dining

Hi, guys! How are you? Ready for dining in style and striving for fluency in English? Let’s have a look at the words and best expressions to talk about dining in style!

1.Will you zip through the drive-thru? Fast Food

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted! All that waiting for the bus and hailing taxis has made me hungry. Hungry? Yes. In the mood to cook? No way! Hmmm. The hard part is deciding where to go and what to eat. Restaurant choices are endless: steaks, vegetarian meals, burgers, pizza, and ethnic cuisine from just about every country on earth.

Even the picky eaters will be happy! But I think some takeout is just what the doctor ordered. There’s nothing like fast food after a busy day. Ha—fast food for when you’re feeling slow. But don’t let fast food’s bad rap fool you. It’s more than just burgers and fries with a chocolate shake.

With people becoming more health conscious (and conscious of those extra pounds!), restaurants are providing more and more healthy choices: salads, water, lean proteins, and whole grain breads. In fact, many restaurants now post the calorie counts of their menu items. I’m not sure I want to know that my mega-cheeseburger lunch has more calories than I need for an entire day!

Once you have your dream dinner in mind, you can just hop into your car and head to the nearest drive-thru. Sure, it may seem a little strange telling a machine that you want a mega-burger with cheese, but when you continue to the window to pay, the cashier will have your juicy burger order all ready to go. Ah, I can taste the fries already…

Dialogue Dining in Style

To go on dining in style and striving for fluency in English, practice the following dialogue:

MACHINE GUY: Can I take your order, please?

LIA: Hmmm. A burger sounds good. I think I’ll have a mega-burger with cheese, extra pickles, no mayo.

MACHINE GUY: Anything to drink with that?

LIA: I’d like a Coke. Extra large.

MACHINE GUY: Anything else?

LIA: Yes, a kids’ meal with chocolate milk and chicken nuggets.

MACHINE GUY: Would you like fries with that?

LIA: Hmmm. The fries smell great, but do you have fruit instead?

MACHINE GUY: Sure. You can have an apple or fruit cup.

KID: Mom, you know I like fruit cup, but I’d like to have the apple. But only if they put a pie around it!

Most places will fix the food to order. Just ask if you want something a little different from the usual preparation.

Although fast food places offer many choices, don’t expect a gourmet meal. There’s a reason it’s called fast food!

dining

USEFUL VOCABULARY

bad rap (also called a bum rap): an unfair bad opinion

cashier: the person who takes the money when you buy something

chicken nuggets: small pieces of chicken, covered in a batter and deep fried (come on . . . we know you love them!)

conscious of: aware of, thinking about

dream: anything that is just PERFECT! (a dream job, a dream vacation)

drive-thru: Yep! a lane outside the restaurant you drive right through; order your food at one end, and pick it up at the other

ethnic cuisine: cooking styles from different cultures

exhausted: really, really tired

to fix the food to order: prepare exactly as you would like it

fruit cup: a serving of mixed fruits

gourmet: very special food, often expensive

health conscious: concerned about things that are good for your health

hop into: get into

in the mood: wanting to do something

just what the doctor ordered: something that will be perfect for what you need

kids: children

mayo: short for mayonnaise, a white spread made from eggs and oil

picky eaters: people who don’t like many different kinds of food

pie: a pastry treat, usually prepared with fruit

post: show clearly

takeout: pretty much what it says. You buy the food, and take it with you to eat at home

thru: a short way to write through

vegetarian: without meat products

whole grains: grains (for example, oat and wheat) that are not processed

Don’t forget to connect your words and phrases like native speakers do. Hop into sounds like hoppinto.

2. A little more upscale: At the restaurant

Maybe you’ve decided that a table near a window sounds better than a front seat near a windshield. It may be time to splurge on a nice dinner out. It’s easy to find a nice sit-down restaurant without breaking the bank. Especially in a tough economy, restaurants will do almost anything to get your business. Lots of places offer a Restaurant Week menu all year. Take advantage of the early-bird special. You can have a fancy dinner at a much lower price.

Many restaurants are chain restaurants; this means they have restaurants of the same name and type in many towns or cities. At many places, you can call ahead and make a reservation, and they will save a table for you at a certain time. They’ll ask what time you’d like to eat, and how many will be in your party.

Some restaurants won’t take a reservation. For those places, you check-in at the hostess station when you arrive. The hostess will write down your name and call you when a table is free. Some very popular restaurants have a very long wait for a table. The hostess may give you a cool little gadget to hold while you wait in the bar or outside. When a table becomes available, the gadget buzzes and vibrates and little lights start flashing. (This can be very entertaining!) The flashing lights mean that your table is ready. The wait is no fun, but the little gadget sure is.

Dialogue Dining in Style

To go on dining in style and striving for fluency in English, practice the following dialogue:

SERVER: Hi. Welcome to the Farkel Family Restaurant. I’ll be your server today. You’re just in time for our early-bird special, so you can choose from that menu or from the regular menu. Can I start you off with some appetizers and something to drink?

ALAN: I think I may have a beer. What do you have on draft?

SERVER: We have Statler Lite and Orange Cow on tap.

ALAN: What’s your house wine?

SERVER: The house red is a Napa Valley cabernet, and the house white is a chardonnay from Mendoza, Argentina.

ALAN: I’ll have a glass of cabernet.

SERVER: And for you, ma’am?

LIA: I’m driving so I’ll just have an OJ.

SERVER: Would you like any appetizers?

ALAN: No, I think we’ll just have the entree. I’ll have the filet mignon.

SERVER: Sure. How would you like it?

ALAN: I’d like it rare. And hold the mushrooms.

SERVER: And for you, ma’am?

LIA: I’ll have the seafood combination with rice.

SERVER: The dinner comes with a vegetable. What would you like?

ALAN: I’ll have broccoli and a side salad.

LIA: And I’ll have some sautéed onions with the seafood.

Steak is usually prepared to order. If you like your meat very lightly cooked, order it rare. More cooked, but still pink is medium. Cooked for a longer time with no pink is well done.

A party in a restaurant is not necessarily a birthday party, although it could be. Confused? A party is simply the number of people in a group wishing to share the same table.

The law is very clear: Don’t drink and drive! Many people have a “designated driver” when they go out. This person will not drink any alcohol, and he or she will be responsible for driving.

USEFUL VOCABULARY

appetizer: a small dish of food served before the main meal

breaking the bank: costing too much for your budget

check in: let the staff know that you would like a table

dinner out: Yes! Eating anywhere but home

early-bird special: a lower-cost menu, usually offered before 6 p.m.

entrée: the main meal

filet mignon: a very tender cut of steak

flashing: going on and off very quickly

free: available; can also mean at no cost

gadget: a cool little device that has some special use

hold: don’t include something

hostess station: usually at the front of the restaurant, where the staff will take your name

house wine: the brand of wine a restaurant serves if the customer doesn’t want something particular

how would you like it?: how you would like your meat cooked (rare, medium, or well done)

just in time: arrived right before it’s too late

Napa Valley: a famous wine region in California

OJ: Orange Juice

on draft, on tap: pulled from a keg, rather than served in a bottle

party: the people who are joining you for dinner

Restaurant Week: a week when fancy restaurants offer a special menu at a lower cost

sautéed: fried quickly in an open pan

seafood: various types of fish

server: also called a waiter or waitress

side salad: a small salad served with or before the entree

sit-down restaurant: a nicer restaurant with tables and waiters who will serve you

splurge: spend a little extra money for a special treat

upscale: a little fancier; more special

windshield: the large front window of a car

3. Is That What I ordered?

We know what you’re thinking: I’m having a lovely dinner out, why should I complain? American restaurants place a top priority on excellent service. Because people have so many choices when dining out, if a restaurant’s service isn’t perfect, it can lose customers. The waiters and waitresses know that great service equals great tips, so they’ll do their best to be sure you have an excellent meal. But, let’s face it: everyone has a bad day. You may have a beef about something if the food or service is not right.

Servers are not surprised if a customer has a legitimate complaint. For example, it is absolutely unacceptable for anything in the place setting to be dirty. Your server should apologize and immediately replace the item with one that is spotlessly clean. Although this is not fast food, if the service is too slow or if the waiter doesn’t ask often enough if there’s anything you need, then you can complain. If the food is not hot when it arrives, you can complain. If you don’t get the dish that you ordered, you can complain. Of course, the best way to complain is to be very polite.

If there has been a problem and if you’re polite when you mention it, the restaurant staff will usually try their best to correct their mistake. There’s an expression in English: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This means that if you are polite, people will try to make you happy. If you are rude, they may not try their best.

Dialogue Dining in Style

To go on dining in style and striving for fluency in English, practice the following dialogue:

ALAN: Miss… Excuse me, but my glass has a smudge on it.

SERVER: I’m terribly sorry sir. I’ll get you a clean one right away.

*** Some time later ***

ALAN: Miss, I’m still waiting for a clean glass, and we still haven’t received our salads. We’ve been waiting a long time for our food.

SERVER: I am SO sorry! We’re a little busier than usual tonight, and we’re short-staffed. I’ll bring it immediately. I’ll also bring more water.

*** A few moments later ***

SERVER: Here you are, sir, and I’ve brought you another glass of wine, on the house. The manager would also like to give you a dessert of your choice, also compliments of the house. We’re so sorry for the mix-up. Sorry, you had to wait.

ALAN: Thank you very much.

A polite way to address a man you don’t know is sir. Use ma’am for a woman.

Another tip about tips: You should tip in restaurants. For many servers, tips make up most of their pay. Usually, the tip is 15% to 20% of the bill. If the food/service is exceptionally good, you may like to leave a little more.

We get the word ma’am from the formal word madam. You may never hear the word madam, but you will surely hear ma’am, pronounced mam, as in dam or Sam.

USEFUL VOCABULARY

absolutely: completely

apologize: say you are sorry for something

bad day: a day when you seem to have a lot of problems

beef about: complain

correct: fix; to make something right

face it: accept the truth

immediately: at once; right away

legitimate complaint: a good reason for mentioning a pr oblem

lovely: very nice

mention: say

mix-up: a mistake on the house, compliments of the house: it’s FREE!

place setting: dishes, glasses, and silverware on the table

server: waiter or waitress • short-staffed: not enough people working

smudge: a dirty mark

spotless: perfectly clean

top priority: most important

MORE FUN WITH IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS: Food

chew the fat: have a casual conversation After the meeting, Tom and Susan stayed a few minutes to chew the fat.

in a nutshell: a summary The park ranger gave a very long report about the dangers of forest fires. In a nutshell: Be careful with your campfires!

a piece of cake: easy! Lina was so relieved about her driving test. She had expected it to be tricky and hard, but it was a piece of cake!

take it with a grain of salt: don’t believe it completely Because the study was done by a company that wants to sell the product, people should take the results with a grain of salt.

butter someone up: say nice things to someone to win his or her favor Ellen was hoping for a promotion at work, so she tried to butter up the boss with compliments about how nice she looked. (But we bet the boss took the compliment with a grain of salt!)

Hope now you can express yourself with confidence and go dining in style! Go on learning about the Use of English and about passing your First Certificate Exam with flying colors!

Likewise, check my FB page or my TeachersPayTeachers store, where you will find all sorts of pieces of advice and resources.

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