10 Divvying up the bill
The accepted norm is to equally divide the bill between the number of people dining. You will sometimes pay a little more and will sometimes be a few dirhams under the fair amount. Just accept that over a lifetime of dining with friends, the money will even itself out and try not to notice your best friend’s partner always ordering a starter and a dessert as well as the wagyu steak. Consider their greediness as a friendship tax and don’t cause a scene. Best thing to do is establish payment before looking at menus and watch how they change their usual order to a small side salad and a single scoop of ice-cream.
9 Sharing sharing platters
Five chicken wings into two people does not go and trying to fathom whether a kibbeh is equivalent to a vine leaf when dividing a mezze plate is quite impossible. Don’t get us wrong – we love the idea of shared plate dining and consider tapas plates to be right up there among mankind’s greater achievements – but if you take more than your fair share of cauliflower tempura, we’re going to have a problem. Even-numbered items in plates for two, please restaurants. Just to be on the safe side, that includes French fries.
8 Photographing food
If there is anybody out there who really needs a course-by-course update of what your food looks like, you’re failing them as a friend. Enjoy your food, enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and taste of dining out while you’re in the moment. If you really must show people your bowl of trifle, then just let the restaurant email you a picture the next day.
7 Deciding what to have
We’ve created a culture where more options is just intrinsically better, but sometimes there is just too much choice. Take a place such as The Cheesecake Factory, for example. It has a dizzying range of more than 30 different cakes to choose from on its menu, any of which can be served with a combination of ice-cream flavours or optional hot fudge sauce. By the time you’ve considered every one of more than a hundred combinations, it is almost a statistical certainty that you picked the wrong one and your dining partner will have what you really wanted.
We’ve never made a lifelong friend after being sat on a long trestle table in a “friendly open seating restaurant”. In fact, it has only ever made us whisper uncomfortably throughout the entire meal and silently judge the food they order. Just find us a quiet booth, please.
No matter how friendly a waiter is, in the five seconds between introducing themselves and being asked for a recommendation, how could they possibly have calibrated your tastes, hopes, dreams and mood sufficiently well enough to help you decide between the fried and the boiled eggs? You know what you like and what you can afford – eat that.
4 Hot towels
Let’s just assume from now on that we all have clean hands and won’t need molten cotton to steam the skin off our mitts before we settle down to eat. How kitchens can heat towels enough to actually warp cutlery but not cook a potato all the way through is a mystery.
3 Just give us a plate
Drinking out of jam jars, main courses on slate boards and a tiramisu served out of a glass slipper has become normal. We respect the need for impeccable presentation, but if we don’t start seeing more knives, forks and regular plates, we’re going to have to start telling the Twitter account @wewantplates about this.
2 Not knowing what things are
We’re familiar with a jus and know our way around a bouillabaisse when we see one, but even Time Out doesn’t know its assiette from a deconstructed apple crumble sometimes. Keep it simple, folks.
1 Not liking the food
Sometimes we just make bad decisions and want somebody to make things better. The food is not burned or undercooked. It did not come late and isn’t different to how it was described. It just turns out trout tandoori is not as good as you thought it was going to be. Just grin and bear it.