Have you ever invited guests out to dinner without really knowing what they are like? Most people have at some point in their lives. Perhaps you are treating friends to a meal out and they are bringing relatives along with them? Maybe you need to entertain a client who is important to your business? In other cases, you might be entertaining someone from overseas who you know but have never met in person before. Getting it right when dining out with someone you know well can be tricky. It is a real headache when you don't know them at all...
Ensure There Is Choice
Not knowing what sort of food your guest or guests will like is one of the hardest things to deal with. Sometimes guests from abroad won't appreciate being taken to an Australian-style restaurant which serves a version of their home cuisine. Unless you know it to be very good, for example, it is not a good idea to take a Japanese business visitor to a Japanese restaurant. Equally, you might want to avoid some restaurants because you think your guest may have a specialist diet. Wherever you choose to book a table, make sure there is plenty of choice so that all preferences can be catered for. A steak and seafood restaurant is ideal because everyone should be happy with the options available. Avoid single-option menus like vegan only restaurants.
Have a Drink at the Bar
Most good restaurants will have a bar area in them these days. Use the one at your restaurant to get to know your guests a little. Have a soft drink if you are driving. The idea is to mingle within your group a little informally and to enjoy an aperitif before dining. This helps your guests to loosen up a little and will hopefully put you more at ease in their company. If you rush straight into formal dining and ordering food, then the evening can become a little stiff.
Paying the Bill
If you have invited your guests out – even if you don't know them – then it is up to you to settle the bill. Your guests may want to split the bill, which is fine so long as they suggest it, but don't drop hints that you would like them to do so. If there is no service charge attached to the bill, then why not split the tip between you and your guests as a nice compromise?