I love to eat out, and Louisville has the best food scene. But even the greatest restaurant with the most succulent food can produce bad experiences from time to time, and if you want to get the most for your money, do not visit a eatery at the following times:
1. Right Before Closing Time
This seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it? Yet time and time again when I was serving, people would come rolling in five minutes before we locked the door and expect stellar food and service. Five minutes before close, your waiter or waitress already has his or her area cleaned, side work done, silverware rolled, and they are READY to leave. The dude who is making your food is probably drunk, or really ready to be drunk. I can’t stress this enough: don’t make the people who are preparing your dinner angry. If you do this, for some life or death reason, you better be tipping at least 40%.
2. On a major holiday
Particularly on Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, restaurants are swamped. Restaurants also sometimes take advantage of this rush to put out a special menu, which is almost never as “Special” as it should be. The food on a special holiday menu isn’t food the chef has prepared day in and day out, tested extensively, honed to perfection. Also, the stress of the entire affair is dialed up to eleven for both diners and staff. Do you really want to be served by a waiter whose girlfriend just broke up with him because she’s sick of spending Valentine’s alone? Do you want to be squashed in way too close with other couples and overhear someone’s horrifying argument or sticky declaration of what the rest of the evening will entail? Either make a reservation at a trusted place well ahead of time, or dine in.
3. At peak dinner hours on a weekend
I know you want to eat out at seven on a Friday night. We all want to eat out at that time. But if you want the most attention, best food, service, and atmosphere a restaurant can offer, try going on a week night. The best meals I have ever had, I’ve eaten on week nights. The people at the restaurant are under less stress, so the food is just better. If you are eating at a peak hour on a weekend, make sure you have a reservation, are prepared to wait, and if you can, go after 8:30. That’s when things really die down.
Honorable mention: Oaks
Just don’t try and go out to eat on Oaks. Trust me on this one. Everything is overrun and everyone is decked out and crabby.
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