when eating out?

by: Cathy Marston | 06 Nov 2012
upset man in diner

I went out twice last weekend – a bit of a rare occurrence for me. The first time was for dinner in a busy, buzzing, hip and happening restaurant in Sea Point.

The atmosphere was hectic but the service was slick, the wines were interesting and well-priced and the food was fine. Well, probably a bit better than fine, although a couple of the dishes weren’t great. Nevertheless, we had a fabulous time and will definitely go back.

Then on Sunday we went to a kiddie-friendly wine farm for lunch. The kids had an absolute jol and we never saw them for about 4 hours (my definition of a successful family lunch!). But the food was rubbish and the service was sketchy. Would I go back here? Probably not.

So here is my question

What is the one area of eating out that is non-negotiable for you? You’d think it would be the food but actually I don’t think that’s always the case. It could be the fact that your kids are entertained, it could be your favourite waitress who always makes such a fuss of you, it could be the price which suits your pocket.

Whatever it is, we’d like to know – and so would many restaurateurs out there. Here are a few things in descending order that affect my choice of where I eat out:

1.    Great food – by which I mean interesting, fresh, well-cooked and presented.
2.    Great service – by which I mean ‘don’t fawn all over me, but pay attention.’
3.    Value for money – whether I’m paying R50 or R500.
4.    Good wine list and someone who knows something about it.
5.    Child-friendly – if I’m with family. Well-controlled children if I’m not.
6.    Good selection of craft beers. To keep my husband happy

Sometimes I am happy to forgo number 1 as long as number 2 is so good, it makes up for it. Occasionally, I can accept a rubbish wine list especially if the beers are good and it’s my turn to drive anyway.

That’s my list of what I need to see in a restaurant. How about you? What 1 thing would make sure you would never go back to a place? And what one thing makes the experience so great, you can forgive other inadequacies?

Tell us below!

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