Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's the Little Things-Going out to eat in a Restaurant in Germany

One of the many joys of traveling is trying new foods local to the area. There are lots of great restaurants, cafes, and beerhalls to try on a visit to Germany. European etiquette is a little bit different and it can be a bit intimidating if you don't speak the language or know quite what to do. Here's a few tips I've picked up during our time in Europe... 

*Eating out in a restaurant can be expensive and is meant to be an experience. Take your time, slow down, and enjoy it :)
*When choosing a restaurant, menus are posted outside so you know the type of food and the prices. Many places will be open for lunch and then close until dinner time. Keep this mind while site seeing.
*Once inside, you can usually seat yourself. In some of the less formal places, or in a biergarten, this may involve sharing a table.
*When ordering drinks, it is often true that beer is the same price or cheaper than soda or water! In Germany, water is not free, but ordered by the bottle with a choice of still or sparkling. There aren't any free refills, for any drinks. It is also true that you probably won't have any ice, but you won't need it either. Drinks are served cold and filled to the top of the glass. 
*When you're ready to order, close your menu.  This will signal the server to come back to the table, otherwise, they'll leave you alone to let you decide.  
*Enjoy your meal, drinks, and possibly dessert. Again, eating out is the experience, so slow down and rest your feet, the table is yours until you're ready to go. When ready, you will have to ask for the bill. Servers don't bring the bill with the food or try to rush you. If you have small children, I would recommend asking for the bill as soon as the food comes out-it can sometimes take awhile for the server to bring it.
*Once the server brings the bill, it's usually expected that the customer will pay right away.
*Tipping! Servers in Germany are paid a salary and an extra tip is not needed. The custom is to round up and for the servers to keep the change. However, as an American that worked for far too many years as a server, I always tip at least a couple of Euros, especially if the service is good.  

These tips are for Germany, but they apply for most of Europe.
Do you have a favorite experience while eating out in Europe or did you commit a faux pas that is now a great funny story?

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