Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Dining out comparisons, the UK v's USA


When it comes to eating out, America seems to get it right and for a number of reasons - over here dining out can be fun - but the huge couse of places to eat can leave you stumped as to where to go. I've noticed a few differences between the UK and the USA when it comes to getting your meals cooked for you and here they are;

Not only do you get FREE top ups of certain soft drinks - your Coke, your Pepsi often without asking, iced water can come as standard in some restaurants.

Bread buns, you know those tiny little things they give you to nibble on before you're meal arrives [in particular thinking of the infamous Red Lobster] are called biscuits. I really don't know why. A biscuit is what you dunk in your tea.  

What really confused me at first was the side salads which are included in the price of your meal and are usually garden or Caesar based. The first time I was asked I was a little confused as to why and more so when they bring it out before your main meal. Yeah that threw me the first time in Red Lobster. I'd normally eat salads with my meal.

Eating with a knife AND fork is seen as posh.

There is an American perception that English food is bad, very bad and tasteless. 

Fish n Chips are edible over here, but apart from getting one huge piece of greasy battered fish, in the States you get several mid sized fillets, often served with coleslaw. Saying that I miss fish n chip shops - getting your food on a polystyrene tray, wrapped in newspaper and eating it with a wooden fork - I'd give anything for that right now!

One of the things that impresses me the most is regarding your leftovers. I remember moments in the UK of family members trying to sneak out that nice bit of meat they couldn't finish because we all knew it would just end up in the rubbish. In America your more then likely to be asked if you want a take out tray for any leftovers. So rather then your food and the money you spent on it wasting, you get something tasty to fulfill your hunger pangs. Normally I eat them up for my lunch the following day after giving them a thorough reheating. 

There's a drive thu for every kind of food you could imagine. 

Tipping in restaurants is a big thing too, which I know is why your servers are always extremely pleased and happy to see you but it really is how they make most of their money so your typically meant to leave a tip of 15% [at least in Michigan anyway]. Thankfully we have a handy little tip application on my phone for those tricky brain-dead moments of maths after a hearty meal.

And where are my favourite places to grab food? I'm partial to a Jimmy Johns [another version of a Subway], Tom's Oyster Bar [not really a chain but gorgeous seafood regardless], Red Robin [tasty burgers!], Wendys [like a MacDonalds but better and do great milkshakes] and Culvers - the best frozen yoghurt desserts ever!  Oh and how could I forget Krispy Kreme?!

What are your experiences of eating out in America? Where do you love to eat out?
I know you guys love hearing about my USA - UK comparisons and if there's anything differences you'd love me to talk about or look into then do let me know!

58 comments:

  1. I love the idea of free top ups for your drink! And the fact you can actually take food away with you. Wish more restaurants in the UK do that!

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    1. I know totally cuts down on all the waste food being dumped out. The free refills really confused me at first - I thought they'd be chargeable.

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  2. I would love to be asked if I want to take leftovers home, I'm forever craving the food I couldn't eat about 10 minutes later! I love the cheesecake factory that they have in America, I went to the one in Boston and it was the nicest bit of cheesecake I have eaten in my entire life!

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    1. I've only seen a Cheesecake Factory in Chicago but we were too fill to shop and have food - have to go and try that place one day!

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  3. Biscuits are biscuits, right? I was confused when I first had American biscuits too. So strange!
    ♥ laura
    the blog of worldly delights
    the shop of worldly delights

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    1. Seems such an odd name for them - they are bread like. Not biscuit like!

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  4. I loved Johnny Rockets, but ended up consuming about 2000 calories in one meal! The milkshakes were AMAZING. I got really confused about the whole refill thing, I was kind of worried that they were going to charge me for every refill though.

    Charlotte xo

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    1. I need to go to Johnny Rockets more - they do some of the best burgers!

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  5. This was a really interesting read. I never think twice about how it is here. Haha, my boyfriend in high schools mom was from England and ate with her fork and knife (combined of course) and I will be honest, I thought it was very posh. I think America can have too many food choices and that is why Americans think that English food can be tasteless (my boyfriend had that problem while living there :-/ but he is picky and I had to force him to try fish n chips). I think it is so strange that you can't take your food home with you.

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    1. In hindsight it seems much more practical to take your leftovers home - we're too reserved in the UK! And we wouldn't even dare to ask for a box to take anything home in!

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  6. I've only been to NYC but found it so much better for eating out compared to in the UK! I hate visiting somewhere here and having only 1 or 2 vegetarian choices to pick from on the menu, I found veggies to be much better catered for over there! Also love how taking home leftovers is standard practice!

    Caroline x
    Caroline's Catwalk

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    1. Yeah there really are a lot more food choices over here - from healthier to vegetarian etc. I always find the menus over here to be so huge I never know where to start!

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  7. Ooo I love these posts you do:)
    I find it SO annoying that some places don't let you take food home with you. I was at a restaurant the other week and was absolutely stuffed after my main course, but was desperate for this selection of biscuit things on the dessert menu, but I wasn't going to pay for it if I couldn't finish it there and then. So, I asked them if I could just pay for it but could they put it in a 'doggy bag', not bring it on a plate, and they were so hesitant and snotty about it. They did agree in the end, but I don't see what the big problem is, they're getting their money and it saves them on washing up.
    How weird that eating with a knife and fork is posh haha! That's mad, I find eating with a knife is kind of like a comfort blanket. I find it weird when I eat without a knife.
    & that diner looks soooooo cool. I really need to go to America at some point. In the meantime, I shall live my dream through your blog ;) xxx

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    1. I know what you mean - it's not like they are loosing out. For one meal with friends, one of our friends husbands couldn't attend because of work commitments so she ordered what he would have had and got them to put it straight into the trays so she could take it home. No odd chance, no questions - was just done and everyone was happy.

      I'll always eat with my knife and fork - I can't "do" the cutting thing with a fork!

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  8. so how do you cut up your steak with just a fork? Love that diner in the pic, just got some similar chairs for my kitchen.

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    1. The joys of multitasking your fork as a cutting implement! Although in restaurants they do give you a knife for steak! But they aren't always used haha.

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  9. I find in America the portions are huge and the service is a lot better (but as you say that's probably the tipping). The refills are good too, except when I went to Florida me and boyfriend ended up drinking endless Coke all day long! I like the idea of it being easier to take out and just eating with a fork though :-)

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    1. That's true - I always drink far more pop then I would because of the refills!

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  10. I've never been to America so find this post really interesting. Look forward to more comparisons. X

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    1. I'll have to get my head in gear to try and think some more differences up!

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  11. When we eat out I always ask for a doggy bag if I can't finish my meal! But I guess if you're not very confident then you might not want to ask so it's nice for them to ask you.
    I like the sound of salad free with your meal :D Love my salad hahaha

    xo

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    1. Mmm I always love the free salad esp if it's Caesar!

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  12. I absolutely love the idea of free top-ups on soft drinks :-) I think I'd love to try some real US food, but also I'm pretty spoilt for choice in our little corner of England as we have gorgeous tearooms/cafes/gastropubs aplenty!

    Jem xXx

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    1. See I kind of miss that tea room kind of place - there's a couple in the next town but they lack that Englishness of having rustic looking home-made scones!

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  13. Red robin and Wendy's are so so good! I miss American food xx

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    1. We live really close to a Red Robin and oh my is it sometimes hard to resist the smell of burgers being cooked!

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  14. Another interesting post. Since I'm from the US, I was surprised by opposite things: while visiting the UK I was told there were no free drink refills and was surprised that I couldn't get a to go box for my leftovers. Oh, and about the fork and knife thing: I have always used both fork and knife together and others here seem too also, so maybe this is just one of those personal preference things? All in all, obviously most of my experience with dining out is in the US. So I may be biased by being partial to the good food, good service, and low prices we enjoy here. ; )

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    1. Yeah in reflection I think the service and free element would go well in the UKs favour if it took on those practices. Although I do prefer that the waitresses in the UK aren't as in your face and constantly coming to ask you questions.

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  15. Oh my gosh, CULVER'S!!!! It's so good, but you can't find it everywhere. And I love that a refill is referred to as a "top-off" Very interesting to hear the differences!

    Stop by my blog and check out my week of Giveaways! http://avant-garde-living.blogspot.com

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    1. We keep using up all our Culvers coupons lately - so tempting not too!

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    2. Yum! You are making me wish we had one nearby! Thanks for stopping by, I am following back!

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  16. Free salad and top-ups on drinks would be great! The only place I know in the UK with bottomless drinks (and frozen yoghurt) is Nandos (and they are a South African franchise) :-)

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    1. I do miss Nandos - some of their food was lush!

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  17. Aww I love the differences between UK and USA restaurants, when I went to florida we doggy bagged a Choc cake and had it the next morning lol.

    Charlee
    http://charmedcharlee.blogspot.com/
    xx

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    1. Its just a great practice isn't it?!

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  18. Such a cool read! I was only in the States for a long weekend and we managed to hunt out a fabulous Indian restaurant in Boston and a fab Greek deli. To be honest I'm a healthy eating Vegetarian and the vast majority of places we came across weren't my thing...milkshakes, burgers, doughnuts, deep fried things and huge buckets of coffee just don't appeal but I do love the sound of free salad!
    I can't wait for my American friend, Krista, to come over in September and see how she finds the British table manners and etiquette. x

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    1. It'll be interesting to hear how an American perceives English ways!

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  19. I find these comparisons entertaining even though I don't live in either country, it's funny to see rh way both countries influence Australia. We have a mix of etiquette from both places. xx

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    1. I'm sure Australia out does us both with how to do proper BBQ food!

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  20. It seems a complete different dining experience all together! The leftovers is a really good idea, god knows why in England we never take them with us xxx

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    1. It seems just a straight forward reasonable thing to do right?!

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  21. I love these comparison posts, it's really interesting to see the difference between the two!

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    1. And these are just the ones I remember!

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  22. Hi Rachael, glad you stopped by my blog. And boy am i glad i stopped by yours too! I'm from Singapore (which used to be a British colony) so we adopted the English system. Think metric system, Queen's English spellings and all. Now i live with my American husband in NC and we get each other mixed up with pronunciations all the time. Now i mostly sound American and he says things the English way. It's too funny! Glad to have met you!

    xoxo
    Chui

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    1. Yeah me and Joe are multilingual in English/American terms - it can be funny at times!

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  23. I never understood why other countries don't take home leftovers. I've noticed on my travels that only the USA asks, if you would like a take out box. I would think people would want to bring it home!

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    1. Especially when your paying for it and you're decreasing the amount of waste for the restaurant. Just seems common sense.

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  24. Hi Rachael,
    We love the places you named for dining.

    We don't eat out often but when we do we have fun trying new places to dine.
    Joan and I love french food but hubby only likes it and not often.
    So we go to Le Fou Frog it has a Romantic atmosphere with a unique mixture of traditional bistro fare and haute cuisine. Only bad part..It is very pricey!
    We are not vegetarians but we go to Eden Alley Vegetarian cafe.

    We do hit the fast food places sometimes.
    A very interesting post.
    Love, Joan
    xoxo

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    1. I haven't eaten any French food for so long. There's apparently a good French restaurant not too far way from us so we'll have to go and check it out!

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  25. In my country, we normally eat the salad before the main meal, too.

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    1. Well in the Uk you tend to eat them all together which is how I prefer if i'm being honest.

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  26. I shouldn't read this I am now very very hungry

    Your blog is stunning though ;)

    http://shelovesmixtapes.blogspot.com

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  27. I find it interesting that English food is seen as bad and tasteless as our perception of American food is that it's all burgers and huge portions! It wpuld be good if they let you take the leftovers home in England - I am so sick of the in-laws sneaking everything into food bags. It is soo cringe-worthy!

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    1. My gran use to be the same - wrapping it up in a serviette and then sometimes forgetting that she even took it and finding it hours later in the bottom of her handbag! Although she use to take bits of the meat home for her cat.

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  28. The leftovers thing sounds like such a good idea - I always feel really cheeky asking to take food home with me over here!
    I love restaurants that do free refills as well, I wish more places in Britain did that. Soft drinks can end up being quite expensive once you add them all up at the end!

    Gillian x
    elevatormusik.com

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    1. Especially with how watered down the soft drinks can be in the UK too!

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  29. OMG I love eating in America. I completely agree with you on a few points... you don;t need to ask for water or to take things home, refillable soda. Even the big chain restaurants we have over here can be completely different over there. My fav is a steakhouse in Orlando off the 192 called Sizzlers. Never ever had a bad meal from there. I also love diners and there is a great one in South Beach in Miami that do the most UH-MAZING breakfast Omelette... all this talk is making my miss America so much!!!
    Charlotte
    x x

    lilmisschickas.blogspot.co.uk

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