Tipping Etiquette 101

29 Jul

Tip jar

Recently I’ve engaged in a series of conversations with folks not sure about tipping etiquette in the non-traditional dining scenarios. Between delivery, take out, pick up, wait service, etc., it’s hard to keep track of which service is more deserving than the next.

As a person who goes out to eat A LOT, it’s important to know the guidelines and rules of thumb for tipping, not just for when you’re going to sit down at a restaurant and have dinner.

Here’s my little guide to tipping etiquette:

Wait Service -

15% – 20% depending on the service, before tax. Tax usually gets a lot of people to tip more since that’s the final number we see on the receipt. Be careful and don’t let that predetermine an additional tip, unless of course it’s well deserved! Honestly, I’ve never left less than an 18% tip, because I think it’s rude. But if I have a waitress or waiter who really pisses me off, giving an 18% tip is like pulling teeth. Just saying.

Wait Service (buffet) -

We don’t have a lot of buffets around here, but whether it’s a Mother’s Day Brunch or something else, tips for buffet service should be around 10%, pre-tax.

Take Out -

I think I’ve heard confusion around take out the absolute most, probably because it’s the most confusing. Typically, there’s no obligation to leave a tip for take-out. The waitstaff is not serving you, the kitchen staff gets paid for their time, not based on individual meals, so tipping is really just a reason to be gracious to the restaurant for preparing your food. If you are going to leave a tip, you should leave no more than 10%, and that’s if the order was extra complicated or if there’s curb side delivery.

Home Delivery -

This one has definitely changed over time, and as gas prices fluctuate, your tip might as well. The appropriate tip for home delivery is usually 10% – 15% of the bill and $2-$5 for pizza delivery, again dependent on difficulty and distance from the restaurant. If you live a mile down the street, you shouldn’t feel obligated to pay for a gallon of the drivers gas.

Bartender -

I, myself have a great deal of trouble with this, especially if I’ve been sitting at a bar for a long time. If I’m just getting one-off drinks, it’s easy to leave $1 or $2 dollars with each drink. But when you’re sitting there guzzling down dirty martinis, at the end of the night it’s definitely challenging to calculate the appropriate tip.

For you beer drinkers that just require the bartender to pour a beer or take a cap off a bottle, stick to the lower end of the tip, around 15%. However, if you like your drinks complicated, and you’re actually making the bartender do some serious work, let them know how much you appreciate them. In the end, they’re a big part of the happy in happy hour. Tip 15% – 20% of the tab.

Barista/Coffee Maker -

This goes alongside the bartender scenario. If the barista is simply turning around and pouring coffee in a cup and handing it back to you, it’s not necessarily worthy of a tip. On the other hand, if you’re getting a latte and the barista returns it with a beautiful design, there’s a big difference. In this scenario, you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip baristas, especially since they’re paid a specific wage and are not expected to live off of tips, but don’t hesitate to tip $1 or so if they treated you like a rockstar or made your day. After all, they are feeding you caffeine.

What are your thoughts on tipping etiquette? Do you agree or disagree with any of the above tipping guidelines?

Rainy Day Comfort Food

27 Jul

Rainy Days make it hard to enjoy the summer, and while I’m not complaining at all since we’ve had a beautiful summer so far, I figured I could give my assistance to those who might need it today.

No one wants to grill when it rains, and most people don’t even feel like cooking, so I’m going to help you out with your day from start to finish with rainy day food and fun in Saratoga that you just can’t beat.

First off, you’ll want to start with a super comforting breakfast. Since most of you are just getting up around now and thinking about breakfast, how good does a stack of french toast or some fluffy pancakes sound?

Get your carb fix at Sweet Mimi’s in Saratoga or Good Morning Cafe in Ballston Spa – each spot has exquisite comforting breakfast items including the lemon ricotta pancakes at Sweet Mimi’s and the baked french toast at Good Morning Cafe. After that, all you’ll see is sunshine and rainbows.

baked french toast good morning cafe

After breakfast, it’s totally okay to lay on the couch for a while. I mean, it is Sunday, and going to the Saratoga Race Course is a viable option, but standing outside in the rain isn’t exactly what I consider to be an enjoyable activity.

Around lunch time, consider heading over to Druthers, where you can get a big cast iron skilled filled with creamy and comforting mac and cheese or the Druthers burger, which is also a fantastic way to eat your feelings and think happier thoughts on this rainy day.

Druthers burger

Between lunch and dinner is a great time to hit up Bow Tie Cinemas for a matinee showing (which is cheaper, and better), or one of the great museums we have in Saratoga, including the National Museum of Racing and the National Museum of Dance. Both have plenty of fun to keep the kids entertained, and they’re equally as cool for adults to learn about the history of both!

Finally, when dinner rolls around, there is only one thing I can think of eating for dinner on a day like today – spaghetti and meatballs.

spaghetti and meatballs

A favorite spot of mine in Saratoga for just that is The Brook Tavern. And when you thought it couldn’t get any better, their Sunday Night special is spaghetti and meatballs with rustic garlic bread for just $15. Yes please.

brook tavern

Just remember to eat what makes you feel good today, and you’ll feel way better. Happy Sunday!

The Barrelhouse on Beekman Street

24 Jul

I swear, since May there has been so many new places popping up left and right in Saratoga, I can barely keep up.

As you might remember my recap earlier in the summer, I mentioned some of the brand new restaurants and eateries in Saratoga that you should keep an eye out for. In that article, I gave an early mention to The Barrelhouse, a new restaurant at 68 Beekman Street. At that point, I didn’t know a whole lot about it, but just a month later, it’s now open for business.

So naturally, I made my way over there to see what the chatter was all about.

As you walk in, the bar is immediately to your right, lined with 20 beers on draught (mostly craft beers), and TV’s above, some with ESPN on, others with daily specials and the descriptions of specific beers they have on tap.

The Barrelhouse

There are several booths and tables in the front room, but as you walk around, you’ll notice an entire other room for sitting.

Without knowing, I asked for a menu and quickly learned that this isn’t your typical sit down restaurant.

Instead, you order at the bar and then sit, and they bring you whatever you ordered once it’s done. I really like that concept because there’s less pressure as the diner to make a decision immediately, and it’s a little more relaxed than a typical lunch or dinner service.

The Barrelhouse

The menu looks pretty simple, but the more you read the more variety you see offered. From soup and salads to burgers and hot dogs, you can also get a central New York favorite, the spiedie (spelled speedie on the menu), with chicken or pork on a hoagie roll.

The Barrelhouse

Chicken Speedie

After seeing that, I was doomed. So much for a carb-free diet (like that was going to happen anyway), I dove in.

The chicken was marinated beautifully, the sandwich was as simple as you can get – just the chicken and the bread. Spiedies are full of flavor with the marinated chicken, you don’t really want anything else to take away from that. The hoagie roll on it’s own was stellar. Crusty on the outside, but soft enough to surround the chicken like soft little pillows.

My only problem was there was a bit too much roll for the chicken. If the roll was just a bit smaller, I think it would have been the perfect chicken to bread ratio.

Another menu item I had to order was the Michigan Dogs – two all beef hot dogs with meatsauce, beer mustard and diced onion.

Barrelhouse hotdogs

I must admit, I don’t eat hot dogs often. In fact, they’re usually like a twice a year thing for me, but these were SO worth it. There was the perfect amount of toppings on the dogs without being overwhelming or making the eating process super sloppy.

The mustard specifically was amazing to me. It was really sharp and tangy, but combined with the salty hot dog, made the perfect marriage.

If I could make one recommendation with the hot dogs, it would be for The Barrelhouse to get some Hofmann Hot Dogs with that nice natural casing snap you can only get with certain hot dogs. It would make it a 100% win for me, while right now it’s at a 92%.

Most meals come with two sides, and if you’re looking for something spectacular, get your hands on the baked beans. I’m not usually one for baked beans, but these are really special. I would eat an entire plate of just the baked beans, honestly. Also, the coleslaw is made with a vinegar base, which makes this side super refreshing and light, as opposed to the mayonnaise base which usually is just too much for me.

Whether it’s for a beer after work or for a filling and comforting lunch – I foresee The Barrelhouse being a new favorite hang out spot for me. BONUS – they use SO many local products and ingredients, it makes my heart sing! Get over there and check it out, let me know what you think!

Mio Posto For The Win

21 Jul

Saratoga is full of good restaurants, but the great ones always stand out.

Attention to detail, careful preparation and passion for the culinary field all yield significant differences between those good restaurants, and great ones.

One of Saratoga’s great restaurants is Mio Posto, a tiny restaurant on Putnam Street with 8 or so tables. Regardless of size, this Italian-inspired restaurant is family run, and actually feels like you’re going to your grandparents house for dinner.

I mean that in the best way possible too, because to me, there’s nothing more comforting than sitting down for a damn good meal with your family or friends.

The menu consists of a mix between proteins, fish and pasta. The specials board is typically filled with delicious additions for appetizers, entrees and desserts. In fact, there’s no dessert menu – you’re just prompted to look up at the chalk board.

I started with this little beauty, watermelon and goat cheese with a kale salad -

Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Salad

watermelon salad

Watermelon and goat cheese is one of my favorite things to eat. There’s something special about a creamy goat cheese with the fresh, juicy flavors of watermelon that truly feeds two different cravings.

For dinner, as tempted as I was to order the blood orange scallops, Tim beat me to it and I instead ordered the swordfish. I’ll get to the scallops in a bit, I promise.

Swordfish at mio posto

swordfish at mio posto

swordfish at mio posto

The swordfish was as moist as swordfish can be, and had a really great combo of sweet and savory flavors. Honestly, the main reason I chose this dish was because of the lobster risotto.

Do you even need to ask how that was? Amazeballs.

But wait… there’s more.

The seared sea scallops with blood orange burro, lobster risotto and asparagus.

blood orange scallops

Blood orange scallops

There’s a reason this is one of the only menu items that has not changed since the very first time we visited Mio Posto. It’s absolutely perfect.

It truly is flawless, and the next time you dine here, this is what you should and need to get.

So you’d think after all that food we’d be done. But we weren’t. That’s because they have a ricotta cheesecake that I can’t live without.

ricotta cheesecake

ricotta cheesecake

You can tell just by looking at these pictures how light this cheesecake is. It seriously isn’t even difficult to eat after an enormous meal because of how light it is.

While Mio Posto sometimes flies off my radar, it truly is one of my favorite restaurants in Saratoga, and will most likely be one of yours too! Just remember – it’s tiny, so make reservations.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...