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Restaurant etiquette question: going just for dessert during dinner hours?

I’m going out for a low-key anniversary dinner next week at a place that does not serve dessert. I was thinking of heading to a nearby, somewhat more upscale, restaurant for their (very good) cake and coffee, but honestly I don't know the etiquette of going to a "sit down" restaurant for just dessert during prime dinner hours. We're having dinner fairly early...maybe 6 or 6:30, so we’ll probably be trying to get dessert around 7:30.

Is it bad form to just show up for dessert? Do I tell the hostess or the server? Should we sit at the bar? (I’d rather not.)

All advice and opinions appreciated!

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  1. Call the place you are considering ahead of time. Explain what you would like and let them decide. The economy has slowed things down so much that they may be very happy to have any business come their way!

    2 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      I'm kind of phone-phobic but this is probably the way to go. Thanks.

      1. re: JoanArkham

        Yes, I prefer face to face rather than phone myself.

        I was planning a special meal a few months ago. I made the reservation by phone, but later went in person during off-hours to explore some details. The staff was fantastic, added notes in the computer for my reservation and had great suggestions. Made the experience perfect!

        Hope you have a lovely evening!

    2. meatn3 gave good advice. I would also say that it would make a huge dufference if it was a weekend night vs weekday. If you do go and it seems busy, the best thing to do is enjoy the dessert but don't linger.

      1 Reply
      1. re: soxlover

        It would be on a Thursday evening.

      2. I wouldn't thing that's cool but if the restaurant is OK with it by all means. Did you consider places that specialize in dessert? I don't know if your locale has any but here off the top of my head I can think of 3.

        I've never heard of a restaurant that doesn't serve dessert. Why not go to the place with the very good cake and coffee for dinner (or is their dinner food not so great)?

        1 Reply
        1. re: hsk

          I'm in the DC area, having dinner on Old Town Alexandria. I know of one place downtown that specializes in dessert but nothing in that area.

          The cake and coffee place (Majestic) has excellent food, but we were just there for a special occasion dinner and wanted to try something new. (Brabo Tasting Room, which is more casual and does not seem to have dessert.)

        2. Here's my take, OP. You obviously feel weird about this; something is unsettling to you about going to a restaurant for just dessert. I say go with your gut. If you're apprehensive just thinking about it, you're likely to feel the same when you go, even if the restaurant says it's cool.

          As for myself, I'd definitely never go to a restaurant during dinner hours just for dessert. Why? I'd be super uncomfortable and not enjoy myself.

          Maybe they can do takeaway dessert and you can linger over it at home?

          5 Replies
          1. re: invinotheresverde

            Takeaway is a good thought. I just need to get over my phone phobia and call them!

            1. re: JoanArkham

              Yup. Calling is essential. I've been turned away before from just having dessert at restaurants, even if it was on the late side like 10P because there were still plenty of people eating dinner at that time and couldn't give us a table unless we were ordering food.

              Are there restaurants like the Bar Room at the Modern where you live? It takes reservations but has a large bar and lounge seating where one can drop in and have a few bites. I walked in for dessert there a couple of times and had no problems.

                1. re: Kajikit

                  Of course. What I meant to say was ordering an entree.

            2. re: invinotheresverde

              I have done it on rare occasions, but have always sat at the bar and have coffee and my husband generally will have an amaretto.

            3. We tried to do this to celebrate our engagement one time - and we were told NO (face to face). Even though we were going to order champagne, etc. Never went back and called the MGR.
              If I were you, I would take it to go, get a bottle of wine at the store, and enjoy at home if you're going to be itchy/stressed about it (I would - I am a rule follower sheep-person).