Great Dining Experiences

4 friends enjoying dinner at a restaurant

Author: Alan Rust

It takes more than a flavorful dish to convince me that a new venue is worth a repeat visit. I consider 4 things when I evaluate a dining experience.

The MENU has to have options that are intriguing yet understandable. When a server has to explain everything it doesn’t create a comfortable start to the experience. There are also some places that have menu overload; too many options isn’t a good thing. The food offerings should be understandable yet creative. There should also be solid beverage choices. I always value an establishment that offers hand crafted cocktails, craft brew options and an appropriate wine selection. This is another section that can have too few or too many options. The drink options should balance with the food menu options.

The SERVICE needs to be sincere, friendly and attentive. The staff should be able to answer any questions you have about the menu. They should be genuinely glad that you are sharing the dining experience together. They should be ready to help you when you are ready but not bother you too much so you feel rushed. This is true for the ordering, dining and closing phases.

A warm and comfortable AMBIANCE is necessary for wonderful experience. The seating should be comfortable, the music shouldn’t be too loud, there needs to be appropriate lighting and the table should wobble. The decor needs to be current and engaging because it should be left over from decades past.

The FOOD should be delicious and prepared as described on the menu. We all expect it to arrive at the table at the appropriate temperature. This is the star of the show so it should be presented well.

I appreciate and reward venues that can accomplish all 4 components of a great dining experience. These are the strengths that we look for in the restaurants we include in the Iowa Tour Company Culinary Tours>