Author: Ashley Soderstrom

The 5 Best Restaurants for Summer Dining

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Kick your meal up a notch with stunning views from your table. Just like an incredible wine list or an amazing lineup of entrees, the right venue lends to the atmosphere and gives the night (or afternoon) a really magical atmosphere.

Dining Out on an Expense Account | Best Summer Dining at Oystercatchers in Tampa

Whether you dine indoors or en plain air, the choice is yours. Try these five scenic restaurants next time you travel:

Canoe, Atlanta: Sip a cold one beside the rolling Chattahoochee River. We recommend booking a table on the covered patio. Take your guests on a pre-dinner stroll through the restaurant’s well-kept garden.

Orchids, Honolulu: This open-air restaurant along the beach is the ideal place to catch the island’s iconic landscapes. Go for cocktails and watch the sun slip just below the horizon.

Hemingway’s, Orlando: Can’t take the heat? In the muggy, hot summer, it’s best to stay inside to enjoy the views. Grab a table in this cool seafood spot and watch the palm trees sway.

AQUA by El Gaucho, Seattle: Locals and tourists alike flock to its seaside deck as soon as it’s sandal season. Enjoy some rays while you slurp Seattle’s best oysters.

Oystercatchers, Tampa: There’s not a bad seat in the house at this seaside hideaway. Come for the stone crabs, and stay for incredible views of the coast.

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Etiquette Tips for Dining in China

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Whether you’re traveling abroad for business or hosting foreign clients in the States, good dinner manners communicate respect. Without understanding the other culture’s dining etiquette, though, you can unknowingly offend your guests. And that’s not an ideal way to begin a business relationship.

A recent trip to China introduced us to some dining customs that might be unusual to Western diners. Keep scrolling for our essentials on eating, drinking, and paying the bill with Chinese businessmen.

Get our tips for going out to eat with Chinese clients!

Before the Meal
Take care to arrive early for meals and meetings. Unless Western cities, Chinese businessmen are punctual and only the pompous arrive late. Budget lots of time to get to your destination.

Unless you’re familiar with an individual, address people formally using their last name (such as Miss Wei or Mister Kahn). Business cards are still widely used. Accept and receive cards with two hands.

Gifts are typically exchanged among friends and in some business situations. (It is illegal for government officials to accept presents.) Still, don’t let a gift catch you off guard if your host presents you with one. Be mindful of Chinese customs when shopping. Clocks, straw sandals, items with storks or cranes, handkerchiefs, and white, blue, or black objects are associated with death. Sharp objects like scissors or knives signify cutting a friendship or relationship. A nice writing instrument or a dinner in their honor is always an acceptable choice.

To avoid seeming greedy, it’s common to refuse the gift three times before finally accepting it. Offer your wrapped present with both hands, and your host will accept with gratitude. It’s polite to set the gift aside and open it in private after the dinner has finished.

Cleaning your plate in this culture communicates that you’re still hungry. To show you enjoyed your meal, leave a bit of food on your plate or make a mess around your table. While you may see some diners belching, another sign of satisfaction, it’s not acceptable to let all your table manners go. Unlike dining in Japan, the Chinese think slurping tea or soup is rude.

To show proper respect for your host, wait for him or her to begin eating or drinking before you dig in. If you need to break from using your chopsticks, rest them on the plate, never in upright in your bowl. In most major cities, the restaurant staff can supply you with a fork.

Wait for your host to take the first sip before drinking tea or alcohol. There is a lovely culture of serving others. Even if your glass is completely empty, it’s best to only refill other people’s cups. (They will get to you.) Gently tapping two fingers on the table takes the place of a bow or “thank you.”

For toasts, it’s customary to completely drain the glass.

Paying the Bill
You’re not expected to pay the bill if you’re visiting in someone’s home city or you’re responding to a clear dinner invitation. If you do want to pick up the check, you can excuse yourself during the meal and discretely settle the bill with a server. Often, the most senior person at the table or the host will cover the cost. Tipping is pretty uncommon, so if someone is treating you to a meal, keep your cash to yourself.

What’s your dining pet peeve? Tell us about it on Facebook!
(Photo via WordPress/Tom Kershaw)

How to Find the Perfect Restaurant

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Whether you are trying to impress a new client or taking existing clients out for dinner, choosing the right venue is the first key to a memorable experience.

The main reason for hosting a business dinner is to build relationships. In fact, we seldom talk business at dinner, but always try to learn as much as we can about our clients. An amazing experience at the right restaurant is a trademark of success. However, a flop can ruin your chances of getting your clients out again and be a real hurdle to building strong relationships.

Dining Out on an Expense Account | Entertaining Clients at a Restaurant for Lunch or Dinner

Those of you who entertain clients a lot know that typical business restaurants can, well, be a bit boring. Try these tips for vetting restaurants in your city. Rather get a recommendation from us? Drop us a line at Concierge.

  • Ask friends (or the Internet) about their experience: When you’re sitting down with a client you want to focus on business, not when the food is coming is coming out. Verify that the service is friendly and consistent with two or more sources. It can also be nice to know if the restaurant has sommeliers on hand in case you need a wine recommendation.
  • Test it out before you bring important clients: Review sites like Yelp and TripAdviser can be great for getting a general feel for the restaurant, but typically posts are very negative or very positive. (Who shares a blah dinner, anyway?) Stopping by for lunch or dinner allows you to assess the service in a lower stakes atmosphere.
  • Look at the floor plan: A well-spaced​ dining room can make all the difference when you need to have a private or confidential conversation. Check that the tables have a good amount of space in between them, or ask the reservationist if any booths or private dining rooms are available.
  • Check the seating policy: Many restaurants in major cities will not seat you until the whole party has arrived, which looks a little embarrassing if one person gets tied up at the office. We prefer to choose restaurants that seat their customers at the reservation time (even better if they’ll seat you early).
  • Review the menu: The food should at least be good if you’ve chosen to host a business dinner. Check for entrees that are easy to eat — a steak, chicken dish, and a vegetarian option are always nice — and find a few others that have a wow factor. Dessert with dramatic tableside presentations​ or multi-level seafood towers turn heads in the dining room and leave a lasting impression on your guests.
  • Carefully examine trendy places: New restaurants often take a few weeks to really perfect the dining experience. While snagging a table at the hottest spot in town can show that you’re current, ensure the food and service are up to your standards before your big meal.

What made your favorite business dinner unforgettable? Tell us about it in the comments!