Eating Out 101: Ordering - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 04-05-2010, 07:43 PM
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I was wondering if you guys had any pointers as to how to order food. Or share some of your past experiences.



I didn't know it was important to be specific. For instance, ordering steamed vegetables, it's better to point out that you don't want butter. And sometimes you have to specify no to vegetable oil too. Does anyone know a better way to order a plate of steamed vegetables in culinary terms? Is it called 'plain steamed vegetables'? I really thought that steamed vegetables was just vegetables that were steamed with water.



What other things should we question/look out for?
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#2 Old 04-05-2010, 10:57 PM
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I think it is best to be as specific as you possibly can. There was a woman in Chicago that created business cards with a list of all the things vegans do not eat that she could hand out to servers to take back to the kitchen. It was on another forum I belong to, so I will see if I can find the card.



I think, for the most part, people are going to be willing to help you out if you ask for it. This isn't always the case, but mostly. If you think about it, it is their job to make sure you have a good experience, and you do not have to leave a tip if they treat you badly. Also, I would not hesitate to talk to a manager if I feel as though I'm being treated badly.



Sorry, I don't know any specific terms, besides asking for veggies steamed with water.
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#3 Old 04-06-2010, 01:11 AM
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I would specify 'just vegetables, no butter or any other ingredients'. That should cover your bases
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#4 Old 04-06-2010, 01:57 AM
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Ordering a plate of steamed vegetables is selling yourself short. A restaurant chef can create dozens of easy and tasty veggie/vegan dishes if they take just a few minutes to think about it. If you're paying good money for a meal out shouldn't you get something better than just steamed veggies? Here's something I've posted before about getting a good meal at an omni restaurant.



As a veggie, you really need to the extra mile when visiting a restaurant if you want to get good great veggie meal at an omni restaurant. Here are my tips:



1) Select an appropriate restaurant that can most likely provide you with a veggie meal. Call ahead if possible to discuss menu options or if the chef can make something special. Small family run restaurants and ethnic restaurants are usually better at this than chain restaurants



2) Arrive at the restaurant during slow times. This will mean the server/staff are less rushed and can pay attention to your special veggie needs.



3) When reading the menu, mentally select 2 or 3 items that you are interested in, such as a dish that can be made veggie by omitting an item, or something that looks veggie. Mentally prepare your questions for when the server arrives.



4) When the server arrives, as a veggie dining with omnis, ensure you are the last person at the table to order. This will mean the your special order is fresh in your servers mind when she goes into the kitchen or enters the order.



5) Talk with your server, not at them. Ask them about any recommendations for veggies, ask questions about the dishes you're interested in. Be reasonable. Be flexible but stick to your veggie dietary restrictions. Ensure the server that if they need to go ask the chef for clarification about ingredients that you are happy to wait. When you do finally make the order, make eye contact with the server and repeat exactly what you want clearly but in a friendly way.



6) When the food is brought to your table, if there is a mistake be friendly about it. We all make mistakes. Just nicely call the server over and send the dish back specifying what was wrong with it. Again, be patient, relax, they'll get it right soon enough.



7) When you are eating/done with your meal, be sure to verbally thank the server for their special attention to your needs. Send word back to the chef if a special meal was prepared for you.



8) Leave a big tip. C'mon, the server bent over backwards for your special order. Reward them with a larger than usual tip. This will plant the seed in the servers mind that vegetarians aren't pains-in-the-butt customers but instead are fun, friendly, patient customers who reward their servers very well which means the next vegetarian will get excellent service as well.
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#5 Old 04-06-2010, 05:51 AM
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8) Leave a big tip.



Omit this step outside of North America... unless you want to be harrassed for overpaying. In some places it is offensive to tip.
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#6 Old 04-06-2010, 06:33 AM
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It took me a while to realize that you have to ask about things like lard in beans at mexican restaurants and fish sauce in Asian ones. Frustrating!



If you're at an American restaurant, the biggest things to look out for are cheese and butter, even if it's not on the menu. If I ever get just a side of veggies, I just say no butter. I've never had a problem with that. A lot of places put cheese on salads even when it's not on the menu, so I say "no cheese or croutons" any time I get a salad. (I guess croutons can be vegan or not, but it's not a big enough deal to ask about them so I just get it without). If they have a veggie wrap or something like that on the menu, they usually list everything in them, so I just say "no cheese or dressing" when I order. If they have a baked potato on the menu I order it without butter or sour cream and ask for salsa if they have it (which is a really good combination if the salsa is good!) There's a salad dressing topic on here, so that's probably best to look at for those.



At an asian restaurant, you'll have to ask if they have any fish sauce or chicken broth in their rice or sauces. A lot of times there will be something like that even when there's a "vegetarian" section on the menu. I love that cheese isn't an issue at asian places!



Mexican food is another one that often has a "vegetarian" section that isn't. Ask if they use lard in their refried beans, and chicken broth in their rice. I've found that most places don't use the lard, but they do use the chicken broth in rice. A lot of them have veggie fajitas, so ask if they use butter to cook it. And with every order, you have to specify no cheese. They put it on everything.



For italian restaurants, you need to ask about cheese or meat products in marinara sauce, and if they put cheese on top (which happens a lot without it being on the menu). Pasta will be fine as long as it's dried pasta (not fresh/handmade), and nothing special like gnocchi or cavatelli.



At indian restaurants, you have to look out for ghee/yogurt. I don't eat at them much, so I don't have specific recommendations though.



That pretty much covers most of the things that I eat at restaurants! I like to find a place that can do everything I need and then keep going back. Once they remember you, it's so much easier than having to repeat all the questions and substitutions! And I always try to pick ethnic places instead of American ones when I can. In my opinion, most American places don't know how to cook and spice vegetables!
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#7 Old 04-07-2010, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by tofusion View Post

Omit this step outside of North America... unless you want to be harrassed for overpaying. In some places it is offensive to tip.



I never knew that - every country I have been to have staff/restaurants that accept, and even expect, tips. What countries are you referring to?
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#8 Old 04-07-2010, 07:13 AM
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I never knew that - every country I have been to have staff/restaurants that accept, and even expect, tips. What countries are you referring to?



That's been my experience in every country I've been to as well.
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#9 Old 04-07-2010, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

Ordering a plate of steamed vegetables is selling yourself short. A restaurant chef can create dozens of easy and tasty veggie/vegan dishes if they take just a few minutes to think about it. If you're paying good money for a meal out shouldn't you get something better than just steamed veggies? Here's something I've posted before about getting a good meal at an omni restaurant.



As a veggie, you really need to the extra mile when visiting a restaurant if you want to get good great veggie meal at an omni restaurant. Here are my tips:



1) Select an appropriate restaurant that can most likely provide you with a veggie meal. Call ahead if possible to discuss menu options or if the chef can make something special. Small family run restaurants and ethnic restaurants are usually better at this than chain restaurants



2) Arrive at the restaurant during slow times. This will mean the server/staff are less rushed and can pay attention to your special veggie needs.



3) When reading the menu, mentally select 2 or 3 items that you are interested in, such as a dish that can be made veggie by omitting an item, or something that looks veggie. Mentally prepare your questions for when the server arrives.



4) When the server arrives, as a veggie dining with omnis, ensure you are the last person at the table to order. This will mean the your special order is fresh in your servers mind when she goes into the kitchen or enters the order.



5) Talk with your server, not at them. Ask them about any recommendations for veggies, ask questions about the dishes you're interested in. Be reasonable. Be flexible but stick to your veggie dietary restrictions. Ensure the server that if they need to go ask the chef for clarification about ingredients that you are happy to wait. When you do finally make the order, make eye contact with the server and repeat exactly what you want clearly but in a friendly way.



6) When the food is brought to your table, if there is a mistake be friendly about it. We all make mistakes. Just nicely call the server over and send the dish back specifying what was wrong with it. Again, be patient, relax, they'll get it right soon enough.



7) When you are eating/done with your meal, be sure to verbally thank the server for their special attention to your needs. Send word back to the chef if a special meal was prepared for you.



8) Leave a big tip. C'mon, the server bent over backwards for your special order. Reward them with a larger than usual tip. This will plant the seed in the servers mind that vegetarians aren't pains-in-the-butt customers but instead are fun, friendly, patient customers who reward their servers very well which means the next vegetarian will get excellent service as well.



Good tips. One thing a very wise man once told me was to tip BEFORE the meal, and generously, - that way the staff are likely to look after you well, as you have already shown your appreciation.
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#10 Old 04-07-2010, 10:23 AM
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I love being vegan when it comes to nicer restaurants. Its really exciting to see what a good chef can create for you! I once had a chef create me a veggie burger out of oats, sweet potatoes, beans, maple syrup, and who knows what else. AMAZING.
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#11 Old 04-08-2010, 12:03 PM
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I once had a chef create me a veggie burger out of oats, sweet potatoes, beans, maple syrup, and who knows what else. AMAZING.



That sounds amazing!



Thank you all for the great tips. I think ordering will be easier.

I'm also interested to know which countries don't like tipping?!

Atame.
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#12 Old 04-08-2010, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

Ordering a plate of steamed vegetables is selling yourself short. A restaurant chef can create dozens of easy and tasty veggie/vegan dishes if they take just a few minutes to think about it. If you're paying good money for a meal out shouldn't you get something better than just steamed veggies? Here's something I've posted before about getting a good meal at an omni restaurant.



As a veggie, you really need to the extra mile when visiting a restaurant if you want to get good great veggie meal at an omni restaurant. Here are my tips:



1) Select an appropriate restaurant that can most likely provide you with a veggie meal. Call ahead if possible to discuss menu options or if the chef can make something special. Small family run restaurants and ethnic restaurants are usually better at this than chain restaurants



2) Arrive at the restaurant during slow times. This will mean the server/staff are less rushed and can pay attention to your special veggie needs.



3) When reading the menu, mentally select 2 or 3 items that you are interested in, such as a dish that can be made veggie by omitting an item, or something that looks veggie. Mentally prepare your questions for when the server arrives.



4) When the server arrives, as a veggie dining with omnis, ensure you are the last person at the table to order. This will mean the your special order is fresh in your servers mind when she goes into the kitchen or enters the order.



5) Talk with your server, not at them. Ask them about any recommendations for veggies, ask questions about the dishes you're interested in. Be reasonable. Be flexible but stick to your veggie dietary restrictions. Ensure the server that if they need to go ask the chef for clarification about ingredients that you are happy to wait. When you do finally make the order, make eye contact with the server and repeat exactly what you want clearly but in a friendly way.



6) When the food is brought to your table, if there is a mistake be friendly about it. We all make mistakes. Just nicely call the server over and send the dish back specifying what was wrong with it. Again, be patient, relax, they'll get it right soon enough.



7) When you are eating/done with your meal, be sure to verbally thank the server for their special attention to your needs. Send word back to the chef if a special meal was prepared for you.



8) Leave a big tip. C'mon, the server bent over backwards for your special order. Reward them with a larger than usual tip. This will plant the seed in the servers mind that vegetarians aren't pains-in-the-butt customers but instead are fun, friendly, patient customers who reward their servers very well which means the next vegetarian will get excellent service as well.



Brilliant post - thanks

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former - Albert Einstein
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#13 Old 04-09-2010, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

Ordering a plate of steamed vegetables is selling yourself short. A restaurant chef can create dozens of easy and tasty veggie/vegan dishes if they take just a few minutes to think about it. If you're paying good money for a meal out shouldn't you get something better than just steamed veggies? Here's something I've posted before about getting a good meal at an omni restaurant.



As a veggie, you really need to the extra mile when visiting a restaurant if you want to get good great veggie meal at an omni restaurant. Here are my tips:



1) Select an appropriate restaurant that can most likely provide you with a veggie meal. Call ahead if possible to discuss menu options or if the chef can make something special. Small family run restaurants and ethnic restaurants are usually better at this than chain restaurants



2) Arrive at the restaurant during slow times. This will mean the server/staff are less rushed and can pay attention to your special veggie needs.



3) When reading the menu, mentally select 2 or 3 items that you are interested in, such as a dish that can be made veggie by omitting an item, or something that looks veggie. Mentally prepare your questions for when the server arrives.



4) When the server arrives, as a veggie dining with omnis, ensure you are the last person at the table to order. This will mean the your special order is fresh in your servers mind when she goes into the kitchen or enters the order.



5) Talk with your server, not at them. Ask them about any recommendations for veggies, ask questions about the dishes you're interested in. Be reasonable. Be flexible but stick to your veggie dietary restrictions. Ensure the server that if they need to go ask the chef for clarification about ingredients that you are happy to wait. When you do finally make the order, make eye contact with the server and repeat exactly what you want clearly but in a friendly way.



6) When the food is brought to your table, if there is a mistake be friendly about it. We all make mistakes. Just nicely call the server over and send the dish back specifying what was wrong with it. Again, be patient, relax, they'll get it right soon enough.



7) When you are eating/done with your meal, be sure to verbally thank the server for their special attention to your needs. Send word back to the chef if a special meal was prepared for you.



8) Leave a big tip. C'mon, the server bent over backwards for your special order. Reward them with a larger than usual tip. This will plant the seed in the servers mind that vegetarians aren't pains-in-the-butt customers but instead are fun, friendly, patient customers who reward their servers very well which means the next vegetarian will get excellent service as well.



EXCELLENT post, thank you! Good tips.

korrakorrakorrakorrakorra
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#14 Old 04-09-2010, 07:17 PM
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I never knew that - every country I have been to have staff/restaurants that accept, and even expect, tips. What countries are you referring to?



I've been to Portugal and tipping was not customary. I was told by locals to only tip in the case of extraordinary service or if I burdened the waitstaff in some unusual way. I was there for two months and didn't see anyone tip the whole time I was there.



But yes other than that MrFalafel's post was very helpful! Thank you.



I've never eaten at an Indian place as a vegan but I have as a vegetarian and there are many amazing options. I guess culturally they are more used to veg*nism, and I've found them to be rather helpful with selections, more so than at other types of ethnic restaurants, and many American restaurants, who tend to say things like "well there's only a LITTLE bit of *insert product here* in it..." Well meaning, but not helpful!
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#15 Old 04-10-2010, 08:10 AM
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I never knew that - every country I have been to have staff/restaurants that accept, and even expect, tips. What countries are you referring to?



In non touristy restaurants in Australasia and Europe. In some places it would be considered stealing to be taking more money from the customer than is shown on the bill because there is no system in place for a waiter to pocket the money that has been paid. However, because touristy places know that Americans will come and pay extra even though it's not necessary, they will allow it. (...and in Australia, the smart Americans know they don't have to tip, but there don't seem to be many of those.)
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#16 Old 04-10-2010, 11:56 AM
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In non touristy restaurants in Australasia and Europe. In some places it would be considered stealing to be taking more money from the customer than is shown on the bill because there is no system in place for a waiter to pocket the money that has been paid. However, because touristy places know that Americans will come and pay extra even though it's not necessary, they will allow it. (...and in Australia, the smart Americans know they don't have to tip, but there don't seem to be many of those.)



That's interesting. I can tell you that even in non-touristy places in the UK, tips will be expected. In fact, I believe that employers are allowed to pay less than the minimum wage, because they know staff will get tips to make up their wages.
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#17 Old 04-11-2010, 08:54 PM
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Great tips, everyone.



What are some other things to look out for?

I heard that rice sometimes is steamed with butter, which I find odd.
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#18 Old 04-11-2010, 09:41 PM
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I eat Indian food very often, so much that one of the waiters at my favorite place calls me "no-milk."

When at an Indian restaurant look out for:

Paneer, which is a kind of cheese. It looks kind of like tofu, but isn't.

Nann, which is a type of bread made with milk. If you need carbs ask for Poori. It's normally not made with milk, but ask just in case.

Obviously look out for yogurt or cream sauces, sometimes called "Kurma."

They are very used to people being vegetarian, so a little more restriction won't be too out of their comfort range.
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#19 Old 05-05-2010, 03:52 PM
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Thanks for the headsup about the Indian food.

I went to a restaurant the other day - ordered the chicken salad, but was able to substitute the chicken for some steamed vegetables with oil.
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#20 Old 05-05-2010, 03:54 PM
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Spinach and tomatoes ONLY. NO DRESSING, NO SALT, NO CROUTONS, NO MEAT, NO CHEESE, NO EGGS, NO ONIONS, NO CRAP. I seriously say that sometimes and they come back with "what kind of dressing?"
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#21 Old 05-06-2010, 02:57 AM
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Originally Posted by angie54321 View Post

That's interesting. I can tell you that even in non-touristy places in the UK, tips will be expected. In fact, I believe that employers are allowed to pay less than the minimum wage, because they know staff will get tips to make up their wages.



That's not true. It's not legal to employ someone below minimum wage. And tipping is still not all that expected here, although it is becoming more widely used.



Mr. Falafel, thanks for the tips


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#22 Old 05-06-2010, 03:25 AM
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That's not true. It's not legal to employ someone below minimum wage. And tipping is still not all that expected here, although it is becoming more widely used.



Mr. Falafel, thanks for the tips



Not so long ago I would have agreed with you, that it is illegal to to not pay minimum wage. Until the Independent newspaper had a campaign against waiting staff being paid less and having to rely on tips to make up their wages. See here:

http://www.workingrights.co.uk/can-e...imum-wage.html





"Many people have assumed that the minimum wage is just that, the lowest wage that an employer is allowed to pay and employee. But that isnt the case.

Tips in the Catering Industry:

This has been highlighted in recent campaigns by a couple of national newspapers in relations to the use of tips to make up the difference to the minimum wage in the catering industry. In many cases waiters were being paid less than half the minimum wage, which is currently £5.52 for people over the age of 22.

This is legal as long as the total amount earned is equal to or greater than the minimum wage, and many restaurants told the investigating newspapers that they committed to make up that difference even is there was a shortfall. But many people were surprised that this was happening at all and the government have now pledged to look at loopholes in the minimum wage law to tighten up these practises.



Although the recent fuss was with the catering industry there is nothing in law or tax regulations about tips that makes them any different to any other bonus that's paid to staff, at least with respect to the minimum wage. Looking at the government's documentation with regard to minimum wages it is clear that a bonus payment is acceptable as part of a contribution to a minimum wage."
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