Check out Kottke’s compendium of approaches to ordering food in a restaurant, based on pop science.
As for how I do it, I usually let everyone else decide what they’re getting and I try to order something that hasn’t been ordered. It doesn’t have roots in science–it’s more the food critic’s approach, so you get to try everything.
Also, I try to order whatever is most unusual. Like when we were ordering dessert at the River Cafe and everyone ordered a chocolate Brooklyn Bridge replica, I ordered a kumquat rice pudding tart. Everyone eyed me suspiciously–even the waiter–but who knows what you might discover when you order something weird? Incidentally, the tart was disgusting.
How do you order food in a restaurant?