Sunday, March 14, 2010

Types of restaurants

Restaurants range from unpretentious lunching or dining places catering to people working nearby, with simple food served in simple settings at low prices, to expensive establishments serving refined food and wines in a formal setting. In the former case, customers usually wear casual clothing. In the latter case, depending on culture and local traditions, customers might wear semi-casual, semi-formal, or even in rare cases formal wear.
Typically, customers sit at tables, their orders are taken by a waiter, who brings the food when it is ready, and the customers pay the bill before leaving. In finer restaurants there will be a host or hostess or even a maître d'hôtel to welcome customers and to seat them. Other staff waiting on customers include busboys and sommeliers.
Restaurants often specialize in certain types of food or present a certain unifying, and often entertaining, theme. For example, there are seafood restaurants, vegetarian restaurants or ethnic restaurants. Generally speaking, restaurants selling "local" food are simply called restaurants, while restaurants selling food of foreign origin are called accordingly, for example, a Chinese restaurant and a French restaurant..
Depending on local customs and the establishment, restaurants may or may not serve alcoholic beverages. Restaurants are often prohibited from selling alcohol without a meal by alcohol sale laws; such sale is considered to be activity for bars, which are meant to have more severe restrictions. Some restaurants are licensed to serve alcohol ("fully licensed"), and/or permit customers to "bring your own" alcohol (BYO / BYOB).


Food catering establishments which may be described as restaurants were known since the 12th century in Hangzhou, a cultural, political and economic center during China's Song Dynasty. With a population of over 1 million people, a culture of hospitality and a paper currency, Hangzhou was ripe for the development of restaurants. Probably growing out of the tea houses and taverns that catered to travellers, Hangzhou's restaurants blossomed into an industry catering to locals as well. Restaurants catered to different styles of cuisine, price brackets, and religious requirements. Even within a single restaurant much choice was available, an account from 1275 writes of Hangzhou restaurants:
"The people of Hangzhou are very difficult to please. Hundreds of orders are given on all sides: this person wants something hot, another something cold, a third something tepid, a fourth something chilled; one wants cooked food, another raw, another chooses roast, another grill".[1]
Ma Yu Ching's Bucket Chicken House was established in Kaifeng, China, in 1153 AD, and is still serving up meals today.
A leading restaurant of the Napoleonic era was the Véry which was lavishly decorated, and boasted a menu with extensive choices of soups, fish and meat dishes, and scores of side dishes. Balzac often dined edaciously there. Although absorbed by a neighbouring business in 1869, the resulting establishment Le Grand Véfour is still in business in the 21st century.


A restaurant prepares and serves food, drink and dessert to customers. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services. Restaurants vary greatly in appearance and offerings, including a wide variety of cuisines and service models.
A restaurant owner is called a restaurateur; both words derive from the French verb restaurer, meaning "to restore". Professional artisans of cooking are called chefs, while prep staff and line cooks prepare food items in a more systematic and less artistic fashion.