Kottke’s Guide to Ordering Food

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?

9 thoughts on “Kottke’s Guide to Ordering Food”

  1. I am often driven by freakish, impulsive cravings – and I order accordingly. For better or for worse, this often leads to me ordering the same thing as someone else at my table, but I don’t care, I go with the impulse and it *usually* serves me well in the end. Cheers AG – rock on crouton.

  2. i aplogise if this question has been asked/answered already, but what is that wonderful song playing in the ‘we eat chinatown’ movie?


  3. I usually do a once over of the whole thing and then decide whether I want something heavy or light and I usually go for something I’ve never tasted before or something that I haven’t had in a very long time.

    Usually the “long time” one wins over


  4. Kat F. – I think you’re referring to Hoodoo Voodoo by Wilco (and Billy Bragg)

  5. I usually get stuck at appetizers since I enjoy small little bits and pieces rather than a big slack of meat with a pathetic side salad.

  6. My general rule, which I learned from my parents, is : always order something that you would never have the skill, patience, or courage to make at home.

    Too often in the past, I would order a half rotisserie chicken with roasted potatoes and then think, “my mom makes this way better.”

    And recently, I’ve taken to ordering whatever item on the menu has the fewest clues as to what it is or what’s in it – like Friday when I got chawerma mixte and was pleasantly surprised to find a mix of chicken and lamb with crazy spices. It’s all about the surprise factor.

  7. For me, it depends a lot on who I’m with. With my parents, we all order something different, things everyone likes (we’re pretty easy to please), and we switch and swap bites all over the table. We split dessets at the end and make it a two-hour-plus affair, at least.

    My husband, though, is not much of a gourmand and will simply order chicken wherever he is. So with him I try to order something unique to the place we are to balance out his blandness. :-) And I never get dessert because he won’t split with me and then I couldn’t be on Weight Watchers…(the true destination of most of us budding gourmets…)

  8. I always try and stay away from Chicken dishes (unless it is coq au vin from a good French palce) because I can make it at home…plus the only reason it is on the menu is for people who are to scared to try anything else.

    I also stay away from Salmon because I make so much of it at home…unless its from a Sushi restaurant in which case I always order raw salmon.

    I stay away from Mussles because they are so cheap to buy are usually way overpriced. I prefer to make my own and they

    I usualy try the more unusual salads or appetizers and get the dinner that suits my appetite for that evening

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