We have dined out about a handful of times so far. There are a few subtle details that I’ve observed. First off, you get to seat yourself. Unless there is a “reserved” sign on the table, any open table is for the taking. Be it a fancy place or just a cute little cafe, you have a choice of who your seat mates are. This is brilliant! No more sitting next to the obnoxious loudmouth on the cellphone or bickering couple.
Secondly, there’s no such thing as “doggy bags” for leftovers. With the “right” portion sizes, there really is no need for them. I have not tested this theory, but I’ve heard that servers look at you funny when you do ask for bags or boxes. Usually they will just bring you a “bag” and assume it’s actually for your dog.
Another detail I’ve noticed, is that servers do not bring your check when your done eating. After they clear your table, they continue to let you go about your conversations. Until you verbally ask for the check, you aren’t pestered or given the “hurry up so I can end my shift” stares from servers. It’s quite nice.
In general, Europeans enjoy dining out and it usually takes a couple of hours, not because the food takes forever – but because they truly value their time out with friends and family. It’s more about the social aspect than eat-n-go.