Brits in the Bay

Learn the Lingo: Restaurant Edition

Eat, ExploreAlexis Monoogian1 Comment

Eating out is all sorts of fun and there’s so many different places to go in the Bay Area so absolutely no need to keep going back to the same places over and over again like me! But, if you do want to be able to go back somewhere without fear you need to make sure you’re speaking the same language as your establishment so we’ve put together this edition of Learn the Lingo to help. I’ve even included some handy info on how to tip because , clearly, it’s different..

  • A la mode – you’ll see this on the dessert menu as an extra and it just means with ice cream.
  • Boxed up – if they ask you if you’d like you food boxed up, it’s just a doggy bag to take home. There is absolutely no shame in this here so don’t be shy, get it boxed up and eat for lunch the next day. There’s also no shame in eating all your food, thankfully for us.  I generally take my dessert home for when I’ve got my comfies on, but that was probably tmi!
  • Bus boy – clears away the dishes
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  • Cider – if your children get offered this, don’t worry they haven’t gone mad, it’s just apple juice. Unless it’s hard cider, then it’s proper cider and you can definitely go all Principal Duvall on them!
  • Chips – expect tortilla chips down here in the bay! Unless of course it’s Fish n Chips and then it will be the right kind of chips :)

  • Fries – chips

  • Hash Browns - unless you're in McDonald's these will look different to the ones you're used to. Every place makes them slightly differently, a bit like spaghetti bolognese, but they will basically be a giant pile of shredded potato, fried. If you can imagine a hipster style deconstructed rosti, that's probably your best bet. But please ignore my awful description and try them, they're amazing and a very important part of the breakfast scramble experience.

  • Host/hostess – the person that takes your name & number in your party, tells you how long you need to wait and then shows you to your table.

  • Lemonade – this will be actual lemonade, still, slightly sour and yummy not Sprite or 7up style. If it’s Sprite style lemonade you’re after, just ask for a Sprite, I haven’t found any other way of asking for it yet!

  • No substitutions – don’t think I’ve ever seen this on a menu here, you can pretty much order what you like, if they has it, they sells it! As long as you’re not being an arse, the servers will generally bend over backwards to help you get what you’re after but you do need to speak up, not very British I know, but ask and you shall receive, just remember to tip accordingly!
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  • Pudding – pudding is a particular food here, rather than just a generic word for dessert. It’s a creamy custardy style dessert, and isn’t often in restaurants so expect confusion if you ask to see the puddings!
  • Server – waiter/waitress. They tend to be a bit more chatty than UK wait staff so do be prepared for a conversation. If you’re just not that into conversation, let them know otherwise they’ll just keep trying harder.
  • Take out – take away

  • Tip – same word, whole other meaning. Absolutely not optional if you ever want to return! And you need to be thinking more like 20% than 10% unless the service was absolutely horrendous (this generally doesn’t happen but there may be issues with the food) and even then you should complain to the manager, who will then take money off your bill and you should still tip! Sorry guys, it’s just the way it goes. If you don’t tip “properly” be prepared for some very awkward conversations, including being asked if you’ve made a mistake. Also, if you’re splitting the bill just double check the suggested tipping amounts as sometimes they don’t split them so you can accidentally tip 40% if you both do the suggested amount.