By Elke Probkevitz

Ordering at a restaurant can be tricky. If it’s a new restaurant that you’ve never been to, you might be overwhelmed with choices. If it’s a restaurant you have been to, do you go for the tried-and-true dishes you’ve had before, or try something new? When you are spending the money on dining out, make sure you order the right thing so you don’t go home with diner’s remorse.

Read through your choices. Look through the menu and make sure you know your choices. You wouldn’t want to choose too hastily and not realize they offer your favorite dish but you missed it. If something on the menu jumps out at you and makes you salivate, go with your gut. You probably won’t be disappointed.

Ask questions. If you are not sure how a dish is prepared or what ingredients it includes, ask the waiter to describe the dish in more detail. If there is a particular ingredient that turns you off, make sure it is not in your dish or you will be an unhappy customer. It’s best to know exactly what you are getting when you order.

Be careful of recommendations. You might be tempted to ask for recommendations from the waiter, which would seem to be a wise move since he should know the menu. Be careful, though, because many times the waiter will be trained to recommend a dish that makes the most profit for the restaurant or something they need to get rid of. Ask specifically what the most popular dishes are, not only what the waiter would recommend.

Don’t be afraid to spy on your neighbor. A great way to know what is good at a restaurant is to take a peek at your neighbors’ tables. Check out what looks good to you or how the table next to you is enjoying their meal. Most people won’t mind your asking if they enjoyed their meal, or you can ask the waiter what they are having if you feel timid. That way you won’t be taking a risk by ordering blindly.

Beware of specials. When waiters offer you specials of the evening, be wary. The specials are usually new dishes the chef is testing out to see if they should be added to the regular menu. You don’t necessarily want to be the chef’s guinea pig, so make sure it’s something you know you would like or that is on special because it is in season. v

Steak Lettuce Wraps With Ginger-Scallion Sauce


2 cups apple juice

½ cup soy sauce, plus 2 tsp.

½ onion, thinly sliced

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 tsp. Asian toasted sesame oil

1½ lb. skirt steak

2 bunches scallions

2 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger

¼ cup canola oil

¾ tsp. sherry vinegar

2 heads Bibb lettuce

You can also add other vegetables to the wrap, such as shredded carrots, grilled bell peppers, or avocado


Combine apple juice, ½ cup soy sauce, onion, garlic, and sesame oil in a Ziploc bag. Add steak and seal, coating in marinade. Let marinate 40 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

Combine scallions, ginger, oil, and vinegar in a small bowl. Preheat grill pan over high heat. Remove steaks from marinade and grill 5—10 minutes for medium-rare. Baste with marinade; then, halfway through, flip to grill on other side. Let steak rest on plate for 5 minutes. Slice on an angle against the grain. Place slices of steak in lettuce and drizzle with sauce. Serve with steamed rice.

Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to, or visiting

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