After my post yesterday on Penne alla Puttanesca, my friend and reader Wende emailed me. Wende said that Puttanesca is the dish by which she judges Italian restaurants. She said that if the restaurant passes the Puttanesca test and can balance the flavors just right, she will be back. If not, that visit was her one and only to that restaurant.
This got me to thinking. We all have our own litmus test for whether we return to a restaurant or not. For me, it's the bread. I think the bread that a restaurant serves sets the tone for the whole meal. If it's an Italian restaurant then the bread basket offerings should be Italian. If it's French, then the bread should be French. The styrofoam baguette doesn't cut it with me. The bread has to enhance the whole dining experience. If not, I'm not too enthusiastic about going back. It's all in the details.
My friend Mona says that her litmus test has more to do with service. For her, the game changer is if the wait staff clears one diner's plate while their partner is still eating. I have to say, I agree. No one wants to feel like they're eating alone!
So, what's your litmus test for a restaurant? What do you look for when you're eating out and what turns you off? In the comments section below, let me know. Or email me by clicking on the contact me button. Whatever. I want to know. I'll share your comments with our readers if you don't mind. This could be fun.