In my initial posts before we left on the trip I was curious about the differences in eating out. I researched some of the differences in eating out between their culture and our culture. After being here for over half of our study abroad I can confidently report on my findings based on the first post I made. It was interesting for me to find out if the common stereotypes in differences of eating out where actually true.
If you follow along with my first post on this subject I will answer those with what I have experienced.
1. I have noticed that it does not necessarily have to mark an important occasion for the British people to go out to eat. There are many of them that just go out to enjoy a nice meal it seems.
2. Here we are definitely not asked if we would like water when we sit down at the table. Water is ordered here just the same as any other drink, and it carries the charge equivalent to almost everything else. There are not refills of water either, each glass of water that you order will be charged to your total.
3. In the United Kingdom they do not substitute anything. I think this is due to the fact that you have to normally pay for sides separately. Therefore, you can ask for a different side. Some places will have options for which sides you want with a meal, if they are included.
4. From what we have experienced the burgers are still amazing. Even better than some places in the United States. A great burger place we ate while we were here was GBK burgers and they tasted great.
5. The views of being a server here are about the same as the United States. Besides the fact that many people do not tip, since it is normally already put into the bill. All the waiters do seem to enjoy their job.
6. It is true that no drinks are refilled without being charged for another. The only exception we have found so far is at a chicken place called Nandos. Here a person can refill as often as they like, even by yourself.
7. Luckily we have not have any food that has needed to be sent back. The cooks here have all done a good job. Last night my wife did find a long piece of hair in her food and that turned her off from eating anymore. I suppose she could have sent it back, but I don't where that would have gotten her.
8. Since food is so expensive here it is important not to pay for anymore than you can eat. They do not give boxes here for food to take home, so don't order more than you can eat.
9. It is true! You are not required to tip anyone here because it is usually in the service charge already. Up to this point nobody has frowned upon us not leaving a tip.
A few additional things
1. A noticeable difference is the fact that at pubs you go up to the bar to order. Here you place your order after you have already found a table to sit at. Once you order you then tell them your table number and they bring the food to you. If you need another drink you go back up the bar and get it.
2. At the end of the meal the waiter does not ask if you want your ticket and they do not bring it to you. You have to summon them over and tell them you are ready for the ticket. They look at it as being rude if they bring it over without being told to, as if they are rushing you out.
3. The worst difference here in eating out is the small amount of ice you get your soft drinks. Sometimes, the drinks come with no ice in them at all, even the water. A room temperature water or Coke does not taste very good. The only exception has been Nandos, where you can put in as much as you want and refill as many times as you want.