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Deciding on what to eat out

Everytime I go out to eat with family/friends, I always look at the restaurant's menu online and decide on what to eat. I rarely go out to eat without knowing what Im going to order--nor do I change my mind. Do you guys pre-plan your meal or decide at the moment???

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  1. Around home, I mostly go to the same places but I don't plan out what I'm going to get beforehand. If I am going somewhere that just opened/is new, I usually look at their menu to see what things I might like to order, but I don't plan out the exact thing before I actually get there.

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    1. re: rockandroller1

      I think most people select a restaurant with what they have in mind to order from past experiences. If considering a new place for the first time....I may or may not do what (rockand roller1) does with reference to the internet, depending on time available before leaving for the restaurant....but to assume I was able to view a menu beforehand, saw some thing that I was interested in having....when I got to the restaurant and heard some specials not previously known available.....I would change my mind in a heartbeat.

    2. If I'm going out with more than one other couple, then I tend to call the restaurant beforehand, and set up a menu. If it's me and the so, and another couple, I normally just like to drink too much and tell the server or the chef to bring me what THEY would eat. I'm really not picky, although I do have a few restrictions. No shellfish, no cheese. I like to be surprised, and I eat everything. Maybe I like to be surprised BECAUSE I eat everything.
      Usually, you can tell right away if you're in a place that takes pride in their fod. You'll either get something "safe," or something that someone actually prepared with care. You can tell if a chef actually likes to put in effort.

      1. Wow, what about specials? I usually will check out their online menu but I know that often what's online is outdated or limited information and typically does not include specials. Like gordeaux, I like to way the suggestions of the server as they know what's good.

        1. Well, I love to scrutinize a menu beforehand!
          Especially if it is a special place...I usually do know exactly what I want to order.

          Having said that, I have been known to change my mind completely once I am sat down!

          1. Never pre-plan! How do I know what's sounds the best for me at the moment I'm ready to eat. And there's a need to hear specials, ask for recommendations, and ask questions. I live in a neighborhood with many great restaurants so, often, I leave the house without knowing at which I'll end up.

            (PS I also rarely make hotel arrangements when I traveling/roaming for pleasure)

            1. I've done this before, but I learned not to get too excited about a particular item menu after being burned a couple of times: they may have just changed their menus and not have that item anymore, they may have sold out of it, etc.

              1. Menus online are so seldom current that it would make no sense to me. I do look at them, but who knows what I'll feel like eating that night, what The Great Man will eat that I'll be able to cross-fork on, and what the specials will be.

                I certainly will check out menus that are posted outside restaurants (a practice I do love, and wish it were the law in more places), but if it's a place I've been looking forward to visiting, I don't look at it before entering the restaurant. I love sitting down and having the surprises revealed to me as I catch my breath, have a drink, and consider my options with a degree of leisure.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lemons

                  I alway try to order something I do not or cannot make at home, either because it's too complicated or the ingredrients are difficult to come by.

                2. I sometimes check the menu before going to a new restaurant but I don't think I've ever selected my dinner choice until I'm at the restaurant.

                  As others mentioned, there may be a special that intrigues me or the server may persuade me with "you really should try xxxx".

                  I'm also one of those people who says "we're having chicken for dinner" but when dinner time rolls around, I don't want chicken so I whip up something else.

                  1. Assuming it is a restaurant that I have never been to, I like to look at the menu on-line just to see what types of dishes they offer. Unless something really catches my eye, rarely do I decide until I get there. I usually try to avoid ordering chicken when out since we eat enough of it at home.