Difference Between Eating out In the US and Europe

Since we vacation a lot it seems we end up spending a lot of time eating out in both the states and Europe.  One of the things we notice is the difference in the service.  Here in the states, you tend to wait for tables.  The wait staff come to your table right away and take your drink order and give you still water, then take your food order.  The food comes out and they are constantly refilling your glass and making sure things are ok.  Now this doesn’t happen all of the time but for the most part, the servers are earning their tips and making sure you are happy.  At the end of your meal, you can be rest assured that they will be dropping off your bill.  Sometimes they put it on the table and say “No rush” and walk away.  That way when you are ready to go you just give them the cash or credit card they take your card in the back and process it.  The entire dinner can last about an hour to an hour and a half.  There are people waiting to get your table and it’s like a well-oiled machine.  In out in out in out.  It seems to me that they try and get you out as soon as possible with providing good service and not rushing you but if you sit there for hours they get fewer tips.

Now in Europe, the service is almost the same but not quite.  I don’t find that we wait for tables very long.  Maybe it’s because we eat on US time instead of late like in Greece, Italy, and Spain.  There they tend to eat dinner after 8pm.  When you sit at your table you do not get water automatically.  They charge you for water and you can get either with or without gas.  The servers are very attentive when getting your order and bringing you the bottle of water or soda.  There are no free refills when it comes to European restaurants, each can of soda or bottle of water will cost you.  They do bring out the can and they are not the 12-ounce cans they are smaller.

Service is basically the same until it comes to the end of the meal.  The hardest thing about a European meal is getting the check.  I swear once they see you are almost done they will ignore you at all costs.  They look in the opposite direction when scurrying by you to serve another table.  You can be sitting there looking for them and the moment you blink they are in your eyeline and then gone.  You know the first time we ate out in Europe my husband told me about this and I didn’t believe it.  Then we waited 15 minutes waiting for the waitress to come.  She had actually gone on break, I walked up to the counter and paid there.  Once time in Germany, it happened also.  The waiter was actually on break eating at the counter we could see him but we could not get anyone to come over.  Now it’s a running joke with us to see who can get their attention first, or how long it will take for us to get them to come over to the table.  Once they are there it’s fine and they bring out the little machine to put your card in (they don’t take the card to the back). Though in two restaurants in Greece they took my husband to the back to pay.  That was a new one. Some restaurants offer the option to add a tip to the card and others do not.  Tipping is not a prominent in Europe as in the states.  Though I have been going for 10 years and more restaurants are offering the option.   So just keep in mind when you are travelling in Europe getting the attention of a waiter is a game that can be loads of fun. 

Laryssa GobetsComment