General Question

ibstubro's avatar

Ordering a meal in a new restaurant for someone else: can it be done successfully without prior consultation between the two parties?

Asked by ibstubro (18770points) March 5th, 2015

I tried to cover all the bases by stating:
“Ordering a meal in an unfamiliar restaurant for someone else: can it be done successfully without prior consultation between the two parties?”
but the details were becoming distracting.

Other ways of putting the question:
“Have you ever allowed someone to order for you in a restaurant where you had not seen the menu?”
“Have you ever ordered a restaurant meal for someone in an unfamiliar restaurant without consulting the other person?”

I’m thinking of old movies, where the ‘gentleman’ ordered for both he and the ‘lady’. No gauche ‘back and forth’ between the two was seen.
Film conceit, or actual practice?
Perhaps a throw-back notion from the time when women were same as chattel?

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22 Answers

janbb's avatar

I vote for film conceit.

Adagio's avatar

I have never ordered food for someone else in a restaurant and most definitely wouldn’t want anyone else to order for me.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’ve had people tell the server, for me, what I want – and I didn’t always mind. I can be very soft-spoken, and in noisy environments a lot of people can have trouble hearing me, so sometimes it’s a relief.

I’ve never actually had anyone choose what I would be eating, though. If it happened, I’d get up and walk out immediately.

Ron_C's avatar

I’ve taken hundreds of people to lunch or supper and the only time I order for them is when they say “order a hamburger for me, I have to go to the restroom”.

JLeslie's avatar

If I was out on a date I would be horrified if the man took it upon himself to order for me. If we had been dating many months or years and it was established that he typically doesn’t do that, I would have no problem with him telling the waiter the order now and then, but I’d still want to pick my dish out.

My husband and I could order for each other, taking a best guess at what we might pick for ourselves. We have never done it I don’t think? It would be something I like, but not necessarily the thing I would have ordered that day at that time if I had picked. Same with me for him. We’ve been married so long we know each other’s preferences. Even so, I want to pick my meal and make sure the sauce is on the side and the mashed potatoes are changed out for rice. LOL.

In some ways I do it all the time. Not in restaurants, but I make him lunch and dinner and I often decide what to serve. Sometimes I pick up ready made food for him and I don’t always ask him what should buy.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I think it’s film conceit. I wouldn’t mind the person I’m with giving the waiter my order, but I don’t want anyone choosing what I eat or drink. I would find anyone who did that very controlling.

canidmajor's avatar

Film conceit, mostly.

I am old enough to remember this being done for me a few times and I never liked it. The only time it was fine was when my Dad took me to dinner and show for my 16 th birthday, and he was excited to have me try something he was sure I would like.

This practice was not unusual up through the 50s; in the 60s, for the most part, we women were having none of it.

zenvelo's avatar

It’s a film shortcut for what was standard “polite behavior” before 1970.

If one reads old versions of Emily Post, the woman would tell the man (who was assumed to be paying the bill) what she would like to order. Then when the waiter came, the man would inform the wait person what the woman would have.

In movies, the woman telling the man would be too much disruption of the story line. An exception is in “When Harry Met Sally” where the Meg Ryan character makes changes to each little part of the order.

Cupcake's avatar

If there was a bacon cheeseburger with barbeque sauce, sesame chicken, or pepperoni pizza on the menu, I would order that for my husband without consulting with him. He’d be thrilled.

He would never order for me. No one should ever feel comfortable doing that.

One caveat – if I’m hypoglycemic (or otherwise overwhelmed) and can’t think straight enough to order, he’ll pick something small for me. It’s happened once or twice.

JLeslie's avatar

I am Sally.

janbb's avatar

I remember in a not-so-fancy restaurant once when a pretentious waiter asked my husband, “And what would your wife like to eat?” We joked about him answering, “Well, I don’t know since my wife is in New Mexico and this is my mistress.”

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Great come back. LOL.

I’m just thinking how I am surprised when a waitperson turns to a man first to take an order. I’m thinking ladies first should be the order of things.

ibstubro's avatar

Seems like it might have been a film conceit in that there was a time when ‘gentile’ ladies did not speak to strange men, even waiters in restaurants? But the ladies most surely selected what they would eat – something tedious to show in a 2 hour film.

Still, it’s amazing how many people mimic what they see on the screen. I wonder if there was a time when women were eating whatever men ordered them?

I thought of @JLeslie when I wrote the question…curious if her and her husband knew the other well enough to order for both.

Great first-hand experience, @canidmajor, and I have very likely read some of the old Emily Post material, @zenvelo. Thanks for reminding me. I’ve also looked at a fair number of antique restaurant menus, and I’d think there were be a lot of ‘dishes for two’ if only one person ordered for two (which there are not).

janbb's avatar

@ibstubro You just reminded me of a pleasant memory. My parents sometimes spoke of the plank steak they had on their first date; a steak served for two with potatoes and vegetables on the plank or platter.

I could often look at a menu and know what my husband was going to order but I didn’t order for him.

But I think many of you are right that it was considered gentlemanly for a man to order for both; I’ve never seen it done personally though.

ibstubro's avatar

I suspect the practice of the man ordering lives on in other countries and cultures. With a high percentage of waiters being immigrants, that would account for the lack of ‘ladies first’, @JLeslie. We still practice ‘ladies first’, but I’ve noticed that the wait staff in Mexican restaurants tend to go right for the ‘alpha male’. That could also be because he’s the most likely source of tip, too.

Funny, @janbb, but it’s not infrequent that I will see something on a menu, point it out to my S/O, and see it ordered. I do the grocery shopping and most of the cooking, so I know the household food.

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro Now I am going to watch to see if it depends on what type of restaurant it is. I would think Latin America would be even more inclined to ladies first.

When it’s a long table and over 8 people then I don’t think about the gender, because it’s reasonable to just start on one end and go in order. But tables 6 or less I definitely think ladies first, and elderly women very first.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

This is probably going to appear off topic, however, my point is men and even restaurants assuming women need help choosing their food goes beyond @ibstubro‘s point.

I think Outback Jack’s is a chain of steakhouses. One opened near us a few years ago and we thought we’d try it out. It was a one-off decision and we never went back. When I went to order, before I could open my mouth, I was told the 250 gram steak (can’t remember what cut) was their ‘ladies steak’. I was so fricken tempted to order the 1kg eat it and die job in protest. I certainly didn’t order the 250g he said I should eat because I’m a woman. Never went back. I object to being told by anyone (male or female) which steak I should order or how it should be cooked. I always order my steak rare and I’ll order blue rare if I suspect they’ll overcook it. I have had wait staff say ‘oh we recommend you have this cooked….’. Just cook my steak how I want it and don’t argue about it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit I don’t think it always means a man is telling a woman what she should eat if he wants to do all the talking with the waiter. I agree it can be very controlling and presumptive to order for someone else, and like I said I would be horrified if I was in a date and a man picked out what I was going to eat, but sometimes a man or parent or even child does all the talking to be helpful.

I order for my MIL because she struggles with English. My husband sometimes orders everything for the two of us (once we agree on what to order) because we split the food. It might be a salad, main dish, and an extra side for us two. As long as I get to have my input on what I want to eat I’m not very worried about who orders after so many years of marriage. Sometimes I order everything for the two of us.

I don’t mind some chivalry. I like being helped out of the car, having my chair moved in for me, a man offer to carry something heavy, or lift something heavy, it doesn’t have to be every time every where, but I don’t feel like it takes anything away from me as a woman at all.

I will agree with you that a ladies cut if steak would piss me off. It’s stupid. Is it actually called that on the menu?

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@JLeslie, if you read my first response you’ll see I said my husband sometimes places the order for my meal (or vice versa) but he never chooses my food. Deciding on what the other person should eat is quite different. I don’t need a man, or anyone else to determine what I should choose from a menu. However, the post I just made relates to plain old sexism. And yes, it certainly is both stupid and rude. I love good manners and my husband regularly pulls out my chair before I sit down and opens doors for me or asks if I’ve decided what I would like to eat when the waiter comes to take the order.

ibstubro's avatar

We ate at the new local craft brewery, @Earthbound_Misfit, and I had the handmade veggie patty. When I told the waitress that it was tasteless, she replied, “Well, when you ordered it, I thought ‘Why doesn’t he just order something good?’” Perhaps I could have used a little help!

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@ibstubro, again, there is a huge difference between the waiter telling you what’s good on the menu today, and telling you what size steak a woman should order. I’m fine with a waiter saying ‘can I recommend the local fish. It’s exceptionally good today’. However, I find it offensive for a waiter to tell me I should eat that steak because I’m female.

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