My ideal dining experience & dream menu! *

Not having to cook is always a popular dinner option for me. As much as I enjoy cooking and experimenting with new recipes and foods, not having to cook and being able to sit back, relax and let the food come to you is always a nice treat. Whether that’s a quick takeaway from my favourite Chinese (seriously, it is the BEST Chinese takeaway in the UK), a cute little café in the park or a slightly posher (but not too posh) restaurant for a lavish 3-course meal. Most cities are a hub for restaurants and places to eat and living close to London, there’s a restaurant or takeout literally everywhere you look. But of course not all dining experiences are positive, we’ve all been left disappointed by a meal that’s not been entirely up to scratch (or if you’re really unlucky, been given food poisoning from it!) 

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If I was out in London or nearby and wanted to stop for dinner, my ideal place would be somewhere not too posh because posh places make me feel a little uncomfortable. I’m from Essex, born and bred and I’m about the least posh person you will ever meet. My accent does not fit in a fancy restaurant, I tell you that! I can’t say I’ve ever really been to a really posh restaurant before but it’s not something I’m in a hurry to try. Casual dining or somewhere smart but not overly pompous is right up my street. There are endless options to choose from but if you need a helping hand, click here!*

The decor of a restaurant is something I always notice because I love interior design and it’s something I’ve become more and more interested in over the last year or so. Interior design is one of my most pinned things on Pinterest so the decor of a restaurant is pretty important, for both me and the general ambiance of the facility. I’m sure you’ll agree that having blaring music whilst you’re trying to have a nice meal isn’t too pleasant, nor is eating when the room is too dark or if the walls and decor are too bright and garish! (Some people might like bright and garish but personally, I don’t!)

I also think the staff can really make or break a dining experience and I remember quite vividly when I’ve had an exceptional server. I actually still remember a waiter called Chris at a restaurant called Cote, who was incredible. He was funny, attentive, had glitter on his face and made banter with us throughout the night but at the same time, wasn’t over-bearing and wasn’t too in your face. For me, he was the perfect waiter and I think a really good waiter can add so much to your dining experience.

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Obviously food is the main aspect of your dining experience, wherever you’re eating and whatever type of restaurant you’re in. I love my food – it’s one of the things I think about the most and I always enjoy trying different types of food when I go to a restaurant. I figure if I’m making a night of it and want to optimize the experience, I don’t want to eat something that I’ve had 400 times before.

My dream menu options:

  • Personally, I eat a lot of Vegetarian or fish dishes when I eat out. I’m not sure why because I’m not a Vegetarian or Pescatarian but I’m always drawn to those dishes. So my ideal menu would definitely contain far more Vegetarian options than most menus do (and I’m sure most Vegetarians would agree with me there) but also more fish options, as opposed to red meat or chicken.
  • I asked my boyfriend (who is just as keen on food as I am) what items would be on his perfect restaurant menu and he said: “I’m a sucker for steak so a medium cooked steak as a main with chips, onion rings and mushrooms.”
  • Specific dishes that I’ve had before which I’d love to see on a menu together are: Calamari (with lemon to drizzle), Crab Mayonnaise on Sourdough Bread, Hoisin Duck Salad with Spring Onions and Cucumber, Green Risotto with Asparagus, Green Beans, Peas, Dark Chocolate Mousse and a Chocolate Bomb with Ice Cream!
  • Even better would be all of those dishes and more but in a buffet style!
  • Another big plus on a menu for me would be more mocktails – as someone that doesn’t drink alcohol, I often get a bit bored with water or just regular juice! I’m not a fan of fizzy drinks either so I wouldn’t opt for a coke.

I’d love to hear what dishes you’d have on your perfect menu and what makes a great dining experience for you!

* This post is sponsored by Square Meal
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77 thoughts on “My ideal dining experience & dream menu! *

  1. I’m a fan of casual dining too, anything too posh it’s a bit intimidating and I have no idea when to use the all those different knifes and forks, ha ha! Yum, reading your dream menu is making me hungry! I had a Chocolate Bomb recently in Bills which was amazing, the more chocolately the dessert is, the better in my opinion. As a non-drinker as well, I’m always drawn to the mocktail menu, Turtle Bay does some really nice ones. Fab post Jenny, thanks for sharing, I want my lunch now, he he! ❤ xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  2. I love this! I tend to go for fish and veggie options too when I’m out, no idea why.
    More mocktails would be excellent. I’ve found that sometimes they’ll make one up for you, which is great, but I’d love to see more on the menu.
    I feel the staff can really make or break your experience, and a good waiter is key to that. Once in Cafe Rouge there was a waiter who went over and above, I think we left her a £10 tip on a £15 meal, she was absolutely excellent.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk

  3. In the US we tend to say “fancy” instead of “posh”… or at least us not fancy people do! LOL! I don’t know- maybe fancier people here say posh too! All I know is that I’m the same as you… I don’t prefer it!

  4. I totally agree with your points – especially on ambience, I’m always drawn to places which have nicer decor and presentation, we eat with our eyes first haha + a good waiter can make even a mediocre restaurant so much better! I don’t drink either so mocktails are my favourite option for a nice drink with a meal. Drunch in Regents Park is meant to have amazing mocktails! x

  5. This is exciting, I love a good dining experience. Wherever it is tbh, a nice decor and presentation are perfect. My favourite cafe in Plymouth was the most cutest and cosiest! Definitely miss it. I agree with all your points here, on the menu side of things I’m always interested and intrigued with new/exciting dishes. Something that I can’t get somewhere else or sounds amazing. Thank-youu for sharing Jenny!

    Gemma | http://www.anoceanglimmer.wordpress.com

  6. Definitely agree with the mocktails, I don’t drink alcohol either and it would be great to see more on menus. I love calamari too, I almost always get it when it’s on the menu!

  7. I definitely love more casual dining too, I think i’d feel very out of place at a super fancy restaurant! Would love to go to one one day though! I love Spanish food, especially tapas where you can get loads small plates of different things and share with everyone you’re dining with and try loads of new food! xx

  8. I agree with you on the casual dining, I never feel posh enough to go into these restaurants that are super posh – and they usually cost a lot of money too! My perfect menu would be probably a lot of Italian food to be honest, I love many pasta dishes, I know it’s probably a boring choice but you just can’t beat a good spaghetti carbonara! And as most people have said any sort of chocolate pudding would be fab!

    Chloe x
    http://www.chloechats.com

  9. I agree with you on quite a few points here. After seeing shows like Masterchef, I wouldn’t want to eat at the posh restaurants they feature with their expensive pretentious food. I also hate blaring music when I’m eating. I like a proper meal and always 2 courses, never 3 (have to have dinner and pudding, that’s my rule). I like to try new pasta dishes or even something with fish. I hate steaks and I don’t eat much red meat. I don’t drink alcohol very much so I usually just have Coke or a mocktail. And I hate certain restaurant chains – visited 2 Nando’s, both were bad. Recently tried a certain burger restaurant and was livid at the expensive crap they served me, won’t go there again. I was so angry about my dessert at Jamie’s Italian recently (it was tiny and expensive), I went back to my hotel and ordered another one from their restaurant! I love my desserts – best part of a meal. And I’ve rambled on… Lovely post, Jenny! 😊

  10. I actually really enjoy high class and fancy eating establishments – often because the ambiance of those places are really relaxing and mellow and the food is usually unbelievably amazing. I can deal with a higher price point for those elements alone. The waitstaff at a high class joint tend to be more reclusive as well – I don’t really enjoy chatting up my server, it’s not my style.

    Menu-wise, I enjoy adventurous food pairings, ethnic fusion dishes and modern takes on old classics. There’s a sushi place nearby that sources all their fish locally – so it’s definitely not “seafood” as most of us understand it – we’re pretty landlocked in Minnesota. It’s a really neat take.

  11. I don’t like dining out as I always feel really self-conscious because I hate eating in front of people. I have done since I was little. BUT if I did eat out then I would go for something simple like a pasta dish or traditional, like steak & chips but then again I also love Scampi. Follow any of those with a good pudding, usually some kind of ice cream sundae – I am a sucker for ice cream and I would be very content! 🙂 x

  12. Well, a place with any vegan options at all is a great start for me. I don’t live in an area where I’m very well catered for in that department so eating out can be a little stressful. It’s something I love whenever I’m in London, I can go to a veggie or vegan restaurant that has ingredients and allergies clearly labeled and I can actually browse a menu in peace?! Crazy. I think my worst dining experience is when I’d asked if the dish I was ordering was vegan, the waitress said yes then came back when I’d already started eating to tell me my side dish had dairy in…x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

  13. You’re spot on with those comments on waiters. A waiter who genuinely loves his/her job is so much better than one with a bad attitude. No one leaves their home so they can be served with a scowl? Love your dream menu options – mine would be anything with cheese. Ha!

  14. This is a great blog idea! I also like when waiter’s aren’t too pushy and don’t visit the table too much. It makes the whole experience more enjoyable and seamless, in my opinion.

  15. Decor does make so much of a difference. For me I also like when the plating is done in a visually pleasing manner. I’m from India and here casual dining spaces are more like sharing meals which will be in a big bowl- not very Instagram friendly lol. Having a large list of vegetarian and healthy options is a huge plus for me:)

  16. Great post!
    Being from America, one of my absolute favorite things are the Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster. They even have a box recipe available to make them at home. Lord have mercy do I miss those biscuits!
    Besides that, I love buffets where you choose whatever you want. In America, one of the best buffet places I’ve ever been to (and been going to since I was a kid) is Golden Corral. Absolutely delicious food! Fresh steak (cooked in front of you the way you want it), roasted chicken, taco bar, southern comfort food, pizza, pasta, salad bar, dessert bar, etc. You name it and they will probably have it!
    So hungry right now lol.
    ~ Ray

  17. I’m a big meat eater so a meat-y main such as chicken or beef would be perfect for me. One of my favourite cuisines is Mexican so maybe beef burritos? I enjoy soap or pâte as starters and dessert would have to be anything dairy free – I’m loving Ben and Jerry’s almond milk ice cream at the moment.

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