[h1]The 5 Facets of A Good Restaurant[/h1]
Jim Berman

A good restaurant is not just about the food. It is about the experience. The experience is about service, the surroundings, the food and a bit of the colorful panache that gets served with each dish. And a bit about the way a titillating dining experience makes you feel after you leave.

1. Do I want to go in there? The cut-out, strip-malled, fake stucco and neon green trim is no more inviting than going to the proctologist with your girlfriend. The McRestaurant landscape is plum-full of chains, mega-buffets and lackluster fry houses. An experience worth remembering starts with the front door; I want to go in there because the cover looks inviting and stimulating as much as I hope the pages therein will deliver. And clean.

2. The voice of the restaurant is the menu. And the chatter should be colorful, articulate and more than a bit interesting. It should be engaging. Like talking to newly found friends, there is much to discover as well as some common bonds. A restaurant’s offerings should pique your interest on many fronts and hold your attention in a way that makes you want to participate in what has to be said, in a way you can relate, mentioning some fare that you once knew or want to know. It should not bore you. It should not be idle sustenance that exists as the rambling pontification of the customer service operator asking about the weather in Pittsburgh when they are in Budapest. Feed me good food, entice me with an interesting selection that makes the selection a pleasantly curious one.

3. Enough with the kitsch on the walls. Some mementos? Yes. Artful chalkboards? Absolutely. Hell, even pictures of the by-gone days will do. Random junk nail-gunned into every square inch of naked wall space is akin to bathing in gravy when all you need is a good hand washing.  I want to eat in a restaurant, not a flea market turned junk store that makes Goodwill envious.

4. Lively banter with the waitron is welcomed, preferred and goes a long way to stacking the cards on the pile of me wanting to return. Make me feel like you are my cousin-once-removed. Don’t make me feel like you are my mom. Or worse, the lady at the DMV. Do not sit with us, lean on the table or otherwise cross the line that makes me think you are going to friend-request me when your shift ends. The chilly, Cruela de Vil thing does not work, either; I know it is Friday and you rather be out with your man, but you are making some good cash if you can keep up appearances. Besides, when you go out, you want some lovey-dovey treatment, not a bitch-slap for asking for another Screwdriver.

5. The food is there to give you a warm, internal hug. To hell with the term ‘Comfort Food.’ All food should be comfortable. What else is there? Vomit? If you like it, it is then comforting. To the gallows with the over-the-top fourteen-course tasting menu comprised of a Pretentious Farms First Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil Basted Sprout of Albino Chicken Spleen and the thirteen other ‘tastings of the chef’s whimsy’ that does nothing more than delay your stop for a pizza on your way to get home to the bathroom. Feed me. I want to walk through the doors, meet my enthusiastic waiter or waitress, journey over a craftily adept menu then have a foodgasm right there at the table. It does not have to be covered in uncomfortable black-lace and a too-tight bustier for me to seek a culinary afterglow. Give me cozy jeans and a well-hung t-shirt that make me burst following the last bite. I shall gladly pay what you ask, just deliver what I seek.

The experience makes you want to go back, not tomorrow because that will ruin the memory, rather a month or two from now, like revisiting vacation pictures. The Magic Kingdom becomes less magical if the visit is too frequent, but oh so delicious when the time is right.