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New York meets Germany

Eating Out

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by Sascha Reinking


If you would like to visit one of numerous restaurants we have in the surrounding cities you might appreciate the following tips as the typical German restaurant visit is a little bit different from the American one you are used to.

The sitting game: In German restaurants you seat yourself. Enter the restaurant and pick any table you want. As soon as you are sitting a waiter/waitress will approach and greet you.

Water: You will not get free water at your table. If you would like to drink water you have to order it…and pay for it. Also, when you order a water you will get carbonated water. If you would like tap water you have to ask for “stilles Wasser” (silent water).

Refills: Sorry…no free refills. Not even on coffee.

Breakfast: Breakfast eggs are usually boiled soft. Very soft. Pretty much…liquid. If you would like a hard boiled egg just let the waiter/waitress know. Also, the traditional breakfast item is called “Brötchen” which is comparable with a roll. But a smaller, warmer, crispier version. It is delicious. Try it! We also have a huge selection of different kinds of breads. Bagels are not known in Germany.

Ice: Here comes a big one. Ice in soda is pretty much an unknown in Germany. I grew up without having ice in my soda. However, after almost 4 years in the US I can’t imagine a life without my beloved ice cubes. So be prepared: If you want ice in your soda you have to ask for it. And even then it can mean that you will get 1…maybe 2 cubes in your glass. I just think Germans don’t wanna cheat you. They wanna serve you a full glass of soda and not a full glass of ice with some soda in between. The bottom line is: NO ICE (unless you ask)

Looks familiar? Potatoes: Oh yeah! You are in the land of potatoes. We have so many different kind of potatoes…you can eat each day a different kind and never eat the same one during your stay in Germany. And we not only have different brands of potatoes, we also have different ways to prepare them. Fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, potato pancakes, peeled potatoes, salt potatoes, potato fries, baked potatoes, and so on.

The cutting game: It might be a small difference and not really important but Germans keep their fork and knife in their hand through the whole dinner. Here in the states I/we like to cut everything in eatable pieces, lay the knife aside and dig in.

Check please: The check in Germany is called “Rechnung”. So just ask for the Rechnung when you are done. When the waiter/waitress arrives with the check it works like this: Either one of the party is paying the whole thing and later you try to figure out who is paying what (the “American way”) or every person is telling the waiter/waitress what they had and the service person is adding it up for you right in front of your nose. That’s how we usually do it in Germany.

Also, in a German restaurant you may stay until you are ready to go. Paying the bill doesn’t mean you have to leave. Sometimes people sit for another hour after paying before they head out. Never just leave the money on the table and leave. That would be considered rude. Always pay the waiter/waitress directly.

And last but not least…

Tipping: Here might come the best difference in my opinion. And this is not only for restaurant visits but also for every other service such as getting a hair cut, riding in a cab, getting a site seeing tour, and so on. Germans don’t tip 20% like Americans. Here is the rule: You round up to the next Euro and then add 1 Euro. So if your bill at the restaurant is €36.40 you round up to €37.00 and add 1 Euro. So what you actually pay is €38.00. The cab drive is €14,90? You round up to €15.00 and add 1 Euro. Pay the cab driver: €16.00. Isn’t that fantastic? No $100 tips just because the move cost $500. I like that much better! But if you wanna be on the safe side, feel free and tip 5%. The service person might hug and kiss you.
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