The British can be very particular when it comes to dining at a restaurant. Hopefully these tips will help you feel more at ease!
Reserve Your Meal
British people can be very organised when it comes to dining out. The majority of Brits will reserve a table in advance of going to a restaurant. If you don’t reserve a table in advance, you may turn up and find there are no available seats or have an extremely long waiting time.
Most restaurants can be reserved online now too if you don’t want to phone up.
Don't Arrive Late!
Punctuality is important once you’ve made a booking. Most bookings will give you up to 15 minutes and if you don’t turn up within this time, your reservation will be cancelled and your table given to somebody else.
If you are running late, just give the restaurant a call and explain. They may be able to hold the table longer for you if you have spoken to them.
Inform of Cancellations
If you can’t make a reservation that you have arranged, make sure you get in touch with the restaurant and let them know. It’s common courtesy to do this and if you need to reschedule or you’d like to return to the restaurant, you’ll still be on good terms!
Abide By Dress Codes
Not all restaurants and bars have a dress code, but if they do, make sure you abide by it. Some restaurants, particularly in big cities like London, may not allow jeans or trainers, and you won’t be allowed to enter the restaurant if you’re not wearing the right clothes.
Ask For Tap Water
Tap water is perfectly fine to drink in the UK and it’s free in every restaurant. If you ask for water in a restaurant, they will most likely bring you bottled water and charge you. So if you want water, I suggest asking for “tap water” instead of “water”, this way you’ll get free water.
The average tip is 10-15% on the bill. When you receive a receipt, look out for service. In some restaurants it’s automatically included in the bill. If you don’t want to pay this, you can ask for it to be taken off, unless you have a large table (normally 5 people or more) and then service is normally compulsory. If service is not included, you should leave a tip of 10 to 15% of the total bill.
Kitchens Close Early
British people tend to have fairly early meal times. Most people will go out for a meal between 6pm and 8pm. Although every restaurant is different, many kitchens will close at 10pm, so if you’re looking for a late meal in a restaurant, you may be out of luck! Make sure you check the kitchen closing time of the restaurants so you don’t end up going hungry all night!
In many countries you can say things like “the bill” to a waiter and they will bring it. In the UK, this is considered very rude and you should always be polite to the waiters. Use “please” and “thank you” after your phrases and don’t use commanding language (imperative form).