9 Date nighters
It’s easy to spot the diners on a dinner date in any restaurant. They’re the ones looking adoringly at each other and feeding each other mouthfuls of meatballs in between furtive glances at nearby mirrors. Unless, of course, it’s married parents on a rare night out together. In which case they text babysitters every five minutes and catch up on blissful pockets of sleep between courses.
8 Arguing couple
What started it, nobody knows. A comment about the other’s mother, changing a perfectly aligned toaster or shower temperature setting, an inappropriate social media like, failure to seek outfit approval – it could be anything. But what is clear is that the atmosphere between these two is so icy that waiters have sat them outside to keep other diners cool in the evening heat. The silence is thunderous, the glares are like flashes of lightning and unless they chew at exactly the right volume and refrain from pressing the usual buttons, there’s a storm coming.
7 Work colleagues
Nights out with co-workers should not be as awkward as they are. You and your colleagues probably spend thousands of hours together every year. You share stress, stories and even germs around the office all week long, so why does an extra few hours of an evening once every few months seem like such a chore? It might be something to do with the fact that you were cautious about what you ate, kept your drink order to a single cola and skipped dessert, yet you have just heard your boss suggests the bill is divided equally despite the fact they had a starter, steak, mixed drinks and dessert.
They look no different to any other diner, but peer closely and you can see there are foodies everywhere. Clues should be anybody ordering dishes you can’t pronounce, never mind dream of tasting, and asking the waiters about the ancestral history of the potato they’re thinking of ordering. They also choose tables based on the lighting for photos rather than noise or comfort levels.
5 Rowdy party brunch
Some diners don’t consider a meal out complete until they’ve sung songs at the top of their voice, rearranged furniture at least three times, attempted to start a Mexican wave – by hurling tortillas at each other – and either attempted to start a dance-off or make novelty headwear out of things they
find in the dining room.
4 Cheat day snackers
Nobody attacks a knickerbocker glory with more gusto than a dieter giving themselves a treat. If you see anybody spooning a kilo of whipped cream into their mouth, there’s a good chance they’ve been nibbling nothing but broccoli stems for a fortnight. Cheat day is better than a birthday and you get to have it more than once a year. Result.
3 Rude diners
Nothing makes us want to start flinging bread rolls and “accidentally” sloshing soup on our neighbours more than seeing rude behaviour in restaurants. Clicking their fingers at waiters, barking down phones, demanding an audience with a chef, nose-blowing and picking food off a stranger’s plate are all forbidden. We made the last one up, but all the others are more common than we would like to think.
2 Healthy eaters
While friends are tucking into something deep-fried and smothered in cream, the healthy eater is checking an app to see whether the celery, the cucumber or the lettuce will have the fewer calories. Likely to order anything organic, the dieting diner will also opt for water and visibly wince if they’re offered dessert.
Note to restaurants – when you advertise a DJ, have a banging soundtrack and a dancefloor, don’t be surprised that people are turning their nose up at the food and just want to party all night instead.
Will Milner is a contributing editor. He’s a great dinner date.