While updating our links page, I came across an interesting piece at eGullet on "How to Dine: Getting the Most from Restaurants." It reflects a lot of what we've learned about how to enjoy eating out, such as the joys of having a few places where you're a "regular," the importance of being nice to the wait staff, expressing true interest and delight in the food, and never being afraid to ask questions. (It's far better to ask up front what "steak tartare" is than to order it and then try to send it back when you discover it's raw meat.)
This is a how-to by Steven A. Shaw, executive director and co-founder of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a James Beard Award-winning food critic, and a contributor to Elle, Saveur, and many other magazines and journals. His book, Turning the Tables: Restaurants from the Inside Out, is available on Amazon.com.
A few quotes from the eGullet piece: "A special relationship with a restaurant is one of life's great pleasures, and such a relationship can be far easier and quicker to establish than many people think." "Good restaurant karma lies at the confluence of many small, unremarkable actions" (like saying please and thank you). "There's no way to become a food or wine expert overnight, or even in a year. But you don't need expertise. All you need is enough confidence to ask questions." "What a restaurant's staff can't do is read your mind. That's why, if something goes wrong in a restaurant, it's important to speak up."