Browse Directory

New rules for dining out

Dining out isn’t what it used to be. Everything has changed. From restaurants taking deposits for bookings to diners being encouraged to take Instagram photos of the food on their plate. So what are the new rules?

According to The Australian, they extend to all areas of dining.

Booking a table: Making a booking is usually a courtesy. In crowded restaurants, it’s a necessity. But as The Australian points out, some restaurants these days take a deposit and both the Fat Duck in Melbourne and the Sydney pop-up Noma Australia have taken it to the next level by requiring payment upfront for the food. Getting your money back if you cancel the booking depends on what the restaurant said at the time of taking that deposit.

Prices: There’s what you have on the specials board but in the end, it’s up to the diner to know what’s being charged. It might be gauche but it’s better than throwing a hissy fit at the end of the night when you get the bill.

Be on your best behaviour: If the restaurant has rules and you break them, they are entitled to ask you to leave. So it they say no photos, don’t whip out the phone and take snaps.  Bar Americano in the Melbourne CBD and Bar di Stasio in St Kilda are Instagram free zones with small signs up telling you not to take pictures. That said, they can’t make you delete the photos once you’ve taken them.

Pricing: To help deal with penalty rates, restaurants can now surcharge prices on weekends, provided the menu says “a surcharge of X% applies on certain days”.

Choose your friends: As a rule, everyone at the table has to pay. Dining and dashing is frowned upon. The restaurant has law on its side when it says you can’t split the bill.

Doggie bags: Doggie bags aren’t illegal but the restaurant is entitled to choose food that’s satisfactory and safe. There is no such thing as doggie bags for wine so drink up.

Complaints: Be careful when fulminating about a bad experience. With professional restaurant critics, the reviews are vetted by lawyers. Anyone putting in a rant on Trip­Advisor and Zomato or a blog needs to tread cautiously.

Dietary requirements: If people have allergies and intolerances, they have to take steps to protect themselves. Restaurants will give consumers a guarantee that their food is safe for most people but that won’t always cover allergies.


April 13th 2016