Saturday, June 2, 2012

America vs. Germany Part III - Restaurants (+Write about love)

Hallo Ihr Lieben,

I think you all know that I love my home country. We have the best soccer team in the world, we have really cool cities, sometimes not so friendly people, we have mountains, we have the sea, we have lakes, we have good cars....we also have some awesome food.
And yeah, America is a pretty cool place too. As you can imagine, there are lots of differences between the two countries. And there is definitely a huge difference between the restaurants....Two different worlds of dining experiences. And that's what I want to talk about today.

1. please wait to be seated.

The first time I went to a restaurant in America I just wanted to walk right in and go to the best looking table and sit down. But no. It wasn't that easy. On my way in I saw a sign from the corner of my eye. "Please wait to be seated". Okay. That was strange for me. I have to wait for somebody to come and show me a table? I can see all the tables and I am able to pick the one I like. Thank you. But hey, I am in a strange country so I have to follow the rules. It just doesn't feel that comfortable, to be honest. I mean, in Germany, I have all the time in the world to search my table, take off my coat, sit down, get comfortable and THEN somebody comes, brings me the menu and asks me what I want to drink. I like it that way. Maybe I will get used to the other way someday. We will see. But I am not a little child who needs a leader to a free table. I want to choose. I don't want anybody else to make that decision for me. Sure, I can say that I prefer another table but that's all so complicated. It could be soooo easy! Why do you make it so hard for me? But maybe it is just polite? Maybe people don't want to make a decision and are happy that other people do it for them? I really don't know. All I know is that I have chosen my table for my whole life and I would like to stick to that.  What's so bad about that? And yeah, even in Germany people come and help you take off your coat etc when you found your table. So we are not impolite. Just to make that clear.

2. selection.

I admit that I am not the easiest eater in the world. But there are other people in this world who prefer their meals without meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, onions etc. And I am always able to find something that I want to eat in a German restaurant. But I never had so many problems before than I have now in America. I mean, you would think that you are able to just pick a salad from the menu and you are fine. But NO! I went to so many restaurants, looked at the menu, saw that there are salads on the menu, looked a little closer and found out that there is meat in EVERY SINGLE stupid salad. Why is that? Can somebody explain that to me? I expect a salad to be meat-free. Or at least I expect  that there is one salad on the menu that is meat-free. I don't think my expectations are that high but maybe I am a snob. I have heard that I am a beer snob (Hi Kari, my dear!) but I think this is a little different! And I really only want one meal on the menu that I like to eat! Please! So yeah, maybe I went to the wrong places, I am sure there are lots of great vegetarian restaurants in the country that would offer great stuff. But first of all, there are no vegetarian restaurants in this town. And second, it must be possible to find something that fits my needs in every restaurant. The third thing is that my husband and all my family here do eat meat etc. so they want to go to a restaurant that offers meat. But thank you, Chinese restaurant in town for having a wonderful tofu with mushrooms and peppers in pepper sauce! Thank you so much! You make it really easy for me!
Another thing is that I am usually not in a rush when I go to a restaurant so I don't have a problem to wait a little longer for fresh products. I prefer to eat things that don't come out of a can or aren't frozen. So you don't think you have to hurry to bring me my meal! I would LOVE to wait a little longer for a fresh prepared meal, don't worry!

3. refills.

Okay, okay, I realize that I am a little mean and that it sounds like I hate eating in America. That's not true! I am just making some improvement suggestions. Haha. No, seriously. I like America and I like eating here. So there is one really great thing here in America: free refills (except of all the stupid ice but we have talked about this before. here). I love being able to drink as much as I want. I mean, in Germany I order a drink and I pay 2,30 for a little 0.33l coke. That's not enough to drink for the whole meal but a whole lot of money. So yeah, I need at least 2 drinks. And maybe you want a coffee after your meal and then you end up paying more for the drinks than you pay for your food. That's just not right. So yeah, woohoo for America and free refills! You don't even have to ask for it which is really really nice! You can just drink drink drink and don't have to worry about the money. The only sad thing is that you don't get a free refill on beer but I guess you can't have everything. Plus I would not want a free refill on American beer, I am a beer snob, never forget about that.

4. plastic.

I have been to some restaurants that have plastic cups or even plates. Why is that? I am in a restaurant and not on a camping trip, okay? I can't help myself but that's a little disgusting. The restaurants with the plastic plates were those kind of places that offer a buffet. But that's not a reason to have plastic plates, right? (Saying "right" at the end of sentences is a very German thing too, I guess.) So I don't know why you do that. They just never look really clean, I don't know why. Porcelain plates are so much easier to clean and you don't see all the cuts from the knifes in them. So I can't explain why you use them, American restaurants. Get porcelain plates, please. And glasses. Not plastic cups. I mean, I always use a straw because the plastic things look so pfui (German for "icky"). But I would really prefer a nice glass. Thank you!
I have to be fair and say that I have only been to a couple of restaurants like that in America. So it's not that big deal. But I have never ever seen a restaurant with plastic cups or plates in Germany.

5. check.

That's a thing that annoys me a lot. I am still eating and the waiter brings me the check? Honestly? Don't disturb me! Leave me alone. I want to eat my meal. Maybe I will order a coffee then. And think about a dessert. But at least I want to sit there and talk to my husband, friends, family as long as I want. Without being disturbed. Sure, sometimes they say that there is no hurry to leave but what else do  you think when they bring you the check? Do they want you to leave and make room for other people to spend their money? Going to a restaurant is an event for me. I want to enjoy it. I want to stay as long as I feel comfortable. Even if that means that I stay until the restaurants closes. You can do  that in Germany. Nobody will kick you out or bring you the check. So yeah, I do understand that American restaurants want to make more money and they won't when you stay as long as you want because you get free refills. But the customer is king, so shouldn't you allow him to stay as long as she/he wants? I would say so. So please don't rush me. Give me the time to finish my meal and have a coffee. I would appreciate it a lot!

Thank you America! I love you a lot!
Did you ever eat in another country? What are your experiences?

If you want to read how an American feels about the German dining experience, go over here to lovely Amanda's blog: Overseas Adventures

My song of the day is "Write about love" by Belle & Sebastian.
I don't really have a story about's just a very cute song.

Have a lovely Saturday!!
Oh, you can also read America vs. Germany partI and part II.


  1. 1.For me it was awkward at first to find my own seat, but I think it's kind of nice. I think it's part to be polite that Americans have someone lead you, but also because the hostess tries to make sure the waitresses are getting an even amount of tables.
    2.America is pretty meat heavy, but I have also heard vegetarians say it's hard to find food out to eat where they were in Germany because there is also a lot of meat. So I guess it depends on where you are.
    3. I actually don't mind the smaller cups as it makes me drink less and focus on my food more, but I prefer the places that have .33L or even better .5L (although those seem to be at places with American style food). Much less than that and I am still thirsty. It annoys me when places load up on ice, so I like the German custom of not doing so and I hate when we're somewhere with some American dishes and they throw ice on there, especially because they don't give you a straw (what's up with that?) so it makes my teeth cold.
    4.I'm trying to think of where I might have seen plastic plates in a restaurant. Most have porcelein, and since they can be cleaned at higher temps I would think it would be more sanitary to do so. I have seen plastic cups though, usually in pizza places or buffets.
    5.Probably the number one thing I dislike about American restaurants especially now that I've been in Germany. Most of the time, they seem like they want you out of there, even when they say 'no rush'. The exception to this tends to be 24 hour places if you go late at night. I guess because they're so bored it entertains them if you stick around lol.

    1. P.S. Thanks for the mention :) Hope it's all right if I share this on my FB page so followers can see the other side of the story ;)

  2. 1. I can understand that Americans feel completely different about this. I mean, I think it just depends on how you grew up. I am used to not having to wait to be seated and I kind of like that. :)
    2. It is indeed meat heavy! But I am sure I will be able to find some places with a better selection for me.
    3. Ice is really annoying for me sometimes. You can read that in part I of the post. :)
    4. I think it was a Chinese buffet...
    5. Haha, yeah, I think so!
    You're welcome! :) And yeah, that's alright! Thank you!

  3. I hate the check thing too booooo! I would disagree with you on the best soccer team...I think Argentina has the best soccer team. ;-)

    1. Haha, I am sure every soccer nation will disagree! :))

  4. Funny story about the salad thing. I'm veggie and we drove through Wendy's on a family trip one time and, worried about accidentally ordering meat, I had my mom ask if any of the salads didn't have meat. The girl working the drive through window said something like, "The side salad. But it does have bacon." Ummm... Well, meat would be bad, but bacon I'm ok with... Not! Ha. :)

    1. Haha, that is so funny! Bacon is no meat, you can really eat that, Abbey! :)

  5. lol this cracked me up so much!!! i waitressed for years and laughed so hard when i read this :) it is cool to see it from a foreigners point of view!

    i can tell you though why there are hostesses at restaurants that seat you. in the US, waitresses live off of tips. so if you can choose your section of where you want to sit as a guest, then you may all end up in one persons section and other people may not make their tips. the hostesses even it out and sit people accordingly so at the end of a shift, all the waitresses have an even chance to make tips. usually guests dont care where they sit in a restaurant and if they do, they'll tell the hostess where they want to sit and the hostess will sit them there and switch around seating rotation. we don't mind it here and poeple understand waitresses and servers live off of tips.

    im so shocked you have issues finding vegetarian options! america is king for that! i struggle with it in germany ALOT when im there (im not a vegetarian but i often eat vegetarian meals when at restaurants)...and in europe in general. scandinavia doesnt have any vegetarian options either. i think youre eating at the wrong places in the US LOL. even europeans tell me all the time that is one of their fav things about the US...vegetarian options at restaurants and even stores. in fact, when im home this summer that is one thing i look forward to most! but im not a chain restaurant eater...i prefer restaurants that are one-offs.

    its funny even though i say i miss free refills at restaurants sometimes, i dont. i think america should stop free refills (except water obviously) because it would help portion control better. and maybe people would lose weight ;)

    and another thing i miss is good customer service. when im in europe i want to cry at how horrible restaurant service is. but people here dont live off of tips really...they get a salary for working. not in the US. they have to earn their tips which means they are generally better in customer service and more attentive to tables. when i waitressed and we noticed europeans coming in the restaurant we would all fight to not have them sat in our section because they generally tip sooo horribly! i think they dont know people are living from strictly tips and nothing else!

    i honestly cant say that there is anything i really like more about norwegian restaurants than american. the customer service is terrible here (just like most places in europe), the food is overpriced, and if your meal turns out wrong, they like NEVER give it for free. they discount it....its such a shame. they are definitely not 100% customer service. hence why i rarely eat at a restaurant here ;)

    hope youre having a great weekend!

    1. I understand how the system works in America. It does make sense to me that they want to even it out. As I have said, I have never tried to get another table and I am sure it would be no problem. I should try it someday and hopefully the waitresses won't hate me. :) I still prefer just walking inside and making my own choice.

      I am really surprised that you say that the vegetarian choices are so much better in America. :) I guess I just go to the wrong places then. I love it that I can go to any restaurant in Germany and not have to worry about finding a vegetarian meal. In America I only have that at Chinese restaurants. I have seen Italian restaurants that only had pasta with meat in it and I can't understand that. I have to search for other places. And yeah, I am definitely not a fan of restaurant chains. I am always shocked how many of these chains you have in America and that lots of people go there every single day.

      Yeah, I guess for some people free refills are really bad. :) Usually I only drink water in restaurants and most times I don't even need a refill but it is good to have an option.

      You are right, the customer service is America is excellent and there are lots of places in Europe where you don't have that. I don't really mind grumpy waitresses. :) I just want to have my food and then they can leave me alone. :)
      It is so funny that you say that you did not want to have Europeans sitting on your tables. Haha. :) I have never noticed that Europeans are such bad tippers. I think I always tip in a perfect amount but I have to ask other Germans. :)

      Thank you so much for your comment and have a wonderful weekend!

  6. What a interesting post!

    To tell you the truth, I prefer american restaurants over German restaurants any time!!!
    Its never happened to me that somebody has brought the check while we were still eating unless they were changing shifts and then they were rather appologetic. It has happened to me in Germany and they werent very nice about it then...

    What bothers me most about Germany restaurants is that the waiters are so unfriendly! I know that the friendlyness of american waiters is mostly fake, but I still enjoy it ;)

    Miss Sugar Shack

    1. I think the check-thing is what bothered me most. I mean, I really don't want to be rushed and in Germany you have to ask for it and that's perfect for me. So when they bring it without asking I feel rushed and think I have to leave in the next minutes.

      You are right, it is great that American waitresses are always friendly and I don't mind that it is fake. Haha. But I also don't have a problem with grumpy waitresses. As long as my food is fine. :)

    2. Really?! For me an unfriendly waitress can ruin my whole dining experience :) I just hate being treated like s**t when I am paying good money. Maybe I`ve become more sensitive with Brad, because he was truly in shock with how unfriendly German service is...

      I`ve never noticed the whole check thing. I think its kind of funny how we pay attention to different things and how different things are inportant to us :)


    3. Yeah, I don't care that much and just ignore unfriendly waiters. Haha, I can imagine that Brad was shocked. :))

      It is indeed really funny. The whole check thing drives me crazy. :))

  7. Hallo Katrin

    I find this post very interesting. Actually I never even compared dining in America with dining in Germany because it is just a different world. But thinking of it I much prefer dining in America. Of course I like the free refills although I don't really drink that much while I am eating. And I do like the concept of being seated instead of trying to find a table in a nice spot. Also I can't remember someone bringing the check unless their shift was over. And then they were always very polite (don't care if this politeness is fake or not though).
    In general I don't like to go out for dinner in Germany anyways. At least not to really NICE places because usually I find them to be very formal and I am not comfortable with that. I like a relaxed atmosphere way better. So thumbs up for America ;)

    1. You are right, Chrissy, it is a completely different world. So maybe you can't really compare it. Haha. Maybe I was just unlucky with the waiters who brought the check while I was still eating. I don't know. But I really prefer asking for it so that I don't have to rush.
      I really really love the Italian places in Germany. I haven't found a little, family-style pizzeria yet. :)

    2. Yes, most of the Italian restaurants here are pretty nice. Hm, shouldn't there be a ton of Italian restaurants in America as well? I guess it depends on where you live. I only know restaurants where you usually just order and take the pizza home such as Domino's pizza etc. But the places themselves aren't that nice.

    3. Yeah, they have a lots of Pizza chains but I don't really see many of the little Italian places you see in Germany. I am not really a big fan of those chains, they all have the same menu etc. I like to try new things. I guess I need to search somewhere else, I haven't found that kind of pizzeria here in this town.

  8. Absolutely hilarious post! I'm British, but I am encountering a lot of odd German things (probably not all that odd, if you are German) right now as we are living with my partners German mother. Lots of oddity involving a completely different relationship to food and what food is eaten when!

    I found German restaurants to be lovely though when we went, with great food and lovely service! No complaints from me!

    1. Thank you! Haha, I am sure that finding out all the strange things about Germans can be funny and weird at the same time. :) I love to discover differences between the two countries. It is just so much fun!
      And I am glad you like German restaurants and have only good experiences. :)

  9. Hahaha, oh I love this.
    What Megan said about the seating thing is right - that's how servers make their money.
    The thing about sitting and relaxing after your meal is so European, and I think I prefer it to the American way of get in/get out. It's so much more laid back, and you don't feel pressured.

    1. Glad you like it! :)
      I hope everybody tips the waiters in a good amount! I mean, they are always nice and do a good job.
      Yeah, I really like it that they don't put any pressure on you and that you can stay as long as you want! It is so much more relaxed!

  10. OMG, Katrin!!!! I love you even more after this post! When I first got here, I wrote a series of posts about the differences between Argentina and America, and, oh, my! We've mentioned the same things, hahaha!

    In Argentina, you generally can choose where to sit in a restaurant and the menu is very varied. I feel that here, even though the menu looks big, there's not a wide variety of dishes. And I do not like any of the million American dressings, so I usually ask for vinagrette or just oil and vinegar ... But they are very rarely able to bring it! What the heck?! Don't they have oil and vinegar in the kitchen, haha!

    Refills rock! No complaints about that, hehe.

    And oh, my! I hate Starbucks and all these ugly coffee chains! I want to enjoy my freaking coffee/tea in a decent cup of China!

    Same feeling about the check. In Argentina, you have to call the waiter when you're ready to pay. And they usually take ages to bring you the check.

    Last but not least, yay for Belle & Sebastian!!!! ;D Gosh, Katri, why don't we live closer?! :(

    1. Miki, that is awesome! I need to read your posts! :)) So funny that we have mentioned the same things. Haha.

      They should definitely have oil and vinegar in a kitchen. I mean, come on. That's essential!

      Sounds like restaurants in Argentina are similar to the ones in Germany. I really like to sit there as long as I ask for the check!

      Miki, I absolutely agree: tea and coffee should be in a real mug or cup. Made of porcelain or glass.

      Glad you like my music!! Such a shame that we don't live closer!!!! ahhhh!!!! :(((((

  11. I saw this post linked on and had to check it out as an American with a restaurant review blog. I love your observations! The funniest thing to me was your mentioning how much you love free refills; I grew up in Ohio, where refills are always free, but then moved to NYC after college and found that you always have to pay for refills here. SHOCKING! It was horrifying to me, but I've since learned to like water a lot more!

    I think the thing with the seats is that the restaurant wants to choose where the most important people go. When we go to really nice places, I base how important/rich the restaurant thinks we are based on where they seat us.

    1. Oh, your blog sounds very interesting! I will definitely check it out! Thank you for stopping by!
      I can imagine how shocking it was not to get free refills anymore! I did not know that there are no free refills in NYC!

      I have to try to look more important and richer! :))

  12. I'm clicking through the series on America vs. Germany and these all made me laugh so hard. Sometimes I want to pick my own seat too.

    Denny's and Red Robin are two big chains that typically let you order any burger on the menu and substitute a Boca burger (meatless patty) for the meat part. The hubby and I go to Red Robin so he can get a cheeseburger and I can get the Boca burger and then we're both happy.

    But other than that, I hear you on the lack of veggie options. We're lucky enough to live down the road from a great Thai place that will whip up almost any of their dishes with tofu, and now my fave pizza place added vegan cheese to their menu options!!! Plus they offer meat-free subs and salads!!! So they get all of our business now, needless to say.

    1. I am so glad that I could make you laugh! :)

      I think I have heard about Denny's but I have never heard about the other one. I have to check that out! You are so lucky that you have such great options in your town. It really is time for us to move to a better town! I love Thai food soooo much!


Please leave a comment...