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Restaurant Hacks: doggy bag etiquette

Asking for a doggy bag, especially in an upmarket restaurant can be intimidating and a little embarrassing- so we asked some restaurant insiders for their help in how to approach the situation.

by: Katy Rose | 02 Jul 2018
how to ask for a doggy bag

ALSO READ: Restaurant Hacks: How to order wine in a restaurant

Eating out in a restaurant is a special treat for most of us, and the excitement and choice on the menu can sometimes lead to accidently over-ordering. You fill up on bread before the starter arrives, and when your rump steak gets to the table - no matter how delicious it looks - you just cannot finish it. And of course, we always need to leave a little space for dessert, right? 

Asking your waiter to wrap up your leftovers can be a tricky subject to broach, with many of us feeling too embarrassed to ask, especially in a more upmarket restaurant. Here is our guide to approaching the doggy bag question

When is it ok to ask for a doggy bag? 

Your waiter offers to pack it up for you
Leaving food on your plate is often interpreted as a sign that you didn’t enjoy your meal. If the waiter offers to wrap it up for you, what she is really asking is - did you enjoy your food? Responding in the positive, and asking to take it home, can be reassuring to your server. 

The restaurant also offers a takeaway service
For example pizzas. This means that they will most likely have takeaway packaging on hand. 

You see other guests leaving with wrapped up leftovers
As above, this is a clear sign that the staff are used to packing up leftovers and sending you home with for snacks for tomorrow. 

Reasons why a restaurant may not offer take home parcels

The waiter advises against it
Many foods don’t travel well, and are best enjoyed fresh. Waffles, tempura vegetables and even french fries are often never the same again when reheated. 

The meal is a hard to package item
Any dish that contains ice cream, soups, sauces or multiple components is not going to be as tasty after you’ve shaken up all the different sauces into each other and kept in your fridge for 24 hours. Gross. 

It is not a given that the restaurant will have adequate packaging
The restaurant is not required to offer doggy bags, and for the reasons above, may choose to not stock plastic and tin foil container

ALSO READ: You’re doing it wrong: how to really order food in a restaurant

It’s not ok to ask for takeaways when: 

The restaurant is offering a special deal
Buffets, all-you-can-eat and limitless are usually only valid for sit down consumption only. Check the fine print, or ask the manager. 

You were not happy with the food - and told the manager
If you complained about the food, and didn’t eat it, it is not acceptable to take it away with you. Just don’t.

Remember to thank your server: it can take time and effort to leave the dining room to package up your leftovers. Leave a little extra tip with the final bill to say thank you for accommodating my request. 

ALSO READ: Restaurant Hacks: 10 signs that you’ve overstayed your welcome in a restaurant

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