If there’s anyone we’d trust to provide us with no-nonsense restaurant advice, it’s Gordon Ramsay. The hot-tempered restauranteur has been working in the hospitality industry for over 30 years, and made his name tearing strips off shoddy chefs (Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef), rubbish restaurants (Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares) and horrific hotels (Hotel Hell). Yes, he’s a little bit scary – but he knows what he’s talking about.
Now, Ramsay has revealed his golden rules for eating out. The Michelin-starred chef, who owns restaurants in London, the US, Italy, France, Qatar, Hong Kong and Dubai, says that customers should avoid specials, be suspicious of boastful menus, and haggle for wine – and book a table for three when going on a date.
Why? Read on to find out…
1) Book a table for three, for two
This definitely isn’t a trick to deploy every time you go out to eat with your partner (or your Tinder date, best mate or mum), as it’s more than a little cheeky. But if you’re planning a special dinner for two, and are worried that you might get stuck in a cramped corner or by the toilets, Ramsay recommends booking a table for three instead.
This, he tells AFP, will improve your chances of being able to spread out, instead of “getting stuck in the corner like a doorstop”. Note: it goes without saying that you’ll have to be terribly apologetic when you arrive and tell your waiter that unfortunately, your third guest will not be joining you.
2) Be suspicious of too-good-to-be-true boasts
Ramsay is renowned for the… unique way he deploys the English language, so it’s no surprise that he has strong opinions on how other chefs choose to describe their dishes.
Specifically, he has no time for restaurants that proclaim their food is “famous”, “iconic” or “best in the UK” – without being able to cite their sources.
“When they turn around and tell me it is the ‘famous red lasagne’, who made it famous?” asks Ramsay. “They start coming up with these terminologies, saying ‘and the wicked, famous, best in the country profiteroles’.
“Who said that? Who named that?”
3) Be prepared to haggle for wine
If you feel daunted when ordering wine in a fancy restaurant, you’re not alone. But according to Ramsay, customers should never feel embarrassed when it comes to trying to get the best deal – and should even be prepared to haggle with the sommelier.
“We have a fear about talking to sommeliers because you think you’re going to be ripped off,” he says. “So get the sommelier to come up with a great glass or great bottle and give him a price. And make sure it’s under $30 (£23.50).”
Ramsay also recommends that customers ask their waiter to see the “bin end” list – the bottles with scratched labels, vintages that are about to be switched out or poor sellers that restaurants are keen to get rid of.
Watch: Why prosecco is good for you
4) Avoid specials
While it might be easy to be suckered in when your waiter reels off a long list of tempting-sounding ‘specials’, Ramsay says that a discerning customer will generally steer clear.
“Specials are there to disappear throughout the evening,” he says. “When they list 10 specials, that’s not special.”
Want wine advice from a sommelier without having to, you know, actually consult a sommelier? You might like our sommelier’s guide to the best red wines under £10. Or to find out how to get a Michelin-starred meal for as little as £16.50, click here.
Images: Rex Features, iStock