food & drink

Restaurant indicators

Although it might be considered a bit devious, inviting a job applicant to lunch often forms part of the selection process. It is common practice with law firms and financial institutions.

Aspirants are scrutinised, and the interplay with the waiter and the food they select are pointers to their suitability as employee material. For example, if they don't look at the waiter when he asks for their order and mumble something about a dry martini, red lights flash. If they interact politely with the waiter and request mineral water, much better.

The main test involves ordering the meal. Ideally, they should ask the host's advice about the best choice at that particular restaurant, or maybe say something like 'I can't decide between the moussaka and the filet mignon; what do you recommend?'

The best idea is to tune in to the price range of what everyone else is ordering, and request a dish costing about the same. But there are always idiots who think that they can order what they want regardless of price, and then wonder why they get funny looks as they tuck into their lobster thermidor.

In Spain these matters are easier thanks to the menu del día, and even though the à la carte menu may be flashed before our eyes and then withdrawn in favour of the three-course lunch for €25, no problem.

If the host suggests the guest choose the wine, without any indication regarding quality or price, look around hopefully for the sommelier or head waiter. The key phrase, as the host pretends not to be listening, is 'value for money'.