In the August issue of "Living," Martha shared her hotel checklist of the small details that make all the difference when she's deciding where to stay. Efficient room service, for example, is a heavenly treat (and please don't repeat the order!). We travel quite often together -- and share similar quirks and preferences -- so she got me thinking about little things that make a difference when dining out.
Whether you call me picky or just particular, here's my restaurant checklist:
1. Good Napkins
Soft, luxurious cloth signals that the meal ahead will be equally high quality. (Napkins that leave lint on what you're wearing drive me crazy.)
2. Easy Salt Access
Bring me a bowl of salt and I'll be your lifelong fan. I like liberal seasoning and when I get skimpy shakers, I always end up taking off the lid and turning the canister upside down (Alexis does the same thing).
3. Bar-to-Table Cocktails
When you start a drink at the bar and your table is suddenly ready, it's so nice when the server grabs your drink and automatically transfers it (along with the tab) to the table.
4. A Conversation-Worthy Soundtrack
Maybe this is a sign that I'm getting old. But if the music's too loud to hear one another, I miss so much of the pleasure of dining out.
5. No Hand-Washing Signs
I realize this is well-intentioned, but must people really be reminded to wash their hands? This always makes me think about cooks in the bathroom -- not an ideal image mid-meal!
6. One Glass at a Time
It's overwhelming when there are too many glasses on the table. Waiter, please start with just a water glass and then find out what I'm drinking!
7. Grown-Up Sized Dishes
Tables piled with tapas plates make me start to itch! Small dishes crowd space fast, and I like a little elbow room -- especially in often cramped and crowded New York restaurants.
What are your personal pet peeves when dining out? Please share!