As a diner, when I go to a restaurant, the following factors influence whether I will return:
- When I dine alone, if there is a bar, I gravitate to it. Otherwise, I expected to acknowledged immediately if no one is around, or as soon as the host/hostess is able to and seated within 2-5 minutes(assuming that I have a reservation or that a table is available). I expect to be asked "Take your coat?".
- The servers should be pleasant, knowledgeable about the menu and the wine pairings and prompt. If there is a delay, keep me informed.
- Keep the wine/water glasses filled as appropriate.
- If there is more than a inordinate amount of food left on the plate, inquire as to the cause. If the feedback is negative, do something about it. Otherwise, a few minutes into the meal, ask how everything is.
- Quality of the food: While I gravitate towards spicy foods, I just like food with flavour. If savoury, and done well, I'm guaranteed to enjoy it. Somehow, some places manage to leech all flavour out of even sun-dried tomatoes. Ick!!
- Value for money: I don't mind spending $40/entree or more if it is guaranteed to be delicious, and the chef/server is willing to replace it without a complaint if I have a problem with it.
- Have good wine pairings for the food at reasonable prices. I know that my enjoyment skyrockets when the wine/food complement each other.
- Use proper wine glasses - one way to make sure I never come back is to serve wine in those abominable tumblers.
- Butter or other spreads for the bread should be spreadable, not hard.
- I like elbow room, so the tables should be at respectable distance to each other so that I am not forced to overhear the other tables' generally inane conversations nor should others be subjected to mine.
- After all, it is the hospitality industry. Be hospitable.
As well, as a customer, I owe it to the establishment to be polite, show up on time, leave on time if previously agreed that there is another sitting to follow, not to badger and behave in a civilized manner. As long as when a mistake happens, it is corrected, be understanding and laugh it off.
When all is said and done, a restaurant's life blood are regular and repeat customers. Personally, I'm a creature of habit - keep me happy, and I'll keep spending my money in your establishment. A short list of places that do most if not all, of these well, at least to my standards, are listed below in no specific order:
Opal Jazz Lounge
The Town Grill
Ten Feet Tall
The Intercontinental Hotel
The Host on Prince Arthur
Comments? additions? am I being unreasonable?