Eating out in English

Imagine the following situation: you’re on holiday and you feel like giving local fare a try. You choose a good restaurant, you open the menu and you unintentionally order something that wasn’t what you thought it would be. Has this ever happened to you? It’s a fairly common situation, which happens as a result of not understanding the menu and the embarrassment of asking the waiter to explain what each dish actually is.

More often than not, we spend English classes practising grammar and then when the time comes for us to order our favourite fish, we have no idea how to do it right. Yes, mastery of the most common phrasal verbs is undoubtedly useful, but when you’re hungry, it’s not going to do you any good.

With this guide, you’re going to go through each step from the time you enter the restaurant and all the way to dessert. You’ll come out completely satisfied. And that’s a promise!

  1. Booking a table

If you already know that it’s advisable to book a table at a restaurant, it’s better to call ahead. They’ll usually ask you to wait to be seated. Let’s imagine what the phone conversation will be like:

  • Hi, I would like to make a reservation for x people, please.
  • What time would you like to book the table for?
  • 9:15 would be great.

And if you just show up at the restaurant:

  • Hi, do you have a table for three?
  • I’m so sorry, we don’t have a free table right now. Can you wait 20 minutes
  1. The menu

We’re good to go. Now we’ll get to the most important part: the menu. The menu is commonly divided into four sections:

  • Starters
  • Main courses
  • Desserts
  • Drinks

And these phrases will help you order like a pro:

  • I’ll have the soup, please
  • For me, the salad please
  • What do you recommend?
  • I don’t eat meat, do you have a vegetarian menu please?
  1. Ingredients and allergies

For obvious reasons, it’s impossible to list down all the ingredients in the world, but here we have those that tend to cause allergies, for you to learn to say them in English.

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Gluten
  • Fish
  • Seafood

Whether you have any of these allergies or you simply don’t like a certain type of food, you can ask them not to put it in your dish:

  • I’m allergic to eggs, please make sure there isn’t any in my salad.
  • Could you bring me the salad without the tomato?
  1. Anything else?

If you’ve been served the right dish, then you’re doing great so far. But of course, you might need some salt, you might be thirstier than you thought or you might want some dessert. And, last but not the least, you have to pay for the bill. Here are some phrases to ask for something or to call the waiter over politely:

  • Excuse me!

(To get the waiter’s attention: Excuse me!)

  • Could you bring us some more bread please?
  • Would you like some dessert?

(Would you care for any dessert?)

  • Could you bring us the bill please?
  • Is it possible to pay by card?

With this quick guide, we hope that you’re now ready for your next dinner…in English! If you come up with more useful phrases, write them down in the comments! Remember to sign up to our course to make sure you don’t miss out on any more important information on real life situations

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