Dating in London is weird. There are lots of potential weirdos and therefore, a lot of potential weird situations in which to find yourself. The first choice for a date is often a drink, or just as commonly, a restaurant. But there are so many ways for this to go wrong. I've been on plenty of dates in restaurants and there have been some disastrous ones. You may have totally different eating habits, your date may be allergic to everything, they may try and order a burger at a fancy French restaurant or horror of horrors, he might not want to share. It's not the same as a casual drink, where you can make a quick getaway – it can be a long, drawn out process which can be great, or can be awkward. If anything, it's a very useful way in which to discover any annoying or disgusting habits that your potential beau may have. There are so many ways to fuck it up - the littlest thing can put me off a man on a date. For example, I once went out with a guy whose idea of a tip was to leave 20p in 1 and 2p coins. He didn't understand why I, especially as a waitress, found that thoughtless. So I decided to put together some tips (and some horror stories) of dating in restaurants - potentially disastrous.
Choose the location wisely. You could book the most amazing sushi place only for your date to announce that they don't like sushi. Nightmare!
Go somewhere with interesting staff. @tableforONE_PV: ' Le Beaujolais is a delightful choice for a 1st date. If the guys's boring then the old bartender is full of fun stories.'
Go somewhere with a focal point or a nice view - it'll give you something to talk about and it's a nice shared experience.
Don't dither when you're asked who the reservation is for, if you made it. It makes potential first interactions potentially awkward. Also, your date may have forgotten your name.
Establish the ordering situation. Once I went on a date to Pitt Cue. I thought he wanted to share, but he didn't want to share, so when the food arrived, I had to re-order to get my food. Hilarity ensued (it did not).
Don't assume people like being ordered for. @belhunt100: "1st date wouldn't let me order, or see the menu, or wine list. Did it all for me, and made a rubbish choice!"
Don't pretend to know a lot about wine if you don't. You will, inevitably, look like a pretentious dick.
Don't worry about asking for tap water, no-one thinks you're cheap.
Be observant. There's nothing more awkward (and unattractive) than a man ignoring who the waiter looks at and steaming in to order first.
Read the situation and the location. A Nando's experience will be different to a Michelin starred restaurant experience (you would think this was obvious. It is not to some people).
Make sure you can pronounce what's on the menu. @laurenbravo: "First boyfriend thought he was impressing by ordering "Sea Red beef". Had to point out it was actually "seared"."
Order things where there is no question of eating method. Some people like to follow the rules very strictly. If you order a burger, do you cut it in half first? Would you really cut a banana up with a nife and fork, as the Debrett's guide instructs?
Order something different to your date – if conversation runs a bit dry, you can always offer them a bit of your starter that they 'have to try'. It's a cunning excuse to get a bit closer to them.
Don't order anything messy. You may think that eating spaghetti is sexy, but you could end up slurping more than seducing. Not to mention the food that might go down your front / attractive joker-style tomato sauce stains around your mouth.
Think about the effect your food will have on you. @Blonde_M: "Don't order the squid ink pasta. You'd think it'd be obvious, wouldn't you? *Sigh*" - same goes for too much red wine!
Manners are very important. @TheSCGuy: “My date orders a salad, I order pasta. She gets up & goes to toilet as food arrives at table. Comes back 15mins later with no apology, eats salad whilst I force down cold pasta.”
Make sure your date isn't married! @intotheFworld: 'Shortest 1st date ever. Fancy fish restaurant, we sit down, he says "Don't take this the wrong way but I'm married". I leave.'
Remember where you are. You're in a place where people eat. I've had a few bad experiences where my date has told charming tales involving bodily functions. I'd rather not hear about your bad digestion whilst I'm eating, thanks.
Don't forget to thank your date if your dinner was paid for by them. That's happened to a friend of mine and it really pissed him off to receive a text saying that his date was home safely. No word of thanks for dinner in sight.
At least pretend to be interested in what your date is saying. @jameslewisland: "My most memorable restaurant date was one Valentines day when I proceeded to fall asleep when she was talking."
Try and keep the same eating pace. A friend went on a date to a turkish restaurant, ordered kebabs, finished way before and spent the rest of the meal picking meat out of his teeth with the forks that the kebabs were on.
At least pretend to protest even if you think your date will probably pay.
Tip. Unless the service was really bad. Otherwise, definitely do. That is an instance where you WILL look cheap and that doesn't bode well on a first date.
If you are offering to pay the bill, make sure you can pay. There is nothing more embarrassing than your credit card not working and not having any back-up cash. That's happened to a friend of mine - his date had to pay and he was mortified.
Don't be tight. @Blonde_M: "I wish this weren't an actual experience of mine - do NOT whip out a voucher at the start of the meal and tell your date what she can order based on the T&Cs therein. Unsurprisingly, that date was our first and our last."