If the food's any good, the restaurant you booked for your dinner date should be packed with patrons. In this situation, it can be tough to establish a good flow of service for you and your date, says Philippe Pau, director of Bistro du Vin at Les Amis. Follow his tips on how to get served like a VIP.
DO identify the head waiter or senior captain. "These are the staff you'd want to focus on getting better service from," says Philippe. They're likely to be less blase from serving too many guests, so they are more likely to go the extra mile, he adds. Just don't hope for any freebies.
DO the Yankee handshake. After being seated, discreetly slip a little tip into the hand of the waiter who's looking after your table, he suggests. "It can work wonders, but don't palm a $5 note in a top-class fine-dining restaurant." (This doesn't mean you can skip the tip at the end of the meal either.) "Consider this as a downpayment on extra service, especially if you intend on returning in the future."
DO use the "buddy trick". Letting the waiter in on a little secret helps you build rapport with him or her. "Say: 'It's our first date/It's a really special occasion. I need to impress her, I need you to help me, please,'" advises Philippe. "Doing so will show the waiter you're a stand-up kind of guy who regards him as an equal."
DO use the "toilet trick". If you find yourself seated in a "blind spot" where it's difficult to get the wait staff's attention, Philippe suggests excusing yourself for the washroom early on. "On the way there, you can tell the waiter your request, make certain arrangements, or use the 'buddy trick'."
DO show a little class. Pre-ordering a nice bottle of wine shows the wait staff that you're not a cheapskate, says Philippe. "Once they know you've got class and see that you handle yourself well using the these tips, they'll make sure the flow of service is just right, monitor your table more attentively, and be more likely to pre-empt your needs - things that make you look good in front of your date."
DON'T snap fingers, whistle, clap your hand and call out loudly to wait staff to get their attention. "These are the things that every waiter hates," Philippe reveals. The more polite way is a gentle wave of your hand, or having your forearm and index finger raised while resting your elbow on the table. If these fail, utter "Excuse me sir/madam" at a reasonable volume, or employ the "toilet trick".
Admit it, if you bring your date to a bar worth its salt, chances are there'll be a bartender she'll admire. Be the guy who knows how to work the situation by getting on the barman's good side, even on a busy day. How? Just follow these tips from Peter Chua, senior bartender at 28 Hong Kong Street.
DO use flattery (but not too much). "The best way to build rapport with the bartender is to be genuinely interested in his drinks, and a little praise for him can help you break the ice," says Peter. After stating what you like, engage him with questions about drinks and spirits, or his signature cocktail. "For example, ask him a simple question about an ingredient in your drink," he adds. Show you're interested and you'll find that he'll have time for you even when the order tickets line up.
DON'T reach over the counter. "My personal pet peeve is when guests reach over the bar to fiddle with my ingredients and tools," says Peter. "If you want to know what something is, ask and the bartender will be more than happy to share his knowledge with you!" Other ways of getting unwanted attention includes slapping the bar top, which shows an utter lack of manners, he adds.
THE DOOR B****
Everyone knows her by this unprintable title, but for politeness sake, let's call her the door girl. "Her role is to manage customer relations and ensure smooth entry for patrons," says Sofie Chandra, head of business development at PR at Zouk. As she often has to contend with unruly customers, it can be hard to get her attention in a positive way. Thankfully, Sofie reveals what - and what not - to do at the door.
DO be a little flirty. "This is a technique guys can use," says Sofie. "Most importantly, speak with a friendly smile, and be honest." Try something else instead of focusing on her appearance: "I think you're doing a great job." Or: "You deserve a lot more than having people shout in your face." Showing that you're patient even though you're eager to enter the venue also helps: "We (you and your date) really want to hear this DJ but we're willing to wait if there are too many people now. Just let us know."
DON'T namedrop to get in. "Telling the door girl that you know 'so-and-so' inside the venue never works - but people always try!" says Sofie. Also, if your date intends to chip in by acting cute, stop her, as it will only backfire, she warns.
When an emcee declares he's going to pick a member of the audience, how does he do it? These tips by experienced emcee Desiree Lai, deejay and music director at Kiss92, reveal the thought process. So, the next time you find yourself at an event with your date and you want to make an impression on stage by getting chosen first, you'll know how.
DO use your body. "Body language cues - which include smiling, leaning forward to listen, nodding as you speak - indicate attention and showing interest in what the emcee is saying," says Desiree. "Emcees are able to pick up on these cues. Whoever displays these forms a good impression and increases the likelihood that he'll be picked." Dressing in a unique way to stand out also helps: Try wearing a hat. "The trick is to look like you'll be fun to have on stage as well," she adds.
DON'T look at your phone. "I wouldn't want to choose someone who turns away because it indicates shyness and an unwillingness to participate on stage," Desiree discloses. So, keep your smartphone in your pocket. It helps if your date puts hers away, too.
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Also, look out for the October 2014 issue of Men’s Health for these stories: