If you want to have a good dining experience, from the first minute you enter a restaurant you must be alert and attentive.
Before you are seated -- and well before you even taste a morsel of food -- you must follow some basic rules to ensure your comfort and enjoyment.
Because, lets face it: If your minimal needs are not met, it doesn't matter how great the food or the service is, you're not going to have a positive dining experience. It's just that simple.
So here (in no particular order) are the rules that you need to remember right from start:
1) Never sit near the door. It's one of the worst places to sit and it's liable to be drafty, cold or hot, crowded and/or noisy. Plus, it's a popular place for gawkers.
2) Never sit near the restrooms. Do I really have to explain why?
3) Never sit near a wait station. You didn't come to visit with the waitstaff, hear their gossip and be serenaded by the clanging of dishes and other attendant sounds.
4) Beware of small (or even larger) children. People nowadays take their kids everywhere and very often they neither discipline nor correct them as they should.
5) Stay away from large groups or people who appear to be celebrating special events. The people in these groups often imbibe in a manner where they try to outdo one another. These guests can become very loud and they often overstay their welcome as well. Not good.
6) Never sit under air or air conditioning vents. You will ch-ch-ch-chill and so will your food. And, you may leave with a stiff neck.
7) If you're dining on a major family dining day (such as Mother's Day or Easter) know what you're getting into. You'll be facing fixed menus, higher prices, noisy groups, kids, a hassled waitstaff and probably mediocre food.
8) As a general rule, do not dine out on New Year's Eve. If you must, dine quite early in the evening and be home by 10 pm. New year's Eve is for losers. It's consistently the year's most overrated event.
9) Unless you are dining solo, don't dine at or near the bar.
10) As you enter the restaurant, subject the place to the sniff test. If it smells musty or stale, leave.
These rules are based on real life experiences and numerous disappointments compiled over many years. Ignore them at your own peril.