If you’re out and about in a strange town and looking for somewhere to eat, how do you enhance your odds of finding a decent restaurant? One way is to check your smartphone and see which nearby restaurants have favourable reviews, but some people prefer to explore for themselves.
Things to Avoid
Even if you know nothing about a town or its eateries, there are often tell-tale signs that a restaurant might not be up to scratch. The way a restaurant is managed is always likely to extend beyond the kitchen; good or bad. Here are some things to avoid:
- Poorly maintained exterior; if the front of a restaurant is run-down or has rubbish lying around in open view, the same neglect probably runs through the kitchen and its food-storage habits. First impressions count.
- Staff smoking at the front entrance; staff who loiter and smoke at the front of a restaurant are unprofessional and indicators of careless management.
- Huge menu; a vast and diverse choice of food is not a good sign regarding quality. The “Jack of all trades and master of none” saying counts for something here. An extensive menu is also likely to indicate frozen food rather than fresh.
- Menus with photos: high-quality restaurants do not usually include pictures of each dish on the menu, especially poor-quality photos which make every menu item look like dog food. Steer clear!
- Empty restaurant: when a restaurant is worth eating at, the locals will vote with their feet. This is a more reliable method when towns are not flooded with tourists, who may be less discerning.
When travelling, you may find yourself in a country or place where the risk of food poisoning is greater. If you do fall ill after a meal, you could click here and see a GP within minutes. Food poisoning typically manifests itself within a few hours but can take effect up to three days later.
Among the more high-risk foods to order on a menu include the following:
- Salads & raw veg; salads are a higher risk than most foods because there are numerous opportunities for contamination, and bacteria is obviously not killed by cooking.
- Poultry & meats; poultry and meats cause food poisoning either through being undercooked or through cross-contamination during poor storage or handling.
- Fish and shellfish; ciguatera and scombroid poisoning are both types of food poisoning caused by eating contaminated fish and shellfish.
- Eggs; salmonella is the type of food poisoning commonly caused by eating raw or undercooked eggs.
The way a kitchen handles and stores food significantly affects your chances of suffering any ill effects. You should also consider the source of the food and how it’s supplied, (e.g. pre-chopped lettuce is higher risk), to avoid danger.
Although many of us will suffer food poisoning of one type or another during our lives, you can reduce the risk by merely choosing restaurants carefully. They don’t have to be expensive; just clean and well managed.