Sometimes, especially when you travel, you need to speak English at a restaurant. How do you make sure you get what you want?

Eating out is usually a relaxing activity, but a language barrier can make the experience frustrating. Fortunately, you need to remember only a few English expressions to make dining out an enjoyable experience.

Here are some key expressions you can use.

Arriving at the restaurant

If the restaurant knows you are coming:

• We've booked a table for (state the number) people.
• We have a reservation for (state the number) people.
• It's under the name (state the name you gave the restaurant).

If the restaurant doesn't know you are coming:

• We need a table for (state the number) people, please.
• Do you have a table for (state the number) people free?

Making requests for a table

• Could we have a table by the window, please?
• Could you make sure it's a quiet table, please?
• Could we have a non-smoking table?

Ordering food

• Could we see the menu, please?
• Could we see the drinks menu, please?
• What is the house special?
• What would you recommend?
• Could I have some (fish and chips)?
• I'd like the (onion soup) and (roast beef).

Asking questions about the food

• Is this dish suitable for vegetarians?
• I'm allergic to peanuts.
• Does this dish contain peanuts?
• Is this dish (halal/kosher/vegan)?

Dealing with problems

• I'm sorry, but I ordered the steak, not the fried chicken. (For wrong orders)
• Excuse me, but my meal is cold. Could you heat this up a bit more, please? (When your food is cold)
• Excuse me, but we've been waiting for over half an hour for our drinks. (When your order is late)

Making additional requests

• May I have some (salt/pepper/more bread) please?
• Can you bring me/us another (bottle of wine/glass of water/plate of cheese sticks) please?

Saying thank you

• That was delicious! Thank you.
• Everything was great. Thank you.

Paying the bill

• Could I have the bill, please?
• Do you accept credit cards?
• Do you take (Visa/MasterCard)?
• We'd like separate bills, please. (When you and you dining companion will pay for your own meals)

The next time you eat out in an English-speaking country, try using these expressions. Remember that it’s always better to be polite. It encourages good service from the restaurant staff!

To practice using these expressions, schedule a lesson with Learntalk now!

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