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Rank these in order of importance to you when dining out

- plating of food
- atmosphere / ambiance of the restaurant
- neighborhood where the restaurant is located

1 to 3, with 1 being the most important.

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  1. For a quiet "special" dinner out with mrs. al b. darned:
    1 - atmosphere / ambiance of the restaurant
    2 - neighborhood where the restaurant is located
    3 - plating of food

    For a casual "lets eat out" night:
    1 - neighborhood where the restaurant is located
    2 - atmosphere / ambiance of the restaurant
    3 - plating of food

    In all cases tho, all here take second place to the quality of the food. If the food sucks, none of them matter because we're not there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: al b. darned

      Generally speaking, I completely agree with your rankings. The way that food looks on a plate is far less important to me than how long it takes me to get to the restaurant and how I feel once I get there.

      However, the only time plating becomes a serious issue for me is when it impedes on my enjoyment of the food. If soup is served bowl difficult to eat out of, if plating decisions make crunchy food go soggy - basically if it effects the way the food tastes or how the food gets to my mouth - then it can become a very important issue.

    2. you left out the very most important. taste. plating is somewhere in the billions for me. and number two is nice people working there.

      1. Neighborhood counts most, but only as a factor of proximity to home.
        Atmosphere matters a little, but only to the extent that there is a purpose to the meal.
        Plating doesn't matter at all

        1 Reply
        1. re: MGZ

          1. The food has to taste good. I don't really care about the plating.
          2. The people have to be nice and seem to care. I don't like pretentious staff that feel like they are doing you a favor by letting you eat there.
          3. I like to go out to eat things I don't make at home, so ethnic restaurants, especially cozy mom and pop spots are my favorite. And they are hard to find!

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Neighborhood. I'm stunned that so many start up restaurant owners that go quickly broke have never heard a very very simple phrase and believed it: 'Location location location'. It doesn't matter if the chef has four m stars. if the restaurant is in a location where no one feels safe leaving the cab to get into the restaurant well then that restaurant will fail.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Puffin3

              Not true at all especially for first world urban locations. If the food is good enough, plenty of people will go to neighborhoods that they otherwise would never have gone to. When enough of that happens in a specific neighborhood, the whole character of the neighborhood can change. I've seen that happen in NYC. You're Canadian I believe. Have you gone to Joe Beef? Its was not located in the most happening of places but its packed every night. First time I went to Montreal, we went for dinner there. As we were going down Rue Notre Dame, I was wondering where the hell is this place located? One of my favorite restaurants in the world. If the places you refer to went broke, well the food didn't justify the journey. But if the food does, people will come.

              1. re: Puffin3

                If you're talking about extremes, yes neighborhood matters a great deal. I'm not going to a place where I need to wear Kevlar just because it sells ethereal fried chicken. But very, very few restaurants fit that description.

                1. re: Puffin3

                  I think neighborhood matters - but not because of safety, but rather convenience. If I have to travel 20 minutes vs an hour to get to a restaurant, the restaurant an hour away needs to be pretty good to just even get my attention. Whereas the restaurant down the block needs to be not terrible to get my business more than once.

                  1. re: Puffin3

                    Couldn’t disagree more - one of the best restaurants I have been too is in the worst part of that town yet they have a month long waiting list to get into. Other equally seedy places have been stupendous all around the world.

                    1. re: RetiredChef

                      Sometimes locations means more than whether the 'hood is good or bad.

                      Sometimes the location may be in a very ritzy part of town, but it's just not a good place to have a restaurant -- either because of foot traffic, competition, demographics, etc.

                      We've all known *that* place where a restaurant seems to shutter and a new one takes its place every 6 months or so.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Kind of like putting a restaurant in a subway station?

                        "Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3 star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro's sushi bar."

                        1. re: RetiredChef

                          Great point and I totally agree that location isn't as important as people think it is.

                          Peter Lugers Steakhouse in Brooklyn is another example. While the location has improved over the years, in the 70's and 80's you wouldn't find me walking in that hood looking for a cab.