Friday, 14th May 2021

Five panic orders for when the waiter arrives before you've decided

DINING out? Caught off-guard by a waiter? These panic orders will stop you looking like a blithering idiot who’s been chatting rather than reading the menu: 

‘The pasta’

All restaurants have some kind of pasta dish on their books, even if it’s fennel and asparagus or some shite. So when you’ve spent too long looking at your phone and haven’t even given the menu a cursory glance and the waiter knows it, pasta is a safe bet. A safe, boring bet that will cost £12 for something you could make at home.


Afraid you won’t get the waiter’s attention again if you don’t order now? A pie fulfils multiple criteria – meaty, pastry, probably chips. It’s a good panic choice if you’re paralysed by indecision and don’t mind the trade-off of spending the rest of the evening with heartburn.

‘Fish and chips’

At least you know what you’re getting, right? You’ll be punished for your lack of imagination, as it’s never as good as it would be from a takeaway and you’ll likely regret spending £12.50 on a piece of batter and precisely five well-presented but bland chips, but at least you’re not holding up the rest of the table.

‘The veggie option’

You thought about going for something healthy tonight but as the waitress breathes down your neck you can’t remember what healthy food is. Vegetables, right? You’ve just ordered breaded mushrooms smothered in melted cheese, but the suffocating weight of choice isn’t crushing you anymore.

‘A basket of bread’

If you’re genuinely too anxious to even blurt out ‘Steak!’ then you could just get into a constant loop of ordering a basket of bread ‘while we decide’, and then another basket of bread, and then another, until you’re asked to leave. It’s filling and cheap. You could do much, much worse, like the fish.