Restaurant Instincts

You walk into a restaurant you've never eaten at before. You don't like the decor, and the hostess seems standoffish, but someone recommended the place to you. Do you stay, or do you leave?

After a few bad meals, I now unapologetically err on the side of leaving. The most recent example of this was my trip to the Hare Krishna temple's restaurant on Venice in Culver City. I'd heard that they served really good Indian food. I walked inside and saw people with plates of what looked like potato salad (which I hate). I got a tray, a paper plate, and plastic silverware anyway, and made my way down the buffet line. When I got to the food, it was mostly a salad bar, with a few possibly Indian dishes at the end that didn't smell like anything and weren't emitting steam. I thought, "you know what? This isn't going to be good, and this isn't what I want to eat. I want a real Indian buffet with hot, fragrant food." I put back my tray and walked straight out the door.

In the past, I always erred on the side of staying (at Asuka, for example), but in the last few months I've gotten good about walking out when things either don't seem right or are blatantly wrong, like they were at Matsuhisa.

This lesson about listening to your instincts doesn't just apply to restaurants, of course. Intuition is very powerful, and if you are aware of it, it may one day save your life, or allow you to protect someone you love. Developing your restaurant instincts will not only spare you from crappy food, but will help you develop your ability to listen to your inner voice and get out of any situation that doesn't seem like it will end well.

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