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Is who you eat with as important as where you eat

Had an interesting weekend dining with friends....one was a disaster and the other fabulous and the main reason was the people involved.

Friday night we go a local tapas place with two other couples. After the usual chuckle of tapas vs. topless with the men, Dh and I explain how tapas dining work...small plates meant to be shared...yada, yada, since neither of the two couples had even heard to tapas much less experienced them. It was a disaster...from ordering, to the lack of sharing, to them navigating the logistics, etc. The restaurant did their part with food and service but who we were with definitely took away from the evening.

OTOH, Sunday night we went to a different restaurant with 5 other people. This is a local Italian place which serves family style for groups of 5 or more. The food and wine were abundant, everyone was in the spirit and trying things that may or may not have had before, and the entire evening was festive. The food and service were great but what pushed the evening over the top were the attitudes and festive nature of the people involved.

It was a good reminder to me that WHO you dine with is as important as WHERE you dine. What say you?

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  1. Good company makes a huge difference! I am fortunate to like a lot of my colleagues at work, so work dinners are much more pleasant as a result. A lot of my colleagues enjoy eating and fine wine. But the few times I am stuck sitting with less fun people, well then the work dinner really feels like work!

    I love going to eat with people who eat with gusto, want to try everything, want to share everything. It is very telling when someone doesn't like a dish. It makes such as difference when that person just shakes it off and goes onto the next dish, no fuss, no drama, just something they didn't like, but look at all the other food. A sense of adventure and willingness to "go there" makes food taste better.

    1. I think this is one of those issues that we all have to experience at one time or another. It's unfortunate that you had that experience with the tapas; normally that type of food should be conducive to a fun group atmosphere! By this point in my life I definitely have a better idea of different types of cuisine/restaurants to go with different groups of friends; ranging from the chains-only up to the tasting menus. Sometimes it's for financial reasons, which is completely understandable, but I can't help but feel frustrated when someone automatically throws out the walls of "I only eat chicken/no ethnic foods/I like pasta with butter"....grrr ;-)

      1. Janet f R, I couldn't agree more. Whether it's an impromtu lunch with friends or a well planned holiday meal with family the WHO makes a big difference. Whether I'm looking forward to what comes out of a professional kitchen, a relatives 1950's oven or my own kitchen, once the food arrives the company you keep can factor into the enjoyment, the heartburn or the boredom. If we're true CH's the what we eat and the who we break bread with usually run neck and neck!

        1. Perhaps a tapas place was simply a bad choice for dining with a couple that was not familiar with the concept in the first place, and judging by the tapas VS topless jokes, a couple possessing a somewhat sarcastic attitude toward the experience. Are these people more pleasant to be around in other dining settings?

          But all things considered, I agree with the statement that the company can either enhance or ruin an eating experience just as much as the setting. I have a relative who happens to have an 'unfortunate' sense of humor coupled with a singular lack of the ability to restrain it. During a visit to a local place that serves Cajun dishes he insisted on asking everyone from the hostess to the waitress to the busboy, "Dont the cooks here know that when something is blackened, it's BURNT?". Never again. We stick to Chinese restaurants with chicken chop suey on the menu when we have to eat out with him. But alas, we cant pick our relatives.

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          1. re: Fydeaux

            These people (one is a couple Dh has been friends with 30 years, the other is a couple who aren't a joy to go out with at anytime, but we tend to get stuck with them on Friday night) are fine in a higher end place (such as a steakhouse or classic French place) and I gave Dh the look when he suggested this restaurant, but he tends to be more optomistic about such events. I knew it was going to be a disaster, he was more surprised by it.

          2. Yes, so true. The best food in the world will be ruined by bad company. I was having a lot of arguments with my ex and our relationship was pretty much on the rocks. He still insisted on celebrating our anniversary at this wonderful restaurant we used to go to year after year. I vehemently said no because I knew that I'd have a horrible time, even though the food there is so delicious. Bad company can't save the best food.