There was a time when I would have written to the opposite side of this debate; and moreover, hands down. Going to restaurants used to be fun and exciting. There was nothing wrong with my mother’s cooking. Likewise, I’ve never had a problem with the culinary skills of my wife of 23 years. Still, restaurant food always seemed to taste better.

Truthfully, I believe there are two reasons I once felt that way. First, restaurants either offer a wide variety of menu choices, or they specialize in one particular area; such as steaks, seafood, pizza, or any number of ethnic choices. Thus, by going out to eat, I wasn’t restricted to eating whatever my mother (or wife in later years) decided to cook. As for having a craving for seafood or Mexican cuisine, places like Red Lobster or Chi-Chi’s served these needs respectively.

Secondly, this may sound a bit wimpy, but if you really stop to think about it, you’ll agree that most people secretly feel the same way. About what? Regardless of what lies on that plate before you, restaurants enable the patrons to see the finished product as opposed to being grossed out by the process of preparing it. For example, most of us love French fries, but it can be unsettling to see that employee at McDonald’s dumping frozen potatoes into a vat of grease to produce them! In true restaurant settings; those with kitchens located behind closed doors, we don’t have to witness remnants of other food particles cooked hours ago stuck to a dirty grill, nor do we have to gag at the thought that something we ordered may contain an ingredient that we detest by itself. Since we are seated in a different room at a table, we are ignorant as to how something was prepared, so we don’t think about it.

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Conversely, when eating at home, we see every gross detail of how our food is prepared. And of course, once the meal is finished, somebody has to clean up the mess.

However, in the case of this author, this entire philosophy has now taken a 180-degree turn. Going out to restaurants is no longer the exciting adventure it once was, and the reason can be summed up with just two words: Smoking bans.

This hugely-discriminatin g govenment and media-sponsored act of social engineering has been with us for nearly 20 years now, but I can still vividly recall the good old days when the host or hostess asked customers whether or not they had a smoking preference. To a lifelong smoker, it is second nature to enjoy a cigarette not only with that beverage of choice while waiting for the meal to arrive, but also afterwards. Nonsmokers understood this, too, and had no issues with being seated an appreciable distance away from those who lit up. In fact, before John Q Public was lied to by being told that sharing an indoor space with smokers was a deadly menace, many nonsmokers had no problem taking a table in the smoking section if it meant not having to wait to be seated. Perhaps the biggest joke of all is the belief that restaurants have had no loss in clientele since these ridiculous ordinances have gone into affect. Here’s the real story, folks:

Smokers like me will still dine out, but not nearly as frequently as we used to. When we do, we leave immediately instead of having that last cup of coffee, refill of Coke, or final beer. In most cases, we now order takeout. Revenues may indeed remain unchanged, but wait staff tips suffer as a result.

When eating either a home-cooked meal or restaurant take-out food in our places of residence, we can light up whenever we please without having to step outside in pouring rain or frigid temperatures. With that said, however, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I miss the days of going out to restaurants on an almost daily basis.

Sadly, times have changed, but should you ever wish to dine in my home, smokers and nonsmokers alike will be treated equally. And as it should be.

RESTAURANT

Eating at restaurants is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. There are so many pros that I honestly cannot see the cons, and even if I did, they wouldn’t really matter to me. The choice is easy enough for me, even though I understand and respect those who prefer eating at home.

The entire experience of eating at a good restaurant is simply awesome. The process of trying to pick a good restaurant, checking the menu, looking at photographs inside the restaurant to see how it looks like (if it is a new one), reading customer recommendations and ultimately making a decision is more entertaining than words can describe. Then I get overwhelmed as I decide on my company and make reservations. I feel like I am a guest star to a party I organized myself!

Once I arrive at the restaurant, I feel like the party has begun. I am given the luxury to choose my favorite meal from a big list and all I have to do is simply ask from the chef to make it for me. The meal is served to me by a polite waiter who does his best to ensure that I am satisfied enough and is willing to answer to every question I might have. If I have any complaints regarding the food, all I have to do is tell that to the chef, who will make sure that the problem will be fixed as soon as possible. While I am enjoying my meal, I am also given the chance to enjoy the place, listen to music, have fun with my friends and possibly even meet new people.

Once I finish, the polite waiter will take all the dishes from my table and will give me the receipt. There won’t be any dishes for me to wash. Per my request, the chef can even put the leftoevers in a cute little package for me to take home and eat the next day. Everything will have been taken care of properly without me having to do anything. I will leave the party with a big smile on my face, already planning the next one.

If you are one of those people that love to being properly served with delicious meals cooked by the best chefs, then eating at restaurants is the perfect choice for you.

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